MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
, Hertford Theatre, Sun 1 Dec – Tues 1 Jan
No wooden performances here! fantastic in-house theatre team produce the panto every year. Up this year is The Astonishing Adventures of Pinocchio. What’s so astonishing you ask? You’ll have to watch to find out.
, Gordon Craig Theatre, now until Tues 22 Jan
Swashbucking pirates ahoy in the form of Britain’s Got Talent’s dance troupe Twist & Pulse, Emmerdale’s Tom Lister as Captain Hook and Stevenage’s panto dame veteran Paul Laidlow as the hapless Mrs Smee. Gordon Craig Theatre’s regular comic Aidan O’Neill will be playing Paul’s hubby, Mr Smee.
, Alban Arena, Thurs 6 Dec – Sun 6 Jan
There’s a bit of a party, or should I say S Club party, of celeb types at this one including Rachel Stevens, CBeebies favourite Mr Bloom a.k.a. Ben Faulks, and local star Bob Golding who has appeared in the theatre’s pantos since 2011. Like last year’s panto, Cinderella has been written by Paul Hendry and produced by Evolution.
For more panto action, check out Muddy’s 2018 panto guide .
KIDS: , Ashridge Estate, Sat 1 – Sun 30 Dec
How amazing is Ashridge? You can just breathe easy here! But they also put on lots of events including 12 Dens of Ashridge trail for kids, currently running on weekends and a handful of weekdays throughout December. The trail involves counting animals for Santa in their decorated dens; children who take part will receive a small gift at the end.
THEATRE: ‘Tis The Season: The Office Christmas Party, Harlow Playhouse, Fri 7 Dec
Just over the Herts boarder in Essex, Harlow Playhouse’s 120 seat theatre is bringing workplace politics to the stage with ’Tis The Season: The Office Party, offering a festive take on awks office encounters (we’ve all been there).
MUSIC: , Broadway Theatre & Cinema, Sat 8 Dec
Calling all opera fans! Tenors Un Limited will be performing at Broadway Theatre & Cinema as part of their 15th anniversary tour. The trio will be performing all sorts of festive favourites from Silent Night, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Micheal Bublé’s Everything, as well as their charity single Who Is He? which previously topped the iTunes classical chart.
CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL & ICE SKATING: , St Albans, now until Sat 22 Dec
St Albans’ Christmas Market is handing over the reins to Meraki Festival this year which means, along with a German style market, tipi Firepit bar, cinema snug, fairground and Santa himself, there’ll be a synthetic ice rink. Booking for a 30 minute session is advised as the rink only fits 35 people at a time. 11am – 11pm.
For a full list of pop-up rinks in Herts and beyond click here.
KIDS: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, now until Sun 27 Jan
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
MUSIC: , Hatfield House, Sun 9 Dec
Been waiting until December to whack out the Christmas tunes? The Hertfordshire Chorus will be at Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood gaff, the Old Palace at Hatfield House, for an evening of carols and festive hits. The choir have previously performed at the Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall. 7pm.
SCREENING: The Snowman, Harpenden Public Halls, Sun 9 Dec
Get your festive fix over at Harpenden Public Halls where there’ll be a one off screening of The Snowman, complete with a live brass band performance of Howard Blake’s musical score by Hitchin Band. 10.30am.
COMEDY: , Hertford Theatre, Wed 12 Dec
British funny-woman Jo Brand will be joined by Howard Read and his cartoon sidekick Little Howard, The Chase’s Paul Sinha a.k.a. Sinnerman, MC Alistair Barrie and more for a night of funny fundraising. All proceeds will go to .
COMEDY: Jason Manford: Muddle Class, Gordon Craig Theatre, Thurs 13 Dec
Mancunian banter in the form of What would your kid do? and 8 Out of 10 Cats’ Jason Manford will be coming to Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre after adding 31 extra dates to his tour: Muddle Class. The show promises brand new material about Jason growing up ‘working class’ then finding, over the years, that part of him has become ‘middle class.’ Jason hasn’t been on tour since his 2014 with First World Problems.
GAMES: , St Albans Museum, 15 Dec – Sun 6 Jan
To celebrate the exhibition Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered, that was originally displayed in the V&A, St Albans Museum will have a selection of giant boardgames in their Assembly Room ready for you to get into the competitive spirit in the Christmas holidays. From Wed 19 – Sun 30 Dec there’ll also be craft activities inspired by games for kids.
