Mon 6 - Sun 12 May
THEATRE: The Glass Menagerie, Watford Palace Theatre, until 18 May
The play which propelled Tennessee Williams to fame is returning to the stage with a new ‘radical’ interpretation by director, Femi Elufowoju jr. Following the story of the impoverished Wingfield family in Depression-wrought St Louis, it might not tackle the cheeriest of subjects, but we reckon it’ll take you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster if you’re up for a weepy.
PERFORMANCE: Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers: Tribe, Hertford Theatre, 9 May
The high energy show celebrates 25 years of Europe’s largest taiko drumming organisation, and the growth of its ‘tribe’ of performers from around the world. The super-talented bunch will keep you on the edge of your seat with their Mugenkyo (meaning limitless reverberation!), skill, stamina and powerful rhythms, all set to dramatic choreography. Prepare to be mesmerised.
THEATRE: Earth Hour, Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans, 9 – 11 May
With climate change at the top of the political agenda at the moment (Brexit aside… groan) it’s no surprise that the arts world is starting to tackle the subject head on. This fast-paced, gritty play from brand new theatre company On A Wimb sounds like an interesting take. It centres around characters Sasha and Dominic, part of the production team for environmental TV programme, Earth Hour, but when their own personal disagreements start to get in the way of the bigger message it serves as a reminder that time is running out for the planet – hard-hitting stuff!
COMEDY: Croft and Pearce: Double Take, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 10 May
You might know school-friends-turned-comedy-duo, Hannah and Fiona, from their BBC Radio 4 sketch show The Croft and Pearce Show and if that’s anything to go by then their brand new live sketch-based tale promises to be a proper giggle. They’re bringing some of their fave characters from the show, such as June and Jean, to the stage, along with some ingenious and hilarious new ones.
FESTIVAL: Dogfest, Knebworth House, 11 – 12 May
Whoever knew dogs needed their own festival?! Well apparently they do, and it sounds pretty fun actually. Take your four-legged friends along to the gorgeous Knebworth House where there’ll be loads of activities (from Fido’s Lido to hay bale racing), as well as a fun dog show, live music and pup-formances on the main stage (dog yoga anyone?), a puppy zone (aww…) as well as appearances from Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick and dog lover Clare Balding.
KIDS: Morgan & West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids (And Childish Grown-ups!), Luton Library Theatre, 11 May
Join this pair of time-travelling magicians and masters of illusion as they perform their mind boggling tricks along with a generous helping of tomfoolery and good old-fashioned fun. Suitable for ages 5+
FESTIVAL: Althorp Food and Drink Festival, The Althorp Estate, Northants, 11-12 May
The Spencers open their gates to the public for the annual foodie fest again this year and it looks like a cracker. Ken Hom OBE, Royal cakemaker Mich Turner MBE and Michelin star chef Jean-Christophe Novelli will be headlining and demonstrating their skills in the Cookery Theatre, plus there’ll be drinks masterclasses, a pop-up restaurant, live music, art exhibitions and over 100 stalls championing local food and drink.
FESTIVAL: SustFest , various locations, St Albans, 11 May – 1 June
We all know that we could probably do a bit more to help our planet so this three-week-long festival dedicated to sustainability is a good way to learn how, plus have some fun too. There are over 100 events taking place in St Albans, Harpenden and the surrounding villages, from nature walks and allotment days to Make do and Mend workshops, cycle rides and clothes swaps. Then on 19 May there’s the St Albans #SustFest19 Market Takeover, where you’ll find stalls focused on sustainable living, such as plastic-free shopping, local nature groups, electric cars and bikes, as well as live music all day and tasty meat-free food. So make like Mr Attenborough and do your bit for the environment.
FUN RUN: Bubble Rush, Gadebridge Park, Hemel Hempstead, 12 May
Not much of a runner? No worries, as anyone can take part in this fun family-friendly event, from little ones to great grannnies! Come on – it’s only 5k and it’s for charideee! It costs £20 for adults, £10 for kids and it’s free for tots, with all proceeds going to local cause, The Hospice of St Francis. Plus, when else will you get to run through masses of multi-coloured bubbles?
FAMILY: Duckie, Luton Library Theatre, 12 May
Cabaret for kids? Bear with us… this re-imagining of The Ugly Duckling is acclaimed cabaret star, Le Gateau Chocolat’s first foray into children’s performance (all family-friendly, of course), and it sounds faaabulous. Set in an animal circus, Duckie, who’s not quite like everyone else, struggles to find his tribe and be accepted, but soon learns to turn his differences into strengths. A good moral tale about self respect, with a side order of glitz and glamour. Ages 3+
FESTIVAL: Berkofest Book Festival, various venues, Berkhamsted Town Hall and Rectory Lane Cemetery, 12 May
You may well be familiar with the annual community-run music event, Berkofest (held in September) but this year marks the launch of its inaugural sister festival dedicated to books! The family-friendly event will host a mix of international and locally acclaimed authors doing readings, Q&As and book signings, as well as a series of workshops taking place from comedy improv to photography. A book worm’s dream!
