Knebworth Winter Festival, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Nov
Why have one Christmas market when you can have a deluge? First off the blocks is a newcomer from Kebworth House. The Tudor building’s first ever Winter Festival is promising 200 craft, gift, food and drink stalls as well as an enchanted garden and Christmas grotto for Santa’s little helpers.
Harpenden Christmas Carnival, Sun 25 Nov
Christmas stalls, a farmer’s market, procession, live entertainment, Santa’s Grotto and the annual lights switch on comes to Harpenden this Sunday to get you in the festive spirit. There’s also a Christmas Shop Window display competition – Fortnum & Mason’s eat your heart out!
Tring Christmas Festival, Fri 30 Nov
Tring’s Christmas Festival is the town’s biggest free event with High Street offering gift and food stalls where you can eat and order your Christmas Turkey, massage chairs (weird, but we will roll with it!) and gin cocktails. Tring’s schools and dance academies will be out in force and the shops will be staying open late.
St Albans Christmas Market, 30 Nov- 22 Dec
St Albans’ Christmas Market is handing over the reigns to Meraki Festival this year and is promising more than your bog-standard hot dogs and mulled wine tent. Expect German sausage, hog roast and vegan goodies galore along with 40 German-style wooden shacks with crafts and gifts. Meraki’s 3-Tipis Firepit Bar will make its debut at the annual market and will be playing live acoustic music every evening. Your classic Santa experience and Christmas fair ground will also be there.
MUSIC: Atmosfear, the Bear Club, Luton, Fri 23 Nov
If you like funk, jazz funk and soul, you won’t want to miss Atmosfear perform their anthemic tracks, such as Dancing in Outer Space, at the the Bear Club. The band formed in the early 1980s and was one of the first Britfunk bands on the London music scene. Their music has stood the test of time and original band leader Lester LB Batchelor with support from DJ Paul Goldsmith, will have you up on that dancefloor before you know it.
RUN & DRINK: Brewery Trail Run, the Chilterns, Sat 24 Nov
This one might be more suited to your other half, unless you’re partial to the odd pint. After a 10km guided run around the pretty Chilterns you’ll end up in Tring Brewery (it’s won awards you know!) for tours, tasters and a free bottle of beer. You don’t need to be Mo Farrah to join but the £20 spaces fill up fast.
Meeting at Tring Station, 9:30am.
MUSIC: Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Sat 24 Nov
Enjoy a Czech orchestra playing Czech music with a programme that includes Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, Smetana’s comedy overture and Bruch’s hugely-popular concerto in this award-winning venue with fabulous acoustics and facilities. And don’t forget you can pre-order a deli box to have before the show.
BALLET: Vienna Festival Ballet, The Nutcracker, Alban Arena, Sat 24 Nov
You know it’s Christmas when The Nutcracker starts doing the rounds. The story of Clara and her nutcracker doll meet the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy in a kingdom made entirely of sweets, set to Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score with the dazzling dancers of the Vienna Festival Ballet.
FILM: Screening of The Favourite, Welwyn Garden City Cinema, Sat 24 Nov
Winner of the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Venice Film Festival is coming to Herts for a screening at Welwyn Garden City Centre Cinema. The film features Olivia Coleman as Queen Anne, Rachel Weisz as the Duchess of Marlborough and will be introduced by Historian Dr Ruth Herman who transcribed the St Albans born Duchess’ letters to the Queen. There will be a Q&A with Ruth after the film so you can get the gossip on one of Herts’ most famous ladies.
SKIING: Soul at The Snow Centre, Mon 26 Nov
Very old school and very cool, literally. St Albans’ The Snow Centre is hosting a soul night on the slopes with all music played on vinyl records by ‘Sounds of Soul.’ Tickets are only £5.
8pm until late.
