Bedtime tales of love, passion and lust, 40 Winks hotel, Mon 12 and Tues 13 Feb
PJs at the ready. And perhaps take your fluffy mules. ‘Tales of love, passion and lust’ is the theme for these two bedtime story nights at the fabulous 40 Winks hotel in Stepney, London. There are prizes for the most glammy gloo nightdress and these events are so special, you won’t want to be slumping around in threadbare wincyette. Doors open at 7pm and of course you’ll be handed a cocktail on arrival. You’ll then cosy up, listen to a story or two, and then it’s more drinks and canapés. These evenings are magical! The night ends at 10.45pm. Stepney Green is the nearest tube station. £30 per head. You definitely need to book.
40 Winks, 109 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ.
Kate Terry, A System of Parallels, Broadway Gallery, Letchworth, Fri 9 Feb – Sun 22 April
I’m really looking forward to this. The exhibitions at Broadway Gallery seem to get better and better. Kate Terry lives in London and for this exhibition she will be creating a thread installation in the gallery, together with sculpture and drawings. Can’t wait to see how she does it.
Broadway Gallery The Arcade, Letchworth, SG6 3EW
Reginald D Hunter, Watford Palace Theatre, Weds 21 Feb
They call him Mr Cool. I may have just made that up, but Reginald D Hunter is one cool stand up comedian. He’s been touring all over Europe and must be ready to put his feet up. But not before he steps on stage at Watford Palace Theatre. 8pm.
Reginald D Hunter, Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Road, Watford WD17 1JZ.
Orchid Festival, Kew Gardens, London, 10 Feb – 11 March
Things are going totally tropical this month at London’s gorgeous Kew Gardens. Their annual orchid festival takes in Insta-friendly displays of the vibrant Thai blooms, Thai street food and musical performances, workshops on how to grow these notoriously tricky flowers and Thai afternoon tea at The Botanical restaurant. King prawn, lemongrass and coriander tartlet followed by Thai sticky coconut cream rice with mango salsa? Yes please.
James Mayhew, A Carnival of the Animals, St Mary’s Church, Hitchin, Sat 24 Feb
James Mayhew is amazing. Amazing! I’ve watched him paint live illustrations to live music and it’s absolutely brilliant. He paints at quite a lick and it’s an inspiring spectacle. He’ll be joining the St Mary’s Ensemble Orchestra in Hitchin and introducing Saint-Saen’s ‘Carnival of the Animals’. Anyone would enjoy this but of course, being the creator of the Ella Bella and Katie books, this is a wonderful concert for families. Two performances: 2.3opm and 4.3opm. When I saw James, there was a charity auction straight after the concert, but on this occasion, if you buy a raffle ticket before the show, you win one of the paintings. In addition to all this crazy carnival activity, there will be refreshments and face painting. You’ll also be able to buy James’s books.
Carnival of the Animals, St Mary’s Church, Hitchin, SG5 1HP
Votes for Women, Museum of London, opens Sat 3 Feb
Emmeline Pankhurt’s hunger strike medal and many other objects from the Museum’s Suffragette collection are on display as part of the commemorations marking the centenary of the 1918 Act that gave some women the right to vote for the first time. There is also a newly commissioned film about the campaign. This exhibition runs until next year and it’s worth looking at the website for lots of special events this year.
Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN
Early Man Quest, Audley End, Essex, Sat 10 – Sun 18 Feb
A quest designed for children in Audley End House and Gardens. Follow the clues and search for Dug, Hognob and others in the Early Man tribe. (The film is currently on general release). Uncover centuries of history in one day. Early Man mini model making kit for successful adventurers. 10am – 4pm.
Audley End Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF
An evening with Frank Bruno, Alban Arena, Thurs 15 Feb
The gloves are off. This evening with the boxing legend is hosted by the comedian Jed Stone. Frank Bruno will discuss his life and career. Have your questions ready: there’s bound to be a roving mic. 7.30pm.
Frank Bruno, Alban Arena, Civic Centre, AL1 3LD.
Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, Weds 7 Feb – Sun 18 Feb
12 days of jam-packed half-term fun in this brilliant annual festival by kids for kids. Aimed at 0-12 year olds, there’s a mind-boggling array of activities and events, including a whole clutch of free possibilities in The Clore Ballroom, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, dance-theatre Tidy Up, Fun DMC, Bedtime stories, plus debut authors comedian Harry Hill and Radio One’s Greg James.
