FILM: St Albans Film Festival, various locations, until 7 July
You don’t have to be a movie buff into artsy docs to enjoy this one. There’s something for everyone, from a whole load of outdoor screenings at St Albans Cathedral – from Gladiator to Grease Singalong – to workshops on everything from smartphone photography to animation, talks on the film industry, and a St Albans on screen walking tour.
KIDS: Interactive Science Exhibition, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, 1 July – 8 Sept
What kid doesn’t love wouldn’t want to learn how to become invisible, create eletricity and experience what a tornado feels like? This world touring exhibition, produced by scientists, physicists, geologists and astronomers, has already broken records, selling a whopping 100,000 tickets in Rome, and now it’s coming to our very own Luton. There’ll be over 40 interactive exhibits on the themes of science, maths, physics, natural disasters, nature, solar energy, biology, music and more.
MUSICAL: Annie The Musical, Milton Keynes Theatre, 1-6 July
Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood dons a wig and tights to play tyrannical Miss Hannigan in Tony Award winning Annie The Musical (yup, that’s him on the left!). Erm… it’s a 5 from us Craig. You can bet your bottom dollar (sorry!) that the show will be a glittering 10 out of 10 though, if the rave reviews are anything to go by.
THEATRE: The Handlebards: Much Ado About Nothing, Standalone Farm, Letchworth, 2 July
A cycling theatre company you say? The quirkier the better in our book! This one (unsurprisingly!) is the first of its kind but it’s not just trying to be whacky for the sake of it – the actors travel from venue to venue on two wheels to bring sustainable Shakespeare to audiences around the globe. Here’s the all male troupe, who are touring with Much Ado, (the all female troupe are doing The Tempest), and don’t they look dapper?
ART: Hepworth Museum Late: Make, Do and Draw, St Albans Museum and Gallery, 4 July
Fancy trying your hand at a spot of art? How about if there’s a drink or two thrown in? Now we’re talking! The Hepworth Museum is hosting an after-hours party to celebrate the eponymous artist and you’re invited. Come and carve sculptures (à la Barbara) out of soap (yep, that kind) and mould things out of Modroc. We’re reliably informed that no artistic skill is necessary – phew! There’ll also be guided tours of the museum, balloon modelling (for grown-ups), and live performances from the Trestle Theatre.
FESTIVAL: Summer Fest, Waddesdon Manor, 6-7 July
A hop and skip over the border in Aylesbury at Waddesdon Manor, there’s the National Trust site’s first Summer Fest, a relaunch of the popular Summer Feast event. There’ll be street performers (see above – vertigo, anyone?!), food, music, shopping village in the Aviary Glade and bunting for miles.
BOOKS: Booktastic Bedford, The Quarry Theatre, Bedford, 6-7 July
This festival, set up by a group of self-confessed bookworms, is dedicated to inspiring kids to read and started life as a children’s book club held in a Waterstone’s store room. Now in its fifth year the event will welcome authors, designers, artists and creators from Bedford and beyond to take part in events from family fun days, to charity fundraisers and bedtime story sessions.
FAMILY: Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors, Milton Keynes Theatre, 10 July
Henry VIII had six wives (or was it seven?) – that’s about as far as my Tudor knowledge goes I’m afraid, but you and your brood are guaranteed to learn a whole lot more – perhaps more than you bargained for, as the cast regale grusome tales galore – at Horrible Histories’ new show. And, thanks to some super cool 3D effects, some of the most famous figures from the era will appear come to life on stage before your very eyes. Be warned, it’s not for the squeamish…
FAMILY: Big Wild Sleepout, RSPB The Lodge Nature Reserve, Sandy, 13-14 July
Camp out under the stars at this nature reserve and nod off to the sounds of owls, foxes and deer in their natural habitats – there’ll be twilight walks to see what the bats get up to after dark, stargazing with Sandy Astronomical Society, as well as the obligatory marshmallow toasting around the campfire. You can even indulge in a fish and chip supper or breakfast bap as you wake to the dawn chorus (well, perhaps not that early!)
FESTIVAL: Folk by the Oak, Hatfield House, 14 July
Dust off your ukelele for this chilled out one-dayer. The vibe? Think village fete mixed with full-on festival and (obviously) plenty of folk music, arts and crafts. There’ll be Frank Turner on the Main Stage as well as indie folk trio The Staves, plus loads more guitar strumming, pipe playing artists on the Acorn Stage. Stalls will be hawking all manner of wholesome handcrafted wares, plus crafty workshops in things like felting, leather and woodwork and weaving. There’ll also be a food village but you can bring your own picnic, too! Flower garlands and henna tattoos optional.
