17 things to do in Hertfordshire in October 2020
PUBLISHED: 13:18 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:10 06 October 2020
From Henry Moore to Harry Potter and ballet from Matthew Bourne, here’s our pick of the best things to do in Hertfordshire in October
1. The Red Shoes at Sandpit Theatre, St Albans, Oct 3
Acclaimed choreographer Matthew Bourne’s enthralling stage adaptation of the classic 1948 film The Red Shoes will be shown at St Albans’ Sandpit Theatre as part of a nationwide screening. A tale of obsession and a dream to be the greatest dancer, Victoria Page’s ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her, ultimately leading to tragedy. Filmed live at Sadler’s Wells, where it sold out, this mix of classical and contemporary ballet won two Olivier Awards. Tickets £15, concessions £12.
Sandringham School, The Ridgeway, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL4 9NX; sandpittheatre.co.uk
2. Online tours of Mill Green Museum & Welwyn Roman Baths, ongoing
In response to Covid-19 restrictions, Welwyn Hatfield Museum Service has created two online tours of historic Herts sites. On-site miller Alex Popovic reveals the ancient craft of flour milling at the working 18th century watermill at Hatfield’s Mill Green Museum, while Emma Harper, curator at the museum service, shares her knowledge of Roman Britain on a tour of Welwyn Roman Baths – under a steel vault, nine-metres beneath the A1M. If it leaves you wanting to explore in person, tours of the mill are now available for up to six people from one social bubble on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Bookable in advance, the tours cost £20 and there are takeaway cream teas on offer too. The Roman baths site is closed until further notice.
3. Henry Moore Studios and Gardens tours, Perry Green, until Nov 1
Want to learn more about Moore? Henry Moore Studios and Gardens is offering socially distanced tours of the renowned sculptor’s studios and sculpture gardens in Perry Green on Wednesday to Sunday until November 1. A guide will lead you around the 70 acres, exploring the themes and features of his art. To keep visitors and guides safe, each tour is limited to six people, making it a rare opportunity to tour the artist’s estate in a small group. Tour tickets are £3 in addition to £10 general admission. There are also family tours tailored for children from October 28 to November 1.
4. The Alpha Picture House at St Albans Museum + Gallery, until Oct 11
There’s the chance to go back in time and experience early cinema in a recreated picture house at St Albans Museum + Gallery. In 1908, film pioneer Arthur Melbourne Cooper opened the first permanent cinema in Hertfordshire, the Alpha Picture House, a new Percival Blow designed 800-seat building in St Albans, complete with uniformed ushers and free tea in the intervals. The cinema showed Melbourne Cooper’s own films, often shot in and around St Albans. In Rescue in Mid-Air he gave the illusion of a woman using an umbrella to fly through the air, way before Mary Poppins was doing it. And Dream of Toyland is an early example of stop motion animation featuring toy figures and animals. Take a seat and enjoy these amazing silent films for free.
5. Watford Fringe, Oct 1-4
This mix of music, drama, comedy, improv, dance, poetry and art is back, but this year in a socially-distanced way. There are more than 50 acts to enjoy both online and live at the Pump House Theatre and Watford Museum with performances from newcomers to seasoned professionals. It’s a great way to enjoy a wide range of arts, especially when so many events have had to be cancelled. The line-up is still to be finalised so check the website for up-to-date information.
6. Dinosaurs After Dark at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, Oct 24-Nov 1
They’re scary at the best of times but how about dinosaurs in the dark? Turn back time and follow the team at Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne as they take you on a moonlit tour of World of Dinosaurs. As the sun goes down, 30 life-size moving and roaring animatronic prehistoric creatures including velociraptors, brachiosaurus and the fearsome T-rex come to life. Is that your stomach churning due to the thud of heavy footsteps, or is it just your imagination? Grab a torch and go on a dinosaur hunt.
7. A Celebration of Slytherin at at Warner Bros Studio Tour, Leavesden, until Nov 12
If your family has been binge watching the Harry Potter films during lockdown then there’s still time to enjoy the latest exhibition at Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. The latest exhibition, A Celebration of Slytherin has been extended until November 12, giving Potter fans more time to discover Slytherin House, home to some of Hogwarts’ most powerful wizards and with links to dark magic. Find out the secrets behind some of the costumes and props belonging to those cunning Slytherin characters. See the Malfoy family costumes, Lucius’ bejewelled cane and the different looks of Lord Voldemort, while The Great Hall is turned green and decorated in Slytherin House banners.
8. Herts 10k, Oct 4
Limber up for one of Hertfordshire’s biggest running events. This year, due to the pandemic, the Herts 10K is going virtual, but support for the event in aid of Rennie Grove Hospice Care is more important than ever as demand has hit record highs during lockdown. Participants will all set off at 10am on October 4, covering their own 10K route or half marathon which can be walked, jogged or run on your own or in a safe bubble. Participants don’t need to complete the distance all in one go, just over the following week. For motivation there’s a Zoom pre-race warm up and count down, and there are training tips on the Herts 10K Facebook page. There’s also a junior section for ages 12-16. Virtual trophies will be awarded to the top three women and top three men in both distances plus junior winners. One thing hasn’t changed... everyone who finishes gets a medal (and a great sense of achievement). Entry £10.
