Mon 22 - Sun 28 Jul
FOOD: Two Centuries of Afternoon Tea, Woburn Abbey, 24 July
Cream tea anyone? You’ll never hear a ‘no’ from us! Woburn Abbey is the home of afternoon tea and you can get to grips with the history of Britain’s favourite tipple at this new event which includes a talk on the history of the humble cuppa and, of course, afternoon tea with all the trimmings. Make sure you make the most of the lovely house and grounds whilst you’re there, the award-winning Repton-designed gardens feature woodland glades, a Kitchen Garden, ponds and architectural features, like the Chinese Dairy and Camellia House (24 Jul).
KIDS: Mythical Creatures Trails, Hertford Town Centre, 24 July – 16 August
Pick up a trail map from the Tourist Information Centre and go hunting for knitted mermaids, wizards, pixies and dragons hiding in the shop windows around Hertford Town Centre. And if you enter the raffle (just £1 a ticket) you might even win one of the knitted dolls to take home!
SPORT: Summer of Sport, Waddesdon Manor, 24 Jul – 30 Aug (Wed – Sun)
Waddesdon’s gorgeous grounds above will play host to a variety of sporting activities over the summer break including three sporty-themed trails, workouts, orienteering, football, badminton, table tennis and the National Trust venue is even putting on its own Tour de Waddesdon!
FESTIVAL: Standon Calling, 25-28 July
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Wolf Alice, Nile Rodgers & Chic are headlining this local festival with serious creds. Treat yourself to a ticket to the wild spa while you’re there, oh and don’t forget to dust off your fancy dress. This year’s theme is Twisted Creatures, and judging by previous efforts, people will be going all out for the costume parade.
FAMILY: Aliens Love Underpants, Hertford Theatre, 26-27 July
If your kids loved the madcap out-of-this-world storybook, they’re going to lap up this theatrical adaptation, which promises to be choc full of cool effects, cute puppets and original music. There’ll also be alien-related activity drop in sessions from 23-37 July, a chance to meet the cast and aliens after the 1pm show on 26th and a dressing up comp on 27th, where the best dressed alien (in underpants, of course) will win a goodie bag.
MUSIC: Bedford Park Live, 27 July
There’s a sizzling hot line-up for Bedford Park Live this weekend, featuring Tom Odell and, hot off the heels of Glasto, Tom Walker. They’ll be joined by X Factor winner Louisa Johnson, and record-breaking contestant Fleur East (remember that cover of Uptown Funk that got her to no 1 in the iTunes charts?), before Radio 1 DJ MistaJam will close the show in style. Book now, before the tickets all get snapped up!
CARS: Classic Vehicle Show, Chiltern Open Air Museum, 27-28 July
Here’s one for the petrol heads – check out the annual Classic Vehicle Show at Chiltern Open Air Museum, which will feature a collection of classic cars, lorries, traditional fire engines, motorbikes, plus historic tractors and wagons that have appeared in Downton Abbey.
MUSIC: Bedford Park Proms, 28 July
Pack your picnics, Prosecco and posh plastic tableware (candelabras optional!) for this annual musical celebration of pomp and patriotism. A 70-piece choir and the London Gala Orchestra will perform all the rousing favourites like Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory to a spectacular firework display and laser light show.
COMEDY: Bedford Festival Fringe, The Quarry Theatre and The Place Theatre, Bedford, 15-27 July
Inspired by, and in celebration of the cultural festival stalwart that is Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comes Bedford Fringe… the founders say it ‘brings a little bit of Edinburgh to Bedford’ with an array of fringe arts (that means new work and upcoming stars!) and there’s SO much to see – er… 150 things to be precise!
OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Shakespearean plays, Blenheim Palace, 8 July – 7 Sept
Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.
EXHIBITION: First Animals, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, from 12 July
This new major exhibition will look back on the origins of life as we know it on earth with fossils and specimens, some of which are over hundreds of millions of years old (woah!), loaned from museums around the world. Highlights include an interactive, 360-degree diving installation, digital reconstructions and virtual reality.
If you fancy a camping festival, there’s Shambala, a small, lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly (22 – 25 Aug). Or there’s Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, the kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties (25 – 28 Jul).
And if you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.