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This weekend

Fri 6 - Sun 8 Sept

EXHIBITION: 100 years of the Hertfordshire Women’s Institute, until 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…


KIDS: Willows potato shindig, Willows Activity Farm, St Albans, 2-29 September

You’ve gotta love living in the countryside when you hear about a festival dedicated to… potatoes! Stick the kids in their dungas and straw hats to make like farmers for the day. They can go digging for tatties to their heart’s content and take part in some spud-themed crafts, too. They’ll even get to take a free bag full to take home – jackets for supper it is!


ARTS: Factory Reset, The Hat Factory Re-opening, Luton, 6-7 September

This cool urban arts venue is re-opening with a bang this month. Just turn up at the Hat Factory Arts Centre to see all sorts of performances for free on 6th, from aerial artists Pirates of the Carrabina and award winning theatre from the Tangled Feet Ensemble, to steel band music and poetry. Then there’s more on 7th with all sorts of creatives taking up residence throughout the day, offering painting workshops, open studios, talks, venue tours and film. Check. It. Out.


FESTIVAL: Berkofest, Ashlyns Hall Estate, Berkhamsted, 7 Sept

This super chilled local festival looks like a fab day out for the whole fam, with live local music from all genres – big band to rock and indy to pop – plus a ‘create zone’ with performances and activities like comedy and circus. Plus its in a new venue this year surrounded by trees and green space for a proper summer festival feel.


FOOD: Pasta making workshop, The Mill House, Hertford, 7 Sept

Join Kate, Italophile and founder of food blog Cooking and Carafes, for a fab pasta making workshop. Kick off with a glass of fizz and some antipasti (we’re sold already!) then learn how to make homemade pasta from scratch and a Sicilian style sauce, then gobble it all up over a glass of vino with your newfound friends. You’ll even get to take a Filipo Berio goodie bag home with you. Yum!


ART: Herts Open Studios, various locations, 7-29 Sept

Check out what a creative bunch we are in Hertfordshire at this annual celebration of local art, where masses of artists studios, events and exhibitions will open their doors to the public for free. There’ll be all forms of art on show, from clay and sculpture to glass and jewellery to painting, printing, textiles and photography. It launches on 7-8 September with a special open event at St Albans Museum + Gallery to whet your appetite.


FOOD: Hitchin Food Festival, Market Place, Hitchin, 7-8 September

All your fave local restaurants and cafés will be out in force for this annual foodie extravaganza. They’ll be showing off their best dishes alongside artisan producers – don’t miss the sampler sessions in the Taster Tent. Skip lunch before you go to make sure you’ve got room for all those tasty treats on offer.


FOOD: The Local Food Festival, Rushmere Country Park, Leighton Buzzard, 8 Sept

And there’s more for food lovers – this time in Beds. Check out 30 plus local food and drink producers, from waffles to Wobbly Bottom cheese and an eclectic line-up of live music, including vintage swing, rock and jazz, plus an interactive Rhyme and Chime session for littlies. And all in the lovely setting of Rushmere Country Park.


DRINK: Warden Abbey Vineyard Open Day and Wine Sale, Old Warden, Beds, 8 September

As if you need an excuse to drink wine… how about heading over to the lovely Warden Abbey Vineyard for their annual fundraising event (the vineyard is volunteer-run) where you can wander around the medieval vines (chilled glass of vino in hand, natch), learn all about the history of winemaking, and browse the food and craft stalls. Plus there’ll be animal encounters for the kids, Morris dancing and World Food Championship winners ‘The Wonky Donkeys’ heading up the BBQ. Oh and there’ll be free tasters on offer too, so you can try before you buy. See you there!


WELLBEING: Forest bathing+, RSPB The Lodge, Sandy, Beds, 8 September

Ever heard of forest bathing? Sounds a bit airy fairy, but apparently there’s actual medical reasearch into the benefits of spending time under a canopy of trees. It’s bit like mindfulness, but connecting with nature while you’re at it – or letting the therapeutic powers of the woodland ease away your stresses.  Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, I say, and you can give it a go at this RSPB nature reserve. If it doesn’t float your boat, at least you’ll get a nice walk in the woods!



MUSICAL: Madagascar The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside, Aylesbury, 19 – 22 Sept 

Photo by Scott Rylander

Alex the lion (played by X Factor winner Matt Terry), Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins explode onto the Aylesbury Waterside’s stage in Madagascar The Musical next month, a guaranteed hit with kids (and adults for that matter) who like to move it move it (sorry). Tickets here.

CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival – featuring Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live, Phyllis Court, Henley, Sat 5 Oct 

It’s back, baby! We’re returning to Henley Lit Fest (28 Sept – 6 Oct) this year with lashings of wine, plenty of pizzazz and a panel of brilliant authors: actor, Celebrity Master Chef winner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of ELLE and How to be a Gentlewoman author Lotte Jeffs, and Five Steps to Happy debut novelist Ella Dove. More info here. Get your tickets pronto, last year was a sell out.


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