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Best festivals this summer in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 12:47 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 23 July 2019

Battle Proms (photo: Elly Lucas)

Battle Proms (photo: Elly Lucas)

Elly Lucas

From music and theatre to food and comedy, this is the essential guide to the best festivals in Herts this summer

The great British summer offers so much, so where to start and what to do? Read on for our pick of the 30 best events in Herts from June to September. We've aimed to pick something for everyone, so you'll find music of all kinds, comedy, film, wildlife, food, fitness, history and culture, with a focus on the whole family enjoying themselves or just you.

JULY

- Standon Calling (July 25-28)

Starting as a pool party at Standon Lordship near Bishop's Stortford, Standon Calling (below) has grown into Hertfordshire's premier music festival. Once again the team has delivered a stellar line up with Rag'N'Bone Man, Wolf Alice, and Nile Rodgers and Chic headlining with special guests Friendly Fire. There's also Lewis Capaldi, Echo and the Bunnymen and festival favourites The Cuban Brothers among the 150 acts and shows.

There are big names in comedy too, including Russell Kane, and dance tents with the likes of Club de Fromage. Enter your pooch in the dog show and join the mad fancy dress parade - this year's theme is 'Twisted Creatures'.

Standon Calling is a very family-friendly festival - kids will love How to Train Your Dinosaur Live, building a woodland tribe and the family discos.

Just want to relax? The wild wellbeing camp has hot tubs and saunas, wellbeing classes and workshops. And if you want your creature comforts, there's boutique camping as well as general and family sites.

- The Game Fair (July 26-28)

Europe's largest countryside festival returns to Hatfield House, taking over the vast parkland with countryside pursuits such as fishing, shooting, riding, falconry, gun dogs and off-roading. There's also a huge range of food and drink on offer (TV chef James Martin is cooking for VIP package holders), a cookery theatre, a craft village, miles of shopping and the world's largest show garden. Put simply, it's big. And tweedy. If you love the countryside or just want some fabulous new wellies, this is the place to be.

- Festival of Wildlife (July 27-28)

Celebrate the diverse wildlife of Panshanger Park near Hertford with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. You'll find guided walks taking in trees and flora, talks on butterflies and water voles, kids craft sessions and conservation activities such as bird ringing, minibeast bioblitz bug hunt and a chalk stream discovery area. A free wild day out for the family.

- Big JiveSwing (July 28)

Let's see those jazz hands for one of the UK's largest free jazz festivals, at Cassiobury Park in Watford. There's live cabaret, acclaimed musicians and bands including The Jive Aces, The Peter Long Swing Band and Mississippi Swing Band. Perfect your moves with dance classes for adults and children and capture memories in the vintage photo booth.

- UK's Strongest Man (July 28-29)

Verulamium Park will reverberate to the roars and agonies of the UK's strongest men as the Channel 5 show returns to St Albans to film the 16 contestants in this year's competition featuring lorry pulling, giant tyre flipping and other nutty tests of strength. Last year was a sell-out, with around 10,000 people attending this family-friendly event with a festival atmosphere.

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AUGUST

- Luna Kids Cinema (July 31-August 4)

What better way to watch a family film than in the open air against the dramatic backdrop of Knebworth House? This year open-air screening specialist Luna Cinema has launched a programme especially for kids, and films in Knebworth Park include Dumbo, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Lego Movie 2, Mary Poppins Returns, Spider Man: Into The Spiderverse, The Incredibles 2, Peppa Pig and more. New technology means movies can be shown during the daytime, so bring a picnic - or stock up from the stalls and Luna Kids' Bar. Big kids have their own bar with everything from prosecco to tea.

- Pendley Shakespeare Festival (July 31-Aug 4, Aug 7-11)

Shakespeare's plays have been performed in the grounds at Pendley Manor, Tring for nearly 70 years. This year's festival theme is jealousy and love with performances of tragedy Macbeth and comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor on the very special outdoor stage (there's covered or uncovered areas available).

Enjoy a pre-show meal in the manor's award-winning restaurant or picnic in the lovely grounds, complete with peacocks.

