50 Great summer events in Herts 2016

PUBLISHED: 13:49 12 July 2016 | UPDATED: 17:57 12 July 2016

Battle Proms at Hatfield House (Picasa)

Battle Proms at Hatfield House (Picasa)


From picnic music festivals and camping in a meadow to open air cinema or enjoying Shakespeare on the lawn, we have compiled the ultimate guide to shows and events in the county’s great outdoors this summer. Just grab a blanket and a hamper...

The catwalk show in St Albans CathedralThe catwalk show in St Albans Cathedral


Farr Festival, July 14-16, Newnham (nr Baldock)

Venture into the woods and enjoy the best in electronic music at the Farr Festival. Enjoying its seventh year, this boutique festival attracts well-know artists and DJs from across the world. Among a packed line-up this year, Gilles Peterson, Joy Orbison and Ben UFO are joined by the fabulous Hackney Colliery Band, Afriquoi and Biggleswade’s Moats. farrfestival.co.u

Battle Proms,July 23, Hatfield House

Standon CallingStandon Calling

Unpack the hampers and champers for this open-air concert extravaganza in the grounds of Hatfield House. An evening of classical music with fantastic fireworks, an aerial Spitfire display, cavalry and thunderous cannonfire. This year’s horseback display will be performed in First World War regalia, in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Join the flag waving for the Last night of the Proms style finale. hatfield-house.co.uk

Folk by the Oak, July 24, Hatfield House

A happy mixture of village fete and festival experience, Hatfield House with its ancient oaks is the perfect backdrop to this charming folk music celebration. Take a picnic and enjoy a day of top-class music across two stages, as well as arts and crafts and children’s activities. Emily Portman and the Coracle Band, Cara Dillon, and Martin Simpson with Dom Flemons are highlights. folkbytheoak.com

Rock in the Priory, July 24, Ware

Celebrating 20 years of championing home grown talent, this is a day of bands and acoustic acts and everything in-between in the lovely grounds of Ware Priory. rockinthepriory.co.uk

Standon Calling, July 29-31, Standon

‘We invite you to a manor house party in the beautiful grounds of Standon Lordship and we’d love for you to join us,’ say the organisers of this much-loved family(and dog) friendly festival that attracts around 10,000 people. This year’s theme is Legend of the Lost Seas, so expect to be taken on a wave of sound with Kelis, Jess Glynee and Suede headlining. How people have gone over board to dress up for the theme is a highlight. standon-calling.com

Eastern Electrics, Aug 6, Hatfield House

This electronic music festival has grown up from its warehouse roots and is in its fifth year at Hatfield. It pulls in big names such as Groove Armada, Eats Everything and The Martinez Brothers. easternelectrics.com

Rock at the Castle, Aug 7, Hertford Castle

Part of Hertford Music Festival is Rock at the Castle. New for this year is the folk-inspired Acoustic Garden Stage where you can relax and enjoy something more mellow than on the main stage. hertfordmusicfestival.co.uk

Musical Mystery Tour, Aug 28, Hertford Music Festival

Take a musical tour around Hertford as musicians playing everything from jazz to rock and reggae to classical perform at around 40 venues in the town. What better way to spend a Sunday? hertfordmusicfestival.co.uk

Wilkestock Charity Music Festival, Sep 2-5, nr Benington

This three-day family-run festival has grown by word of mouth each year and combines big acts with ones on the cusp of something big. Goldie Lookin Chain, Caspa and Dub Pistols feature this year. wilkestock.com

Herts Jazz Festival, Sep 16-18, Hawthorne Theatre, Welwyn GC

Enjoy top-class jazz including free sessions. Highlights include the Tim Garland Quartet, Herts Youth Jazz Ensemble, Gilad with Strings and the Mingus/Monk Big Band. hertsjazzfestival.co.uk

Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, Sep 22-25, Hatfield House

With the Duchess of Kent a patron, expect high things of this weekend of classical music. This year’s theme is Inspired by Bach and the festival features Herts-own Alison Balsom, Navarra Quartet and Angela Hewitt. The elegant spaces of the stately home are the perfect setting. hatfieldhousemusicfestival.org.uk


Luna Cinema

Grab a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a classic film under the stars. Open air cinema specialists Luna Cinema have screenings in Highfield Park in St Albans, Knebworth House and Hatfield House, so the atmosphere will be pretty magical. Each venue has a bar on site and look out for the vintage gastronomic vehicles serving food too. Bring something to sit on or order blankets and backrests in advance. There are also premium tickets in director’s chairs in prime spots.