COMEDY: Bedford Festival Fringe, The Quarry Theatre and The Place Theatre, Bedford, 15-27 July
Inspired by, and in celebration of the cultural festival stalwart that is Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comes Bedford Fringe… the founders say it ‘brings a little bit of Edinburgh to Bedford’ with an array of fringe arts (that means new work and upcoming stars!) and there’s SO much to see – er… 150 things to be precise!
FESTIVAL: Todd in the Hole, Todd’s Green, Stevenage, 19-21 July
This family friendly music festival brings a touch of English eccentricity to the Hertfordshire countryside – just what we like at Muddy! Catch over 60 bands performing throughout the festival weekend, including Bowie, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and Oasis tribute acts (sorry if I got your hopes up there for the real thing…), a 70s and 80s woodland disco, as well as interactive outdoor theatre and circus skills for the kids in the family arena. Plus there’ll be loads of lipsmacking street food stalls, as well as gin, Pimms and real ale bars to keep you fed and watered. Camp or glamp (don’t worry, there are posh loos and hot showers for everyone!).
MUSIC: The Ronnie Scott’s Story, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 20 July
If heading to London’s infamous jazz club is on your bucket list, this could just be the next best thing. Join Ronnie Scott’s All Stars at Saffron Hall on the 20th to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of one of the world’s most iconic music venues. As well as live jazz performances, there’ll be rare photos from the archives on display, plus video footage documenting the club’s glittering history.
FOOD: Two Centuries of Afternoon Tea, Woburn Abbey, 24 July
Cream tea anyone? You’ll never hear a ‘no’ from us! Woburn Abbey is the home of afternoon tea and you can get to grips with the history of Britain’s favourite tipple at this new event which includes a talk on the history of the humble cuppa and, of course, afternoon tea with all the trimmings. Make sure you make the most of the lovely house and grounds whilst you’re there, the award-winning Repton-designed gardens feature woodland glades, a Kitchen Garden, ponds and architectural features, like the Chinese Dairy and Camellia House (24 Jul).
FESTIVAL: Standon Calling, 25-28 July
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Wolf Alice, Nile Rodgers & Chic are headlining this local festival with serious creds. Treat yourself to a ticket to the wild spa while you’re there, oh and don’t forget to dust off your fancy dress. This year’s theme is Twisted Creatures, and judging by previous efforts, people will be going all out for the costume parade.
FAMILY: Aliens Love Underpants, Hertford Theatre, 26-27 July
If your kids loved the madcap out-of-this-world storybook, they’re going to lap up this theatrical adaptation, which promises to be choc full of cool effects, cute puppets and original music. There’ll also be alien-related activity drop in sessions from 23-37 July, a chance to meet the cast and aliens after the 1pm show on 26th and a dressing up comp on 27th, where the best dressed alien (in underpants, of course) will win a goodie bag.
MUSIC: Rita Ora, Bedford Park, 27 July
Super sassy pop sensation Rita Ora brings her epic set of lungs to Beds this month on her latest tour. Did you know that she became the record holder for the most Top 10 singles by a British female artist when her single Let You Love Me rocketed its way into the the UK charts? And she’s showing no sign of slowing down, so book now to see her do her thing before the tickets all get snapped up!
CARS: Classic Vehicle Show, Chiltern Open Air Museum, 27-28 July
Here’s one for the petrol heads – check out the annual Classic Vehicle Show at Chiltern Open Air Museum, which will feature a collection of classic cars, lorries, traditional fire engines, motorbikes, plus historic tractors and wagons that have appeared in Downton Abbey.
MUSIC: Bedford Park Proms, 28 July
Pack your picnics, Prosecco and posh plastic tableware (candelabras optional!) for this annual musical celebration of pomp and patriotism. A 70-piece choir and the London Gala Orchestra will perform all the rousing favourites like Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory to a spectacular firework display and laser light show.
OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Shakespearean plays, Blenheim Palace, 8 July – 7 Sept
Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.
EXHIBITION: First Animals, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, from 12 July
This new major exhibition will look back on the origins of life as we know it on earth with fossils and specimens, some of which are over hundreds of millions of years old (woah!), loaned from museums around the world. Highlights include an interactive, 360-degree diving installation, digital reconstructions and virtual reality.
FESTIVAL: Pennfest, Penn, Bucks, 19 – 20 Jul
With an impressive line-up of rebel-rousers, this year’s Pennfest sees ’90s indie favourites, Suede, headlining, plus turns from Happy Mondays (always hilariously shambolic live) and New Order’s Peter Hook.
Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies (6 July). Or if you fancy a camping festival, there’s Shambala, a small, lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly (22 – 25 Aug). Other camping weekenders include Latitude, Suffolk, the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill (18 – 21 Jul). Or there’s Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, the kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties (25 – 28 Jul).
And if you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.