Lucy Porter, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, Sat 10 Feb
Lucy Porter is on tour with her brand new show, Choose Your Battles. In these combative times, it’s easy to be irritated, offended or downright enraged by other people. How do we know which causes are worth fighting for? 8pm.
The Old Town Hall, High Street, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 3AE.
Guess How Much I Love You, Hertford Theatre, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Feb
It’s cuddle time! Little and Nutbrown Hare are coming to Hertford with Guess How Much I Love You. Ideal for children aged 3+, prepare yourselves for puppets, live music and interactive play.
Hertford Theatre, The Wash, SG14 1PS
Benington Lordship Gardens, near Stevenage, Weds 7 Feb – Sun 4 March
The Big One. It’s impossible to talk snowdrops without naming Benington. Close to Walkern and Stevenage, Benington has got the lot and it’s often cited as one of the best snowdrop sites in the country. Possibly the world. There are over 200 named varieties of snowdrop in the gardens and around the Norman castle and moat. The most familiar and abundant are the single and double Galanthus nivalis, both of which are on sale. While stocks last! Catch a snowdrop concert in St Peter’s Church. Cream teas and soup. Sadly no dogs.
Benington Lordship Gardens Stevenage SG2 7BS
Chroma, Sergeant Pepper, Old Town Hall, Berkhamsted, Sat 17 Feb
Chroma is a chamber ensemble of 20 musicians. This is a one-off gig exploring a huge range of English music from Thomas Tallis to Radiohead and a complete performance of the Beatles’ timeless Sgt Pepper album, brilliantly arranged by Chroma’s David Le Page and sung by Harvey Brough of Harvey and the Wallbangers. 7.30pm.
Chroma The Old Town Hall, 196 High Street, Berkhamsted, HP4 3AP
Walkern Hall, near Stevenage, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Feb; Sat 24 – Sun 25 March
At the time of writing, Kate de Boinville, who lives at Walkern Hall, tells me that there are lots of snowdrops everywhere she looks. But don’t look too closely at the photo, because I think it might be a daffodil shot. This stunning house is in a medieval hunting park and is also a wedding venue. Eight acres of snowdrops and aconites to admire. Warming soup and homemade cakes.
Walkern Hall, Stevenage, SG2 7JA
Rhythm & Reaction, The Age of Jazz in Britain – until Sun 22 April
This new exhibition brings together painting, cartoons, film, instruments and sound to examine the influence of jazz on British art and design. It’s in the neo-Gothic mansion that was built for William Waldorf Astor in 1895 as his London Estate Office.
Two Temple Place London WC2R 3BD
James Mayhew, Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature, Fri 2 Feb
Many of the events at this festival have already sold out so be quick! James Mayhew is the creator of the Ella Bella and Katie books and he also does the most amazing performances when he paints with an orchestra. On Fri 2 Feb he’ll be painting live to music performed by the Bishop’s Stortford College Orchestra and Choirs. 7pm.
Festival of Literature 10 Maze Green Rd, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 2PJ
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Broadway Theatre, Sat 3 Feb
A classic. Love, betrayal, murder and fog. The Broadway Theatre programme looks thrilling this season, and this adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s fantasy looks perfectly chilling. 7.30pm.
Broadway Theatre, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DD
Sophie Tea, Marks & Tilt, St Albans – until Sun 25 Feb
Sophie Tea studied business and management but then turned to art a couple of years ago. Her work is FULL of colour and promises to be uplifting and just what’s needed in January and February.
Marks & Tilt 18 London Road, St Albans AL1 1NG
Gyles Brandreth, Bishop’s Stortford College Festival of Literature, Sat 3 Feb
Well, hello! Gyles Brandreth pops up in all kinds of unexpected places, and this time he’s at a school. This is the immensely popular Festival of Literature at Bishop’s Stortford College where many of the events sold out as soon as the tickets went on sale. This is Gyles Brandreth’s new show based on his new book, Word Play. 7.30pm.
Festival of Literature 10 Maze Green Rd, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 2PJ
The Lady of the Camellias, Vyne Theatre, Sun 4 Feb
A live recording from the Bolshoi Ballet at Berkhamsted’s Vyne Theatre. The Lady of the Camellias is the story of Marguerite Gautier, the most beautiful courtesan in Paris. She is never seen without her favourite flowers. She meets a man from a – whisper it – lower social class. Hello, Armand Duval. 2pm.
Vyne Theatre, Northbridge Road, Berkhamsted. HP4 1EH