FAMILY: The Snow Queen – A Frozen Fairytale, Hertford Theatre, until 1 Jan
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Bring the whole family along to this all-singing, all-dancing 10th anniversary Christmas production of the story which inspired Frozen (it’s gonna be a surefire hit with the kids!) Meet Gerda, Jack Frost and some other fairytale favourites in this chilly adventure as they try and rescue their friends from the icy clutches of the Snow Queen.
Read the Muddy review here.
CHARITY: Santa run, Bedford, 1 Dec
You wait all year for Santa to come then hundreds turn up at once! They’ll be descending on Bedford Embankment for a 5k fun run (or walk or jog) in aid of Keech Hospice Care, which supports adults and children with life-limiting illness. Afterlall, Christmas is the time for giving…and dressing up in silly costumes! Even if you’re not taking part it’ll be a fun one to watch.
BEAUTY: Meet the Maker – Bramble and Blossom, Ashridge Estate, 1 Dec
Founder of local beauty brand Bramble and Blossom, Karen, will be on hand at the Ashridge visitor centre near Berkhamsted to talk you through her fab range, all made in Tring, Herts from natural, ethically sourced and sustainable ingredients, including bath salts, beauty balm and pillow mist. Try (or at least sniff!) before you buy – just in time for Chrimbo, or hey, why not treat yourself?
KIDS: The Nutracker Trail, Ashridge Estate, 1-29 Dec
Get into the festive spirit with this magical guided trail through the woods on the theme of The Nutcracker. Complete the trail to claim a present at the end don’t forget to get a Christmas tree selfie.
KIDS: Father Christmas visits Wardown House, Luton 1-22 Dec
Littlies will be entranced by the sight of Mother and Father Christmas in the historic library of Wardown House while they tell festive stories. Afterwards they can join Father Christmas in the dining room and receive a special present from under the tree, before joining the elves for milk and cookies – cute!
WALK: Christmas Pudding Walk, Ashridge Estate, 2-21 Dec
Follow the puddings! Now there’s something we can get on board with. Wrap up warm and burn off some pre-Christmas calorie in the woods on this self-led fun festive trail – let the Christmas pudding markers lead the way!
KIDS: Santa Claus and the Night Before Christmas, Watford Colosseum, 3-24 Dec
This interactive audience experience is full of songs, stories, snow and, of course Santa. The cheeky elves are tasked with proving the non-believers wrong – that Santa is real. And to top it off, kids will be able to meet the man himself after the show and take home a present.
CHARITY: Soup Fest, Bedford, Harpur Square, 3 Dec
This fab initiative is an annual festival of you guessed it – soup! Local restaurants like Paris House will donate homemade hot soup to sell in Bedford’s Harpur Square on 3 Dec to raise funds and awareness for the homeless. Genius!
ART: Home, The Higgins Bedford, 3-15 Dec
This exhibition about the real meaning of ‘home’ features mixed media pieces created by artists with personal experience of homelessness. At this time of year when it feels particularly poignant, the exhibition aims to challenge perceptions and provoke discussion about those living on the streets, and in refuges and hostels.
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 4 Dec
Re-visit the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in this adaptation of Dickens’ classic Christmas tale, as told by the author himself (as played by actor John O’Connor) – did you know that A Christmas Carol was the first public reading he did of his own work, which he re-enacted 150 times. So sit back and immerse yourself in the (ahem) spirit of Christmas.
FOOD AND DRINK: Supper Club – game casserole, Wee Vinoteca, Hitchin, 4 Dec
Come celebrate local, seasonal produce and great wine (of course) at one of Muddy’s fave wine shops-cum-bars, Wee Vinoteca in Hitchin. Local chef local chef Alexander ‘Ping’ Heathcote with cook up some hearty winter fare – a game casserole accompanied by a robust red wine flight. £35pp.
FESTIVAL: Christmas Tree Festival, St Paul’s Church, Bedford, 4-8 Dec
This fab annual display of Christmas trees decorated and donated by local businesses and organisations includes everything from the traditional to the quirky. We have it on have it on good authority that the College of Lacemakers’ one is always a highlight! There’ll be musical accompaniment from local schools and community groups throughout too. Plus it raises money for charity too.
MUSIC: West End at Christmas, The Place Bedford, 4-6 Dec
Love a bit of musical theatre but can’t make it to the West End this year? What if the stars of the stage could come to you… well closer to home anyway! This special evening of hits from the big shows and Christmas songs will be performed by the cast of producions like Les Mis, We Will Rock You, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Cats amongst others, so you can get your fix without trekking into London.
FAMILY: Stockwood Illuminated, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, 6-29 Dec
Take this self-guided tour along the illuminated pathways around Stockwood Discovery Centre by dark then enjoy some festive fare in the form of a BBQ (yes, there will be German Bratwurst sausages!) and musical entertainment from jazz duo, Mellowtone. Don’t forget to book your time slot for the walk-through in advance!