Highfield Park, St Albans

July 27, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Knebworth House

Aug 5, Spectre

Aug 6, Dirty Dancing

Aug 7, Notting Hill

Hatfield House

Aug 26, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Aug 27, Grease

Aug 28, Labyrinth


Big Screen on the Beach, July 30-Aug 29, Watford

You won’t need to travel too far this summer to find a beach. In a bold and fun move, Watford Film Festival will host ‘the ultimate combination of the big screen and the classic British beach experience’. The Parade will become a bustling community hub with more than 30 free film screenings including blockbusters, classics and children’s films. Enjoy daily highlights of the Rio Olympics too. This kind of thing could catch on... watford.gov.uk

Sundown Cinema, Hitchin Lavender, Ickleford

The beautiful surroundings of Cadwell Farm, with its acres of lavender rows and sunflowers is a special place to take in an outdoor film. Bring a picnic or enjoy the food and drink on site as Sundown Cinema returns with six movies this summer.

Aug 16, Dirty Dancing

Aug 17, The Spy Who Loved Me

Aug 18, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Aug 19, Dirty Dancing

Aug 20, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Aug 21, The Breakfast Club


Hertford Castle Open Air Cinema. Aug 26-27

Catch the cult feel-good film The Blues Brothers on the Friday or take your breath away with the classic Top Gun on Saturday. Hertford Castle gatehouse forms a stunning lit backdrop. Spectators can bring chairs and snacks. Refreshments available. hertford.gov.uk/events


Theatre in the Park – Sense & Sensibility, July 17, Hatfield House

Join the Chapterhouse Theatre Company for an outdoor theatre performance of Jane Austin’s comedy of manners in Hatfield House’s evocatively-named Elephant Dell. Take a picnic and follow the story of the Dashwood sisters as they find their paths and lose their hearts in 18th century society. hatfield-house.co.uk

Garden Theatre – The Railway Children, July 21, Knebworth House

The classic story of The Railway Children, which has enthralled children for generations, will be brought to life by the Chapterhouse Theatre Company on the sunken lawn in front of Knebworth House. This period costume adaptation with music and songs is a treat for both adults and children. knebworthhouse.com

Pendley Manor Shakespeare Festival, Aug 3-14, Pendley Manor, Tring

Enjoy 10 nights (and two matinees) of bold storytelling, laughter, mischief and magic at this long-standing outdoor Shakespeare festival in the lovely grounds of Pendley Manor. It begins with A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Aug 3-7) and finishes with The Tempest (Aug 10-14). Pendley Plus will see visiting speakers and post-show Q&As with the audiences. pendleyshakespearefestival.co.uk

Open Air Theatre – The Tempest, Aug 12, Wimpole Hall, nr Royston

Relax with a picnic in the Old Rectory Restaurant Garden and enjoy the latest show by Heartbreak Productions. Shakespeare’s ‘farewell to the stage’ has it all – storms, spirits, young love, monsters, plots and adventure. A magical play in a magical setting. nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate

Theatre in the Park – Much Ado about Nothing, Aug 14, Hatfield House

What better way to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death than to enjoy one of his great comedies, Much Ado about Nothing, performed in an Elizabethan setting with an all-male cast of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Hard to top. hatfield-house.co.uk


Wildlife Explorer’s Club, July 16 (and every 3rd Saturday of the month to December), Rye Meads Nature Reserve, Stanstead Abbotts

Get up close and personal with nature at this beautiful reserve with outdoor activities for young explorers led by experts and followed by crafts and games. Just one of the many family events at this RSPB reserve (a highlight is its Big Wild Sleepout on July 30). rspb.org.uk/ryemeads

Ashridge Big Camp, July 16-17 & Aug 20-21, Ashridge

Camp out overnight in a medieval meadow and take part in family activities on the beautiful Ashridge estate in west Herts. A rare chance to experience this special place at night. nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate

Bombard the Battlements, July 23, Hertford Museum

A free family fun day marking 800 years since the siege of Hertford Castle. Discover what life was like for a knight living in a castle and take part in a secret trail around the museum. 

Dino Adventure, July 24, Knebworth House

Travel back millions of years and see life-sized dinosaurs appearing through the thick vegetation. Go on a trail, hunt for giant eggs and see dinosaur artefacts. There’s also the chance to meet their reptilian relatives. A must for budding palaeontologists. knebworthhouse.com

Wild Summer Sleepout, July 29-31 (& Aug 5-6) Brickendon

Pitch your tent and enjoy this summer sleepout on the Celtic Harmony Iron Age camp in the woods at Brickendon. Enjoy a bat walk, moth hunt, storytelling, barbecue and even fire breathing. 

