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What’s on: August 2021

Diary need a bit of oomph? Look no further than our Muddy curated guide to what not to miss in Herts and Beds this month.

EXHIBITION: Modern Slavery, Stockwood Discovery Centre, 1 Aug – 19 Sept

This sensitive and emotive adults-only exhibition features a series of large-scale portraits by Syrian artist Sara Shamma tackling the troubling issue of human trafficking through stories of survival, endurance and recovery from the survivors themselves.

KIDS: Holiday workshops, Woburn Safari Park, 2-6 and 16-20 August

Woburn Safari Park

Want to nurture your 8-13 year old’s passion for wildlife? These holiday workshops include hands-on experiences, a behind the scenes look at the exhibitions, meeting the keepers and learning how the animals are cared for.

OPEN-AIR CINEMA: Film at the Farm, Graveley Fruit Farm, 7, 21 and 28 August

Al fresco cinema on a charming rural fruit farm? Look no further than Film on the Farm, where you can catch movie classics, Back to the Future (7 Aug), Dirty Dancing (21 Aug) and Bohemian Rhapsody (28 Aug) on their big screen. Quench your thirst and tingle your taste buds from the farm’s local food and beverage trucks, The Victoria Pub, Hitchin and Bun Lovin’ Criminals, topped off with some freshly picked strawbs (arrive early for picking) for pud. Kids incapable of sitting still for 90 mins? Get them busy on the new crazy golf course and tractor trailer rides, leaving you and your other half to enjoy a summer’s night at the movies in peace. Bliss.

KIDS: Totfest, Redbourn, 7 August

A veritable kids’ heaven, Totfest is an entire festival dedicated to little ones – like all your little one’s wildest dreams rolled into one epic day. Expect baby raves, theatre shows, tonnes of art and craft activities, a fairground, race tracks, toy villages, a giant soft play, character meet-and-greets, sports sessions, music making and LOADS more.

MUSIC: The Staves, Watford Palace Theatre Stage in the Park, 8 Aug

The Staves

Rounding off the theatre’s Stage in the Park festival are Glasto faves and Herts locals (yep, they hail from our very own Watford!), The Staves. The sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor are touring their fourth album Good Woman. It was written during a time of turmoil for the girls, during which relationships broke down, they lost their mother and Emily’s first child was born, so we’re expecting a musical rollercoaster of emotions.

THEATRE: The Three Musketeers, Hatfield House, 9 and 10 August

Immersion theatre three musketeers

Known for their audience participation, Immersion Theatre’s adaptation of The Three Musketeers promises to be lively, on-the-edge-of-your-seat stuff for the whole family (ages 8+). Pack your picnic for this performance on the cricket pitch at the gorgeous Hatfield House for an oh-so-civilised summer afternoon.

HISTORY: The Time Traveller, Wardown House, 10-18 Aug

Wardown House time traveller

Introduce kids (age 6+) to some local history in a fun and interactive way with Wardown House’s resident time traveller. You’ll meet some suffragettes, Luton Town footballers and board the airport’s first plane – history brought to life.

KIDS: Summer Bug Hunt, Shuttleworth Estate, 11 August

Ladybird

For creepy crawlie lovers here’s a chance to spot minibeasts and go pond dipping while mum and dad enjoy the gorgeous surroundings of the Shuttleworth Estate gardens!

FESTIVAL: Stone Valley Festival South, Great Amwell, 13-15 August

The Stone Valley South festival has a distinct Mods and Rockers theme going on, with some major headliners over the three day weekend including The Boomtown Rats, The Undertones and The Happy Mondays. You might also spot a Vespa or two, thanks to the organised scooter ride-out and the annual Show and Shine awards with trophies for best paint job, best mod and more!

MUSIC: Wardown weekend of music, Wardown House, 14-15 Aug

Wardown House

Grab a picnic blanket and get the whole family down to Wardown House Gardens for two days of musical entertainment for your delectation. Luton-based Revellers Steelband (think Caribbean classics), and Two Tone (performing a nostalgic set from the 1940s through 70s), will play on 14th. And on 15th you can catch Beds’ own 8-piece ukelele band, Ukie Toones covering faves from the 60s to today, plus the Glen Miller-esque 17-piece, Shambles Big Band. Sounds delightful.

Hertford Food and Drink Festival, 14-15 August

This free weekend includes loads of street food stalls, while local cafés, bars and restaurants open their doors to offer special promotions, cookery demos and samples (don’t mind if we do!), and it joins forces with the Hertford Castle Beer & World Food Festival, which takes place in the castle grounds.

