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What’s on: May 2021

Going out is BACK and so are our What's On guides - packed with brilliant things to see and do. Fill your diaries with these little beauties this month.

HERITAGE: Beltane Celebrations, Celtic Harmony Camp, Brickendon, Herts, 1 & 2 May

Celtic harmony tool talk

Bring the family along to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors at this Celtic-style camp, complete with roundhouses and protected woodland. Take part in the Gaelic Beltane celebrations, which traditionally involved the Celts welcoming the start of summer by carrying burning torches to warm the land. There’ll be talks and demos throughout the day including story walks, live music, body art (ok, as long as we don’t have to volunteer!), den building, drumming workshops, salt dough modelling and, naturally, a fire procession at the end of the day.

VIRTUAL: Tring Together Spring Fayre, various venues in Tring, Herts, until 15 May

Tring spring
Full of the joys of spring in Tring!

This year’s Spring Fayre will bring together local businesses and community members through a collection of online events. And there’s a bit of a buzz about it if you catch our drift… Fancy joining a YouTube art class to learn how to paint a watercolour bee with local artist Leila Ward on 3 May? Or tuning in to a virtual talk with Dave Goulson, author of Gardening for Bumblebees, on 6 May, with Our Bookshop, Tring? You can even learn how to crochet your own buzzy friend via a live Zoom class on 13th. It’s all part of the Make Tring a Bee Town campaign. If you’re a local like me, you might have spotted the little fuzzy fellas popping up in shop windows too!

KIDS: Hullabazoo, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, from 30 April

Sick of going to the same old playgrounds and parks with the kids? Here’s the answer to your parenting prayers. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have just announced the opening of their brand new Hullabazoo outdoor play area. There’s a whopping almost 8,000 square metres to play in, including bridges, swings, climbing frames, a sit-on crocodile, tunnels, water and sand play, tunnels, boats and mini safari Jeeps! Entry is free with your zoo ticket, which needs to be purchased in advance of your visit, and the play area is operating a time slot booking system to help with distancing at the moment.

HISTORY: Tudor Legacies, Hatfield House, 3 May

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorved… err… need a little re-cap on your school history? Head on over to the rather regal Hatfield House where history comes to life with the help of some costumed Tudor enthusiasts re-telling the scandalous and grisly stories of Henry VIII’s successors from Edward VI and Bloody Mary (ooh, now you mention it – extra Tabasco please – I digress…) through to Elizabeth I.

WORKSHOP: Beekeeping experience, 9 and 23 May, Hatfield House


Make a beeline for Hatfield House if you’re interested in learning the fine art of apiculture (I might have Googled that.) For £150 you’ll get a full day’s introduction into the hobby, delving into the life cycle of the bee, tools and equipement, hive handling, and even get a chance to sample the products, with a honey tasting to finish. Don’t forget your long-sleeved top and covered shoes!

ARTS: Hertford Arts Trail, various locations, until 9 May

Claire Carey and Laura Burns art
from left: works by Claire Carey; Laura Burns

This annual free exhibition in association with Courtyard Arts is back, showcasing the work of more than 30 local artists. You’ll find everything from sculpture and pottery to cartoons and oils displayed in shops and businesses in and around Hertford town Centre. And they’ll be available to purchase if anything catches your eye! You can grab a copy of the programme from the Hertford Tourist Information Centre or download one here.

VIRTUAL THEATRE: Romeo and Juliet, Watford Palace Theatre, 12-23 May

Romeo and Juliet Creation Theatre

Log on for this multi-platform adaptation of the age-old tale by Watford Palace Theatre and Creation Theatre. The immersive show will combine real-time performance , performed live on Zoom, with pre-filmed scenes, and the opportunity for audience members to get involved through adventure-style gameplay. Find yourself at the Capulet party in Verona, where you’ll be invited to make a series of choices that will take you on your own unique theatrical journey. In fact there are over 100 possible outcomes! Directed by Natasha Rickman with a cast featuring RSC actors, it’s gonna be a good’un! Tickets are £20 per device.

DRIVE-IN AIRSHOW: Spies and Intrigue, Shuttleworth Estate, Bedfordshire, 15 May

Lysanders Shuttleworth

The perfectly socially distanced set-up – simply drive in to the lovely grounds of Shuttleworth, to be allocated your own box, where you can set up your picnic and take in the incredible air display of historic aircraft. You can even tune in on your car radio for the show commentary! There’ll also be opportunities to see the aircraft up close and chat to the pilots before the show or even book a pleasure flight if you feel like splashing out! The house and hangars are closed at the moment but you can still explore the lovely Swiss Garden at designated times. Chocs away!

PHOTOGRAPHY: Pandemic Portraits, St Albans Museum and Gallery, 17 May

Nic Madge pandemic portraits
Photo: Nic Madge

Every picture tells a story and in October 2020 photographer Nic Madge decided to start taking portraits of St Albans residents to record the way they have been dealing with the Pandemic. Each portrait shows inviduals with and without their masks and features a quote about their feelings and concerns during these strange times. The portraits will be displayed in the Timeline Gallery as a short film which will be continually added to as Nic snaps away through the course of the year.

