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What’s On: Muddy Herts Guide 17 Dec 2015-6 Jan 2016

Here it is – your last Muddy Guide of 2015!  Lots of Christmassy fun to keep the kids busy –and I’ve tried to round up a couple of more grown-up bits as well, just so we’re all happy.  Have a fab festive time, and we’ll be back with more suggestions for your social life in the New Year.

Mr Holmes (PG), Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 16 Dec, 7.30pm & 17 Dec, 1pm

mr holmes

I missed this film when it flitted through the multiplex, but it looks like a lovely one.  Sherlock Holmes, played by the delightfully crusty Sir Ian McKellen, is enjoying his retirement by the seaside, with only the housekeeper and her young son for company.  Of course, there’s a mystery to solve – it is Sherlock Holmes, after all – but the aging sleuth finds himself having to rely on the boy for help.  The screening on 17 Dec is one of their ‘Baby Blockbusters’ – not as loud, not as dark, and full of babies.  You have been warned!

Santa’s Christmas Cracker, Weston Auditorium, University of Herts, 20 Dec, 2pm


All sorts of festive fun going on at the Weston Auditorium – and it makes a change from panto, doesn’t it?  Dotty the Elf and Pompom the Penguin are heading off to visit Santa, singing on their way.  You get to join in the singing – get practising! – and you get to meet Father Christmas, too – and take home a present from the big man himself.

Santa’s Little Helper, Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 19 Dec-24 Dec

DIFF Santa-s-little-helper toth

Albert Tuttle, just 7 years old, doesn’t believe in Santa – what?! who doesn’t believe in Santa?! – but finds himself having to help a big fat man in red pj’s who turns up in his chimney on Christmas Eve.  Santa’s Little Helper promises to warm the cynical old I-don’t-believe-anymore cockles of your heart.

Grand  Winter Ball, Boxmoor Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 19 Dec, 11.30am-1pm, 2-3.30pm, 4-5.30pm


This sounds gorgeously good value if you have a little prince or princess to entertain.  There will be princesses – and others – on hand to greet everyone, singing and dancing, colouring in, party games with Cinderella and Snow White, snacks – and a lovely present at the end.  Best of all?  There’s a coffee lounge for parents to chill out (or check their lists) while their little lovelies are enjoying the fun.

Films and screenings, Watford Palace Theatre

lady in the van

There are some cracking choices over the Christmas season at the Palace Theatre (as there always are).  Check out a delayed live screening of The Winter’s Tale on 20 Dec, or take a break from the leftovers with Spectre on 27 Dec.  Or you could look forward to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and The Lady in the Van on 3 Jan.

Icon Artwork, Bishop’s Stortford Museum, 17 Dec-28 Jan


There’s a stunning exhibition at the Rhodes Centre museum in Bishop’s Stortford right now, featuring contemporary icons by Ana Nesic Kovacevic and Marija Jovovic.  It’s a rare skill in the modern art world, and each one takes an enormous amount of time and commitment to paint.  If you’re bringing small people with you, there are drop-in workshops on 21, 22 & 23 Dec, 10am-2.30pm where you (well, they) can cut out and colour in an icon of their own, then mount in on a golden backing ready to hang at home.  Something a bit different when everywhere else is all about Santa.

Hogwarts in the Snow, Warner Brothers Studios, Leavesden, until 31 Jan


I’ve only ever been to the Harry Potter Experience in the winter, so I don’t know what it’s like without the ‘snow’ – but it’s pretty darned magical with it.  Learn about special effects, marvel at the intricate props and costumes, walk through the Great Hall as it’s decorated for Christmas, and hang out in the Gryffindor common room.  This year, you’ll get to see the Goblet of Fire ‘lit’ with colour-changing flames.  Word to the wise, though: butterbeer does not taste anything like you think it ought to (bleah).

Carols on the Hour, St Albans Cathedral, 20 Dec, 11am-4pm


Fancy a bit of a sing?  There are six half-hour carol services in St Albans Cathedral this Saturday.  There’ll be choirs – a different one every hour – to get you started, and it’s a great way to get in the Christmas spirit by belting out some traditional carols in one of the UK’s oldest cathedrals.  Ok, maybe don’t ‘belt out’ Away in a Manager’ – think sweet-and-lovely instead – but you know what I mean.  And while you’re there, you can browse the Christmas market in the Vintry gardens, right next to the Abbey.  Lovely.

Yoga by Candlelight, BAYoga, Berkhamsted, 21 & 22 Dec

 Candle Light Yoga

How lovely does this sound?   A relaxing escape from all the bustle and are-you-ready-yet goings on with a Kundalini session on 21 Dec and an Ashtanga session on the 22 Dec.  And both followed by mulled wine and mince pies.  Glorious.   I think they’re fairly booked up already, but it’s worth asking.

Rudolph’s Christmas Trail, Natural History Museum @ Tring, 19 Dec-3 Jan


Have I mentioned how much I love the Natural History Museum in Tring?  Yes, I’m sure I may have done once or twice…  We’ve spent – and undoubtedly will spend – many hours there, and I have heaps of drawings of creatures of every variety that my youngest has produced.  Starting this weekend, you can rock up and enjoy Rudolph’s Christmas Trail – joining the red-nosed reindeer as he meets all other animals in his journey round the world.  Oh, and there’s chocolate at the end!  Hoorah!

Craft sessions, Verulamium Museum, St Albans, 20-23 Dec


Ditch the Santa hat in favour of a Roman-style laurel wreath at the Verulamium Museum (20 Dec, 2.30-3.30pm).  Learn how to make a headdress fit for an emperor or empress!  And you can come back the next day, or the day after that, too, and make a Roman Christmas tree decoration (21-23 Dec, 2-4pm) as well.  (Did the Romans have Christmas trees?  Just asking…)  There’ll be a chance to help the museum decorate their own tree – and you get to make a Roman-inspired bauble to take home, too.

Midnight Apothecary, Brunel Museum Roof Garden, 19 Dec, 5.30-10.30pm

 midnight apothecary

This sounds brilliant.  Campfire cocktails round a firepit in the roof garden of south London’s Brunel Museum.  Toast marshmallows, watch the sun set, enjoy the music.  Midnight Apothecary has been voted one of London’s best pop-up cocktail bars, and has graced the pages of Vogue and Red and Elle and all sorts.

Winterville, Victoria Park, London, until 23 Dec


If you’re looking for an alternative festive destination this Christmas, check out Winterville.  There’s an ice rink, a circus, a panto, a backyard cinema in an enchanted forest, markets, crazy golf, a big wheel, a fairground, and loads of great street food and drink – as well as lots for kids and Santa will be there in his grotto.  Oh, and there’s a spiegeltent.  Yes, I did have to look it up – it’s a great big tent, bit like a big top, filled with lights and mirrors and all sorts of comedy, dancing, panto, and the like going on.  Sounds utterly brilliant.

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