PARTY: Día de los Muertos , Copper House, Berkhamsted, 2 Nov
One of our fave local bars will be transformed into an all-out Mexican Day of the Dead themed party haunt (see what we did there?) for one night only. This is Halloween for grown-ups. There’ll be tequila cocktails (created in partnership with Don Julio), to wake the dead, Mexican canapés, finger food and a 3-hour live set from DJ Lyndsay Evans (who’s played everywhere from Ibiza to the BRIT Awards party and London and Paris Fashion Weeks). The dress code is drop dead gorgeous, so get creative and prepare to par-tay!
CHRISTMAS: Charity Christmas Market, Hatfield House, 2 Nov
Pick up a few early Chrimbo pressies from foodie stocking fillers to locally produced artisan gifts at this bijou market held in the Hatfield House Riding School. Proceeds go to local charity Isabel Hospice, so it’s all for a good cause, too.
COMEDY: The Noise Next Door – Remix!, The Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s, Bedford, 2 Nov
This hilarious gang met at uni and are now the UKs top improv comedy troupe. They’ve sold out at Edinburgh no fewer than eight times thanks to their razor-sharp wit and cheeky charm and you may have spotted them on TV when they’ve appeared alongside the likes of Michael McIntyre, Al Murray, and Harry Hill. This adults-only show is sure to be an absolute corker.
FAMILY: The Noise Next Door – At Sea!, The Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s, Bedford, 2 Nov
Err… are we having a case of deja vu? No, the aforementioned comedy troupe and also bringing their unique style to younger audiences with this family-friendly show. Join the crew on their swashbuckling adventure to find Captain Bloodbeard with plenty of mermaids, magic and sea shanties. And for an added twist, it’s up to the audience to decide which course their voyage will take.
FAMILY: Family Bushcraft Workshop, RSPB Rye Meads, 2 Nov
Learn to give Bear Grylls a run for his money at this survival skills workshop for adults and kids. Light a fire from scratch, cook smores over the campfire and make rope out of nettles all under the guidance of a bushcraft expert. Suitable for ages 8+.
So many displays to write about I’m ready to combust. Click here for my full fireworks guide for Herts & Beds. KABOOM!
THEATRE: My Fair Lady, Alban Arena, 5-9 Nov
This classic tale of the trasformation of a cockney flower girl into elegant lady, brings all the well known tunes with it, including ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?‘, ‘The Rain in Spain’ and ‘On the Street Where You Live’.
COMEDY: Enter the Dragons, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 6 Nov
Forget all the stereotypes – there’s a new hero in town, and it comes in the shape of a modern-day mature woman. Yeah, yeah, tell us something we don’t know! But the hero in this surreal and dark-humoured show is on an epic quest to defeat Chronos, the god of time, and discover how to halt the inevitable ageing process (now there’s something we would like to know!), with a few wigs and puppets thrown in. It’s tipped to throw everything we think about beauty, sex and feminity out the window.
KIDS: Dear Zoo, Hertford Theatre, 6-7 Nov
Cutesy animal fun for little ones who loved the beloved lift-the-flap book by Rod Campbell. Think puppets, music and gentle audience participation.
THEATRE: Annie, Bedford Corn Exchange, 7-9 Nov
You can bet your bottom dollar (sorry…) this will be worth checking out. It’s by the UK’s largest youth musical theatre group Rare Productions and promises to be an all-singing, all-dancing whirl through the adventures of everyone’s favourite fictional orphan.
DANCE: Swan Lake by the Russian National Ballet, Hertford Theatre, 8 Nov
It’s all tutus and pointy toes with ballet season upon us. Tchaikovsky’s tragic romance is being brought to life by the Russian National Ballet. I don’t know about you but I still feel a little bit scarred by the big screen version nearly a decade on, but I reckon this one will be more spellbinding than scary. Let the twirling commence.
MUSIC: Jools Holland And His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Watford Colosseum, 8 Nov
Hands up if you watch his Hootenanny on the TV every New Year (guilty!) Now you can see the man himself and his trusty R&B orchestra live on stage doing their thang… naturally, there’ll be special guests in tow, including BRIT award-winning Eddi Reader, gospel vocalist Ruby Turner, soul singer Louise Marshall and Squeeze drummer Gilson Lavis.