Christmas is coming – so are the family films… so grab the kids and a jumbo bucket of popcorn. Dodgy green face paint is no more as Dr Seuss’ The Grinch gets a remake, released on Nov 9, in 3D computer animation. The trailer, where we get a first glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role, already has over three million views on YouTube, no doubt a million from my kids- they’re desperate to see it. The Nutcracker will make the leap, or should I say sauté, from ballet to big screen with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The film’s got an all-star cast of Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Richard E Grant and Morgan Freeman, released Nov 2. If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling, but still suitable for tweens, dark magic will be creeping into cinemas worldwide as the highly anticipated new Fantastic Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. is released on Nov 18. Johnny Depp will be reprising his role as the oh-so-evil, bleach blonde Grindelwald alongside good guys Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law. Last up looks like a proper feel-good festive film and comes in the form of everyone’s favourite flying lady- Mary Poppins. The film will follow on from the original with Poppins floating back in to the lives of grown up Micheal and Jane Banks. The umbrella baton has been passed to Emily Blunt who will star alongside Muddy favourites Julie Walters and Meryl Streep. Mary Poppins Returns hits cinemas just in time for Christmas on Dec 21.
Huddled by the fire? Don’t blame you – we’ll be round in five mins with a massive box of Maltesers so get the telly on. Darkly delicious political thriller House Of Cards returns to Netflix on 2 Nov with its sixth and final season, which was hastily rewritten after Kevin Spacey, who played the President, detonated his career. First Lady Claire Underwood makes a power grab – we can’t wait to see what the excellent Robin Wright does with the role now she’s going solo. Back on this side of the Atlantic, series 5 of London police drama Luther is imminent. The BBC are being cagey about the start date but they’ve just made the first four series available on iPlayer for we reckon it’ll be this month. Welcome back Idris Elba – we’re swooning at the very thought of you returning to moodily stomp around the city fighting crime in your swishy wool coat. This time Hermione Norris will be joining him, playing a psychiatrist. On a lighter note, people are going barking mad on social media about Dogs, a new Netflix documentary which drops 16 Nov. It tells six stories of unconditional love between pooch and owner, including one involving a beloved pet being trapped in a Syrian warzone. It looks like a total tear-jerker. Finally, need a new read? We’ve got six new stonkers for you this month – check out the reviews here.
HOME: The Country Home and Interiors Show, Thurs 22 – Sun 25 Nov plus Candlelit Tours at Stonor Park, Henley, Thurs 22 Nov – Sun 9 Dec
The historic house at Stonor Park has been decorated with the theme Star of Wonder for the festive season. Each room has been individually designed and transformed with lights and decorations in keeping with the family antiques and portraits, and holly, larch and mistletoe have been used from the park. New for this year, you can book a candlelit tour of the house where you can see many of the rooms by twinkling lights and candlelight. Drinks and dinner are also on offer in the Pantry in the Medieval Hall. The weekend Thurs 22 – 25 Nov, Stonor is once again hosting the Country Home and Interiors Show in stylish marquees in the grounds. More than 100 sellers of crafts, lifestyle products, gifts and homewares will be tempting you with their wares, plus there will be demos from new country businesses. A great opportunity to get your Christmas list ticked off in style.
SCREENING: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Science Museum, London, Thurs 1 Nov – Sat 24 Nov
To celebrate 50 years of the 1968 epic, you can head to the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema to watch Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece exploring our prehistoric past and the rise of man versus machine. Oscar winning director Christopher Nolan has created a new print from the original which will look stunning on the giant IMAX screen. Then follow the museum’s Kubrick trail to discover the rich collection of objects from the history of space travel.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, from Fri 23 Nov
Head to town for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West, which opens today. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.
CULTURE: Royal Opera House, Month of Sundays Festival, London, Sun 4 – Sun 25 Nov
The Royal Opera House is opening itself up for a month of interactive fun. They’ll be live demos from technicians and craftspeople who work on the ROH productions, you can take guided tours and learn new moves in a dance class, sing tunes from opera classics and make something crafty to take home. The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera artists will be performing in the public areas and there’s a sound installation that explores the history of the Opera House.
EVENT: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, Thu 22 Nov – 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.
THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, London, now until Sun 30 Dec
Exciting news – there’s a theatre in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.
ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, now until 24 Feb
Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones was one of the most influential British talents of the 19th century and this exhibition will bring together 150 works including paintings, stained glass and tapestry in a major new retrospective. Rejecting the starched world of the Victorians, he looked to myths, legends and the Bible to create his otherworldly work. He wanted to bring beautiful design to everyone and along with his friend William Morris, pioneered the Arts and Crafts Movement.
THEATRE: FAME The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Bucks Mon 26 Nov – Sat 1 Dec
Get your fuchsia pink spandex out and ready – FAME The Musical is coming to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Celebrating it’s 30th anniversary (my god, it really is gonna live forever) this show’s got an all star cast from Chicago’s Mica Paris to Any Dream Will Do’s Keith Jack.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
THEATRE: Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Watford Palace Theatre, Fri 2 – Sun 4 Nov
‘Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.’ Nope, it’s not Macbeth, it’s much funner than that, plus, the kids will actually enjoy it. Herts’ home grown young actors will be casting a spell over Watford Palace Theatre for the first week of the month to perform Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Be careful who you end up sitting next to because it looks like witches will be picking on the audience.
BOOKS: An evening with Elly Griffiths, Chorleywood Library, Wed 7 Nov
Fancy a night of mid-week murder mystery without having to endure seven hours of Cluedo? If so, mystery author Elly Griffiths will be in the library, holding a copy of her new Gothic-esque novel The Stranger Diaries. The book is Elly’s first standalone novel following her bestselling series The Ruth Galloway Novels.
SHOPPING: Number Twenty, Lower Kings Road, Berkhamsted, Christmas Shopping Event, Thurs 8 Nov
OMG, let me count the ways I love this shop. Herts’ award-winning Number Twenty is holding a Christmas shopping evening – 15% off and all proceeds go to the Hospice of St Francis charity.
THEATRE: Funny Women Showcase, Watford Palace Theatre, Fri 9 Nov
Watford Palace Theatre will be showcasing the UK’s funniest females (we didn’t make the cut either, don’t worry) for a night of giggles, guffawing and snuck-in-under-the-coat glasses of wine. Desiree Burch, Gráinne Maguire and Britain’s Got Talent’s magic funnywoman Mandy Muden will be performing, as well as 2013 Funny Women finalist Sindhu Vee and Rosie Jones who has written for The Last Leg, 8 Out of Ten Cats and Would I Lie To You. Winner of the 2017 Funny Women Awards, Thanyia Moore, will be hosting the show.
COMEDY: Stephen K Amos, Court Theatre, Tring, Fri 9 Nov
A comedy circuit stalwart, Stephen K Amos pops up in Tring on his UK tour. Using a potent mix of personal and social commentary, he touches on family, racism, social media and gluten-free bread in his confident and charismatic show.
FOOD: Winter Spanish Evening, Frithsden Vineyard, Sat 10 Nov
Foodies rejoice! Herts’ favourite vineyard will be hosting a night of Spanish tapas to spice up November’s chilly nights promising olives, dips, pot roast chicken, passion fruit pudding and, of course, homegrown vino. Booking is essential.
MUSIC: CHROMA Ensemble, St Peter’s Church Berkhamsted, Sun 11 Nov
CHROMA is a collective of 20 outstanding musicians who perform all over the country. Tonight they perform From Night, exploring darkness and light in music culminating with Schubert’s great String Quartet no.15 in G major in the gorgeous Lady Chapel of St Peter’s Church. Concert tickets: £16/£13 concs
WELLNESS: Art & Soul, Hitchin Town Hall, Sun 11 Nov
In need of some positive vibes before the craziness of Christmas sets in? Art & Soul’s not for profit event in Hitchin Town Hall will have workshops on yoga, creative writing, mindfulness and how to be a conscious shopper. All proceeds will go to , a mental health charity.
