Fri 26 - Sun 28 Oct
THEATRE: Much Ado About Nothing, Watford Palace Theatre, until Sat 27 Oct
We’re in 1940s wartime Britain for this production by Brigid Larmour of Much Ado About Nothing. The decision to cast all women in the play celebrates how the ladies held the fort so admirably back home. Muddy went to the press night and here’s what we thoughtof this charming, laugh-a-minute, yet sad in all the right places, production.
ART: Henry Moore Exhibition: Out of the Block, Perry Green, now until Sun 28 Oct
This is the last week of this fascinating exhibition exploring how Henry Moore carved his sublime sculptures out of a whole block of stone or wood. He continually returned to this method for most of his career, despite periods modelling with clay, plaster and casting in bronze, and you can see the stunning results in this thematic display.
ART: Luxmuralis at St Albans Cathedral, Fri 26 & Sat 27 Oct
A stunning light projection with sound will fill the nave of St Albans Cathedral to commemorate World War One on Friday and Saturday, free to all. They’ll be rose petals falling in the Shrine and the names of local residents who served over the past 100 years in the armed services will also be projected on to the cathedral’s walls. A beautiful, immersive experience as part of the remembrance commemorations, this sounds like a must-see.
EVENT: Open Day and Fizz launch, Frisden Vineyard, Sat 27 Oct
HALF TERM CONTINUES…
There’s Halloween half term fun at Forty Hall, ancestral home of the Parker Bowles family, with all sorts of spooky activities that will keep the kids entertained in the stunning setting of this beautiful listed Manor House in Enfield. 23 – 28 Oct.
Head down the M1 to junction 9 for the Pop up Farm where you can pick your own pumpkin and learn all about the 15 different types of pumpkin and squash from the knobbly and aptly named Goosebumps pumpkin, to the intriguing white Polar Bear variety. Let them loose in the straw maze while you refuel at The Pitstop café. 20 – 31 Oct.
Freaky Funfest at Mead Open Farm, near Leighton Buzzard, promises something for all ages at this year’s spook-tacular Halloween event. There will be six different haunted attractions rated on their fear factor, from ‘little boos’ for toddlers to ‘bigger thrills’ for older children. New to explore this year are the Haunted Hotel and ‘Scary Tales’ fairytale fun, plus there’ll be pumpkin carving (at an extra cost) and all the usual farmyard activities, such as visiting the resident animals, tractor rides and entry to PlayWorld to enjoy. 20 – 31 Oct.
After dark, the farm transforms itself into the Howl Scream Park with 5 indoor horror mazes, street entertainment, live music, food and a bar. Expect special effects, obstacles, darkness, smoke, strobe lighting, live actors and the unexpected (spoiler: this doesn’t mean a hot chocolate and hygge, more’s the pity). Kids between 12 and 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Not suitable for little ones!
The Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Watford has once again decorated Hogwart’s Great Hall with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with an Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts with wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels, plus walk down a darker Diagon Alley with foreboding music. Vats of slimy Troll snot, buckets of dribbling drool of the three-headed dog variety, and pools of silvery unicorn blood will also be available to dip your hands into. Any slime fiends in your house will get to learn how it’s made (here’s hoping they don’t want to replicate it at home).
Legoland’s Brick or Treat has been going for years but new for 2018 are the Brick or Treat Halloween Trail (find the missing potion ingredients round the park to win a treat), the Spooky Hill Train plus a Halloween themed Lego Mosaic. There’s also a monster disco, rides, shows and fireworks displays with exploding lego bricks (or so it seems when you wear the special specs) on 20, 21, 26, 27 Oct and 2 Nov. Take my top tip and start at the back of the park and make your way forward – you’ll miss the most monstrous queues, trust me. 18 Oct – 2 Nov.
My favourite zoo hands down, if you can ignore the howling winds that whip through on inclement days. Whipsinade Zoo just over the border in Beds is putting on its Boo at the Zoo this half term so as well as the usual animal viewing, feeding, demos and talks, there are Halloween-themed activities. You can carve pumpkins, have a spooky face painting, get up close to invertebrates and hear monster mythbusting animal talks. The setting of this zoo in open countryside makes for a more natural feel compared to some others and my kids go mad for the train, sea lion and exotic bird displays plus one of the biggest playgrounds in the area. 20 – 31 Oct.
Well-known comic Omid Djalili has spread his wings into acting with ease and is no stranger to the West End and Hollywood but here he descends on Letchworth for an evening of satire, silliness and laughs.
THEATRE: Dinosaur World, Broadway Theatre, Letchworth, Sun 28 and Mon 29 Oct
Remarkably life-like dinosaurs appear right in front of you in this pre-historic interactive show for the family. Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus all pitch up to thrill and roar, and you get to learn lots of dino facts too.
CULTURE: London Literary Festival, Southbank Centre, London, Thurs 18 – Sun 28 Oct
Lots of literary luminaries like Sir Salman Rushdie and Barbara Kingsolver plus a dollop of celebs like Sally Field, Sue Perkins, Roger Daltrey, Mary Beard and Melvyn Bragg will be heading to the South Bank for the 12th London Lit Fest. The burning issues of today will be discussed and with Homer’s The Oddessy at the heart of the festival – readings, talks and discussions – there’s your culture fix in the bag.
ART: Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire, the Saatchi Gallery, London, now until Sun 13 Jan 2019
In these troubling times, satire can provide some light relief and hold up a mirror to modern-day politics. This new exhibition explores how art and satire can question and commentate in a way that can diffuse situations. All sorts of media have been used, including photography, installations and more obviously caricatures, and what’s even better is it’s completely free (very helpful when in Chelsea flexing the credit card).
THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, now – Sun 30 Dec
Exciting news – there’s a theatre being opened in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.
FOOD: London Restaurant Festival, various London locations, all month
It’s worth popping into town this month as London’s fantastic restaurant scene is in full celebration mode with great value festival menus at loads of top-notch restaurants, plus foodie events like gastronomic weekends, tasting menus, restaurant-hopping tours, tasting menus with famous chefs, talks, films and art.
PANTO: Pinocchio, Hertford Theatre, Sat 1 Dec to Tues 1 Jan
Panto season is nearly upon us – oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is! This production of Pinocchio promises toe-tapping songs, awesome dance routines and loads of slapstick fun as the wooden puppet with a heart strives to become a real child. The production team have previously had smash-hits with Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel so we reckon your evening is in safe hands.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, from Fri 23 Nov
Booking is now open for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sounds like a goodie.
THEATRE: Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Royal Albert Hall, Sat 1 Dec
Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show are bound to sell out fast (as they have in the States). Inspired by his memoirs of the same name and his previous book Love Life, Mr Lowe will spill the beans on a career from the Brat Pack to The West Wing to Parks and Rec and beyond. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur with loads of witty anecdotes that touch on his career, fame, Hollywood, fatherhood and marriage. Keep your eyes peeled come November – Rob is filming in London and Lincolnshire for a new ITV Drama called Wild Billabout a UK cop who moves to Lincolnshire!