9. Helen Fry on M19 at Chiltern Bookshops, Oct 5
Chiltern Bookshops has resumed its popular author events including live streaming to a wider audience. On the evening of October 5 Helen Fry will talk about her book M19, the organisation that engineered the escape of Allied Forces trapped behind enemy lines in the Second World War. Drawing on declassified files and formerly untold stories, it tells the tale of the secret routes which zig-zagged across Nazi-occupied Europe and the secret agents and families who risked their lives to get soldiers home. Live stream tickets: £8 or £25 with a signed copy of the book.
10. Rennie Grove’s virtual bingo night, Oct 16
Get your dabbers at the ready as Rennie Grove is hosting a virtual bingo night. The game will be hosted via Zoom and details of how to enter the virtual bingo hall will be emailed ahead of the event. Four games will be played, with prizes for one line and then a full house. Whether it’s legs 11, two fat ladies or lucky seven this is great family fun with all money raised going to help Rennie Grove Hospice Care, which supports those with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses in west Herts and Bucks. Tickets £5 per person.
11. St Albans Antiques and Vintage Market, Oct 18
This wonderful market is the place to find unusual and inspiring finds. Whether you’re after a vintage sign, a chintzy teapot or beautiful buttons, there are knowledgable traders at St Albans Antiques and Vintage Market who know their stuff. The open-air market is on a picturesque spot on St Peters Street in the heart of the city so you can visit the cathedral or take a walk in Verulamium Park too. Held once a month, the market is a bit smaller at present to allow for social distancing.
12. Bug hunt at Highfield Park, St Albans, Oct 28
For kids who are wild about worms, go silly over spiders or love ladybirds, this treasure hunt at Highfield Park in St Albans is for them. Don’t worry adults, they’re not real, these smiley wooden bugs are hidden around the park. Follow the bug trail and the kids will find out about the insects and other creatures that live in this green space. Best of all, there’s a prize at the end. Aimed at young children. 10.30am-12.30pm, entry £3.
13. Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, Friday evenings in Oct
History, art and music will be combined as the ninth Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival goes online. The free concerts filmed at Lord Salisbury’s historic home will premiere on the festival’s YouTube channel on Friday evenings in September and October. The stimulating programme from artistic director Guy Johnston spans 400 years from John Dowland to Puccini and Quilter, interspersed with interviews with artists, curators and the Salisbury family. ‘We are giving audiences the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Lord Salisbury, who introduces Hatfield House’s historic features with art historian Dr Emily Burns,’ said Guy. If you can’t make the Friday showings, all the concerts will stay online.
14. Hertford Arts Trail 2020, Oct 3-31
The annual month-long festival promoting arts and culture in Hertford is back after a postponement in May due to the pandemic. Artists, from sculptors to cartoonists, will be exhibiting their work in an array of unusual locations across the town, with some also offering workshops. See Steve Baldwin’s landscape photography in Scott Sports, Laura Burns’ delicate paper-cut artworks at Eye Mind Heart, and Sarah Core’s sculptures at Harry Joseph Tailoring. Hertford Town Council chairman of development and leisure, Jane Sartin said the project ‘gives people the opportunity to see works of art in different settings’. Run by the council and Courtyard Arts, Hertford Arts Trail is on from October 3-31.
15. Home is Where the Art Is at The Art Nest, Hitchin, Oct 1-31
The Art Nest celebrates its ninth anniversary this year and to mark the occasion owner Emmeline Webb is hosting an exhibition of her own work. Home is Where the Art Is looks at how we use art in our lives without even realising it. Emmeline has created new paintings, textiles and wallpapers that can be viewed and ordered at the Hitchin gallery from October 1-31. New homewares including lampshades, hand-blown glass lamp bases and other home accessories are also available.
4-5 West Alley, Hitchin SG5 1EG; emmelinewebb.com/theartnest
16. Imprint at The Wynd gallery, Letchworth, Oct 23-Nov 1
Artists linked by a love of landscape, form and pattern in the natural world have come together for an exhibition at The Wynd gallery in Letchworth. Imprint, running from October 23 to November 1, features the work of gallery members Anja Penger-Onyett, Audrey Imber and Victoria Johns. Abstract painter and print maker, Victoria focusses on new ways of seeing the world by flattening its 3D form. The inspiration for Anja’s stonewares comes from the colours and detail in nature – her garden decorations include seed heads. Mark making, colour and texture are key elements in Audrey’s landscape paintings. She works in acrylic and oil to give the viewer an ‘essence of a place’ rather than a figurative representation.
6-8 The Wynd, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3EN; wyndgallery.co.uk
17. On the Brink at Open Door gallery, Berkhamsted, Oct 19-Nov 1
A photographic exhibition at Open Door gallery in Berkhamsted explores social housing in decline. Sarah Douglas visited some of north London’s most deprived boroughs, capturing images of once modern buildings that have fallen into disrepair and decay. The photos create a disconcerting visual impact with windows that have been replaced with brick, symbolising, she says, the way in which the social housing market has hit a brick wall. ‘I wanted to show the anguish and powerlessness of communities, with the buildings sadly closing their eyes to the gentrification that surrounds and will replace them. Those bricked out windows shut out a world that no longer has space for them.’
360-364 High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 1HU; opendoorberkhamsted.co.uk