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What’s On: October 2020

Hello October, old friend. On the roster this month we have vintage markets, virtual theatre, Halloween antics and a string of excellent exhibitions. You ready? Let's go!

EXHIBITION: In Our Time: triptych and other artworks by Sylvia Molloy (1914-2008), North Hertfordshire Museum, Hitchin, Until 1 Nov

Sylia Molloy at the North Hertfordshire Museum

Former Letchworth resident, Sylvia Molloy, was an adventurous and unusual (although well established) British artist. This daredevil traveller escaped numerous invasions/coups and travelled and lived in Burma(Myanmar), South Africa and India. She often painted the people experiencing turmoil around her, with a distinctly political tone. This particular exhibition focuses on a large triptych, which she worked on for over 20 years. The pieces include ‘War Games’, ‘Man’s Inhumanity to Man’ and ‘Towards Armageddon.’ Molloy hoped the pieces would make people think again about conflict. Why not take a look and see what you think of these moving pieces?

DANCE: The Red Shoes, Mathew Bourne, South Mill Arts Centre, Bishops Stortford, 4 & 7 Oct

Mathew Bourne’s The Red Shoes

Formerly the Rhodes Arts Complex, the re-invigorated ( & re-named) South Mill Arts Centre is putting on a fab screening of modern ballet maestro, Mathew Bourne’s, The Red Shoes. The production is hitting screens for the first time – just in time for a nice October culture hit – since it wowed the pundits at Sadlers Wells. Fancy an achingly romantic tale about a Hollywood dancer longing for fame, re-imagined by one of the greatest living dance impresarios? Well this might be just up your street.

EXHIBITION: Never Alone, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, until 2 Feb 2021

Did you know there are now more devices connected to the internet than there are people on the planet? This exhibition in Hut 12 investigates the stories behind the rapidly expanding ‘Internet of Things’ and invites visitors to think about the choices they make while connected to the internet.

CINEMA: Black History Month, Broadway Cinema, Letchworth Garden City, 2 -28 Oct


Letchworth Broadway Cinema will be celebrating Black History Month this October (2 – 28 October) with a fantastic season of films from black directors, actors and other artists. Films will range from the James Brown bio, Get on Up to more poignant productions, such as Selma and Loving. And there’ll be some family friendly fun thrown in, too, with Moana.

EXHIBITION: Under the Same Sky, The Higgins, Bedford, 3 Oct -11 April

Under the Same Sky, The Higgins

Feeling a bit dramatic at the moment? Aren’t we all. Immerse yourself in this unusual, but very cool, show focused around our moody and uplifting weather patterns. Explore the fluffy skies and tumultuous storms depicted by JMW Turner, Samuel Palmer, Alfred Sisley, Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash, Edouard Manet and several others. There are 200 years’ worth of works on display thanks to the world renowned renowned Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection.

SHOP: Sustainable Pop Up Market, St Albans High Street, 25 Oct

Sustainable Pop-up Market, St Albans

After the roaring planet-friendly success of the first St Albans Sustainable Pop Up Market in August, it’s coming back again. We all know that by each of us doing our bit we can reduce waste and positively affect carbon emissions. And this fab Pop Up brings you loads of zero waste, plastic free, locally sourced and vegan options to make ethical living easier. So grab your jute shoppers and let’s get on it.

EAT OUT/MUSIC: Consone String Quartet, The Gatsby, Berkhamsted, 6 Oct

Consone String Quartet

Head over to Berkhamsted’s utterly fabulous Art Deco restaurant, The Gatsby, and be welcomed with a glass of fizz and canapes before taking your seats for a delicious two-course dinner. Decor aside, you will be treated to a wonderful programme of Schubert and Beethoven from the Consone String Quartet to accompany the culinary delights. It’s the perfect mid-week mood lifter.

EXHIBITION: MK Calling, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, until 1 Nov

MK Gallery reopened its doors on 11 September and will be extending its pre-lockdown exhibition MK Calling. The show features work from over 130 contemporary artists, both established and up-and-coming, with one third of the pieces produced by local talent.

SHOP: Antiques & Vintage Fair Biggleswade, The Weatherley Centre, Biggleswade, 18 Oct

Vintage finds and antiques

There is nothing more relaxing (or potentially damaging to your wallet tbh) than a stroll around this excellent Antiques & Vintage Fair. From silver ware, jewellry and decorative pieces to mid century homewares (yes please), art and vintage accessories, there’s something here to float everyone’s brocante boat. There’s also parking and the venue is weather proof, and of course Covid secure, so it’s a great autumnal activity.

CINEMA: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet World Premiere Screening with Q&A featuring Michael Palin, Hertford Theatre, 1 – 3 October

David Attenborough

If you missed Sir David Attenborough’s leap into Instagram this week to promote his forthcoming film A Life On Our Planet (seriously though, where have you been?), then leave space in the diary for Firstsite’s series of premiere screenings this week. Showing on three dates (1, 2 and 3 October from 7:30pm, 12:30pm and 6:50pm), this critical watch will walk us through some of the extraordinary experiences Sir David has enjoyed in the wild – and expose both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist, and the devastating changes he has seen as a result of climate crisis. It’s a thought-provoking must-see.

