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 Latitude, Suffolk, 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 Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, 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.