Muddy Herts Summer Hols Survival Guide 2016 #1
If you’ve got time to kill and littl’uns to entertain, here are some ideas for the first fortnight of the long summer break. You could check the book-ahead workshops in our handy guide, too, or just rock up to one of these. Enjoy!
Sat 23 Jul
Kick the hols off to a toe-tapping start with the Graham School of Dance Summer Show at Hertford Theatre this weekend. Enjoy a mixture of dance — classical and modern ballet to street dance and tap, drama and musical theatre performed by children age 7 to 18. They’ll be performing two full-length pieces — a classical ballet based on Swan Lake, then their version of Monsters, Inc. Or there’s the Academy Summer Show at Watford’s Pumphouse Theatre and Arts Centre — with high-energy singing, dancing and acting — ranging from classic musical theatre to this year’s latest pop hits.
Fancy getting your High School Musical on? (Oh, I still know all the words…) Head over to the Radlett Centre to see RARE Productions, the UK’s leading youth musical theatre do their take on this, er, classic tale.
Potter fans are going to enjoy the new bits and pieces at the Warner Bros Studio Tour. This summer, it’s all about Finding the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry, Ron and Hermione’s epic quest.
Sun 24 Jul
Kick back for a long lazy afternoon enjoying Folk by The Oak in the grounds of Hatfield House. Gorgeous family day out with plenty of music to keep you entertained — and jigging about a bit — long into the evening, as well as stalls, food, the lot — sort of a happy mixture of local village fete and the full on festival experience.
Got a little dinosaur fan? Head down to Knebworth House for their Dino Adventure with hands-on Dino Animal Encounters throughout the day. (What, like real dinosaurs? Woah… Jurassic Park or what?) Loads of great dino-sized fun. Oh, and keep an eye (nose?) out for Sidly the Skunk….
And budding archaeologists can head to the Festival of Archaeology at Welwyn Roman Baths. Become an archaeologist for an afternoon, excavate a skeleton (ewww), make your very own roman pot out of clay, or an owl of Minerva pompom (the Romans loved pompoms).
And it wouldn’t be a school holiday with a Sing-a-long-a Frozen, now would it? A live host guiding you through — like you need that! — a free prop bag (squeak!) and the chance to practise your dance moves before the fun begins. Head over to Harlow Playhouse — and bear in mind they have a sing-a-long-a Grease in the evening…
Mon 25 Jul
You all voted Standalone Farm the Muddy Herts Best Family Attraction earlier this year, so why not pop along and see what they’re up to this summer. They’re open every day, 10am-5pm, and they’ve got a brand new cafe in there too (always good to know).
There’s also Willows Activity Farm, also open daily, 10am-5.30pm, with its new Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, the Lily Bobtail Nature Discovery area, Mrs Tiggy-winkle’s kitchen and laundry of Mrs Tiggy-winkle, the Jeremy Fisher Music Pond and the Peter Rabbit Secret Treehouse.
Tue 26 Jul
Forget Disney and dive in with The Little Mermaid Jnr at the Court Theatre in Tring. Yes, there’ll be songs you know — and the story’s the same — but there are some tantalising new bits too
Wed 27 Jul
You won’t want to miss The Wiz at Watford Palace Theatre. Fun, family-friendly, funky — and some serious young talent on the stage.
An Activity Fun Day (4-11yo) at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, looks just the ticket. Sports, drama, dance, arts and crafts, disco and that all-important Bouncy Castle.
Or you can go, go, go, get it together with Sportacus, Robbie Rotten, Stephanie and Ziggy in Lazy Town at the Watford Colosseum. Seriously, though, there is something rather… er… strangely attractive about Sportacus. (Did I say that out loud?)
Thu 28 Jul
Strong theatre/cinema action on the 28th. Are we expecting rain that day? Go for the sublime — The Winter’s Tale at The Inn on the Park, St Albans — or the ridiculous — the Angry Birds movie at Watersmeet Theatre, Rickmansworth. There’s also Honk! at the Pumphouse Theatre & Arts Trust with that ugly duckling finally finding his feet and his feathers. Or — and I love this one — Donaldson and Scheffler’s The Snail and the Whale at the Radlett Centre.
Or ditch it all for Family Fun at Lowewood Museum, on every Thursday (12-3pm). Make paper-plate maracas (28 Jul) or box guitars (4 Aug).
Fri 29 Jul
Wyllots Theatre in Potters Bar is holding a Hairy MacLary (from Donaldson’s Dairy…) Fun Day, with a whole lot of fun to be had — face painting, crafts, music and singing featuring your canine favourites. Of which mine is Schnitzel von Krumm with the very low tum.
Sat 30 Jul
I always enjoy the Dacorum Steam & Country Fayre at Green Croft Farm, Potten End, and I have no interest at all in engines, old or otherwise. Great family day out, with stalls, rides, ice cream, tea and storming cakes, a beer tent, the lot. If the sun’s shining, it’s the best.
The Big Screen on the Beach kicks off on The Parade in Watford, with outdoor movies on the big screen — two or three a day all week, starting with the Lion King and The Force Awakens and going from there. And, get this — it’s FREE!!! There are loads of beach activities going on, too — it’s like going to the coast. Sort of. Without the crabs.
Sun 31 Jul
I’m looking forward to catching the new Alice Through the Looking Glass movie, with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Mia Wasikowska. It’s at Watford Palace Theatre for a matinee — and it’s in 3D. It’s also at the Wyllots Theatre on Wed 3 Aug.
Young scientists are going to love this one: LifeWorks Carnival at Parker’s Piece, Cambridge. A brand new Cambridge Science Centre exhibition is launching, showcasing the wonders of life through hands-on science.
Tue 2 Aug
Perfect choice for combining serious chilling out and keeping the kids happy. Settle in to the Cricketers in Weston, enjoying lunch from the barbeque, and they can settle down to watch Toy Story in an outdoor cinema. Result.
Or have a go at making Peg Dolls at the Rhodes Centre, Bishops Stortford. There are usually other craft activities going on there, too.
Wed 3 Aug
Another Donaldson-Scheffler classic — The Gruffalo’s Child — will be at Hertford Theatre. I love the feisty little Gruffalo girl and her search for the Big Bad Mouse. Just scary enough to get them squealing.
Fri 5 Aug
Settle in with a picnic and a blanket for Open Air Cinema at Knebworth House — they’re showing Spectre, so it’s one for your teens rather than your tinies. But Daniel Craig? I’m so there.
More to come soon….