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What’s on: June 2021

From al fresco theatre and dining to indoor art and music, plus half term fun for the kids, here's all you need to fill your calendar this month.

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

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.

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

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

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.

Henry Moore

ART: Fiona Curran: Jump Cut, Still Life, Broadway Studio + Gallery, Letchworth, until 4 July

This exhibition opened virtually last month but from 20 May you can actually visit the gallery and see the exhibits for yourself. Fiona Curran’s artistic response to the Pandemic involves a collection of pieces focussing on the impact of technology vs the idea of slowing down and witnessing changes in the natural world. The first part of the title, ‘jump cut’, refers to a film editing technique, which disrupts the order of time. It’s a metaphor for how much of our lives have been displaced to a screen throughout the last year or so. Works include vivid textiles, abstract collages and architectural installations.

Fiona Curran

ECO-FRIENDLY: The Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild, throughout June

You don’t need to have little ones to get involved with the Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild campaign – although there are tonnes of kid-friendly activities available. The idea is simply to commit to doing one wild thing a day throughout June, from litter picking to seed planting, and kicking off with a Big Wild Breakfast outdoors. Sign up now to receive a free postal or digital pack to inspire your Random Acts of Wildness.

KIDS: Captain Calamity, Radlett Centre, 1 June

Captain Calamity explodes onto the stage for Half Term bonkers-ness. He’s somewhere between a mad scientist and an unlikely superhero… Check out his Youtube channel here so you know what to expect before you go!

Captain Calamity

FESTIVAL: The Estate Festival, Turvey House, 3 – 27 June

This brand new four-week festival in the grounds of the grand Turvey House, looks like a proper classy affair in a socially distanced setting. Expect some the world’s biggest DJs and live acts including Pete Tong and The Shapeshifters, which you can dance along to with five mates in your private hexagon-shaped dance pods (see below). Plus there’ll be a luxury pop-up glamping site (complete with swimming pool and spa), food from the Boathouse restaurant, pre-party brunches and after parties, as well as a weekly family show on Saturdays.

The Estate Festival Turvey House

KIDS: Sarah and Duck, Watford Palace Theatre, 3-4 June

Littlies’ faves from the tellybox (it’s actually a BAFTA Award-winning CBeebies show!) Sarah and Duck, are bringing another a weird and wonderful live production – The Big Top Birthday – to the Watford Palace Theatre this month.

KIDS: Big Herts Hero Hunt, Hertford Theatre, 3 June

Intrepid explorers can join the Big Herts Hero Hunt at Hertford Theatre to discover historical heroes from the county and uncover new ones by cracking the clues with Pakiki Theatre’s fun and interactive show.

STATELY HOME: Hatfield House reopening, 3 June

After a long closure, Hatfield House re-opens its doors to the public this month for the summer season. Book a tour to find out more about the history if this grand property and visit the exhibition on Lord Burghley, who was appointed Secretary of State at Hatfield in 1558 by Elizabeth I.

Hatfield House

KIDS: Twirlywoos Live, Hertford Theatre, 4-5 June

Keep littlies sitting still for more than a minute at this socially distanced production based on the hit TV show. It’s from the producers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Sarah and Duck Live on Stage and promises mischief, music and adventure with inventive puppetry to charm mini theatre-goers.

Twirlywoos live

MUSIC: Hertfordshire Festival of Music, Hertford, 4-10 June

This major celebration of classical music is held at various venues in and around Hertford. You can expect to hear international artists and ensembles, including violinist Chloë Hanslip, who made her BBC proms debut at just fourteen, as well as performances of music by Judith Weir, CBE, this year’s Featured Living Composer.

Hertfordshire Festival of Music

KIDS: Enchanted Fairy Trail, Hertford Castle, until 6 June

Let little ones’ imaginations run wild on this free self-guided tour around the gorgeous grounds of Hertford Castle. There’s a map to follow, showing you where to spot signs of fairies and elves around the flower gardens, ancient trees and in the castle walls. Fairy wings optional!

