BALLET: The Red Shoes, MK Theatre, until 1 Feb
Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed stage adaptation of The Red Shoes is set to romantic music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann. The story follows a girl’s dream of becoming the greatest dancer in the world, and it’s Matthew Bourne, so there’s no doubt the moves will be excellent.
BALLET: Moscow City Ballet, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, 1 & 2 Feb
If it’s the ballet you’re after, Moscow City Ballet are pirouetting onto the stage at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, accompanied by a full orchestra, to perform Sleeping Beauty (1 Feb) and Swan Lake (2 Feb), both set to Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score.
KIDS: Hertford Symphony Orchestra: Robert Kiln Concerts for Children: Musical Tales, Hertford Theatre, 2 Feb
The perfect way to introduce little ones to classical music, this special concert will combine storytelling of classic tales from Peter and the Wolf to Winnie the Pooh with enchanting music and audience participation. Children are even encouraged to dress up as their favourite characters.
KIDS: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Broadway Letchworth, 2 Feb
The People’s Theatre Company are bringing this classic nursery rhyme (and best-selling book by Pam Adams) to life with live action, puppetry and animation, with popular sing-along songs like If You’re Happy and You know It and Incy Wincy Spider.
FAMILY: Fantastic Mr Fox, Saffron Hall, 4-6 Feb
A certain famous foxy character is coming to Saffron Walden in this stage adaptation as he takes on the three ferocious farmers in Roald Dahl’s fun filled adventure.
COMEDY: Griff Rhys-Jones: All Over the Place, Broadway Letchworth, 7 Feb
Griff is all over the place on his brand new full-length stand-up show, which calls at Letchworth, promises a side-splitting evening of true stories, wordly observations, details of his recent medical procedures, trials of parenthood and event some royal encounters.
OPERA: Don Giovanni, Broadway Letchworth, 8 Feb
MUSIC: Alex Mendham and His Orchestra, Saffron Hall, 8 Feb
Love the glamour and music of the Gatsby era? Step right into the roaring 20s with this big band spectacular, featuring well loved scores by the likes of Gershwin and Cole Porter, and vocals by The Dunlop Sisters and Alex Mendham. Get those jazz hands at the ready.
KIDS: The Naughty Fox, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 8 Feb
Little ones (aged 0-5) will love this cute tale with an all imporant lesson. It’s a multisensory show with puppets, light projection and music as The Naughty Fox and friends learn how to share.
EXHIBITION: Paint Park, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 8 Feb – 1 Mar
Who would have thought it was the year of ‘phygital’ painting (a combination of physical and digital, keep up!)? Alison Goodyear’s Paint Park exhibition at MK Gallery’s Project Space involves donning a VR headset, leaving you feeling like you just jumped into a painting à la Mary Poppins. A great one to take your kids to – just make sure you let them have a turn with the headset.
ENTERTAINMENT: Sinderella, Broadway Letchworth, 11 Feb
A fabulously camp take on the popular panto, Sinderella (see what they did there?) stars drag diva Stacy Layne Matthews and Divina De Campo (Ru Paul’s Drag Race) as well as Jamie Campbell (Everybody’s Talking about Jamie). A laugh-a-minute show, with glittering sets and costumes and a healthy dose of filthy fun – would you expect anything less?
THEATRE: The Ballad of Mulan, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 12 Feb
You’ll know the kick-ass Chinese heroine Mulan from the Disney movie and now the story is coming to the stage. Michelle Yim plays the warrior legend who, for ten years disguised herself as a man to fight for the Chinese Empire.
KIDS: Billionaire Boy, Hertford Theatre 12-16 Feb
Can David Walliams do no wrong? His series of Dahl-esque childrens’ books is a right laugh and this one’s coming to the stage near you soon. It follows Joe Spud, the richest kid in the world, but he soon finds that all that dosh can’t buy him happiness or a friend… From the West End producers behind Gangsta Granny and Horrible Histories.
DINNER: Valentines Dinner and Music from Briar Rouge, The Shuttleworth Estate, 14 Feb
In the mood for romance? Enjoy a four-course dinner in the beautiful mansion house followed by an after-dinner performance by singer Briar Rouge and her pianist.
BALL: The Great Gatsby Ball, Ashridge House, Berkhamsted, 15 February
Get your glad rags on and hot foot it to Ashridge House on Valentine’s weekend for a glitz-filled evening of drinks, dinner and dancing into the wee hours. The £75 ticket includes a 3-course meal, Prosecco and wine, plus a live band and DJ til 1am.
KIDS: Lambing, Mead Open Farm, Leighton Buzzard, 15-23 Feb
Bouncy baby lambs can only mean one thing – spring is coming! Rally the kids this Half Term to meet Mead Open Farm’s newest residents, and bottle feed some of their older siblings. All together now… awwww!
KIDS: Vets in Action, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, 15-23 Feb
Got a budding vet on your hands? Bring them along to the specially created animal hospital at Whipsnade Zoo this Half Term for a hands-on experience carrying out treatments on soft toys, from checking chimps’ heartbeats to helping stranded seals from the real zookeepers. And it’s all included in your zoo entry price (suitable for ages 5-11).
