What’s On: Muddy Herts Guide 10-16 Dec 2015

Getting busy now and lots to do — making those lists and checking them twice — and there’s still loads of good stuff going on to get you out and about, whether you’re feeling festive and frisky or just fed up with it all already.  See you out there!

The Nutcracker, Watford Palace Theatre, 13 Dec, 3pm


For lots of folk, it’s not really Christmas without The Nutcracker, is it?  And if you’re going to watch Russian ballet, it might as well be the Bolshoi.  Well, you can catch the delayed live screening (delayed from a performance last Christmas) of the Bolshoi’s stunning production of Tchaikovsky’s classic at Watford Palace Theatre.  And it looks glorious.


Reindeer Revealed, Whipsnade Zoo, 12, 13 & 18-24 Dec, 11am


Can’t be sure that Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, or Donner and Blitzen will be there in person – and I’m guessing Rudpoph will be busy checking his shiny red sat nav – but you can meet some real reindeer and learn all about them if you’re up at Whipsnade this month.


Festive Grand Vintage Fair, The Jubilee Centre St Albans, 12 Dec, 10am-4pm


If rummaging through piles of goodies for the perfect vintage find is your thing, then you’ll be like a pig in the proverbial at the Grand Vintage Fair in St Albans this weekend.  More than 30 stalls with more to choose from than you can shake a stick at, should you want to.  Fashion, jewellery, accessories, art, glass, china, books, furniture, the lot.  And all with tea and cake.  Result.

The Jubilee Centre, Catherine Street. St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 5BU

Rio Carnival Christmas Party, Aldenham Country Park, Watford, 13 Dec, 7pm


I don’t usually associate Aldenham and Rio – although perhaps there’s a town-twining opportunity that’s being missed there – but this weekend, you could be mistaken for thinking you’ve gone from one to the other in the blink of an eye.  It’s party time, Carnival-style – tropical decor, carnival dancers, aerial tumblers, and Brazilian bars.  There’ll be a twinkling ceiling of stars while you feast on a 4-course dinner, and then you can hit the roulette wheel, jump onto the dodgems, or just sit back and enjoy the thrilling finale.  Then dance your way home…

Aldenham Country Park, Aldenham Road, Elstree, Watford, WD6 3AZ

Festive Affair,  The Clinic, Tring, 12 Dec, 12-6pm


It was a sad day for many in Tring when the lingerie shop closed down, but – never fear, Tring folk – the lovelies at The Clinic are launching their designer lingerie collection for women and men this weekend at their Festive Affair.  There’ll be mulled wine, prosecco and treats – as well as all sorts of lovely things to look at and treat yourself to.  Think Dita von Teese, Heidi Klum, Elle MacPherson, Pour Moi, Leticia, and more.  Worth a peek!

The Clinic Tring, 81-82 Akeman Street, Tring, HP23 6AF, the-clinic.org.uk

Chilming’s Christmas Slumber Party, Epping, 13 Dec, 15.30-18.30


I loved the look of the Chilming (chilling with a film – geddit?) events all this summer, and now their ‘Christmas Slumber Party’ looks equally brilliant.  Pop on your PJs and bring a blanket – it’s time to snuggle in with a hot chocolate with all the trimmings and settle down to watch Paddington.  There’s a goody bag of bits and bobs to add to the magic, and it just sounds like a brilliant, curled-up-warm way to spend an afternoon. And then, after the film, Santa will be dropping by.  What more could a little person want?


Horrible Histories Horrible Christmas, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 16 Dec-9 Jan 2016

horrible histories

My eldest went through a long phase where it was Horrible Histories and nothing else.  Shame he’s too teenage and cool for that now, because I quite fancy the sound of the Horrible Histories Horrible Christmas that’s coming up at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge.  There’ll be Victorian villains and Medieval monks, Puritan parties and Tudor treats – along with Charles Dickens, Oliver Cromwell, King Henry VIII, St Nicholas and (of course) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Great stuff if you’ve got kids of just the right age to entertain.  Maybe I could persuade him to come with me.  Just for old times’ sake….


BP Spotlight: Art and Alcohol, Tate Britain, London, opens 16 Nov

art and alcohol

This new exhibition at Tate Britain sounds fascinating. It’s looking at the relationship between art and alcohol from the 19th century to today – with some really interesting pieces and contrasts to get you thinking (as well as drinking).  And it’s free (hoorah).


Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden, 11 Dec-13 Feb 2016


I just adored the film version of Choderlos de Laclos’ novel of sex, intrigue and betrayal when I first saw it at university – all that smouldering passion and heartless seduction.  And I would love to get to see it on stage.  This 30 year revival of the first stage adapation, which swept the board awards-wise, has a cracking cast – with Elaine Cassidy, Dominic West, and Janet McTeer – and the Donmar has such a great reputation for brilliant theatre that I can’t help but think it’s going to be stunning.  Time to lace up that bodice and get those bosoms heaving…


Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, 12 Nov-21 Feb


Might have mentioned before that the National Portrait Gallery is one of my favourites, and I do enjoy the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition that’s held there every year a lot.  It opened last month, and I’ll be heading in to see it at some point – come hell or high water.  I just enjoy the range of styles and subjects – from Barack Obama to the photographer’s granny.  And there’s apparently one of Benedict Cumberbatch this year.  Not that that has anything to do with me wanting to go, mind you.  Nope, nothing at all.


British Museum of Food, Borough Market, London, until early 2016

museum of food

Heard about this one on the radio (I do love my Radio 4), and it sounds intriguing, a bit odd, and utterly brilliant.  It’s a temporary exhibition at Borough Market that’s looking for a permanent home, and it’s all about the history, evolution, science, sociology and art of food.  But it sounds like it’s going about it in an entirely unusual way, including exhibits like Choco-Phonica – a sonic wonderland focused on chocolate, and Be The Bolus: the Peristalsis Experience – which is all about swallowing and digesting food. This one sounds mad – it’s a simulation of food going down and through (like, all the way through) with special chairs that enhance the experience of watching footage from a surgical pill-cam.  There are also more traditional museum-y bits with the British Menu Archive, for example and Atelier of Flavour – a gallery showcase of food as art.  And I think it sounds amazing.


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