FOOD: Bake-alongs, Open Door, Berkhamstead, 10, 17 & 24 May

cooking close-up

Community arts space Open Door is keeping the door open virtually until restrictions allow more freedom, with Zoom events like their Bake-alongs. Join chefs Lucy Green and Naomi Thomas as they talk you through how to make scrummy hot chocolate pots (10 May), and baked Moroccan lamb (17 and 24 May), and share their cookery tips. You’ll receive a list of all the ingredients and utensils you’ll need after you’ve booked then have a chance to pose your burning (ahem – sorry!) questions to them at the end of the class. It’s free but donations are welcomed.

DRINK: Portuguese wine tasting, Kite at the Red Hart, Hitchin, 20 May

Wanna impress your friends at your next social gathering (I feel giddy just saying that!) with your pro wine knowledge? Then here’s your chance to buff up. Book a place for this special evening at Kite at The Red Hart to try five different Portuguese wines, under the guidance of afficionado James Slater, paired with a five-course dinner. If all goes to plan with restrictions lifting, it’ll be hosted indoors. £75 per head, email to book.

BALL: May Ball, 21 May, Ashridge House

Ashridge House

It’s been waaaay too long since you got the heels and LBD out, but now’s your chance to get dressed up to the nines. The stunning Ashridge House in Herts is reopening on 21 May with a spectacular Black Tie ball. There’ll be a three-course dinner, a DJ and fireworks in their own private gardens. Cinderella, you shall go to the ball… but only if you bag a ticket! Get ’em here.

ART: Fiona Curran: Jump Cut, Still Life, Broadway Studio + Gallery, Letchworth, 20 May – 4 July

Fiona Curran Jump Cut, Still Life

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.

KIDS: Horrible Histories, The Hertford Theatre, 20-22 May

Kids love a grisly tale or two don’t they, but at this socially distanced live show, Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians, they’ll actually learn something too (shh… don’t tell them though!) Meet the likes of King George, Admiral Nelson, Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria as they bring history (nasty bits included) to life.

MUSIC: Jack Garratt At Home Farm Live, Elstree, Herts, 26-27 May

Jack Garratt credit: Jake Wangner
Photo: Jake Wangner

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 will feature a line-up of music, theatre, food and wellbeing events right through to September. It’s all happening at a gorgeous countryside site in Elstree with on-site glamping and the programme has been curated by Wilderness Festival’s founding programmer, Tessa Clarfelt. It kicks off with music from award-winning singer-songwriter, Jack Garratt who’ll be perfoming in the woods. Tickets include hog roast (or veggie equivalent) and dessert, too!

FESTIVAL: The Estate Festival, Turvey House, Bedfordshire, 27 May – 27 June

The estate festival Turvey House

You wait all year for a festival then two show up at once! This five-weeker in the grounds of the grand Turvey House, looks like a proper classy affair. Full lineup is TBC but you can expect some the world’s biggest DJs and live entertainment, which you can enjoy with five mates in private hexagon-shaped dance pods, plus a luxury pop-up glamping site (complete with swimming pool and luxury spa), food from the Boathouse restaurant, pre-party brunches and after parties. Phew! Follow the festival insta page here for updates.

KIDS: Peter Pan – Tiny Mites, The Radlett Centre, 29 May

Always a hit with littlies, Tiny Mites is back with a one-woman show involving puppets, voice overs, live music and a big adventure! All the faves will make an appearance including Peter, Wendy, Tinkerbell, Hook and the croc, plus the performance supports the National Curriculum through telling traditional tales. Big ticks all round (and not just from the croc!)

THEATRE: Fern Hill and Other Dylan Thomas, 29 May

If Under Milk Wood is the only Dylan Thomas work you’re familiar with, here’s an opportunity to discover more from this world renowned writer, loved for his lyricism and wordplay. Award winning actor (and great nephew of Richard Burton, no less!), Guy Masterton, brings a selection of Thomas’ short stories and poems to life in this vivid and lively one-man show.

KIDS: Big Dinosaur Day Out, Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park, Waltham Abbey, 29 May – 6 June

Big Dinosaur Day Out Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park

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 some Jurassic facts and dig for fossils, as well as meet all the other Park residents including farm animals and birds of prey.

MUSIC: The Bowie Collective, The Alban Arena, St Albans, 30 May

The Bowie Collective

Calling all die hard Bowie fans! This electric show promises to cover all of the rock and roll legend’s greatest hits, from Berlin to Let’s Dance against an incredible backdrop of lights and visuals. Get your gladrags on and tone up those vocal chords for a night of musical magic.

VIRTUAL: The Secret Garden Experience, Watford Palace Theatre, 31 May

The Secret Garden Experience Watford Palace Theatre
Danyah Miller. Photo: Alex Rickard Photography

This is The Secret Garden (yep, the children’s story) as you’ve never experienced it before, courtesy of creative storyteller Danyah Miller. After booking online, you’ll be sent a secret box in the post, containing a key to unlock a series of physical, audio and digital content to share at home with your family and friends. There are eight audio episodes, with original music, each with its own related activity, including online games, challenges and augmented reality features, as well as a series of live conversations with VIP guests on the key themes of the story.

Find more ideas here

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