FESTIVAL: Knebworth Winter Festival, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Nov
Knebworth House is pulling out all the stops with a winter festival which includes an enchanted Christmas garden, an interactive Father Christmas experience, artisan shopping, festive street food and cocktails in an Aprés Ski Lodge complete with log fires. As well as all that, some of the biggest names in British comedy – Rhod Gilbert, Angela Barnes, Greg Davies, etc – will be performing. There’s even a rare appearance by Bjorn the Polar Bear.
THEATRE: Electra, Abbey Theatre, Fri 9 – Sat 17 Nov
Electra tells the age old tale of murder, betrayal, revenge and being super mad at your mother (we’ve all been there). This particular adaptation of Sophocles Greek drama, produced by St Albans’ longest running theatre group The Company of Ten, looks like a goodie, especially since tickets are only £12.
CINEMA: Screening of The Post, Tring Cinema, Fri 16 Nov
If you didn’t manage to watch the goddess that is Meryl Streep in the Oscar nominated The Post the first time around then don’t worry. The film will be having a one off screening at Tring Cinema where there’ll be a cash bar stocked with homemade chocolate, fresh popcorn and a load of booze- sounds good, right?
Film starts at 8:30pm.
JEWELLERY: Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery Christmas event, Sat 17 Nov
Award winning bespoke jewellers Harriet Kelsall is holding a Christmas event in their Herts jewellery centre promising mince pies, mulled wine and 10% off full price dress jewellery. The event has talks from the brands senior designer, live demonstrations and beading workshops for the little ones. Herts musician Izzy Rowland will be making some noise (in a nice way) and there’ll be a Christmas cracker prize draw too.
FILM: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald screening, Warner Bros. Studios, Sat 17 – Mon 19 Nov
Over Harry Potter? Warner Bros. studios has figured out another way to get people through the doors by hosting an exclusive screening of the new Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald. On the expensive side at £149, but your tickets include a studio tour and food and drink from Harry Potter’s local. Head prop maker Pierre Bohanna will be there to introduce the screening and you’ll be some of the first to see costumes and props featured in the film.
YOGA: Workshop, Tring Museum, Sun 18 Nov and various other dates
Feeling the festive stress already? Tring Museum will be hosting a series of themed yoga workshops every month until March. November’s theme is the natural world and the workshop will be followed by drinks and snacks. A ticket will also get you an exclusive preview of the Walter Rothschild exhibit, the largest personal natural history collection in the world.
KIDS: Harry Heape at The Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Bucks, Sat 3 Nov
Author of the Shiny Pippin books, Harry Heape, will be reading from his book Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest and there’ll be a Shiny animal workshop at the newly-reopened Roald Dahl Museum, as well as a host of other Dahl-inspsired things to do and see.
THEATRE: Horrible Histories, Wycombe Swan, Bucks, Tues 6 – Sat 10 Nov
Family favourite Horrible Histories is back on tour with shows Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians, bringing us mummy-making, tomb excavations and an Armada sailing into the audience. We grabbed a quick cuppa with co-director Neal Foster about what grisly goings-on we can expect. Read all about it here.
MAGIC: Cabaret Magic with Sylar and Steve Rowe, The Kings Arms, Berkhamsted, Wed 21 Nov
Mid-week magic? Yes please. This comes highly recommended by yours truly after booking Sylar for a birthday party way back when. There’ll be close up magic (trust me, I’ve seen it, it’s mindboggling) followed by an hour stage show of mind reading, comedy and special guest Paul Magram. The show is being hosted in The Kings Arms pub and restaurant in Berkhamsted and there are only 50 tickets so expect a relaxed and personal atmosphere.
Show starts just after 7pm.
TALK/COMEDY: Ruby Wax, How to be Human, Watford Palace Theatre, Thurs 22 Nov
Ruby’s manual How to be Human, published in January, sets out to answer life’s big questions and with the help of a monk and a neuroscientist she does a pretty convincing job. Her show of the same name is a chance to join in the conversation – in fact she actively encourages audience input. Ruby uses her razor sharp wit and her knowledge of Psychotherapy and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (she has a Masters in it from Oxford University, doncha know) to discuss everything from evolution, to emotions, to sex, to relationships and more. Sounds fascinating.