MUSIC: A Christmas Concert with Tenors Unlimited, Broadway Theatre, Letchworth, 7 Dec
The charming chaps are bringing their new festive themed show to Herts (joined by Letchworth City Chorus), with some old faves like Nessun Dorma, You Raise Me Up and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, as well as hits from The Greatest Showman and Christmassy heart-warmers from traditional carols to Wham! We know you’ll be singing along in the front row!
KIDS: A Star in the Jar, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 7 Dec
This sounds like an adorable story about a little boy who finds a star and takes it on adventures. When the star gets homesick the boy and his sister hatch a plan to send it safely back. Not your typical Christmas tale but definitely one to warm the cockles and spread some magic. For ages 3-8.
MUSIC: Festive Song Singalong, Hatfield House, 7 Dec
Warm up those vocal chords for an afternoon of festive song – yes, you are allowed to join in! – in the magical atmosphere of Stable Yard with its fab tree and twinkly lights. There’ll be performances thouhgout from the Jupiter Singers and The London Choir Show to keep spirits high, then you can head to the River Cottage Kitchen and Deli for mince pies and mulled wine or browse the Stable Yard shops for unique gifts.
MUSIC: Hertfordshire Big Band – A Disney Christmas, Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans, 7 Dec
Are you a self-confessed Disney fan, or have a member of the fam who is? Here’s a musical treat for you… this annual jazz concert which has been running for nearly a decade in Welwyn is moving to St Albans this year, and will take its cue from, you guessed it – Disney films. All your faves from the likes of The Lion King, Snow White and The Lady and the Tramp will be getting the big band treatment with some festive classics thrown in for good measure, too.
KIDS: Santas Grotto and Festivities, The Shuttleworth Estate, 7-8 and 14-15 Dec
Santa sure knows how to make an entrance and will be flying in (not by sleigh, but by aircraft) to Shuttleworth this month. See him arrive in style (10am on 7th and 14th Dec), meet the man himself, follow a festive trail around the Swiss Garden, have a go on the funfair rides and enjoy face painting, pony rides, wreath making and kids crafts.
MUSIC: Carols at Wrest Park, Silsoe, Beds, 9-10 Dec
Sing your heart out at this special carol singing event in the grand Wrest Park library. There are two time slots on each day and you can even top it off with a 2 or 3-course Christmas dinner if you book carols at 6pm.
COMEDY: Adam Kay :‘Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, Watford Colosseum, 9 Dec
If you’ve read his book, This is Going to Hurt or seen him on TV you’ll know Adam Kay will have you in stitches – although not the medical kind, hopefully! This festive themed show takes a close-to-the-bone look at the NHS and those hardy staff who’ll be working over Christmas – described as a love letter to those who spend their festive season on the front line removing babies and… err… baubles! Not sure if we want to know!
BALLET: Coppélia Live from the ROH, Watford Palace Theatre, 10 Dec
Screened live from the Royal Opera House, this lesser known classic will be performed by The Royal Ballet – it promises to bring the storybook world of Coppélia to life in an intricately choreographed tale about about love, mischief and mechanical dolls (of course!).
FAMILY: The Wind in the Willows, Broadway Theatre, Letchworth, 10-15 Dec
If you need a breather from the festivities head down the the riverside to Join Ratty, Mole, Mr Toad and friends for this sweet take on Kenneth Grahame’s classic story. It’s a brand new staging with energetic performances, catchy new songs and plenty of fun for ages 5+.
COMEDY: Charity Comedy Gala Evening: Alistair Barrie and Friends, Hertford Theatre, 11 Dec
This glittering evening of laughs is brought to you by MC Alistair Barrie in aid of the Hertfordshire Breast Unit Appeal (something close to his heart), and will feature sets from comedy greats Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris, plus up-and-comers, two-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Spencer jons and Perrier nominee, Howard Read.
FOOD: Christmas Curry Night, Knebworth House, 11 and 18 Dec
Had your fill of turkey already? Spice things up with a Christmas Curry party night in the Cobbold Barn at Knebworth. There’ll be a two-course buffet and dancing til dawn (well, midnight).
ART: Parade, a Celebration of Contemporary Art Textiles, Broadway Studio and Gallery, Letchworth, 13 Dec – 16 Feb
Got a passion for pattern? You’re going to love this exhibition of modern textiles by 15 acclaimed international artists, showcasing the different ways that threads and fabrics are being used today. And its not only textiles, but sculpture, tapestry and installation too. The one in the picture above, One Neutron Too Many, was inspired by the artist’s childhood in Ozyorsk, Russia, the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme. Intriguing stuff.
COMEDY: Of Christmas Past, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 14 Dec
Comic genius Douglas Walker gets into character (well quite a few characters actually) for this festive story, unwrapping the shocking secrets behind Santa Claus’ existence, taking in 100 years of history through a combination of fable, fiction and comedy. Strictly for grown-ups!
KIDS: Santa’s Marvellous Magical Toyshop, Luton Library Theatre, 14-23 Dec
A cute and fun festive show telling the story of Santa’s Chief Elf – after 164 years of making toys for families everywhere he wants to spend Christmas with his own family this year. But what’s Santa going to do? Put an ad out for a trainee elf of course! There’ll be songs, puppets and glittery surprises galore!