FAMILY THEATRE: This Noisy Isle, The Place Bedford, 14-15 August

For 7-11 year olds this immersive treasure-hunt based show, invites families to navigate their way through a strange new world, meeting interesting characters, solving puzzles and steering through choppy seas. There’s a deeper message about discovering where you belong, too – not that the kids will realise as they’ll be too busy having fun! Some of it’s outdoors so bring the right gear with you.

FAMILY: Shuttleworth Flying Circus, Shuttleworth Estate, 14 August

Be amazed by the daredevil circus skills and aerial acrobatics at this special drive-in air display on 14 August. Expect dazzling pyrotecnics, awe-inspiring wing walking and fabulous fireworks. Plus there’ll be roving circus performers and you can explore the historic air craft on display and the Swiss Garden.

CULTURE: St Albans Festival of Culture, 14-15 August

books

This inaugural celebration of literature and the arts has been organised by St Albans’ own Books on the Hill book shop. The two-day programme includes author panels, illustrator demos, creative writing classes, archaeology talks, musical performances, and children’s workshops). Check out the programme here and make sure you pre-book your tickets.

Herts Fest, Herts County Showground, St Albans, 15 August

ASWAD

Newbie alert! Herts Fest is a brand new one-day festival that’s earned its place in our ‘big players’ list thanks to its stellar line-up of legendary bands and artists from the 70s through to the 90s, which we reckon will pull festival goers from near and far. There’s UB40, Aswad, Soul II Soul and Ray Lewis from The Drifters. Plus Pat Sharp will be on the DJ decks for good measure. AND you could bag yourself some free tickets if you enter our Reader Treat, before 4 August!

THEATRE: Treasure Island, The Cricketers Pub Weston, Hitchin, 19 Aug

Wait… theatre at a pub, you say? Yep, and not only that, but it’s a ‘pay what you think’ performance by the hilarious Half Cut Theatre (yep, pretty much what it says on the tin!) This energetic adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s book is family friendly and will be performed in the pub garden. Bring your own low chairs and dress up if you fancy getting into the swashbuckling spirit. Best get the rum punches in then!

KIDS: Medieval Summer, St Albans Cathedral, 19, 22 and 24 August

Cathedral – West End (c) Dave Wood

Get the kids into history without reaching for the textbooks (yawn, mum!). The Medieval Summer programme includes a family discovery experience (19 Aug) where you can let them loose (within reason!) in the impressive St Albans Cathedral, to learn about its incredible history and Medieval secrets, whilst creating their own artworks and being entertained my monks and jesters. On 22 Aug there’ll be Tales from the Hart, with costumed storytellers bringing the Middle Ages to Life, and join the Potions, Poisons and Poultices workshop on 24 Aug, which is as gruesome as it sounds! Hey, they might even learn something!

CINEMA: Luna Open Air Cinema, Knebworth House, 19-22 August

Luna Cinema Knebworth

Enjoy modern cinema classics: Moulin Rouge (19 Aug), Pretty Woman (20 Aug), The Greatest Showman Sing-a-long (21 Aug), Rocketman (22 Aug), under the stars in the lavish setting of the Knebworth House estate this month. There’ll be a bar, fab food offering and an option to upgrade your seating for a superior experience.

KIDS THEATRE: The Sea Show, The Place Bedford, 20 August

This show for ages 5+ sounds like a jolly hybrid of puppetry and cabaret – meet Morwenna the mermaid, Ruan the reformed seagull and salty seadog Captain Pemburthy. There’ll be tall tales, silly slapstick and original songs thrown in for good measure.

THEATRE: Open Air Theatre, Shuttleworth Estate, 20-21 August

Chapter house theatre Midsummer night's dream
Chapter House Theatre Company

Head to the rather lovely Shuttleworth Estate this month for two al fresco performances by Chapter House Theatre, including the magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream on 20th, then Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on 21st. Bring a picnic (no booze allowed though) and pick your spot to settle in for an evening or theatrical joy.

THEATRE: The Tempest, The Place, Bedford, 21 Aug

Experts in open-air Shakespeare, theatre company, The Pantaloons, bring their bonkers take on The Tempest to Bedford this month, with magic, monsters, music and mayhem.

FESTIVAL: Classic Ibiza, Hatfield Park, 21 August

Classic Ibiza

Transport yourself to clubbers’ nirvana for for Classic Ibiza – a homage to heady Ibiza nights. It might not be on a sun-drenched island or involve partying into the small hours (doors close at 10.15pm), but you can bring a picnic and enjoy the lovely setting of Hatfield park. World-class dance acts, including Groove Armada, will take to the stage after former Pacha Ibiza DJ, Jose Luis, opens the evening. The Urban Soul Orchestra and Goldierocks will up the tempo with a Sundowner Set and for the finale, expect an al fresco nightclub vibe with a laser show. Glowsticks at the ready.