CHRISTMAS: Knebworth Christmas Gift Fair, Knebworth House, 8-10 Nov
There’s nothing like a Christmas Fair to get you in the festive spirit and at this one you can take in the lovely setting of Knebworth House while shopping for unique hand-made and artisan produced pressies, plus meet the makers, too.
BOOKS: Tring Book Festival, 8-17 Nov
Bookworms listen up! There’s a brand new literary fest coming to our ‘hood. Brought to you by the people behind the Tring comedy fest, Tringe, and the owners of Tring’s brand new high street book shop, The Tring Book Festival has got a cracking line-up. There’s Sunday Times Best Seller Adele Parks, kids’ favourite Olaf Falafel, comedian Russel Kane, TV history buff Alice Roberts, and loads, loads more. It’s sure to be a sell out!
THEATRE: Othello, The Place Bedford, 9 Nov
It’s the green-eyed monster but not as you know him. Quirky theatre co The Pantaloons have given this Shakespearean tragedy an unexpected twist, setting it in the jazz era. There’ll be live music, intense drama and bags of mischief.
KIDS: The Adventures of Dr Dolittle, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 9 Nov
Little ones will love this re-telling of the classic story about an eccentric animal loving do-gooder. Produced by Illyria Theare – open air theatre experts – the show is now being brought undercover to Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town Hall. Meet Polynesia the parrot, Jip the dog and Chee-Chee the monkey who help the Dr on his mission to heal the sick and spread the love for the animal kingdom.
FAMILY: James Mayhew Family Concerts, University of Hertfordshire Arts, 10 Nov
This sounds mesmerising – watch artist James Mayhew paint colourful and captivating pieces on stage to the soundtrack of live music as the de Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra play Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose Suite’.
KIDS: Family Arts Studio, Shadow Art, Broadway Studio, Letchworth, 10 Nov
This free workshop is suitable for ages 3+ as artist Chantelle Stephenson demonstrates the magical world of shadow art – ie making cool bird and animal shapes using your hands.
BOOKS: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Moment in Time with Jo Wood, Chorleywood War Memorial Hall, 11 Nov
We bet this lady’s got some juicy stories to tell… lucky for us she’s cacptured them in a book which regales her wild adventures as the wife of Ronnie Wood and travelling the world with the Rolling Stones. This behind the scenes glimpse of life on the road is like a personal photo album brought to life with Jo’s stories and memories. She’ll be talking all about it and signing copies at this special event. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll but we like it!
THEATRE: Jekyll and Hyde The Musical, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 11-16 Nov
Robert Louis Stevenson’s gothic horror has been given the superstar treatment – this production by Bishop’s Stortford Musical Theatre Co features a pop and rock musical score by multi-Grammy- and Tony-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double-Oscar- and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse. But will good triumph over evil in the end?
THEATRE: Sister Act, Watford Palace Theatre, 12-16 Nov
Disco diva Deloris is back with her brigade of singing nuns for this roof-raising, toe-tapping performance by Cassio Productions. If you’re a fan of the 1970s and <heart> Motown, Disco, Soul and Gospel, get thee to Watford Palace Theatre.
COMEDY: Josh Widdicombe: Bit Much… Bedford Corn Exchange, 13 Nov
You’ll know him from TV’s award-winning show, The Last Leg, but you can see him here grumbling about all sorts of commonly frustrating topics like… err… advent calendars, pesto and the closing time of his local park.
FAMILY: Ice Skating, Van Hage, Great Amwell, 14 Nov – 6 Jan
Get yer skates on and head to Van Hage Garden Centre for some fun twirling around on the ice. Don’t miss The Great Gatsby themed opening night on 15 November, where you cam don your favourite flapper dress, or dust off your leg warmers and head back to the 80s on 22 Nov. The best dressed will snag a glass of Prosecco too – although you might be a bit more Bambi than Torvill and Dean afterwards!
THEATRE: The Vicar of Dibley at Christmas – The Second Coming, Hertford Theatre, 13-16 Nov
It wouldn’t be Christmas without several re-runs of The Vicar of Dibley on TV would it? Now you can catch it on stage too, adapted from the original stage production, with Geraldine, Alice, Hugo and friends as they put on a nativity play. Bring on the chaotic capers!
