ACTIVITY: Free street table tennis, Hertford, April onwards
Can’t resist a challenge? Then you won’t be able to pass by the new ping pong table in Hertford without having a quick knockabout. Find it in Dophin Yard in the town centre, pop into the library to collect a bat and ball (for a £5 deposit) and enjoy a free 15-minute session. If the idea proves to be a hit, the council might add a few more tables around the town, too, so watch this space.
THEATRE: A Disappearing Act, The Place Bedford, 2 – 3 April
This one sounds like a cross between murder mystery and a magic show… You’re invited to the memorial service of a great magician, and he’s left strict instructions for his son and assistant to carry out his final act. Be prepared to play along with this interactive and immersive production which tackles the idea of mortality through music, magic and comedy. Kooky!
EXHIBITION: Henry Moore Drawings: The Art of Seeing, Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Perry Green, 3 April – 27 October
Coinciding with the re-opening of the studio and gallery for the season, this exhibition of Moore’s drawings is the biggest of its kind in over 40 years. Most of us know him for his iconic sculptures of course, but it was actually an exhibition of his drawings in 1942 which triggered his rise to fame. On show will be 150 pieces dating back to the 1920s including life studies, drawings of animals, landscapes and portraits, as well as sketches of his sculptures, textile designs and a series chronicling wartime Britain. Fascinating stuff.
POP-UP: Creative Living, Christopher Place, St Albans, 3 April – 12 May
We’re all in favour of supporting local small businesses, especially if it means we get a chance to snap up some some gorgeous handmade goodies. This six-week long pop-up brings together 14 local business (nearly all run by women, I might add) selling unique furniture, home accessories, skin care, jewellery, art, stationery and more. There will also be demonstrations including cushion making and furniture making.
TALK: Bond is Back, Dr Challoner’s School, Little Chalfont, 4 April
Calling all Bond fans (and no, swooning over Daniel Craig doesn’t count!) Author Anthony Horwitz celebrates the launch of his latest 007 thriller, Forever and a Day, the prequel to Casino Royale at this Chiltern Bookshops event. And if hearing about the book whets your appetite, you can go straight home and read it as tickets include a copy, too.
MUSIC: Tenors Unlimited 15th Anniversary Tour, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 5 April
This number one selling operatic trio are celebrating a decade and a half in the business with a special anniversary tour. Known as ‘The Rat Pack of Opera’ for their cheeky chappy style, they’ll cover classics like Nessun Dorma, as well as pop and crooner favourites from Bublé’s Everything to Franki Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. We can almost hear the toe tapping in the audience from here!
KIDS: British Dinosaurs: From Fossils to Feathers, Natural History Museum, Tring, 5 April – 11 October
Dino-crazy kids will love getting their teeth into some fun facts at this special exhibition which celebrates Britain as the birthplace of dinosaur studies (bet you didn’t know that…) There’ll be lots to look at too, including casts and specimens of prehistoric skeletons, skulls and teeth (eww!), which have all been discovered around the British Isles. A wannabe paleontologist’s dream!
EXHIBITION: Humphry Repton: Art and Nature for the Duke of Bedford, Woburn Abbey, 5 April – 1 Sept
This year marks the bicentary of the landscape gardener responsible for designing the grounds and Gardens at Woburn Abbey. The exhibition features his famous Red Book, which is packed with detailed plans and ideas for the planting schemes, lakes and parklands, as well examples of his other work for the 6th Duke of Bedford’s Devon and London homes. Step outside to see Repton’s work in its full glory, including his trademark features like the grotto, Chinese-style pavillion and aviary.
FESTIVAL: Hertford Arts Festival, various locations, 5 April – 5 May
Come and check out some local talent (not that kind, naughty!) at this month-long extravaganza of arts and culture. Unfortunately the art exhibition on the 5th has already sold out, but there’s still masses to see and do including a free Arts Trail with 30 pop-up exhibitions throughout the town where artists will be demonstrating and selling their work (there’ll be all kinds, from watercolour to scupture – a great chance to bag yourself a unique locally produced piece) – as well as a craft market at Hertford Castle on 5 May.
OUTDOOR: Opening weekend, Hatfield House, 6 April
Hatfield House is celebrating coming out of hibernation for the season this month. To mark the occasion there’ll be live music throughout the day, free activities at the riding school as well as Easter crafts for the kids including cupcake decorating, face painting and a chance to meet the resident lambs.
NEW ATTRACTION: Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Warner Bros. Studios, Herts, from Sat 6 Apr
Just when you think the Harry Potter hype is finally over, Warner Bros figure out another way to get us through the door. On Sat 6 Apr, the studios unveil their biggest expansion to date, Gringotts Wizarding Bank full of with crystal chandeliers, original film props and, er, a gallery of goblins. The new set will be a permanent addition to the tour.