THEATRE: Wonderland, South Mill Arts, 26 August

Who doesn’t love the madcap world of Alice in Wonderland? Pure childhood escapism, colourful characters and all round bonkers fun! This production, simply called Wonderland, from Sophisticated Entertainment features an original score by Grammy award-winning writers. Whet your apetite with the trailer above!

Goatfest, Codicote, 27-29 August

Goatfest has grown from a small, free one-dayer in a pub beer garden to athree-day extravaganza with over 70 acts performing (Kim Wilde is headlining this year!) on four stages. It’s also a great chance to discover some new music from up-and-coming performers on the festival circuit, as well as some homegrown acts.

Twinwood Festival, Clapham, Bedfordshire, 27-30 August

Twinwood

Don the floral headscarfs, up-dos and swing skirts, and slather on the red lippy for this celebration of vintage music, dance and fashion. There’ll be a fab line-up of bands and artists to get you bopping, dance classes where you can perfect your lindy hop, and fashion stalls to up your vintage game.

WILDLIFE: Summer Evenings in Paradise, Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, until 28 Aug

Paradise wildlife park

See what the resident animals get up to after dark. The gates of Paradise Wildlife Park will be staying open after hours for visitors to explore as the animals settle down for the night and the sun sets over the park. Enjoy a glass of Pimm’s some special entertainment including African drumming, live music, wildlife stilt walking and face painting for the kids.

Benington Lordship Chilli Festival, Stevenage, 28-30 August

chillis

Like things hot and spicy (naughty!)? Then you’ll love this three-day fest dedicated to the humble chilli. There’ll be over 60 stalls selling everything from chilli plants to fiery chutney and chocolate, international street food, local beers and cocktails with a kick, musical entertainment AND the famous chilli eating comp – it’s all too hot to handle!

DRINK: Flitwick Gin Festival, Hardy Vale, 29 August

Gin and tonic

Like gin…? Errr (let’s forget I even asked that!) Head to the Flitwick Cricket club this month to try a selection of gins (a book of tasting notes is included with your ticket, so you can swot up and sound clever!), get your first G&T free, plus a Copa glass and cool back to take home. Tickets £15. Book in advance by emailing sitting.duck@btinternet.com

KIDS: Festival of Fun, Mead Open Farm, until 30 August

Festivals don’t have to just be for grown-ups – this one features all the usual farm-based activities but there’ll also be a summer festival-themed programme with daily live music and dance offs on the Udder Stage, a Comedy Zone, Cow-eoke (yep, you guessed it), circus skills, festival games and even a ‘Venga’ party tractor! It’ll have everybody jumping…

KIDS: Zoorasic Park, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, until 5 Sept

Zoorasic Park ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Take a walk on the wild side this summer with enormous animatronic dinosaurs, Jurassic facts to discover, a fossil dig and a safari car track at Whipsnade Zoo.

CATCH THEM AGAIN THIS MONTH

EXHIBITION: Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity, The Higgins Bedford, 10 July – 28 November

Did you know that one of the largest and most exciting airships developed was built in Cardington, Bedford in the 1920s? Tragically it crashed in 1930 crushing Bedford’s dream of becoming the UKs airship hub. Today, local artist, Mike Stubbs has taken on the subject in this exhibition, which involved inviting other locals to share their stories to inspire his own artwork – an immersive audio-visual film, taking audiences on a mythical airship journey. Intriguing!

MUSIC: Swiss Garden at Night with Live Music, Shuttleworth Estate, Biggleswade, 16 July – 11 Sept (various dates)

Soak up the lovely atmosphere at the Swiss Gardens by night for an evening of live music. There will be a different performer for each date and you can arrive from 6pm to enjoy your picnic in the grounds before the performance starts.

EXHIBITION: Animal Mummies, Natural History Museum, Tring, until 17 October

Animal mummies Natural History Museum
© Trustees of the Natural History Museum

I, for one, am delighted that this fab free museum has reopened – it’s a great place to pop in with the kids on a rainy day and we spot something new every time we visit. The current exhibition will entice kids and big kids who have a fascination with ancient Egypt, with the opportunity to examine real animal mummies and x-rays showing how they were preserved. There’ll also be a 2,000 year-old cat coffin on display and an interactive scanning machine.

ART: This Living Hand: Edmund de Waal presents Henry Moore, Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Perry Green, until 31 October

Henry Moore

If you’re familiar with Moore’s sculptures you’ll know that they’re innately tactile. This exhibition by acclaimed artist, Edmund de Waal, explores the role of touch in the sculptor’s work. Naturally, visitors are invited to get hands-on with the pieces on display – including Moore’s works in bronze and stone, plus a series of carved benches by de Waal. Moore’s studies of own and others peoples’ hands, as an expression of power and symbolism, will also feature.

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