FOOD: North American tasting Menu and Wine Pairing, Kite at the Red Hart, Hitchin, 11 Nov
Here’s one for the foodies. This buzzy pub-cum-restaurant is hosting a special evening dedicated to North American cuisine – five courses of it. And it’s not just burgers and fries, you can expect gastro twists on classics like fried chicken waffles, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese and roasted wild mallard. All courses will be paired with a wine from the region, too, and there’ll be an expert on hand to talk through each one. £75pp for a 7pm seating.
THEATRE: Stolen, Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton, 14 Nov
Creative storytellers, The Devil’s Violin, offer their contemporary take on this ancient artform by transporting audiences to a dreamlike land where a king is turned to stone, an old woman lives in a giant cockerel’s claw and a glass man is filled with wasps. All put to a hypnotic string accompaniment. Sounds surreal, but we’re intrigued!
KIDS: The Gruffalo, The Radlett Centre, 14-15 Nov
Every parent in the world will know about the mouse who took a stroll through the deep, dark woods… and probably knows the rest of the book by heart, too. It is of course Julia Donaldson’s ubiquitous The Gruffalo. If you’ve not seen it live on stage yet, go! It’ll be a guaranteed hit and keep you in the kids’ good books for weeks.
COMEDY: Scream Phone, Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton, 15 Nov
Tap into that teenage girl memory bank, and transport yourself back to the days of sleepovers, pillow fights and… Dream Phone – ringing any bells? (see what I did there?!) Based on the board game, crossed with a certain scary movie and with plenty of original (ahem, possibly classic 80s hits) music, anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s will secretly <heart> this production as much as their daughters. Beware the big pink phone! For age 14+.
COMEDY: Spontaneous Potter, Luton Library Theatre, 16 Nov
Potter fans step this way. This Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show is a totally unique improv play based on the audience’s suggestion of a brand new Harry Potter fanfiction title. Past shows have included Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce, Harry Potter and the Neville Wears Prada, Harry Potter and the Rise of the Planet of the Snapes. Genius! This one’s adults only, but there’s also a kid-friendly matinée on the same day for ages 5+.
KIDS: The Scarecrow’s Wedding, Broadway Letchworth, 15-16 Nov
Julia Donaldson strikes again – this time with her whimsical adventures of betrothed scarecrows, Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay. It’s been adapted for little audiences by Scamp Theatre with music and lots of laughs. For ages 3+.
JEWELLERY: Christmas Workshop, Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Centre, Hitchin, 16 Nov
Fancy trying your hand at a bit of jewellery making? Here’s your chance to get behind the workbench at local jeweller, Harriet Kelsall’s studio at her special Christmas workshop. Come along and personalise a disc pendant – perfect Christmas pressie for someone (or yourself!) – over a mince pie and glass of mulled wine. It costs £35 but £10 will be donated to Garden House Hospice. Plus the kids can get stuck in too making some beaded decorations, and you can get your own jewellery cleaned for free! From 9.45am – 5pm.
FAMILY: The Giant Balloon Show, Luton Library Theatre, 17 Nov
Forget sausage dogs, this is balloon sculpture as you’ve never seen it before. A cross between theatrical experience and circus performance with a comedy twist, plenty of clowning about and an 80s soundtrack for good measure, The Giant Balloon Show sounds wonderfully bizarre.
TALK: Ben Fogle: Tales from the Wilderness, Bedford Corn Exchange, 18 Nov
Got a bad case of wanderlust? Live vicariously through the stories of the TV adventurer as he talks about his wild experiences from conquering Everest and swimming with crocodiles to being marooned for a year on an uninhabited island and walking to the South Pole. Proper escapism.
MUSIC: The Big Band at Christmas, Alban Arena, 19 Nov
Feeling festive yet? You will be after this as all the Chrimbo classics get the Big Band treatment. Get ready to jazz up those Jingle Bells and swing into Christmas.
COMEDY: Alexander Armstrong: All Mouth and Some Trousers, Alban Arena, 20 Nov
He’s been on our screens for years but can you believe this is Alexander Armstrong’s first ever solo stand-up show? Fittingly he’ll be offering an account of his career, in his typically irreverant style, from his time as one half of comedy duo Armstrong and Miller via documentary making, singing and as the voice of errm… Toilet Duck!
THEATRE: Only Fools The (cushty) Dining Experience, Bedford Corn Exchange, 22 Nov
Join Del Boy and the rest of the Trotter clan at The Nag’s Head for a wheeler dealing knees-up. Enjoy a three-course dinner as this interactive extravaganza immerses you in the world of Only Fools and Horses with the characters playing out scenes – both staged and improvised – around you. It comes from the people behind the hugely successful Faulty Towers Dining Experience, so we’re expecting great things and bags of laughs.