, Watford Palace Theatre, Sun 16 Dec
Watford Palace Theatre will be showing Ralph Fiennes in all his glory (nope, not Voldemort) as General Mark Antony in a screening of London National Theatre’s Antony and Cleopatra. The play, that is directed by the theatre’s Associate Director Simon Goodwin, recently saw Ralph and his Cleopatra, Sophie Okonedo, pick up best actor and actress at the 64th Evening Standard Theatre Awards. 2pm.
BOOKS: , St Albans Cathedral, Wed 19 Dec
Fiona Sampson, author of In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein, will be giving a talk in St Albans Cathedral about her new novel that is composed of letters and diaries written by a young Mary Shelley. Last year Fiona received an MBE for her services to literature.
SCREENING: The Nutcracker, Vyne Theatre, Sun 23 Dec
Can’t make it further afield to Moscow? Don’t worry you can still catch Bolshoi Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Herts’ own Vyne Theatre. The performance features Bolshoi’s critically acclaimed staging, principal dancers Ekaterina Krysanova and Semyon Chudin and is performed to Tchaikovsky’s score. 3pm.
CHRISTMAS: at Dunstable Downs, Dunstable Downs and Whipsnade Estate, until Wed 26 Dec
Dunstable Downs has loads of weekend activities lined up for the festive period including breakfast with Santa, Christmas craft workshops using natural materials from the Downs, table decoration workshops with experts from Edlesborough Flowers and a Christmas carol trail through Chute Woods. On 21 Dec Morris dancers will be out in force to celebrate the Winter Solstice along with a traditional mummers play and other entertainment. If you’ve gorged on pigs in blankets, there’ll be a two hour ‘burn off’ walk on Boxing Day, 10am-12pm.
SHOPPING & EATING: Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London
At only a short train ride across the border (hey, it’s allowed!) Kings Cross has loads going on for Dec, including the shiny new shopping district Coal Drops Yard which opened last month offering a mix of big name brands and independent shops. Until Jan 6 there’ll also be a festive light installation created by Eindhoven-based Studio Mieke Meije.
, House of Illustrations, Kings Cross, open until Sun 27 Jan
Kids may know him best for illustrating Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda (been to the Road Dahl Museum just across the boarder in Bucks?) but if you fancy seeing the more grown up side to illustrator Quentin Blake then head down to House of Illustrations, King’s Cross. Until the end of Jan the gallery will be home to an exhibit of his private work as a figurative artist, featuring never seen before artwork and paintings.
LIVE SCREENINGS: Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, London, Mon 3 Dec – 7 Jan
See a live screening of The Nutcracker, followed by 20 screenings of great operas and ballets with memorable casts as the Linbury Theatre (within the ROH) becomes a cinema for 5 weeks. ROH staff and well-known artists will introduce the screenings and on selected weekend matinees, children 5 -15 go free. Opera highlights include La Bohème, La Traviata and Otello. Undoubtably, one of the ballet highlights will be Darcey Bussell introducing the screening of Sylvia, starring herself, and offering her unique insights into the role.
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, London, Wed 5 Dec – 19 Jan
The smash hit of Dickens’ classic adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and directed by Matthew Warchus returns to the Old Vic and this time Stephen Tompkinson stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. This big-hearted and warm production’s unique staging immerses the audience in the story and there’s music, mince pies and much merriment for a fab festive night out.
HISTFEST, London, Fri 7 – Sun 9 Dec
A brand new festival taking place in London with talks, workshops, panel discussions and live performances to entertain and educate. Award winning historian and broadcaster, Betthany Hughes, is the keynote speaker, talking about Istanbul, plus other celeb historians include Kate Williams on Mary, Queen of Scots, and Janina Ramirez on Beowulf.
CHRISTMAS: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, now until Sun 6 Jan
Go big or go home when it comes to festive fun, London’s Winter Wonderland is huuuuge. Free to enter but once inside, prepare to sell a kidney. The costs can get out of control – particularly if you hit the glühwein a little too hard. What to expect? Winter markets, fairground rides and ice skating. Major attractions this year include the Magical Ice Kingdom Secret Forest, an immersive showcase of woodland animals and mythical creatures created from ice and snow; a Bavarian village offering an authentic Oktoberfest experience; karaoke cabins, ice sculpting workshops, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club, immersive screenings of The Snowman and plus Peter Pan on Ice.
CHRISTMAS: Kew Gardens, London, now until 5 Jan
A spectacular winter trail with over a million twinkling lights and thousands of laser beams, Kew’s light show is awe-inspiring. You can be mesmerised by the Fire Garden, walk through the moonlit woods and check out the laser garden. Mulled wine, hot choc and spiced cider will help keep you warm and the kids can whizz round on vintage fairground rides whilst looking out for Santa and his elves.