FESTIVAL: Feb Fest, various locations 15-21 Feb
This arts festival dedicated to kids or all ages sounds just fab – organised by Full House Theatre, it’s jam packed with storytelling, shows, dance and workshops throughout Half Term week happening across Luton’s Culture Trust venues. Plus there’s a free creative space called The Imagination Station that you can pop in to throughout.
MUSIC: Philharmonia Orchestra – Family Concert, The Bedford Corn Exchange, 15 Feb
This family friendly performance celebrates the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, featuring film and TV favourites like Chariots of Fire and Flight of the Bumblebee. Afterwards there’ll be a chance to meet the musicians and conductor. Aimed at ages 5+.
KIDS: Mad Science at the Museum, St Albans Museum and Gallery, 15 Feb
If they love the Christmas Lectures, drop them into this free afternoon session of explosive experiments and surprises at the St Albans Museum. Fun and educational in one fell swoop (not that you have to tell them that!)
WEDDINGS: The House Wedding Show, The Shuttleworth Estate, 16 Feb
Wedding bells in the air? Find out what the Shuttleworth estate has to offer for your big day. Explore the house and grounds, including hopping on a vintage bus to the Swiss Garden, where you can book a ceremony. Plus there’ll be chance to meet local suppliers and tick those crucial things off your list.
FAMILY: Suitcase Shakespeare, The Place Bedford, 18 Feb
Take two actors and one suitcase filled with random props, and what do you get? Well, a boiled down family friendly version of Shakespeare in just 45 minutes. Combining original songs and humour to help young audiences get to grips with complex characters and plots.
KIDS: Lily and Bear, Hertford Theatre, 18-19 Feb
This sweet family musical is all about give and take in friendships, as a little girl’s drawing of a bear comes to life. Lily and her new friend play all sorts of games and learn how to share along the way while inviting the audience to join in with the songs and action, too.
THEATRE: Play in a Day, Rhodes Arts Complex, 19 Feb
You could have a say in who’s going to be the next big name in theatre… come along and enjoy a series of short plays written by amateurs as part of the ‘Write Here, Write Now’ festival, before you, the audience members, get to choose your favourite of the night to go to the finals at Hertford Theatre – the overall winner will have their script made into a full-length play.
COMEDY: Adam Kay: This is Going to Hurt, Alban Arena, 19 Feb
The multi-talented doc-turned-author is back with his musical stand-up show about the gritty truth behind hospital front lines. Prepare to laugh, cry and be horrified in equal measure.
SCREENING: NT Live: Cyrano De Bergerac, Quarry Theatre, Bedford, 20 Feb
Just check out that brooding James McAvoy (calm down, ladies!) – he’s playing the eponymous lead in Edmond’s Rostand’s play about narcissism, language and love, which will be broadcast live from London’s West End.
KIDS: Big Book Tall Tales, The Sandpit Theatre, St Albans, 20 Feb
The cutely named Booster Cushion Theatre Company performs this tale about a library caretaker who discovers a 6ft-tall book. But there’s just one problem – he can’t read it because the words have been washed away. Little audiences will be drawn into his magical adventure to search for the hidden words and the story they tell.
SCREENING: Matthew Bourne’s Romeo & Juliet Encore, Rhodes Arts Complex, 20 Feb
Can Matthew Bourne do no wrong? His team of talented creatives and dancers bring together thisfresh re-telling of the tragic love story. It was one of the most hotly anticipated live dance shows of last year, but if you missed it on stage, here’s another chance to catch it – this time on the big screen, but filmed live at London’s Sadler’s Wells.
KIDS: Little Grimm Tales, Hertford Theatre, 20 Feb
A magical adaptation featuring all of the Grimm characters from Hansel & Gretel to the Elves and the Shoemaker and the Frog Prince, aimed at ages 3+. Throw in some colourful puppets, clever theatrics and spellbinding music for a fairytale experience that little ones won’t forget.
COMEDY: Lucy Porter: Be Prepared, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 21 Feb
Remember learning the motto ‘Always be Prepared’ back at Brownies? Well as we all know, life’s ups and downs can’t be solved quiiiite that easily… TV and Radio comedian Lucy’s new stand-up show takes a hilarious look back at the days when she thought an emergency 10p an knowing how to tie a fisherman’s knot would solve anything.
COMEDY: Menopause the Musical 2, The Bedford Corn Exchange, 21 Feb
Join four familiar faces (did you ever see the first installment? If not, you’ll recognise them off the telly!) as they cruise on through the joyous journey of hot flushes, mood swings, memory lapses and weight gain. Luckily they’ve got their friends and their sense of humour to pull them through!
KIDS: Oglee Poglee Holiday Craft Workshops, Berkhamsted, 21 Feb
Oglee Poglee’s cute crafty workshops are total lifesavers for frazzled parents. This Half Term they’re doing one themed around a big birthday tea – imagine one great big messy party where they can make a giant cake, wrap the presents, create a menu and decorate the room (with none of the mess in your own house – win!). It’s suitable for 18 months to 10 years.
