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This week

FILM: St Albans Film Festival, various locations, until 7 July

You don’t have to be a movie buff into artsy docs to enjoy this one. There’s something for everyone, from a whole load of outdoor screenings at St Albans Cathedral – from Gladiator to Grease Singalong – to workshops on everything from smartphone photography to animation, talks on the film industry, and a St Albans on screen walking tour.


KIDS: Interactive Science Exhibition, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, 1 July – 8 Sept

What kid doesn’t love wouldn’t want to learn how to become invisible, create eletricity and experience what a tornado feels like? This world touring exhibition, produced by scientists, physicists, geologists and astronomers, has already broken records, selling a whopping 100,000 tickets in Rome, and now it’s coming to our very own Luton. There’ll be over 40 interactive exhibits on the themes of science, maths, physics, natural disasters, nature, solar energy, biology, music and more.


MUSICAL: Annie The Musical, Milton Keynes Theatre, 1-6 July

Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood dons a wig and tights to play tyrannical Miss Hannigan in Tony Award winning Annie The Musical (yup, that’s him on the left!). Erm… it’s a 5 from us Craig. You can bet your bottom dollar (sorry!) that the show will be a glittering 10 out of 10 though, if the rave reviews are anything to go by.


THEATRE: The Handlebards: Much Ado About Nothing, Standalone Farm, Letchworth, 2 July

A cycling theatre company you say? The quirkier the better in our book! This one (unsurprisingly!) is the first of its kind but it’s not just trying to be whacky for the sake of it – the actors travel from venue to venue on two wheels to bring sustainable  Shakespeare to audiences around the globe. Here’s the all male troupe, who are touring with Much Ado, (the all female troupe are doing The Tempest), and don’t they look dapper?


ART: Hepworth Museum Late: Make, Do and Draw, St Albans Museum and Gallery, 4 July

Fancy trying your hand at a spot of art? How about if there’s a drink or two thrown in? Now we’re talking! The Hepworth Museum is hosting an after-hours party to celebrate the eponymous artist and you’re invited. Come and carve sculptures (à la Barbara) out of soap (yep, that kind) and mould things out of Modroc. We’re reliably informed that no artistic skill is necessary – phew! There’ll also be guided tours of the museum, balloon modelling (for grown-ups), and live performances from the Trestle Theatre.


FESTIVAL: Chilfest, Tring, 6 July

Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies.


FESTIVAL: Summer Fest, Waddesdon Manor, 6-7 July

A hop and skip over the border in Aylesbury at Waddesdon Manor, there’s the National Trust site’s first Summer Fest, a relaunch of the popular Summer Feast event. There’ll be street performers (see above – vertigo, anyone?!), food, music, shopping village in the Aviary Glade and bunting for miles.


BOOKS: Booktastic Bedford, The Quarry Theatre, Bedford, 6-7 July 

This festival, set up by a group of self-confessed bookworms, is dedicated to inspiring kids to read and started life as a children’s book club held in a Waterstone’s store room. Now in its fifth year the event will welcome authors, designers, artists and creators from Bedford and beyond to take part in events from family fun days, to charity fundraisers and bedtime story sessions.



OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Shakespearean plays, Blenheim Palace, 8 July – 7 Sept

Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.




Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies (6 July). Or if you fancy a camping festival, there’s Shambala, a small, lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly (22 – 25 Aug). Other camping weekenders include LatitudeSuffolk, the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill (18 – 21 Jul). Or there’s Camp BestivalLulworth CastleDorset, the kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties (25 – 28 Jul).

And if you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.

Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated  by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.
Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&A recently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.

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