KIDS: Willows potato shindig, Willows Activity Farm, St Albans, 2-29 September
You’ve gotta love living in the countryside when you hear about a festival dedicated to… potatoes! Stick the kids in their dungas and straw hats to make like farmers for the day. They can go digging for tatties to their heart’s content and take part in some spud-themed crafts, too. They’ll even get to take a free bag full to take home – jackets for supper it is!
COMEDY: Griff Rhys Jones: All Over the Place, tour preview show, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 4 Sept
Get your laughing gear around this one. Join one half of Smith & Jones, one quarter of Not the Nine O’Clock News and one third of Three Men In a Boat for this preview of his upcoming stand-up tour, which tackles celeb-dom, parenthood, meeting the Royals and err… details of his recent medical procedures!
ARTS: Factory Reset, The Hat Factory Re-opening, Luton, 6-7 September
This cool urban arts venue is re-opening with a bang this month. Just turn up at the Hat Factory Arts Centre to see all sorts of performances for free on 6th, from aerial artists Pirates of the Carrabina and award winning theatre from the Tangled Feet Ensemble, to steel band music and poetry. Then there’s more on 7th with all sorts of creatives taking up residence throughout the day, offering painting workshops, open studios, talks, venue tours and film. Check. It. Out.
FESTIVAL: Berkofest, Ashlyns Hall Estate, Berkhamsted, 7 Sept
This super chilled local festival looks like a fab day out for the whole fam, with live local music from all genres – big band to rock and indy to pop – plus a ‘create zone’ with performances and activities like comedy and circus. Plus its in a new venue this year surrounded by trees and green space for a proper summer festival feel.
FOOD: Pasta making workshop, The Mill House, Hertford, 7 Sept
Join Kate, Italophile and founder of food blog Cooking and Carafes, for a fab pasta making workshop. Kick off with a glass of fizz and some antipasti (we’re sold already!) then learn how to make homemade pasta from scratch and a Sicilian style sauce, then gobble it all up over a glass of vino with your newfound friends. You’ll even get to take a Filipo Berio goodie bag home with you. Yum!
ART: Herts Open Studios, various locations, 7-29 Sept
Check out what a creative bunch we are in Hertfordshire at this annual celebration of local art, where masses of artists studios, events and exhibitions will open their doors to the public for free. There’ll be all forms of art on show, from clay and sculpture to glass and jewellery to painting, printing, textiles and photography. It launches on 7-8 September with a special open event at St Albans Museum + Gallery to whet your appetite.
FOOD: Hitchin Food Festival, Market Place, Hitchin, 7-8 September
All your fave local restaurants and cafés will be out in force for this annual foodie extravaganza. They’ll be showing off their best dishes alongside artisan producers – don’t miss the sampler sessions in the Taster Tent. Skip lunch before you go to make sure you’ve got room for all those tasty treats on offer.
EXHIBITION: 100 years of the Hertfordshire Women’s Institute, until 8 Sept
It’s not all jam and Jerusalem you know, the WI has come a long way in the last century – yep 100 years since it started in Hertfordshire. Delve into the history of the Herts federation at this exhibition…
FOOD: The Local Food Festival, Rushmere Country Park, Leighton Buzzard, 8 Sept
And there’s more for food lovers – this time in Beds. Check out 30 plus local food and drink producers, from waffles to Wobbly Bottom cheese and an eclectic line-up of live music, including vintage swing, rock and jazz, plus an interactive Rhyme and Chime session for littlies. And all in the lovely setting of Rushmere Country Park.
DRINK: Warden Abbey Vineyard Open Day and Wine Sale, Old Warden, Beds, 8 September
As if you need an excuse to drink wine… how about heading over to the lovely Warden Abbey Vineyard for their annual fundraising event (the vineyard is volunteer-run) where you can wander around the medieval vines (chilled glass of vino in hand, natch), learn all about the history of winemaking, and browse the food and craft stalls. Plus there’ll be animal encounters for the kids, Morris dancing and World Food Championship winners ‘The Wonky Donkeys’ heading up the BBQ. Oh and there’ll be free tasters on offer too, so you can try before you buy. See you there!
