Mon 15 - Sun 21 Jul
COMEDY: Bedford Festival Fringe, The Quarry Theatre and The Place Theatre, Bedford, 15-27 July
Inspired by, and in celebration of the cultural festival stalwart that is Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comes Bedford Fringe… the founders say it ‘brings a little bit of Edinburgh to Bedford’ with an array of fringe arts (that means new work and upcoming stars!) and there’s SO much to see – er… 150 things to be precise!
THEATRE: The National Trust Fan Club, Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishops Stortford, 18 July
Now we love the National Trust as much as the next person, but Helen Wood is next level. Her hilarious show follows her one-woman quest to become the NT’s biggest super-fan by visiting every single site. Now that’s dedication to the cause. Catch her before she packs up her Goretex and heads to the Edinburgh Fringe.
FESTIVAL: Todd in the Hole, Todd’s Green, Stevenage, 19-21 July
This family friendly music festival brings a touch of English eccentricity to the Hertfordshire countryside – just what we like at Muddy! Catch over 60 bands performing throughout the festival weekend, including Bowie, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and Oasis tribute acts (sorry if I got your hopes up there for the real thing…), a 70s and 80s woodland disco, as well as interactive outdoor theatre and circus skills for the kids in the family arena. Plus there’ll be loads of lipsmacking street food stalls, as well as gin, Pimms and real ale bars to keep you fed and watered. Camp or glamp (don’t worry, there are posh loos and hot showers for everyone!).
FAMILY: Summer Festival, Audley End Miniature Railway, Saffron Walden, from 20 July – 8 September
Hop aboard the miniature railway through the Audley End Estate and you might just spot some fairies and elves on the way. Little ones will love looking out for their cute woodland homes in the magical groves and ticking them off in their I Spy guides. Meanwhile, back at the picnic area there’ll be all sorts of activities going on in the pretty bell tents from crafts and face painting to storytime with a shimmering unicorn and a mythical dragon.
MUSIC: The Ronnie Scott’s Story, Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, 20 July
If heading to London’s infamous jazz club is on your bucket list, this could just be the next best thing. Join Ronnie Scott’s All Stars at Saffron Hall on the 20th to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of one of the world’s most iconic music venues. As well as live jazz performances, there’ll be rare photos from the archives on display, plus video footage documenting the club’s glittering history.
FOOD: The Great British Food Festival, Knebworth House, 20-21 July
Whether you’re a bona fide foodie or just fancy a tasty day out in the glorious setting on Knebworth House, this annual food fest ticks all the boxes. There’ll be an artisan food market selling not-found-in-the-supermarket produce, hot food stalls to keep you fuelled up through the day, demos from GBBO stars and chefs from the best local pubs and restaurants (including Phil Fanning from Woburn’s Paris House), a Cake Off comp, foraging walks and craft and gift stalls.
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.
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.
EXHIBITION: First Animals, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, from 12 July
This new major exhibition will look back on the origins of life as we know it on earth with fossils and specimens, some of which are over hundreds of millions of years old (woah!), loaned from museums around the world. Highlights include an interactive, 360-degree diving installation, digital reconstructions and virtual reality.
FESTIVAL: Pennfest, Penn, Bucks, 19 – 20 Jul
With an impressive line-up of rebel-rousers, this year’s Pennfest sees ’90s indie favourites, Suede, headlining, plus turns from Happy Mondays (always hilariously shambolic live) and New Order’s Peter Hook.