WELLBEING: Art & Soul, Hitchin Town Hall, 12 May
If you’re into ‘good’ living, this community-based event has got your name all over it. There’ll be a combo of talks, workshops and stalls, all focusing on mindfulness, wellbeing, mental health, conscious shopping and creativity. The day kicks off with a yoga session, followed by a full schedule of workshops including gong meditation (ommmm!), colour enlightenment and DJ sets. Meanwhile you can shop (sustainably, of course!) to your heart’s content from stalls hawking everything from vegan skincare to art and holistic treatments. It’s free to get in (but donations are welcomed), and you can take part in as many of the workshops as you like for £10 (or £5 after 2pm). Plus, all the proceeds go to the very worthwhile cause that is local charity Team Super Seraph, which is raising vital funds for future treatment of mini superhero, 4-year-old Seraph, who has high risk neuroblastoma. So dig deep people – it’s good for the soul!
EXHIBITION: Hertford Art Society Open Exhibition, The Cowbridge Halls, Hertford, until 18 May
Whether you’re a dab hand with a paint brush yourself or just have an eye for talent, you’ll enjoy perusing the works on display at this open exhibition for amateurs and pros alike. Artist are invited to submit works, in any media except photograhy – from ceramics and sculpture to pastels and prints – to be judged by a panel of experts. There were around 600 works submitted last year, with 300 selected to exhibit.
FESTIVAL: Greensand Country Festival, various locations, until 31 May
In its second year, this annual festival celebrates our surrounding countryside, namely the 40 mile strip of scenic landscape, stretching from Cambridge to Bucks all across Bedfordshire, which is known as Greensand Country. It contains all of Bedfordshire’s remaining heathland, half its woodland and more historic parkland than anywhere else in the country! There’s masses going on throughout the month to encourage you to explore the area, including guided walks, bike rides, bushcraft, country crafts, fun runs, cookery workshops, yoga, local exhibitions, foraging and more.
EXHIBITION: Henry Moore Drawings: The Art of Seeing, Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Perry Green, until 27 October
Coinciding with the re-opening of the studio and gallery for the season, this exhibition of Moore’s drawings is the biggest of its kind in over 40 years. Most of us know him for his iconic sculptures of course, but it was actually an exhibition of his drawings in 1942 which triggered his rise to fame. On show will be 150 pieces dating back to the 1920s including life studies, drawings of animals, landscapes and portraits, as well as sketches of his sculptures, textile designs and a series chronicling wartime Britain. Fascinating stuff.
KIDS: British Dinosaurs: From Fossils to Feathers, Natural History Museum, Tring, until 11 October
Dino-crazy kids will love getting their teeth into some fun facts at this special exhibition which celebrates Britain as the birthplace of dinosaur studies (bet you didn’t know that…) There’ll be lots to look at too, including casts and specimens of prehistoric skeletons, skulls and teeth (eww!), which have all been discovered around the British Isles. A wannabe paleontologist’s dream!
EXHIBITION: Humphry Repton: Art and Nature for the Duke of Bedford, Woburn Abbey, until 1 Sept
This year marks the bicentary of the landscape gardener responsible for designing the grounds and Gardens at Woburn Abbey. The exhibition features his famous Red Book, which is packed with detailed plans and ideas for the planting schemes, lakes and parklands, as well examples of his other work for the 6th Duke of Bedford’s Devon and London homes. Step outside to see Repton’s work in its full glory, including his trademark features like the grotto, Chinese-style pavillion and aviary.
POP-UP: Creative Living, Christopher Place, St Albans, until 12 May
We’re all in favour of supporting local small businesses, especially if it means we get a chance to snap up some some gorgeous handmade goodies. This six-week long pop-up brings together 14 local business (nearly all run by women, I might add) selling unique furniture, home accessories, skin care, jewellery, art, stationery and more. There will also be demonstrations including cushion making and furniture making.
KIDS: Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, until 2 June
If you’ve got a LEGO fan on your hands, this is an absolute must-visit! Imagine their little faces at spotting a life-size gorilla made entirely from their favourite building blocks, or an elephant that literally weighs a tonne of bricks! There’s also going to be a pit full of LEGO for kids to build their own animal creations. Sounds epic!
EXHIBITION: Beasts of London, Museum of London, Fri 5 – Sun 5 Jan
This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (here’s a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the animals, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris, Joe Pasquale and more voicing the beasts.
Must-see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A‘s retrospective of iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). It is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance – it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A. Also worth checking out is the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).
HOMES & INTERIORS
In need of some home inspo? Grand Designs Live pitches up at London’s ExCeL (Sat 4 – Sun 12) with loads of exhibitors, product launches and expert advice on how to pimp your pad whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches. Kevin McCloud will be on hand for a natter, too – let’s hope he’s in a good mood. Or feeling crafty? London Craft Week (Wed 8 – Sun 12) showcases exceptional craftsmanship in London with a programme of workshops by both unknown makers and celebrated masters held in famous studios, galleries and shops. This year London’s hippest new hangout Coal Drops Yard is getting involved for the first time with loads of cool workshops and installations.