KIDS: Easter bunny fun, Woburn Abbey and Gardens, 6 April
While you enjoy a wander around the stunning gardens full of spring colour, the kids will be minding their own business looking for Easter bunnies which have been hidden around the grounds (genius!) Pick up a trail map from the gift shop and why not treat yourself to afternoon tea in the Duchess’ Tearoom, ‘cos it’s your holiday too, right?
KIDS: Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, 6 April – 2 June
If you’ve got a LEGO fan on your hands, this is an absolute must-visit! Imagine their little faces at spotting a life-size gorilla made entirely from their favourite building blocks, or an elephant that literally weighs a tonne of bricks! There’s also going to be a pit full of LEGO for kids to build their own animal creations. Sounds epic!
THEATRE: AniMalcolm, Hertford Theatre, 6-7 April
Story Pocket Theatre dramatises Brit comic and award winning children’s author David Baddiel’s AniMalcolm. The show uses physical theatre and live puppetry to tell the comical tale of Malcolm, a boy who hates animals, as he inhabits the bodies of several farm creatures on a school trip.
KIDS: Wizard of Oz, Mead Open Farm, Billington, Bedfordshire, 8 – 22 April
Follow Dorothy and her friends, the lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow along the Yellow Brick Road, for this immersive adventure, especially for the Easter holidays. There’ll also be special shows throughout the day and a chance to meet the baby animals (aww), along with all the other activities that the farm has to offer.
KIDS: Wow! It’s Night Time, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton 8 – 10 April
This endearing sequel to Tim Hopgood’s Wow! The Owl Said sees the return of the curious little owl who is ready to discover the magic of the dark, from the big bright moon to the bats in the sky and the foxes in the forest. Little Angel Theatre bring this enchanting production to the stage, aimed at 2-5 year olds.
KIDS: The Horrid House Tour, Wardown House, Museum and Gallery, 9 – 10 and 16 – 17 April
Parents can get lost for this one. Seriously, just drop off your 8-10 year olds at the door as they embark on a grizzly and gruesome tour of this historic house, on which they’ll be regaled with tales of vicious villans, ghastly ghosts, wounded soldiers and… a buffet of horror (whatever that is!) We’re happy to leave them to it this time!
WORKSHOP: Easter garden flower workshop, Grove House, St Albans, 10 April
Fancy making your own Easter table centre? Step this way. Learn how to design and create your a lovely spring decoration, using moss, pussy willow and seasonal flowers at this Rennie Grove Hospice event. Then show off your handiwork to the family over the at the Easter lunch.
THEATRE: All About Eve live screening, Hertford Theatre, 11 April
Fancy checking out the hotly tipped National Theatre production starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James without schlepping into London? Here’s just the thing – a live screening here in Herts. Just like the real thing (well, almost). A classic tale of age versus beauty, it tells the story of glittering stage star Margo Channing (Anderson), and her biggest fan, the young and pretty, Eve (James) who threatens to steal her spotlight.
EXHIBITION: The Eclectic Generation, Romy Kelleher, Nude Tin Can Gallery, St Albans, 13 – 25 April
Er… how can someone so young have so much talent?! This portrait artist is only 18 years old, and is still studying for her BA, yet she’s got her very own exhibition coming to St Albans this month (she’s just been on Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year, too!). And we can see why. Go and see her hauntingly life-life paintings in the flesh – we reckon she’s heading for the big time!
KIDS: Easter trail, Knebworth House, 19-20 April
Find the hidden symbols and follow this trail through the flower gardens, around the Edwardian maze and amongst the 72 life-sized dinosaurs to claim a special prize. General admission tickets are just a tenner, which is not bad for a fun day out that’s not just for the kids! Trail sheets are £1 extra.
EVENT: Easter Medieval jousting, Knebworth House, 21 – 22 April
Put on your best fair maiden impression and cheer on the knights on horseback as they go head-to-head in medieval-style combat against the majestic backdrop of Knebworth house. And, if you fancy trying your hand at some archery, the Green Dragon Bowmen will be on hand to show you how it’s done. The jousting diplays are included in your admission ticket and it’s just a couple of quid extra to have a go at archery.
THEATRE: The Tide Jetty, Roe Hill Hall, Hatfield, 25 April
Here’s a good old-fashioned love triangle for you. Brothers Tucky and Nathan who grew up on the Norfolk Broads both fall for their lifelong friend, tomboy Eliza. The trio are inseparable until tragedy ensues… This play by acclaimed theatre company, Eastern Angles, for UH Arts (the University of Hertfordshire’s Arts programme) combines music and movement and some thought-provoking take homes.
FESTIVAL: Berko Beer Fest, Berkhamsted Cricket Club, 26 – 27 April
With 36 real ales and 12 craft kegs from local Chilterns breweries to try, you’re onto a winner if beer’s your bag. But even if it’s not there’s plenty more to whet your whistle, including comedy from the likes of TV regulars, Rob Deering and Jen Brister (Friday night), and live music from local bands (Saturday), plus a gin bar, wine, cider and prosecco. See you at the bar!
EXHIBITION: Harpenden Photographic Society Annual Exhibition, High Street Methodist Church, 27 April
See life through a lens at one of Hertfordshire’s biggest photography exhibitions. This showcase of the society members’ best works of the year will include portrait, landscape, macro, natural world, street and sport photography. It’s free and might even inspire you to dust off that SLR and have a go yourself!
MUSIC: BBC Symphony Orchestra & Alexander McCall Smith, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 28 April
If you loved The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories, you won’t want to miss this special afternoon of the favourite music of beloved author Alexander McCall Smith, which will bring his colourful characters – heralding from Botswana to Scotland – to life. If you don’t manage to get there though, it’s also being recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3, so you can tune in and listen later.
TALK: A Taste of Chocolate Past, North Hertfordshire Museum, Hitchin, 30 April
The Easter choccy isn’t all for the kids, you know! Indulge in this informative history-of-chocolate talk following the journey of everyone’s favourite sweet treat. The experts will demonstrate a nearly 2000 year-old Mexican chocolate making method (yep, it really is that old!) and you can try some samples of hot chocolate as it would have been enjoyed in the court of Charles II.
WORKSHOP: BBQ butchery class, Foxholes Farm, Hertford, 30 April
Can we call it barbecue season yet? Sure! Any excuse to get outside and burn (we mean cook) burgers to a crisp over fire (if you’re a man that is… not that we’re gender stereotyping, ahem!) But if you want to learn how to boss the barbie, the butchery experts will be on hand at this class to teach you all you need to know about cuts of meat and mixing marinades. You’ll make your own burgers and get a bag of barbecue meat to take home with you. Mouth watering yet?
EXHIBITION: Beasts of London, Museum of London, Fri 5 – Sun 5 Jan
This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (here’s a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the animals, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris, Joe Pasquale and more voicing the beasts.
EXHIBITION: Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Sat 6 Apr
This is going to be awesome! The iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant, gets her own exhibit at the V&A with over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive.
KIDS: Legoland, Windsor
Kids rejoice! Legoland reopened last month and is launching its new ride this Easter, on Sat 13 April, called The Haunted House Monster Party. Man of the house Lord Vampyre, Mummy and Monster Rocker will also be there for photos.
They’re also running themed holiday workshops at its brand spanking new pop-up iLab in Paddington where kids can become mini engineers for the three day sessions. The Wonders of the World camp runs Mon 8 – Wed 10 Apr whilst Planes, Trains and Automobiles runs Mon 8 – Wed 10 Apr and Mon 15 – Wed 17 Apr.
THEATRE: Southbank Centre, London, Sat 6 – Mon 22 Apr
Free fun by the bucketful if you’re heading to London this Easter with music from Camp Bestival regulars Dizney Rascal, cool folk singer London Rhymes and comedy theatre group Mrs H and the Sing-Along Band. Paid events include giant musical sandpits, an immersive colourful performance called Kaleidoscope and the brilliant Tabby McTat (Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler) Freckle Productions, the team behind Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Zog.
INTERIORS: Ideal Home show, Olympia London, until Sun 7 Apr
The whopper Ideal Home Show rocks up at Olympia London with hundreds of free talks, 600 companies and the latest tech. This year the theme is Best of British so expect loads of UK companies. Does anyone else feel a splurge coming on?
FESTIVAL: BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, London, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Apr
Forget trashy telly (Love Island I’m looking at you), there are some mega Brit TV celebs attending this. The British Film Institute and Radio Times team up for the largest television festival in the UK with talks from the likes of Joanna Lumley, Jamie Oliver, Big Narstie (ask your teens), Suranne Jones and Dame Helen Mirren. You’ll also get an insight into what goes on behind the silver screen with The Bodyguard creator Jed Mercurio (we couldn’t get enough of this in Muddy HQ), Derry Girls doyenne Lisa McGee and more, as well as loads of showings from the BFI archives. There’s a young adult programme too (for 16 – 25 year olds) all at £5, including a Q&A with the cast of BBC 3’s university drama Clique. Full programme here.
EXHIBITION: Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain, London, until Tues 27 Aug
This new major exhibition will be the first to explore the artist’s relationship with Britain and the literature, art and culture that inspired his work. Over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg.
EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until Sun 14 July
This exhibition, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, has been HUGE- it is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him, it’s based on the a Parisian exhibition but with a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight is the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.
FESTIVAL: Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June
Oooh, new and shiny! There’s a brand new festival near our ‘hood! Chilterns Live will be popping up in Tring with a stellar pop line-up of Busted (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling.