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Reader Treats Just For You!

This weekend

Fri 26 - Sun 28 Jul

WILDLIFE: Aquarium opening, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, from 26 July

Delve into an underwater world as Muddy Award-winning family attraction, Whipsnade Zoo opens its brand new aquarium. Discover some weird an wonderful facts about some of the world’s rarest and most endangered freshwater dwelling species, like how they’ve adapted to their ever-changing environments. There’ll also be some special activities to celebrate the opening, like Fish Tales which will invite 1-5 year olds on board their own boat to learn who calls the river their home, and an educational ZSL in Action session for older kids (age 6-12) to learn about what happens to fish during disasters. Both until 2 September.


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!


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.


EXHIBITION: 100 years of the Hertfordshire Women’s Institute, 27 July – 8 Sept

It’s not all jam and Jerusalem you know, the WI has come a long way in the last century – yep 100 years since it started in Hertfordshire. Delve into the history of the Herts federation at this exhibition…


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!


KIDS: Mythical Creatures Trails, Hertford Town Centre, until 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!



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 BestivalLulworth CastleDorset, 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.

Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated  by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.
Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&A recently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.

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