KIDS: Shark in the Park, Watford Palace Theatre, 21-22 Feb
My daughter loved these books about a little boy called Timothy Pope who can’t stop seeing strange finned creatures in odd places. This musical show comines all three books in the series, by genius kids’ illustrator and author Nick Sharratt, in a creative and colourful performance.
WEDDINGS: The Hertfordshire Wedding Fair, Alban Arena, 23 Feb
Love is in the air! Well it is at the county’s premier wedding fair anyway – come and meet over 70 exhibitors from the region (from venues to suppliers) ogle some gawwgeous dresses on the catwalks and enjoy some live entertainment, from string quartets to comedians to fuel you with loads of inspo for your Big Day. Plus entry is free!
FOOD AND DRINK: South African tasting menu and wine pairing, Kite at the Red Hart, Hitchin, 26 Feb
A Muddy fave – Kite at The Red Hart will be hosting a special opportunity to come and taste a variety of South African wines paired with delicious 5-course tasting menu – think charcoal roasted King prawns and lamb rump – with expert guidance on tasting notes for each glass. £75 per head.
THEATRE: The Apologists, The Hat Factory, Luton, 27 Feb
A collection of three short plays tackles the humble apology in a world where a simple ‘sorry’ doesn’t always cut it. Starring Aussie actor, Gabrielle Scawthorn, it takes an in-depth look at our use of words and the expectations we put on them, as well as the limitations they have particularly in a public forum. Thought-provoking stuff.
COMEDY: Scummy Mummies, Rhodes Arts Complex, 28 Feb
Oh we just can’t resist their self-referential, warts-and-all approach to parenting and the world at large. The Scummy Mummies strike again with some new songs, new sketches and, (ahem…) new catsuits.
COMEDY: Live at the Alban Arena, 29 Feb
Fancy seeing some of TVs biggest comedians (and some up and coming ones – you heard it here first!) do their thang right here is Herts in one hilarious evening? Hot foot it to The Alban Arena to catch Reginald D Hunter, Seann Walsh and two tipped-for-the-top names to know, Sara Barron and Tom Ward. Plus it’s hosted by Mock The Week’s Angela Barnes. Get your laughing gear around that.
KIDS: Beastly Belle, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 29 Feb
This familiar sounding tale is indeed a fresh twist on an old classic. Inspired by 1920s cinema iconography and featuring puppetry and projection, Belle is rescued from a life of poverty by a film producer, wooed by the glitz and glamour of the movie star life. But will she forget her humble roots or come to accept the Beast? Suitable from ages 4+.
EXHIBITION: British Wildlife Photography Awards Exhibition, Stockwood Discovery Centre, until 22 March
Love the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition? Well this is the next best thing, and it’s local too! Celebrating the talents of both amateur and professional snappers, this exhibition of British wildlife photography is marking its tenth anniversary this year. And there’s a special focus on coastlines to help raise awareness about the biodiversity found there and the threats they are facing.
ART: Theodor Kern: Portraits, Wardown House, Luton, until 30 April
Take the opportunity to see the works of this Austrian-born artist with local connections at Wardown House this year. Kern studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and started his career in the 1920s before settling in Hitchin and teaching at Luton School of Art. His oil portraits are hauntingly lifelike.
EXHIBITION: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, 13 Feb – 11 May
I love this shot! This solo exhibition of London-born artist and director of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s portfolio features 14 major works spanning his extensive career in film, photography and sculpture and is the first major UK exhibition since he received the Turner Prize in 1999. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal! The display will cover the last 25 years of McQueen’s career including personal and intimate works such as his early film on a Super 8 camera and this awesome aerial depiction of the Statue of Liberty above. The show also coincides with McQueen’s latest artwork Year 3, on show at Tate Britain until 3 May.
THEATRE: Pretty Woman The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre, London, 13 Feb – 2 Jan 2021
This month I’m excited for the start of Pretty Woman’s West End stint after it’s successful Broadway premier in 2018. The production has some major creds with choreography from two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Hairspray), and an original score from Grammy winner Bryan Adams (yes, really!).
CONCERT: Madonna, London Palladium, until 16 Feb
Looking sultry Madge! This month you have 15 chances to see the Queen of Pop herself at the London Palladium. Dig out your 80s garb and snaffle tickets quick as it’s bound to be a sell out.
CONCERT: Lana Del Rey, O2 Arena, London, 25 Feb
Lana Del Rey follows up last year’s incredible Norman F****** Rockwell album with a new one, White Hot Forever, and will be taking to the stage to share it this month.
Busy last month? There’s still time to see Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery. One of the biggest cultural events in the winter calendar, the exhibit features 150+ original artefacts found in the Pharaoh’s tomb that was unearthed in 1922 (until 3 May). Elsewhere, at the O2 Arena, there’s ABBA: Super Troupers, a journey through the Swedish band’s career featuring personal items and artefacts never seen before in the UK (until 21 Aug 2020). And finally, there’s the fantastically bonkers Tim Walker exhibition (above) at the V&A with snaps from his career as a fashion and portrait photographer, a must-see before it ends on 8 Mar.