GAMES: , St Albans Museum, now until Sun 6 Jan
Originally displayed in the V&A, the exhibition Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered has been in situ at St Albans museum throughout December along with these Giant Boardgames in their Assembly Room. Last few days to beat your nearest and dearest and orchestrate your own family row.
MUSIC: New Year Spectacular, London Gala Orchestra, Saffron Waldon, Sat 5 Jan
Didn’t get away for Christmas? Never mind, here’s your chance to be whisked away Vienna with Strauss waltzes in this annual concert, now in its 27th year. Expect special effects, beautiful classics like the Blue Danube waltz, and a champagne lottery.
WELLBEING: Personal Development Workshop, Nuffield Fitness, Hemel Hempstead, Mon 7 Jan
I’m all for personal development, and this workshop promises to help teach the mental and physical skills to combat nerves or old ways of thinking. Worth a go?
DRINKS: Gin Tasting, Puddingstone Distillery, Tring, Thurs 10 Jan
Dry January not for you? Head to Puddingstone Distillery with founders Ben and Kate Marston to see how Campfire Gin is made. Nice couple that they are, they’ll also give you two gins to drink and some samples to try. Taxi!
MUSIC: Foyer Jazz Club, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Fri 11 Jan
The Julian Siegel Quartet is making a name for itself as one of the UK’s finest jazz groups and you can listen to them play a range of music from early-electric Miles to dancing West African drum grooves. Street food and bar too btw.
SCREENINGS: NT Live, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, Mon 14 & Tues 15 Jan
These National Theatre Live screenings are a great way to see some excellent theatre without having to schlep in to London. The Madness of King George by Alan Bennett and starring Mark Gatiss of Sherlock fame is screened on the Monday, followed by The Tragedy of King Richard II, starring thesp royalty Simon Russell Beale can be viewed from the comfort of Bishop’s Stortford. Not your neck of the woods? Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo star in Antony & Cleopatra via Rickmansworth on Thurs 24 Jan.
THEATRE: American Idiot, The Grove Theatre, Dunstable, Thurs 17 – Sat 19 Jan
Just over the border into Beds, The Grove Theatre is showing the Tony and Grammy Award winning musical, American Idiot. Featuring the music of Green Day and starring singer-songwriter Luke Friend (X-Factor) and Tom Milner (The Voice and Waterloo Road), it’s the story of three boyhood friends trying to find meaning in their lives. Not suitable for under 14s so it must be quite fruity.
MAGIC: The Close-up Show, Hertford Theatre, Sat 19 Jan
JAZZ: Neil Angilley Trio, Herts Jazz Club, The Maltings, St Albans, Tues 22 Jan
Turtleneck jumper at the ready? Pianist Neil Angilley performs with his own trio at the Herts Jazz Club in St Albans, with Davide Gioviannini on double bass and Davide Montavani on drums. Niiiiiiice.
CRUISING: Gin on the River, Ware Town Quay, Ware, Sat 26 Jan
MOVIE RELEASESThe Favourite, from Tues 1 Jan
Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone star in this love-triangle / power battle that looks wonderfully bitchy. Olivia Coleman is Queen Anne, dominated by her scheming courtier Rachel Weisz. When Emma Stone appears at court she is determined to win the Queen’s favour. What ensues is a jaw-dropping power struggle, played out against the backdrop of England during the Restoration.
Mary, Queen of Scots, from Fri 18 Jan
More period queeny drama as Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I battle it out in in 1569. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as her cousin Elizabeth I. Fab costumes, extraordinary make up and good performances are promised but some critics aren’t happy about some historical inaccuracies. What, you mean Elizabeth I doesn’t marry King Eric of Sweden after all? *thud*
Serenity, from Fri 25 Jan
Interstellar co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway reunite for this thriller about a fishing boat captain pulled into a web of deceit when his ex-wife begs him to save her from her abusive new husband.
MAGIC: Morgan & West’s Magic Show, Broadway, Letchworth Garden City, Sat 26 Jan
MUSIC: The English Concert, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Sat 26 Jan
KIDS: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, now until Sun 27 Jan
Last month to catch Hogwarts in the Snow, with Christmas trees lining the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model.
KIDS: Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, Alban Arena, St Albans, Tues 29 & Wed 30 Jan
THEATRE: Good Dog, Watford Palace Theatre, Thurs 31 Jan – Sat 2 Feb
Returning after its acclaimed run last year, Good Dog tells the story of growing up in a multiracial community in the Noughties, the injustices that can entail and the consequences that can have. This play by Arinze Kene (Netflix’s CrazyHead, Eastenders, Channel 4’s Youngers, West End smash Girl From the North Country, and Misty at Bush Theatre) has great creds, so if you’re ready to ditch the ho-ho-ho Christmas cheer for life back in the real world, give it a whirl.
COMEDY: The Potters Arms, Amersham, Thurs 31 Jan
Live at The Apollo‘s excellent Jen Brister headlines with Dan Evans and Colin Chadwick at this unassuming pub on the Bucks/Herts border that somehow continuously pulls in big names in comedy. Nothing flash about the venue, but I rather like its rough and readiness, plus you get a main meal with your ticket price and a whole load of belly laughs.
PANTOS: Still on…
THEATRE: When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Ourselves, the National Theatre, London, Wed 16 Jan – Sat 2 Mar
Cate Blanchett makes her debut at The National alongside Stephen Dilane in this new play by Martin Crimp, based on Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela. It explores desire, sexual violence and the complicated roles men and women play – blimey!. There’s also a series of talks with members of the production and the playwright throughout the play’s run though Cate isn’t on the menu I’m afraid.
, House of Illustrations, Kings Cross, until Sun 27 Jan
Kids may know him best for illustrating Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda (been to the Road Dahl Museum just across the border in Bucks?) but if you fancy seeing the more grown up side to illustrator Quentin Blake then head down to House of Illustrations, King’s Cross. Until the end of Jan the gallery will be home to an exhibit of his private work as a figurative artist, featuring never seen before artwork and paintings.
FAMILY: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, now until Sun 6 Jan
Your last chance to visit London’s Winter Wonderland. Free to enter but once inside, prepare to sell a kidney. Major attractions this year include the Magical Ice Kingdom Secret Forest, an immersive showcase of woodland animals and mythical creatures created from ice and snow; karaoke cabins, ice sculpting workshops, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club and plus Peter Pan on Ice.
ART: Jeff Koons, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Thurs 7 Feb – Sun 9 Jun
Behemoth of the contemporary art world, Jeff Koons will curate his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. It will span Koons’ entire career and showcase seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before. It will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.
EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Sat 2 Feb
This is going to be maaassive! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. The exhibition is based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and there will be a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.