WELLBEING: Forest bathing+, RSPB The Lodge, Sandy, Beds, 8 September
Ever heard of forest bathing? Sounds a bit airy fairy, but apparently there’s actual medical reasearch into the benefits of spending time under a canopy of trees. It’s bit like mindfulness, but connecting with nature while you’re at it – or letting the therapeutic powers of the woodland ease away your stresses. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, I say, and you can give it a go at this RSPB nature reserve. If it doesn’t float your boat, at least you’ll get a nice walk in the woods!
THEATRE: The Tempest, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 10 September
Nothing like a bit of Will Shakes to make you feel like you’re getting a culture fix. This production by quirky cycling theatre co, The Handlebards, looks like a right giggle. An all-female cast (sounds great already!), will re-tell the tale of the sruvivors of a shipwreck marooned on a mysterious desert island inhabited by magicians and monsters. Expect plenty of music, madness and mayhem.
BOOKS: Born Lippy with Jo Brand, St Clement Danes School, Chorleywood, 10 Sept
Lippy? Jo Brand? Ha! Meet the comic genius herself as she discusses the inspiration behind her new book Born Lippy: How To Do Female which is filled with hilarious and close to the bone anecdotes about her life, from not living up to society’s expectations to be thin, demure and feminine, to leaving home at 16 and various other mess ups along the way. Who wouldn’t want a bit of cynicism-fuelled wordly advise from Jo Brand?
FILM: NTLive: Fleabag, Hertford Theatre, 12 September
Did you <heart> Fleabag on tv? Or did you miss is completely – in which case, where have you beeeen? Writer, actor and well, all-round awesome woman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (did you know she also helped write Killing Eve and the new Bond movie?), will perform her one-woman show that inspired the hit series live at the National Theatre. And it’s being transmitted directly to us here in Herts. Prudes need not apply.
FOOD: Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park, Verulamium Park, St Albans, 13-15 September
He’s the don of pub grub and a jolly nice chap with it, so we were chuffed to hear that Tom Kerridge is bringing his foodie fiesta to Herts again this month. Naturally his own two Michelin starred pub The Hand and Flowers will make an appearance, along with other top notch pubs and restaurants serving signature dishes. There’ll also be chef demos, not to mention a really decent music line-up including Tom Odell, Razorlight, Toploader and Will Young throughout the weekend. Bring on the craft beer and triple cooked chips…
POETRY: The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, Hertford Theatre, 14 September
It’s hard to believe that this lyrical wordsmith was illiterate at school and left formal education at 13. Today Benjamin Zephaniah is considered one of Britain’s most influencial writers, thanks to his revolutionary rhymes that brought Dub Poetry into our cultural awareness. A radical campaigner, he knew Mandela, recorded reggae with Bob Marley’s band, and fought in the 1980s race riots. Now he’s brought out an autobiography about his incredible life and is taking it on tour, next stop Hertford. Inspiring stuff.
DRINK: St Albans gin and Prosecco festival, Alban Arena, 14 September
Gin, gin, glorious gin… and Prosecco! Gallons of the stuff in fact to try, buy and swig at this dedicated festival in St Albans. Sample different varieties and flavours from a wide range of local to international distillers and producers, and dance the night away to the live music if you book the evening session.
HISTORY: Hertford Heritage Weekend,various venues in Hertford, 14-15 Sept
Fancy yourself a bit of a local history buff? Brush up on your knowledge during this weekend-long celebration as part of National Heritage Open Days (in fact, there’s masses going on all over the counties, so check out the site). Back to Hertford though, there’ll be an Open Day at the Seed Warehouse and a farmer’s market on 14th, then on 15th Hertford Castle will be free to visit and the grounds transformed into a Medieval encampment with Vikings, battles, fire breathing, falconry, archery and more. Plus look for free openings of local heritage sites throughout, as well as trails and walks to discover more.
KIDS: Hey Diddle Diddle, Luton Libraries, 15 September
Need to get the little ones out of the house? Goblin Theatre perform their take on the classic nursery rhyme, with puppetry, music and plenty of imagination. So why did the dish run away with the spoon? And how did the cow jump over the moon? All will be revealed in this cute production for ages 2+.
BOOKS: Margaret Atwood Live in Cinemas, various locations, 18 Sept
I don’t know about you but I’ve been glued to The Handmaid’s Tale on TV recently. Now author, Margaret Atwood is finally releasing her long-awaited follow-up novel, The Testaments, on 10 Sept, which she will be talking about in an exclusive interview broadcast live from London to cinemas and theatres across the UK. There’ll be exclusive readings by special guests too. Not to be missed. There’s loads of venues screening it thoughout Herts and Beds – just search by location on the website to find your nearest.
FASHION: Copper House x The Dressing Room LFW event, Copper House, Berkhamsted, 18 Sept
Couldn’t make it to London Fashion Week? Get the inside info on all the upcoming trends and a curated fashion edit from the experts at The Dressing Room boutique in St Albans at chi-chi Berko bar, Copper House. You’ll get a Dressed to Kill cocktail on arrival, then a delish three-course meal designed by Copper House’s Head Chef, followed by a Belvedere Espresso Martini. Now, what to wear?
COMEDY: Ed Byrne, If I’m Honest, The Radlett Centre, 18 September
Feeling frazzled? Kids under your feet? Treat yourself to some laughing therapy, courtesy of comic master, Mr Ed Byrne. For this new tour he’s taken a long hard look at himself to figure out whether he has any traits that are worth passing on to his kids… well, at least it might make us feel better about oursleves, eh?!
KIDS: Mark Thompson’s Spectacular Science Show, 21 September
‘Science is boring, mum…’ Never again will you hear that if you drag the darlings along to this award winning show. Mark Thompson, an astronomer at heart – you might have seen him on shows like BBC Stargazing Live, The Sky at Night, The Culture Show and The One Show – skyrocketed to success after taking his family science show to the Edinburgh Fringe three years ago. Since then he’s been winning over science phobic kids left, right and centre with party pieces like exploding elephant’s toothpaste, vortex-generating dustbins and howling jelly babies!
KIDS: Christopher’s Caterpillars, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 21 September
Got a minibeast mad little one? This sweet play adapted from Charlotte Middletons’ Christopher Nibble books follows the story of two green-fingered guinea pigs who swap their trowels for magnifying glasses when their pet caterpillars mysteriously disappear. Recommended for ages 2-7.
VINTAGE: TimeTurn: St Albans Vintage Retro Festival, 22 September
No it’s not a scene from a retro film, the streets of St Albans will once again be transformed into a vintage vision, with classic cars, music and dancing from a bygone era. Even the local shops, bars and restaurants will be offering a vintage twist. This year’s theme is ‘people power’ to celebrate local legends past and present. There’ll be all sorts of performances and activities as well as a family treasure trail. Best dust off your floral tea dress and perfect your Lindy Hop then!
MUSIC: Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, 26-29 Sept
Whether you’ve got an ear for classical music or not, the theme of the eighth Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, Pour L’Amour de la Musique, sounds like a promising start. Celebrating French repertoire, this year’s event, curated Artistic Director Guy Johnston, welcomes the Vienna Philharmonic’s Principal Harpist, Annelean Lenearts, flautist Adam Walker, oboist Nicholas Daniel, clarinettist Julian Bliss, the Navarra String Quartet plus the Faust Chamber Orchestra and Hertfordshire Chorus for a grand finale.
KIDS: Tabby McTat, Hertford Theatre, 27-29 Sept
If your kids are anything like my daughter they won’t be able to get enough of Julia Donaldson’s books and this one about a busker and his feline friend is a firm fave in our house. This lovely story about loyalty and friendship has been brought to musical life on stage by the team behind Tiddler and Zog, so it’s sure to hit all the right notes.
MUSIC: Herts Jazz Festival Weekend, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 27-29 Sept
Jazz hands at the ready – this weekend is choc full of performances of all genres of jazz, from trad to modern, with headline performances from Seamus Blake with the French Connection and Clark Tracey’s Allstars. Book a weekend pass to get access to all the shows, so you don’t miss a toe tapping moment.
FILM: Rocketman: Luna Flix Outdoor Cinema, Turvey House, Bedfordshire, 28 Sept
Not seen this Elton John biopic yet? Catch it in the grand setting of the grounds of Turvey House this month. Possibly the last chance to catch an outdoor movie before the autumn weather comes in! Bring a picnic, and once you’ve knocked back a couple of glasses of prosecco you’ll be belting out all the classics.
COMEDY: The Scummy Mummies Show, Hertford theatre, 28 September
They’re back, with their warts-and-all show hooked on the (*ahem*) joys of parenting. The hilarious duo will perform stand-up sketches, songs and relay some seriously scummy stories based on their hit podcast and best-selling book. Book the babysitter immediately!
KIDS: The Scarecrows’ Wedding, Luton Library Theatre, 28-29 September
Can Julia Donaldson do no wrong?! This time her tale of the betrothed scarecrows comes to the stage to delight little people who have read the story 5,000 times. With Scamp Theatre’s magical twist the best-selling book will be brought to life with wit, drama and wedding bells!
FOOD: Wok On with Ching-he Huang, Chorleywood War Memorial Hall, 30 Sept
Forget the dirty Friday night Chinese takeaway, and be inspired to cook from scratch instead. Ching comes to Chorleywood to talk about her new book, Wok On, and demonstrate some of the easy (yep, she reckons they can all be made in 30 mins or less) recipes from it which come from all over Asia – from dumplings and curries to stir-fries. Mouth. Watering.
NEW EXHIBITION: William Blake, Tate Britain, London, 11 Sept – 2 Feb 2020
Poet, painter and printmaker William Blake has created some of the most iconic images in British art. This new exhibition, the largest of Blake’s work for almost 20 years, will feature over 300 original works, as well as an immersive recreation of the small domestic room in which Blake showed his art in 1809. Other pieces will be digitally recreated on an enormous scale. tate.org.uk
FESTIVAL: Emerge Festival, various London locations, 27 – 28 Sept
Dubbed as ‘Night at the Museum meets Glastonbury’ this new arts festival, hosted in venues across London, features 30 ‘late’ events from music, performance, poets, DJs and cocktails. The aim of the game? To visit as many as you can – a ticket gets you a wristband that gives you entry to every single event on the night. See the full line up here. emergefestival.co.uk
NEW EXHIBITION: Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A Museum, London, from 21 Sept
MUSICAL: Madagascar The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside, Aylesbury, 19 – 22 Sept
Alex the lion (played by X Factor winner Matt Terry), Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins explode onto the Aylesbury Waterside’s stage in Madagascar The Musical next month, a guaranteed hit with kids (and adults for that matter) who like to move it move it (sorry). Tickets here.
CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival – featuring Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live, Phyllis Court, Henley, Sat 5 Oct
It’s back, baby! We’re returning to Henley Lit Fest (28 Sept – 6 Oct) this year with lashings of wine, plenty of pizzazz and a panel of brilliant authors: actor, Celebrity Master Chef winner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of ELLE and How to be a Gentlewoman author Lotte Jeffs, and Five Steps to Happy debut novelist Ella Dove. More info here. Get your tickets pronto, last year was a sell out. henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk