KIDS: Space Chase Summer Reading Challenge, Various locations, with Luton Libraries, until 28 Aug
Luton Libraries are running loads of otherworldly activities throughout the month as part of the Summer Reading Challenge inspired by the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. There’s space-themed storytelling, craft workshops where kids can turn junk into their own space crafts and aliens, comic book workshops and the chance to meet the creatures who have ventured into space.
KIDS: Ashridge Adventurers, Ashridge Estate, until 29 August
In search of some summer summer holiday activities to keep the little darlings out of trouble? Check out the fun outdoor sessions going on at the Ashridge estate where they can try pond dipping, den building and minibeast hunting with the estate’s education team (yep, they’ll learn something too!) while exploring the plants and animals that make the woodlands their home. Recommended for ages 4-10.
SPORT: Summer of Sport, Waddesdon Manor, until 30 Aug (Wed – Sun)
Waddesdon’s gorgeous grounds above will play host to a variety of sporting activities over the summer break including three sporty-themed trails, workouts, orienteering, football, badminton, table tennis and the National Trust venue is even putting on its own Tour de Waddesdon!
FILM: Secret Garden pop-up cinema at The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, 1-31 August
Enjoy the first ever cinema under the stars at The Grove this month, as a pop-up screen comes to the magical Walled Garden. You don’t have to be a hotel resident to enjoy it, there are some great Supper and Cinema packages, where you can dine at one of the amazing restaurants – the newly refurbished Glasshouse, or the more informal Stables – before settling in for a movie in the surroundings of the hotel’s urban beach and pool – I can vouch for the fact that it’s just gorgeous! Pop on some headphones, snuggle into a comfy beanbag and enjoy the show. Snacks and drinks will be available too. Front row seats please!
KIDS: Willows Farm Summer Spectacular, Willows Activity Farm, St Albans, until 1 September
Throughout the summer hols there’s loads of Peter Rabbit themed fun going on at Willows, from the amazing maize maze, live shows starring all the favourite characters from the TV programme, animal encounters, tractor rides and a whole programme of special events, including circus skills workshops and goat racing.
KIDS: Family Summer Trail: Nature pirates, RSPB Rye Meads Nature Reserve, Stanstead Abbotts, until 1 Sept.
Mini swashbucklers can really get into the role on one of these summer trails at Rye Meads. Captain Swift-Tyde has sent out a message in a bottle calling all nature pirates to help her discover the treasure. It’s all aboard the Sea Raven to help her explore the reserve, collect some natural treasures, walk the plank, build a treasure chest and a crow’s nest. Those lucky enough might even catch a glimpse of the ellusive ‘blue flash’, but look out for the Kraken! There’s also a photo comp for whoever takes the best snap. Pirate attire encouraged. It’s just £2 per child and there’s no need to book, just drop in. Ooh argh, me ‘earties!
EXHIBITION: 100 years of the Hertfordshire Women’s Institute, until 8 Sept
It’s not all jam and Jerusalem you know, the WI has come a long way in the last century – yep 100 years since it started in Hertfordshire. Delve into the history of the Herts federation at this exhibition…
MUSIC: Jazz on the Parterre, Waddesdon Manor, 2 Aug
This new event is hosted at the National Trust’s jewel in the crown, Waddesdon Manor’s landscape gardens. Bring a picnic if you fancy, and there’s a glass of fizz or Pimm’s thrown in too.
THEATRE: Arms and the Man, Harlington Manor, Dunstable, 3-4 Aug
This touring production of George Bernard Shaw’s classic comedy about love and war will stop off at the historic Harlington Manor this month. Expect a heavy dose of humour, as the war hero and the soft soldier battle it out to win the heart of the girl amid the backdrop of the Balkan war.
FILM: Luna Kids’ Cinema, Knebworth House, until 4 Aug
These al fresco cinema experts are bringing the experience to the kids this month with family friendly screenings in the gorgeous grounds of Knebworth House. The programme includes The Gruffalo and friends, Peppa Pig, Mary Poppins, Dumbo, Moana and more. Plus there’ll be a special kids’ bar with soft drinks and healthy juices (don’t worry there’ll be a big kids’ bar for the harder stuff too!) and food stalls selling American-style street food like hotdogs and doughnuts. Yum!
MUSIC: Rock at the Castle, Hertford Castle, 4 Aug
The music festival comes to Hertford every year, showcasing some of the best local music, from acoustic and folk to indie, rock and pop, across across three music stages against the awesome backdrop of the castle. Plus there’ll be a bouncy castle, food stalls and bars. What’s more, it’s absolutely free!
FAMILY: Family Airshow, The Shuttleworth Estate, Old Warden, 4 Aug
Marvel at the amazing aerial acrobatics of the Wings Parachute Display Team at this family-friendly airshow. There’ll also be live music from Sam Neighbour, a funfair (cue shrieks from the Helter Skelter), activities in the Children’s Discovery Zones, the chance to ride a vintage bus, Airfix model workshops (for the big kids, too) and a vintage vehicle parade. Don’t forget you can also check out the house and Swiss Gardens while you’re there, too. Sounds like a fun-packed day out.
FAMILY: Flamstead Scarecrow Festival, Flamstead, 9-11 August
Forget Worzel Gummidge, the scarecrows on display in this Hertfordshire village are works of art. This annual festival brings out the locals’ creative juices in the months leading up to the event, as they set their hand to making the most cool and quirky life-size characters to display outside their houses. There’ll be stalls too and visitors can collect a programme and voting form (it’s a competition after all!) and the £4 fee will go to charity including the village church roof fund.
MUSIC: Concert in the Park, Rushmere Country Park, 10 Aug
Discover some local talent (not that kind, naughty!) at this chilled family friendly concert held in the Meadow at Rushmere Country Park. These guys will be returning to Rushmere, after they impressed the crowds at last year’s food fest – they’re called Gwen and the Good Thing, and have been described by BBC Music as ‘bright, breezy and addictive alternative pop’. They’ll be joined by acoustic instrumentalists, Inlak’esh, hailing from Milton Keynes, a 19-piece jazz orchestra and folk band, Noah’s Cape. Good clean eclectic fun.
FAIR: Country crafts and steam fair, Knebworth House, 10-11 Aug
Steam engines, medieval re-enactments, bird of prey displays and loads of rural skills demonstrations. It’s all going on at this celebration of country life at Knebworth House. Plus, the kids will enjoy meeting (and petting) some furry friends, seeing lambs being bottle fed, watching the goat show, and there’ll be a dog show too.
THEATRE: Theatre in the park, Hatfield House, 11, 14 and 21 August
Hatfield House’s Elephant Dell will stage a series of al fresco productions this month, kicking off with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed by all-male company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, on 11th. Then on 14, Chapterhouse Theatre will present Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling adventure, Treasure Island. Finally a musical version of family favourite Alice in Wonderland by Immersion Theatre will bring fun and high energy to audiences of all ages – there’ll even be the chance for little ones to meet the characters in costume afterwards at this one, and audience fancy dress is encouraged.
FAYRE: Summer Fayre and dog show, Rushmere Country Park, 11 Aug
Enter your precious pooch in to this funn dog show – categories include cutest puppy (awww), junior handler (for dog’s best friends aged 6-16), best golden oldie, and – ‘cos it wouldn’t be a dog show without it – waggiest tail. There’ll be all the usual fun of the fair going on as well, with stalls, arts and crafts and family activities to get stuck into.
DRINK: Wild Gin Tasting and Formal Gardens Tour, The Grove, Chandler’s Cross, 12 Aug
Gin you say? You don’t have to ask us twice! You don’t just get to neck it though – meet the Grove hotel’s head gardener for a guided tour of the formal gardens before learning about the history of gin and how local tipple, Campfire Gin is made, from Ben Marston, founder of Puddingstone Distillery. Then you can try a couple of cocktails for yourself, served up with canapés too. Sounds like a dreamy way to spend an evening.
FAMILY: Falconry display, Standalone Farm, Letchworth Garden City, 12-16 August
See these majestic birds swoop and soar at this impressive show, with the chance to take part and try your hand at this ancient skill yourself. It’s a good chance to try out your wildlife photography skills, too.
FAMILY: Hitchin Beach Week, Hitchin Market Place, 13-18 August
Hitchin Market Place will be transformed into a beachy paradise with cool tunes, buckets and spades and loads of kid-friendly activities to check out. While you sit back in your deckchair and imagine the waves lapping your feet, the little ones can enjoy face painting, children’s workshops and performances by the Imajica Theatre Company on the Sunday.
ART: Workshop Wednesdays, The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Herts, from 14 Aug
The summer holiday workshop Wednesdays kick off with Wax Resist Wonders on 14th, where you’ll be invited to create an atmospheric artwork inspired by Moore’s famous Shelter Drawings, which documented the World War II air raid shelters which were created in the London Underground network. You’ll learn the techniques that Moore used to create silhouettes and depth with wax crayons and colour washes. Then, on the 21st you can make your own Moore-esqe sculpture taking inspiration from the natural form of a flint pebble. Suitable for all ages.
KIDS: Peppa Pig: My First Concert, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 16 Aug
Take your tot to their first concert – if anyone can persuade them, it’s Peppa Pig! This fun and interactive introduction to live orchestra is designed for 18 months+. Follow Peppa, George and family as they learn about the different sounds instruments make when played together, listen to music from the TV show played live, and discover some more kid-friendly orchestral pieces, too.
FAMILY: Big Beach, Watford Town Centre, 16-30 August
More seaside fun is coming to Watford this year – time to dust off the deckchairs once again. Activities are TBC but last year there were kids’ craft activities, sand castle building, entertainment, beach games, go-karts and more, so watch this space for more info.
FAMILY: Overnight bushcraft, Rushmere Country Park, 17 Aug
Fancy yourselves a bit of a Swiss Family Robinson? Book on to this wild bushcraft experience where you’ll spend a full day and night in the wilds of Rushmere Country Park, learning how to light fires, build dens (best make sure it’s watertight as that’ll be your home for the night!), and make unleavened bread over the campfire. You’ll also pick up some natural navigation know-how and go on night bat walks to learn more about Rushmere’s nocturnal wildlife.
KIDS: Pirates and Princesses Trails, Hertford Town Centre, 17 August – 7 September
Pick up a trail map from the Tourist Information Centre and go hunting for knitted pirates and princesses hiding in the shop windows around Hertford Town Centre. And if you enter the raffle (just £1 a ticket) you might even win one of the knitted dolls to take home!
CONCERT: Flying proms, The Shuttleworth Estate, Old Warden, 17 Aug
During the day, vintage aircraft will take to the skies doing all sorts of impressive loop-the-loop tricks to live musical accompaniment by the National Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy entertainment from Perfect Vintage, who will be performing songs from the 40s, 50s and 60s, and bring a picnic so you can settle in for the evening, before the grand finale firework display.
FILM: Cinema on the Green, Howardsgate, Welwyn Garden City, 22-24 Aug
These free community screenings… hold the phone – FREE? Yep, no booking or pricey tickets required. Just rock up to Howardsgate and enjoy a series of movies on the big screen from family friendly classics like Matilda and Finding Nemo to recent box office hits like A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody. Don’t forget the popcorn!
FESTIVAL: Goatfest, Codicote, Herts, 23-25 Aug
Goatfest has grown from a small, free one-dayer in a pub beer garden to a three-day extravaganza, which has raised a whopping £25k for local charities in the process, and now attracts thousands of festival-goers from near and far. As well as dancing the night (and day) away to the sweet sounds of over 40 live bands and DJ sets, you’ll discover some new music from some up and coming performers on the festival circuit, as well as some homegrown acts.
FESTIVAL: Meraki, Herts County Showground, St Albans, 23-25 Aug
Step through the gates of this festival and everything (bar food and drink) is free, including hot tubs, as many massages as you like (sign me up now!), kids activities, circus performances, movies, theatre, workshops and a roller disco (yup – time to rock those leg warmers). This year’s line-up features The Shires, Judge Jules and Paul Young.
FAMILY: The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Hertford Theatre, 30 Aug – 1 Sept
Remember this one? Believe it or not, the classic kids’ book by Judith Kerr has been popping up on stage for a decade. This month it’s coming to Hertford, direct from the West End, with everyone’s favourite tea-guzzling tiger and plenty of mayhem. Recommended for ages 3-7.
MUSICAL: Madagascar The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside, Aylesbury, 19 – 22 Sept
Alex the lion (played by X Factor winner Matt Terry), Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins explode onto the Aylesbury Waterside’s stage in Madagascar The Musical next month, a guaranteed hit with kids (and adults for that matter) who like to move it move it (sorry). Tickets here.
CULTURE: Henley Literary Festival – featuring Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live, Phyllis Court, Henley, Sat 5 Oct
It’s back, baby! We’re returning to Henley Lit Fest (28 Sept – 6 Oct) this year with lashings of wine, plenty of pizzazz and a panel of brilliant authors: actor, Celebrity Master Chef winner and Meant to Be author Lisa Faulkner, former deputy editor of ELLE and How to be a Gentlewoman author Lotte Jeffs, and Five Steps to Happy debut novelist Ella Dove. More info here. Get your tickets pronto, last year was a sell out. henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk