Fri 22 – Sun 24 June
HarpFest, Harpenden, Sat 23 June
Brand new festival for half a day which I already imagine will be a two-day event by this time next year. Great variety of activities and lots of good food and music. Family fun. Gin. Beer from Farr Brew.
Poppies, Dunstable Downs
This is just one poppy in my garden. I haven’t had a chance to visit, but I’ve heard that the poppies are currently out in force at Dunstable Downs, also a famous venue for flying kites. Worth a trip, I think! LU6 2GY.
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy
I need to take a few hours off to pop to the Smoke to see this. Very exciting indeed! I watched the BBC2 documentary (on iPlayer for a month) about this year’s show and it looks great fun thanks to Grayson Perry’s curation. Paintings and sculptures by new artists sit cheek by jowl with work by Royal Academicians and Harry Hill. It’s the Summer Exhibition!
Alban Weekend, Sat 23 & Sun 24 June
Get ready for an action packed weekend of feasting and drinking in St Albans. The weekend starts when Roman chariots, centurions, lions and roses join the procession to tell the story of the man who gave the city its name. This starts from St Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street, at 11am on Saturday and carries on to St Albans Cathedral. On Sunday it’s the Alban Street Festival when over 70 traders will line the street selling food, drink and crafts. The brand new museum and gallery will be offering drop in screen painting workshops for families, from 12-5pm. You can make your own Alban puppet at the Cathedral from 12-6pm. There are loads of other fun things, including workshops for children to learn how to march and make poppies. Loads of live music and street entertainment.
Lily & Bear, Broadway Theatre, Sun 24 June
For little ones, it’s Lily & Bear at the Broadway Theatre in Letchworth, winner of this year’s Muddy Award. Lily and Bear tells a truly magical tale about the give and take of friendship. Ideal for families with children 18 months to 6 years, this wonderful piece of musical theatre will have them singing and dancing along. And after the show (40 mins) show, you can meet Lily and Bear! 11.30am and 2pm.
Hitchin Chamber Orchestra & Hitchin Jazz Collective, Sat 23 June
This is an annual gig in a lovely venue. This year it’s jazz and strings. It was Charlie Parker’s Bird with Strings sessions in 1950 and 1952 that really hit the sweet spot when it came to combining strings with jazz. Two Hitchin ensembles: the well-established Hitchin Chamber Orchestra and the recently formed Hitchin Jazz Collective. Both bands include many local players. St Mary’s Church, SG5 1HP. 7.30pm.
Meditation, Hitchin Lavender, Sat 23 June
Be warned: the fields don’t look like this yet! But what a perfect place to meditate. An hour long class to teach you how to meditate and aid you to relax, embrace positivity and reduce stress. £12.50. Take a yoga mat with you. 9am-10am.
Teeth, Wellcome Collection – until 19 Sept
Dentistry, fairground entertainment, happy smiles and horrific tales. 150 objects, including ancient protective amulets and dental bling, dentures and drills, sketches and spittoons, tooth transplants and toothpaste ads, If you catch a train home from Euston or Kings Cross, you might like to pop in here one evening. Open until 6pm during the week and until 8pm on Thursdays. Free.
Red, Wyndham’s Theatre
A short play about Mark Rothko, who in the late 50s was invited to make paintings for The Four Seasons restaurant in New York. Rothko is played by Alfred Molina and his studio assistant Ken is played by Alfred Enoch.
Book for: St Albans Film Festival, Tues 26 Jun – Sun 1 July
Now in its 5th year, the St Albans Film Festival has really hit its stride. In addition to the big films – The Greatest Showman, Sing, Black Panther, Bridget Jones’s Diary and more – there’s a whole programme of workshops and site specific events. Stand up comedy at Fleetville Larder (winner of this year’s Best Deli in the Muddy Awards) and an affordable, pay what you can film, as well as a virtual reality workshop at the brand new museum and gallery. Be quick, these tickets will fly.
Book for: The Little Welly, Herts Showground, St Albans, Sat 7 – Sun 8 July
This is a festival about mud. No, it’s not Glasto, but Little Welly. It’s an obstacle course and a festival rolled (in mud) into one. It’s in various locations: Kent, Surrey and Oxfordshire and it arrives in Herts at the beginning of July. Hay bales, tyres, army walls, spider tunnel, in and out ditches, log fence and water pit. Who ever said that children today don’t have enough exercise?
Antony Gormley, Kettles Yard, Cambridge – until 27 Aug
Ooo! I need to nip over the border to Cambridge. Kettles Yard has been transformed beyond recognition, and once I got over the initial shock, I loved what I saw. I visited during the week of opening, so I think the whole team was in shock due to the queues, but I imagine it’s settled down now. ‘SUBJECT’ highlights many of Antony Gormley’s interests, including how sculpture can activate both the space that it occupies and the body of the viewer. The exhibition offers a series of physical and metaphysical encounters, exploring our relationship to space and our sense of self.
Book for: Geronimo, Knebworth House, Sat 30 June and Sun 1 July
Geronimo is the ultimate family festival that’s known as ‘Glasto for Kids’. Now in its 4th year, Geronimo will continue to celebrate its success at Arley Hall in Cheshire, but it’s venturing further afield, and has chosen a new field, or rather parkland, at Knebworth House. On the main stage you can expect to see Justin Fletcher and Mr Bloom among other talented and friendly faces. Delights on the ground include activities with two circuses, a Victorian fun fair, den building, zip wires, family crafts, a gaming bus, willow weaving and more. Once you’ve bought a ticket, most of the activities are free, and a day ticket (£25) includes entrance to the Dino Trail at Knebworth House.
Book for: Michael Jackson On the Wall, National Portrait Gallery, from Thurs 28 June
This promises to be amazing. An exhibition exploring the influence of Michael Jackson on some of the leading names in contemporary art, spanning several generations of artists across all media. It opens on 29 June to to coincide with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday (on August 29, 2018).