CHRISTMAS: Hertford Christmas Gala, 22 Nov
Hertford town centre will be trasnformed into a festive fiesta for the annual Christmas gala, with markets, street entertainers, fairground rides and live music. There’ll also be a Santa’s grotto for the kids and the chance to stroke one of his reindeer, plus nativity fancy dress is encouraged, especially if you want a snap taken in the stables! You might also nab a bargain with some of the local shops and cafés putting on one-off discounts, special offers and events for the evening.
KIDS: Hansel, Gretal and You… Who?, Luton Central Library, 23 Nov
This re-imagining of the grizzly fairytale sounds totally whacky, starting with the main characters being turned into… oven gloves!? Yep, told you! On their journey around the world they meet some sporting woodland friends who invite the whole audience to join in with a relay race. This mind boggling show will encourage children to say ‘hello’ in different languages and mime Olympic sports and help the Gingerbread Man save the siblings from the wicked witch. Age 3+
DANCE: The Nutcracker by Vienna Festival Ballet, Alban Arena, 23 Nov
More tutu twirling – ’tis the season afterall, and what more festive production than The Nutcracker. This one’s from the Vienna Festival Ballet. Now we’ll be humming the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy all the way to Christmas.
FOOD: Christmas Feast Tasting Weekend, Foxholes Farm, Hertford 23-24 and 30 Nov – 1 Dec
Get your laughing gear around this one… sample the tasty festive produce on offer from Foxholes Farm before you buy, from turkey, beef ham and sausages to cheeses, all washed down with a mince pie and mulled wine. Plus there’ll be foodie hampers available and turkeys to order.
CHRISTMAS: Bedford Christmas Fair and Fireworks, Riverside Bedford, 23-24 Nov
Do your Christmas shopping with a glass of mulled wine in had (is there any other way?) at this festive market, with over 30 stalls selling handcrafted gifts and goodies, before the Embankment comes alight with fireworks and the Christmas light switch on from 5.30pm on 24th. There’ll be loads of entertainment during the day too from local schools’ musical performances, meet-and-greet sessions with Frozen characters face painting and free carousel and fairground rides.
THEATRE: The Jungle Book, The Place Bedford, 30 Nov – 1 Dec
Join Mowgli and friends as they take on the wrath of Shere Khan in this classic coming of age tale – it promises to be a high energy production with live music, comedy and puppetry. All together now: ‘look for the Bare Necessities…’
FAMILY: The Snow Queen – A Frozen Fairytale, Hertford Theatre, 30 Nov – 1 Jan
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Bring the whole family along to this all-singing, all-dancing 10th anniversary Christmas production of the story which inspired Frozen (it’s gonna be a surefire hit with the kids!) Meet Gerda, Jack Frost and some other fairytale favourites in this chilly adventure as they try and rescue their friends from the icy clutches of the Snow Queen.
FAMILY: The Magic of Christmas, Mead Open Farm, 30 Nov – 24 Dec
For the chance to meet this chap in his jolly red hat (he’ll even read you a story!), take a walk though the enchanted forest, decorate gingerbread, take on the naughty and nice challenge and join the elves in the make a bear workshop, head to Mead Open Farm this festive season. It’s all going on, plus the farm and indoor play area will be open too.
PANTO: Sleeping beauty, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishop’s Stortford, 7 Dec – 5 Jan
Panto season is upon us… oh yes it is. Kick it off with Sleeping Beauty at the Rhodes Arts Complex, which is a contemporary re-telling of the classic tale. Join feisty heroine, Princess Bea as she battles the Wicked Fairy Midnight in pursuit of true love’s kiss. It’s behiiind you!
INTERIORS: Country Living Christmas Fair, Business Design Centre, London, 13 – 17 Nov
It’s Christmaaaaas! Well, not just yet, but head London’s Business Design Centre this month and you’ll find heaps of festive stalls from hundreds of British designers, makers, food artisans and crafters. As well as shopping there’ll also be live workshops and talks, plus Prue Leith will be chatting to Country Living’s Editor about all things food at Christmas time on Wed 13.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton (below), Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.
Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.
Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.
Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.
And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water.