PANTO: 22 of the perkiest pantos to book now!
Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no avoiding pantos over the festive season. So dig out your stripy tights, winkle pickers, false eyelashes and corsetry, and book in for one of our festive Panto picks in Herts, Beds and beyond.
FAMILY: The Santa Show, Hertford Theatre, 14-24 Dec (various dates)
Little ones are going to love helping Santa and Jingleberry the Elf prepare all the pressies for Christmas (and getting one of their own to take home!). They’ll also get to meet Rudolph the rapping reindeer and Frosty the Singing Snowman. Sounds like a hoot for 2-6 year olds
THEATRE: NT Live screening of One Man, Two Guvnors, Watford Palace Theatre, 15 Dec
If you missed James Corden’s Tony award-winning peformance in the flesh, here’s the next best thing. This special screening is being put on as part of the National Theatre’s 10th birthday celebrations. Set in Brighton, it’s the English adaptation of the orignal Italian script, Servant of Two Masters, which sees Corden getting into all sorts of hilarious fixes.
CHARITY: Santa Dash, Riverside, Hemel Hempstead, 15 Dec
No you’re not seeing things… it’s the annual Santa dash. If you fancy doing some festive fundraising dig out that big red suit and beard and take part in this 2.5 mile fun run through Hemel town centre and Gadebridge Park, with sponsorship going towards The Hospice of St Francis.
FOOD: Festive Afternoon Tea, The Shuttleworth Estate, 17 Dec
Christmas is all about indulging (and the calories definitely don’t count til January). Enjoy a traditional English afternoon tea with a festive twist in the gorgeous Grade II listed Jacobean house on the Shuttleorth estate. You’ll even be accompanied by a choir singing carols as you munch your way through those scones and sarnies.
MUSIC: The Snowman, Watford Colosseum, 18 Dec
All together now “We’re walking in the air…” – the classic Christmas tale by Raymond Briggs has been brought to life in many forms over the years – this one’s a screening of the musical movie with a score performed live by the Orpheus Sinfonia. At just an hour long, you might even be able to keep wriggly little bottoms in their seats throughout.
THEATRE: Christmas Gothic, Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans, 19-20 Dec
Gotta love a good ghost story at Christmas, eh? Get into the spirit with this haunting performance which resurrects the Victorian tradition of telling spooky tales that will send goosebumps down your spine (and not just becuase of the chilly weather!)
PARTY: The Christmas Extravaganza, Watford Colosseum, 19-21 Dec
Get your gladrags on, it’s time to parrr-taaay! Sit down to a three-course dinner with all the trimmings, accompanied by live music from The Soul Enforcement Bureau, before you get your dancing shoes on and rock around the Christmas tree with tunes provided by the resident DJ. Over 18s only. Tickets £55 including a glass on fizz on arrival.
PARTY: Aprés Ski Christmas Party, Moggerhanger Park, Bedford, 20-21 Dec
Almost as good as hitting the slopes (or the bars afterwards), the Bavarian beerfest vibe is coming to Beds with Alpine bars, bratwurst and some thigh slapping, foot stomping tunes from the Oompah Band (lederhosen optional!), before the DJ steps in with tunes to take you from the 70s to today. £18-£25pp.
FAMILY: The Nutcracker and I, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 21-22 Dec
There’ve been myriad versions of The Nutcracker, but here’s one with a difference – take just one ballerina, some stunning digital effects and Tchaikovsky’s magical score and you’ve got a unique and creative re-telling as you’ve never seen it before. Suitable for ages 4+.
BALLET: The Wizard of Oz, Watford Colosseum, 23-24 Dec
Ever seen the Tin Man in a tutu? Or should that be Toto in a tutu? Ok, ok, I’ll stop! You can expect all your fave characters prancing about on stage though in this two-act, full-length ballet version of L. Frank Baum’s iconic tale by Ballet Theatre UK. Expect all the magic of Oz, from familiar costumes and sets, to ensure that it appeals to little ones taking their first foray into ballet.
FAMILY: Santa Spectacular, Willows Activity Farm, until 24 Dec
There’s a special programme of events for the run up to Christmas happening at Willows Farm, with everything from making toy bears, decorating biscuits and a snowball shoot-out to an Elf singalong and Woodland Winter Fairy Show. Plus, of course you can meet Santa in his grotto and choose a gift from his toy shop.
FAMILY: The Big Community Nativity, St Albans Cathedral, 24 Dec
I love this idea – a nativity put on by familiar faces from the neighbourhood, including an innkeeper from your local pub! Audience members are encouraged to don their best angel wings or donkey costumes and get into the spirit of it for a lively service, crib visit and lots of carol singing to boot.
PARTY: New Year’s Eve at Woburn, The Sculpture Gallery, Woburn Abbey, 31 Dec
Whip out your party dress for this fancy shindig to see in 2020 in black tie style. There’ll be a glass of Champagne and canapés on arrival followed by a four-course meal, and award winning five piece band Blue Rinse will be providing the tunes to keep you dancing til the clock strikes midnight.