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What’s on: Sept 2021

Live comedy, concerts, fairs and festivals are back - it finally feels like we're getting our social mojo back. Wanna know what to book for the month ahead?

OPEN-AIR THEATRE: The Importance of Being Earnest, Slapstick Picnic, At Home Farm Live, Estree, 2 Sept

Slapstick picnic

From the team behind awesome cycling theatre co, The Handlebards, comes Slapstick Picnic. They’re bringing their riotous interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s comedy of manners to At Home Farm Live festival this month. As guests to their inaugual summer picnic (bring your own cucumber sarnies) and watch the entire play perfomed by just two actors and a hefty dose of silliness.

OUTDOOR SCREENINGS: Luna Cinema, Harpenden Common, 2-4 Sept

Luna Cinema

Rocketman, Pretty Woman and Grease are on the running order for Luna Cinema’s visit to Harpenden Common this month. Grab a bite and a beer from the bar and relax in this Green Flag award-winning setting under the stars – don’t forget something to sit on and wrap up warm!

FITNESS & FUN: Bedford Run Fest, Russell Park, Bedford, 3-5 Sept

Bedford Run Fest

Ok so this is technically a running festival – if you’re raring to go, book a place on one of the events from 5k to half marathon – BUT there’s so much more going on too. There’s live comedy from Sara Pascoe and others on 3rd, Taste Bedford (a farmer’s market and foodie fest) on 4-5th, plus open air cinema, street food vans, pop-up bars, free yoga and wellness sessions, kids activities and more. Entry into the festival is free but some events are ticketed, so check the site before rocking up.

FESTIVAL: Amp Rocks, Ampthill, 3-5 September

Part of Ampthill Festival, this fab weekender and not-for-profit boutique fest will play host to none other than McFly and Ash on the Saturday this year. Not bad for a small local fest that’s led by community volunteers, eh?! Amplify Friday and re-vAmp Sunday (see what they did there?) will bookend the weekend – watch this space for more info on those.

COMEDY: Nice n Spiky Comedy Club in the forest, Aldenham Estate, 5 Sept

Nice n spiky comedy

Fancy a giggle? Do we ever! How about a whole day of comedy from top funny peeps, Shappi Khorsandi, Simon Brodkin, Matt Richardson and Esther Manito. But forget dingy comedy clubs, these guys will be performing under the forest canopy within 150 acres of private woodland. Sounds pretty neat, eh?!

KIDS: How to train your dinosaur, Knebworth Park, 5 Sept

dinosaur knebworth

Dino-crazy kids will love these interactive live shows where they can get up close and personal to… err… dinosaurs, sing songs and learn some fab facts. They’ll also all get to explore the park’s dino trail (with 72 life-sized prehistoric beasts to find), and the adventure playground and fort, while you can admire the 28 acres of formal gardens.

FITNESS: St Francis’ Fitness & Wellbeing Festival, Berkhamsted, 5 Sept

Fitness

Local charity, The Hospice of St Francis is running its first ever Fitness and Wellbeing festival this month. There’ll be workshops and tasters of everything from yoga and Tai Chi to boot camp and Zumba, as well as talks and a shopping village to nab yourself some fitness gear. It’s happening in Dusdwell Field near Berkhamsted. Entry is £8.

OPEN DAYS: Heritage Open Days, various venues, thoughout September

Rothamsted Manor
Rothamsted Manor, which is open from 11-19 September

This national campaign to encourage people to learn more about our history and culture includes tonnes of free events and opportunities to explore usually unseen places. It runs all month long and there’s plenty going on in Herts and Beds, including local artist tours, intimate live performances, guided walks and exhibitions. This year’s theme is Edible England – learn about Medieval Munchies in St Albans to Victorian picnics and the watercress trade in Berkhamsted.

THEATRE: A Room of One’s Own, Maltings Theatre, 7-11 September

A room of one's own, Dyad productions

This clever TED-talk style take on Virginia Woolf’s famous essay offers a modern day insight into big issues, from literature and feminism to sexual politics. The one-woman show performed by Rebecca Vaughan spans 1928 (when the book was published) to the future in 2028, via meetings with Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, Aphra Behn, and Shakespeare’s sister.

FAMILY: The Great Balloon Race, Shuttleworth Estate, 10-12 Sept

hot air balloons

Hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes will take to the skies filling it with colour over this three day spectacle, which also features aerial acrobatics the SkyRascal paramotor display team, an evening ‘night glow’ and fireworks display in the lovely setting of Shuttleworth.

ANTIQUES: Three Counties Antiques and Fine Art Fair, The Rufus Centre, Flitwick, 11 Sept

paintings

We love a good rummage around an antiques market, so this, the fifth Three Counties Antiques and Fine Art Fair, looks right up our street. Brush up on those haggling skills and browse up to 35 stalls, hawking everything from furniture and paintings to silver and porcelain. 10am – 4pm, admission £2.50, but parking is free and there’s also a restaurant.

MUSIC: Bedford Park Concerts, 9 – 12 September

Bedford Park Concerts

This ordinarily annual collection of gigs, Bedford Park Concerts, are always hotly anticipated and feature big names in a stunning venue (the clue’s in the name!), giving it that day festival vibe. This year’s line-up features Olly Murs, Café Mambo and Ocean Colour Scene, plus on 1 August is the grand finale – The Bedford Park Proms which is celebrating its 25th birthday, so expect fireworks and lasers aplenty.

FOOD FESTIVAL: Pub in the Park, St Albans, 10 – 12 Sept

Pub in the Park

Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet-scran-meets-live-music fandango Pub in the Park returns to Verulamium Park. Tuck into top-level food and boogie along to the likes of All Saints, Basement Jaxx DJ Set, Gabrielle, Lightning Seeds and more.

PETS: Dogfest, Knebworth House, 11-12 Sept

Dogfest

Dogfest is back for a barking good time. There’s a big dog walk, a puppy academy, doggy wellness, and the chance to prove — once and for all — who’s the best boy, in one of the dog shows.

FAMILY: Firework champions, Hatfield House, 18 Sept

Fireworks

See three of the top pyrotecnic teams go head to head by lighting up the skies with ther ten-minute choreographed seuquences to music, then vote for your favourite. Doors open at 4pm when you’ll have he chance to set up your picnic spot, relax and enjoy the music and entertainment from Aerosparx Aerobatics, before the competition starts at 8.45 and the winner is announced after a firework finale.

ENVIRONMENT: The Great Big Green Week, various venues in Bedford, 18-26 Sept

Plant in hands

This national campaign sees planet-saving events going on all over the UK to support action on climate change, but here’s a handy website to find out what’s going on in Bedford. There’s everything from plant stalls to waste Q&As and farm tours, as well as a vegan fair and a talk on throwing a plastic-free kids’ party!

COMEDY: David Baddiel, Trolls not the dolls, Alban Arena, 20 Sept

David Baddiel

Following his five-star Olivier-nominated hit My Family: Not The Sitcom, David Baddiel returns with his rescheduled one-man show Trolls: Not The Dolls. The show takes a look at his experience of trolls and how to (er… or how NOT to) deal with them. *hint* not with a witty retort!

FESTIVAL: Wilkestock, Hertford, 24-26 September

Wilkestock

This charity music festival held on Frogmore Hill, Hertford is volunteer run and described as ‘the most intimate festival site ever’. There are tonnes of acts playing across 4 stages including local artists and those from further afield, plus live grafitti artists doing their thing, three bars, and a family friendly campsite with lockers, chargers and showers.

CULTURE: Herts Bigger Weekend, 25-26 Sept

Knebworth House
Knebworth House – one of the venues taking part in Herts Bigger Weekend

This amazing annual event offers Herts residents (you must have a Herts postcode!) hundreds of FREE tickets to events and attractions around the county to encourage us all to explore what’s on our doorstep. All you have to do is enter the ballot BEFORE 7 SEPT to apply for tickets to wherever you fancy visiting – from stately homes to wildlife parks, then wait to see if you’ve been picked!

FOOD: St Albans FEASTIVAL, town centre, 26 Sept

St Albans food festival

St Albans’ month of food culminates in this one-day foodie extravagnza, where the town centre’s streets will be buzzing with over 100 food and drink stalls, entertainment, live music, cookery demos and activities for the kids. That’ll get you out of cooking the Sunday roast, then!

COMEDY: Josh Widdicombe, Bit Much, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, 30 Sept

Josh Widdicombe

Back by popular demand is permanently exasperated funny man Josh Widdicombe with his show Bit Much. The TV regular and modern day Victor Meldrew, brings his frustrations and gripes with the world – everything from pesto to parks – to the stage in Bedford this month.

THEATRE: The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, The Quarry Theatre Bedford, 30 September

Marilyn Monroe Dyad productions

This stripped back version of the Hollywood Icon, captured by award-winning Dyad Productions, portrays Marilyn Monroe outside of the limelight – without makeup or masks. An all-telling monologue that delves into her relationships, imperfections, it takes audiences on a journey up to her final moments in a powerful conclusion.

CATCH THEM AGAIN THIS MONTH

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.

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

Shuttleworth Swiss Garden

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: Modern Slavery, Stockwood Discovery Centre, until 19 Sept

Sara Shamma

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.

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.

EXHIBITION: Airship Dreams: Escaping Gravity, The Higgins Bedford, until 28 November

higgins bedford airship dreams

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!

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