COMEDY: Comedy Bar, Hat Factory Arts Centre, 16 Oct

The Comedy Bar

When did you last see a bit of live comedy? Probably not for an aaaaage! sob Well we’ve got some great news for you – The Comedy Bar is back! Book a table, pre-order your beers online and enjoy table service and great line up of comedians, such as Sally Firth, Stella Graham, Davina Bentley, Tadiwa Malunga, Mike Lash and headliner, Russell Arathoon.

KIDS: 1000 Tiny Fun Palaces, Nationwide, 3 and 4 October

This national campaign from 3 – 4 Oct is all about sharing creative skills in the community through free workshops, tasters, talks and special events, and there are a few digital and live events going on in Herts and Beds. As part of this year’s Hertfordshire Year of Culture, the Herts Fun Palace will involve a huge range of super fun, creative online activities – such as storytelling, nature inspired baking and poetry sessions. Just search by area on the main site to find out what’s happening near you.

CULTURE: Ashridge House Champagne History Tour, Ashridge House, Berkhamsted, 15 Oct

Champagne History Tour, Ashridge House

Treat yourself to a glass of perfectly chilled champagne in the Grand Hall and immerse yourself in the delightful history of this historic Herts House with this hour-long tour. Survey the opulent interiors of the Wyatt Room and the elegant reception rooms, before taking a turn around the Chapel. Oh, and the ticket involves a free pass to see the Capability Brown and Humphry Repton inspired gardens. Tickets are just £25 per person.

HALLOWEEN: Spooky Audley End, Audley End House, Saffron Walden, 24 Oct – 1 Nov

Audley end at night

Gather your little monsters, ahem darlings, for a ghoulishly good day out at Audley End House, which can be decidedly creepy after dark. There’s a trail with creepy clues to solve and the chance to gather round in a socially distanced fashion to listen to spooky stories. There’s a daily fancy dress competition too, so better get that sewing machine out pronto.

HALLOWEEN: Halloween Spooktacular 2020, Audley End Miniature Railway24 Oct – 1 Nov

Audley End House certainly knows how to do a themed event. Their miniature railway will be transformed from 24th October – 1st November into a ghost train, where kids journey on the haunted Halloween Express with trick or treat bags to visit the witches in their haunted house. Fancy dress is very much encouraged. The craft tent is in action as always, so little monsters can create a creepy craft, have their faces painted, test out their thriller dance moves and listen to a spooky tale.

HALLOWEEN/KIDS: Woodland Walks & Pumpkin Trail, Hatfield House, Hatfield, October

Hatfield House Pumpkin Trail

A ramble through the woods at Hatfield house is one of my fav things to do in Herts. Most years you only get to walk in Queen Elizabeth I ‘s footsteps (quite literally as she grew up at Hatfield) until the end of September. But this year, the estate is open to visitors every weekend – meaning that you can get your fix of the glorious autumn leaves. And, during the October half term there will be a Halloween Pumpkin Trail for the little ones to explore – come dressed in your scariest outfits and tag @hatfield_house on Insta for a chance of winning a ticket to for the 2021 season.

HALLOWEEN/KIDS: Spooky Wrest Park, Wrest Park, Silsoe, 24 Oct -1 Nov

Here’s another great halfterm Halloween activity for you – and this time in Beds! Wrest Park, Silsoe, is getting spooky this October half term with a suitably creepy trail set out around the grounds. And there are also spine chillingly spooky story sessions and a ghoulishly great fancy dress competition. So, raid that dressing up box, get creative and head for some eerie antics on this great estate.

KIDS: Halloween at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 24 Oct – 1 Nov

The National Trust site is piling on the activities for autumn half term including a ghostly trail around the grounds, pumpkin carving in The Stables and – our personal favourite – a spooky-themed Halloween afternoon tea (how cute is that little ghost meringue?!). Booking essential.

EXHIBITION: Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden, Waddesdon Manor, until 25 Oct 

Isn’t this just beautiful? The image was taken by legendary fashion (Jil Sander) and celebrity (The Queen, Lady Gaga) photographer Nick Knight. He’s coming up roses with an exhibition at Waddesdon Manor, which features manipulated photographs of roses inspired by the work of 16th- and 17th-century still life painters like Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Huysum. Read our interview with Nick here.

WORKSHOP: Digital Photography: Exploring the Autumn Garden, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 10 Oct

The once-vibrant green leaves of summer are turning to beautiful reds, rusts and golds so it’s the ideal time to get outside and snap a few photos. Don’t know where to start? This one-day course, led by a tutor, will teach you how to create interesting compositions and work all those as-yet-undiscovered buttons and dials on your camera.

Further afield:

ART: START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, 21-25 Oct

Hey Queenie, nice nose ring! This cool, contemporary art fair, which takes pieces from London’s top galleries, will go ahead this year with social distancing measures and an exceptional line up of artists including  Lincoln Townley,  Erika Navas and Nat Bowen. In addition to START Art Fair, Korean Eye’s 2020 exhibition Creativity and Daydream will be on show having travelled from The State Hermitage in St Petersburg after a six-month stay, featuring a wealth of emerging and established talent from South Korea. 

EXHIBITION: Among The Trees, The Hayward Gallery, Southbank, until 31 Oct

From Colombian rainforests and remote Japanese islands to olive orchards in Israel and a 9,550-year-old spruce in Sweden, this mixed media exhibition explores trees relationship to humans, featuring work from 37 international artists. You’re right on the Southbank so plenty of foodie options to head to after your culture fix.

Find more ideas here

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