KIDS: Big Dinosaur Day Out, Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park, Waltham Abbey, until 6 June

Got some dino-crazy kids on your hands? Treat them to a prehistoric day out at Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park, where they can meet some roarsome friends, learn Jurassic facts and dig for fossils, as well as meet all the other Park residents including farm animals and birds of prey.

Big Dinosaur Day Out Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park

MOTORING: Cars at the Castle, Hertford Castle, 6 June

Not just for petrolheads, this popular and free family friendly event is returning to the Hertford this year. Car owners will be showing off a whole range of motors, from Porsches to Cadillacs, against the fabulous setting of Hertford Castle, to be judged by the town’s Mayor in various categories from ‘best paint job’ to ‘best pre-70s car’. There’ll also be food stalls and a bar.

Cars at the Castle

THEATRE: Macbeth by The Handlebards, Quarry Theatre Garden, Bedford, 8 June

Everyone’s favourite cycling theatre company (it’s pedal power all the way as they travel from venue to venue on two wheels carrying their set, props and costumes) is headed to Bedford this month with their quirky production of Macbeth. The all-female troupe have put a fun and frenetic spin on Shakespeare’s grisly tragedy and will be performing in the beautiful grounds of the Quarry Theatre.

The Handlebards

FOOD: Cookalong with Cooking and Carafes, online, 10 June

Getting fed up of recycling the same old weekly recipes? How about adding to your repertoire and joining a Zoom cookalong with foodie blogger Kate, founder of Cooking and Carafes. She specialises in Italian dishes and pasta making. This month, try your hand at making a tasty spring risotto. Kate will also talk you through how to adapt your recipe for different tastes and diets.

DANCE: Puck’s Shadow, Watford Palace Theatre (online), 10 June

Get a first glimpse of the highlights from this ethereal new performance, combining creative choreography, original music and shadow play. Based on Shakespeare’s mischieveous character, Puck, the creative team have imagined a dreamlike world of memories and immortality. You are also invited to take part in a Q&A with the team after the show to give your feedback which may be incorporated into the final piece.

Puck's shadow

GARDENS: Blooming Gardens, Wrest Park, 12-13 June

Explore the glorious gardens of Wrest Park whilst being serenaded by live musical performances throughout the day. There’ll be introductory talks from on garden design, self-guided tours, kids’ crafts and the chance to take home a plant or two, too.

Wrest Park
© English Heritage

VIRTUAL THEATRE: The Three Musketeers, Hertford Theatre (online), 15-20 June

Robert Lindsay stars in this farcical adaptation of the classic tale by FoolHardy Theatre (described as ‘a company with questionable theatrical training, no experience and no taste’ – right then!) This virtual production will combine audio, animation, swordfights and romance amid the regal splendour of 17th century France.

OUTDOOR THEATRE: Romeo and Juliet, Knebworth House Garden Theatre, 16 June

The Three Inch Fools take on the Shakespearean love story. Their five-strong troupe will perform the whole show against the backdrop of the stunning Knebworth House. Expect muliple costume changes and myriad musical instruments. Performance will go ahead come rain or shine, so bring cushions, chairs, brollies, suncream, hats, ponchos… er have we forgotten anything?!

Three Inch Fools
Photo Credit: Wilson Smith

CRAFT: Living Crafts, Hatfield House, 17-20 June

Shop for beautiful and contemporary pieces, handmade jewellery, unique gifts and artisan homewares by the UK’s finest designer makers at this fair dedicated to all things craft. Fancy having a go at making something yourself? Choose from dozens of inspirational workshops and demos from marbling and calligraphy to willow weaving and clay sculpture.

Living Craft

OPEN-AIR THEATRE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hertford Castle, 19 June

Shakespeare always seems to translate well to open-air theatre, especially this magical comedy full of mythical beings. And where better to perform and watch it than the grounds of a castle? Quantum Theatre brings its adaptation to Hertford for a balmy (we hope!) June evening – bring a picnic or enjoy he food and drink on offer at the on-site stalls.

