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This month

January 2019


GAMES: Giant boardgames, 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

Prepare to be amazed! I’m a massive fan of close-up magic – just about every big party I’ve thrown has had a a magician in the mix – and this show promises three maestros showing their sleight of hand with cards, coins or borrowed objects from the audience.


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

Sit back and dream of summer on this gentle three hour cruise down the River Lee, starting in Ware and heading towards Hertford before returning to Ware. There will be four gins for tasting, then you can choose your favourite two to enjoy in a long glass. (spoiler: tonic is included).
MOVIE RELEASESThe Favourite, from Tues 1 JanOlivia 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 JanMore 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

Time-travelling magicians Morgan & West star in a family-friendly afternoon show featuring slapstick, illusions, jaw-dropping magic and general silliness. In the evening, their Parlour Tricks show for adults ups the ante.


MUSIC: The English Concert, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Sat 26 Jan

Close your eyes and dream of a time before drill music penetrated your brain! Harry Bicket and The English Concert celebrate the high baroque era with a concert that summons up London of that period and 18th century Venice, and includes JS Bach’s famous Air on the G String. 


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


Based on the classic children’s book series by David McKee, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant has been adapted for the stage by Suzanne Maynard Miller, with songs by Allison Leyton-Brown. A colourful and fun-filled show with a subtle message to be yourself, this has the makings of a lovely show to watch with your littlies.


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…


I have to admit I never have any desire to see a panto once Christmas and New Year are over, but if you want to keep the goodwill and thigh slapping going, good on you! It’s the last day to catch the The Astonishing Adventures of Pinocchio, Hertford Theatre, Cinderella at Alban Arena starring Rachel Stevens and CBeebies’ Mr Bloom ends on Sun 6 Jan and Peter Pan at Gordon Craig Theatre sprinkles the fairy dust until Tues 22 Jan.


ART: 100 Figures: The Unseen Art of Quentin Blake, House of Illustrations, Kings Cross, until Sun 27 Jan

Photo by Paul Grover

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.


MUSIC: Chiltern Arts Festival, various locations, Sat 9 – Sat 16 Feb

Culture ahoy! World class musicians are descending on various venues in Bucks and Herts with a series of gorgeous concerts. The programme includes renowned pianist Steven Osborne playing Prokofiev, Debussy and Schubert, celebrated baritone Roderick Williams in a performance of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook, and an opening programme by the City of London Sinfonia inspired by the orchestra’s London series, entitled Bach and the Cosmos.

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

Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Éventail de vos hasards, Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018. Dior Héritage collection, Paris

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.

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