- Royston Kite Festival (August 4)

See kites of all colours, shapes and sizes as they take to the skies on Therfield Heath, Royston. Bring your own kite, buy one on the day (the family can take part in flying workshops), or just sit and admire the skills of the professional flying teams and colourful spectacle against the panoramic views.

Bring a picnic or enjoy food from the stalls. This charity event, organised by Royston Rotary Club, is run alongside the Historic Vehicle Show which will showcase fascinating vehicles of all makes and ages on the heath.

- Meraki (August 23-25)

Camp, glamp or just come for the day at this all-inclusive festival that keeps adults and kids entertained. With three stages and a dance tent at the County Showground site in Redbourn, Friday is 80s, Saturday pop classics, and Sunday country and dance. Acts include local heroes The Shires, Paul Young, Judge Jules, Sonique, Dave Pearce, Danny Rampling and George Kafetzis.

There's entertainment including magic, a movie house, roller disco and Europe's biggest waterslide. Kids will love the laser tag, Lego workshops and slime making and if you need some chill-out time, have a massage - it's all included in the ticket price. Meraki is a Greek expression meaning 'to do something with soul'.

- Goatfest (23-25 August)

What started in the car park of The Goat pub in Codicote is now a festival in countryside just outside the village. Early announcements of the 2019 line-up include 70s soul band The Real Thing, Sam Tompkins, Alex Vargas and CC Smugglers. In between the entertainment there are plenty of culinary delights on offer. New for this year is The Hotel, offering luxury festival accommodation. A feel-good, friendly family festival.

- Knebworth Classic Motor Show (August 25-26)

See motoring history in one place at this festival dedicated to cars and motorbikes at Knebworth House. More than 1,000 classic vehicles will be on show in many classes, plus loads of stalls piled with automemorabilia and that part for a 1958 Morris Minor you've been hunting for. There are parades, a 'decibel duel' and interviews. Tickets include the Herts Motor Show with the latest models, a sculpture exhibition in the gardens, the dinosaur trail and the adventure playground.

- Classic Ibiza (August 31)

Join the Urban Soul Orchestra as it seamlessly merges classical instrumentation with iconic dance tunes in the beautiful grounds of Hatfield House. Stephen Hussey returns to conduct alongside DJ Goldierocks and acclaimed vocalists. A chill-out early set is followed by stomping Ibiza classics. As the sun sets, out come the lasers as the 32-piece orchestra recreates the island's best dance music. This symphony for the senses sold out at Hatfield last year.

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SEPTEMBER

- Pub in the Park (September 13-15)

Started a couple of years ago, this touring food and music festival dreamed up by TV chef Tom Kerridge has quickly caught on and comes to Herts for the first time. Verulamium Park in St Albans is the venue where Michelin-starred chefs including Angela Hartnett, James Martin and Atul Kochhar will cook alongside music acts such as Tom Odell, Scouting for Girls, Stereo MCs, Razorlight, Will Young, The Rifles, The Christians, Toploader and more performing. There will be pop-up pubs serving mouth-watering dishes, including Tom Kerridge's The Hand and Flowers and Atul Kochhar's Hawkyns, plus locals Dylans Kings Arms and Thompson St Albans. Watch chef demonstrations and join masterclasses, and check out the shopping village packed with foodie artisans.

- Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival (September 26-29)

Pour l'amour de las musique, this year's festival takes inspiration from France. Making their festival debut are internationally renowned artists including harpist Anneleen Lenaerts, flautist Adam Walker and soprano Siobhan Stagg, along with returning oboist Nicholas Daniel and the Navarra Quartet. This year's varied repertoire includes three school concerts, The Carnival of the Animals family concert and pre-event talks.

- Herts Jazz Festival (September 27-29)

Described as one of Britain's finest jazz events, it's right on our doorstep at the Rhodes Arts Complex in Bishop's Stortford. Headlining this year are Seamus Blake and Clark Tracey All Stars. Also included is a tribute to Ronnie Scott's by alumni of the 60-year-old club and Herts Jazz patron, 79-year-old Art Themen, joining 22-year-old BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year Zoza Kole. As well as ticketed events in the auditorium you can catch free concerts in the bar.

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