GARDENING: The Hertfordshire Garden Show, Knebworth House, 19 June

Need some inspiration to improve your patch for summer? You’ll find plenty here, with tonnes of exhibitors hawking everything from plants and garden furniture to tools and sculptures. Plus, now that the house and grounds is fully open for visitors, entry to the show is included in a Park & Gardens or House, Park & Gardens Ticket. Alternatively tickets can be purchased for the event only.

garden tools

WORKSHOP: Paper Jungle, Creators Cabinet, Stagsden, 19 June

Fancy trying your hand at making something? Head to the Creators Cabinet – a cool industrial studio space in rural Beds – for a mindful afternoon of paper crafting. You’ll learn how to make a funky paper houseplant and refreshments are included. It’s all Covid safe with just 8 places available but if you’d rather try it in the comfort of your own home you can order your own kit and log in to an online workshop at your leisure, instead.

Creators cabinet

OUTDOOR THEATRE: Morgan and West present The Three Musketeers, The Place Bedford, 19 June

The fab Morgan and West duo return to the stage with a third member for their whimsical adaptation of Dumas’ classic. Expect swordfighting, tomfoolery and a great dollop of fun for the whole family.

Morgan and West

FESTIVAL: Woodfired and Friends, At Home Farm Live, Elstree, 22-24 June

We’ve missed out on a year of festival fun, so how about a festival season to make up for it? At Home Farm Live is happening in a gorgeous countryside location with on-site glamping and the programme has been curated by Wilderness Festival’s founding programmer, Tessa Clarfelt. This month’s highlights include al fresco dining experiences with top chefs, Thomasina Miers OBE, Honey & Co’s Sarit Packar and Itamar Srulovich, and Sabrina Gidda, presented by Ben Quinn from Woodfired Canteen.

Woodfired Canteen

CONCERTS: Musicals at the Manor, Rothamsted Manor, Harpenden, 25 June – 30 July

This summer series of concerts features all your favourite hits from the West End musicals performed by the stars of the theatre. There’ll be matinee and evening performances held in the manor’s Great Drawing Room. It kicks off this month with the vocals of Hamilton star Aaron Lee Lambert and Charlotte Kennedy who played Cosette in Les Miserables. Toe tapping and goosebumps guaranteed.

Musicals at the Manor

DAY OUT: The Great Balloon Race, Shuttleworth Estate, 25-27 June

Look to the skies as balloons of all colours, shapes and sizes take flight for this three-day fiesta. You’d better have a head for heights as there’ll be aerial displays by the SkyRascal paramotor team (like motorised paragliders), as well as a spectacular show from SkyDance (imagine ballet performed in the air with the dancers suspended on a 100ft crane! Rather them than us!). Plus as dusk falls the balloons will take part in the famous NightGlow where they’ll light up the night sky, followed by a fireworks display.

Great balloon race

THEATRE: Roman Theatre Open Air Festival, St Albans, until 27 June

The Maltings Theatre and OVO are putting on a summer programme for the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans, including Peter Pan (28 May – 27 June), The Comedy of Errors (4 June – 4 July) and The Winter’s Tale (24 June – 10 July). They’ve commissioned papercut artist Rob Ryan to produce a series of gorgeous posters to go with the shows too (see below).

Roman Theatre Open Air Festival

SCREENINGS: Open Air Cinema and Dining, Ashridge House, Berkhamsted, 28 June – 7 July

Enjoy a magical cinema experience in the stunning private gardens of Ashridge House – there’s Top Gun, Dirty Dancing and Bohemian Rhapsody this month. Why not splash out and book the cinema and dine package which includes a pre-screening two-course dinner in one of the beautiful heritage rooms of the house. Or for a more casual affair you can pre-order a gourmet picnic box for two to enjoy as you watch.

Ashridge House

Find more ideas here

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