Royston Kite Festival, Aug 7, Royston

Plenty of entertainment for all the family is laid on at Thefield Heath for this glorious annual kite festival. See expert kite flying, join in, and don’t forget your camera. Organised by the Rotary Club for charity. roystonkitefestival.com

Classics in the Park, Aug 28-29, Knebworth Park

Motoring history is laid before you as cars of all types plus military and classic motorcycles descend on Knebworth Park. An enthusiast’s paradise of pre and post-war classics. knebworthhouse.com

Hertford Children’s Book Festival, Sep 22-25, Hertford

This celebration of children’s books is a feast of talks, readings and Q&A sessions with top children’s writers, poets and illustrators, held in various venues around Hertford, including Hertford Theatre. hertfordchildrensbookfestival.co.uk


Knebworth Country Show, July 9-10, Knebworth House

Enjoy a fantastic weekend of country food fare in the beautiful grounds of Knebworth Park. There’s also loads of activities and rural crafts while arena events include sheep racing, the Devil’s Horsemen display team and the Rockwood Dog Display team. This packed family weekend also includes a clay pigeon shooting festival and Knebworth Folk Roots Festival. knebworthhouse.com

Hatfield House Food Festival, July 30, Hatfield House

More than 100 exhibitors including local producers and artisan food and drink will be at this major food and drink festival. Enjoy celebrity chef demonstrations, live music and free activities including a BBQ masterclass and cookery skills theatre. The kids aren’t left out with pizza baking, ‘edible slime’ and ‘cress creations’ on offer. hatfield-house.co.uk

Benington Chilli Festival, Aug 27-29, Benington

Get hot under the collar at this popular festival in the lovely grounds of Benington Lordship that worships the powerful pepper. Buy chilli plants, enjoy food from around the world and peruse the chilli stalls selling everything and anything you can imagine with chilli in it. For the very brave, there is the chance to participate in the infamous chilli eating competition. beningtonlordship.co.uk

St Albans & Harpenden Food & Drink Festival, Sep 25–Oct 3

This festival showcases the diverse range of food, drink and produce available in the St Albans area. There are loads of eateries and drinking establishments involved, so it’s a great time to check out something new. enjoystalbans.com

CAMRA St Albans Beer & Cider Festival, Sep 28-Oct 1, St Albans

The premier event in Hertfordshire for beer connoisseurs. There are hundreds of real ales to sample, complemented by a vast selection of real ciders, perries and bottle conditioned beers from around the world. Soak up the drinks with plenty of festival food and enjoy live music at the Alban Arena venue. stalbansbeerfestival.org.uk

Hertford Food & Drink festival, Oct 9-11, Hertford

A treat for foodies as Hertford becomes one big kitchen and larder. Check out the farmers’ markets, cookery demonstrations and classes, meet the odd celebrity chef and join the pub tour for a spot of beer tasting. hertford.gov.uk

Hertford Castle Beer & World Food Festival, Oct 11, Hertford

Part of the Hertford Food and Drink Festival (above), Hertford Castle Beer & World Food Festival is set in the grounds of the castle. Eat your way around the world with artisan food stalls from Italian to Mexican and hear live music on the lawn while supping a variety of local and national beers, ales and ciders. hertford.gov.uk


Knebworth Garden Sculpture Trail, Until Aug 31, Knebworth House

A marvellous setting to enjoy the wide selection of contemporary sculpture on show by artists in Hertfordshire and Essex. There are pieces by students, established craftspeople and professional sculptors. Most pieces are for sale and the artists will be delighted to discuss their work and possible commissions. knebworthhouse.com

Art in Clay, Aug 19, Hatfield House

This show has become one the most important ceramic events in Europe. From humble pots for sale to world-class sculptures on display, admire work from renowned artists alongside imaginative students. See demonstrations, talks and workshops. artinclay.co.uk

Herts Open Studios, Sep 3-25, venues across Herts

Run by Herts Visual Arts, the aim of Herts Open Studio is to make art more accessible to the public and promote artists in the county. Meet artists at work in a wide range of mediums in their homes and studios during the three-week event when you can also buy or commission pieces. With more than 200 artists participating, you’ll be spoilt for choice. hvaf.org.uk/Open-Studios

Royston Arts Festival, Sep 23-25, Royston

Get set for a weekend of creativity with music, drama, dance, talks and workshops in Royston. This year will include Royston MusicFest – a day of showcasing live musical talent in venues around the town. creativeroyston.org

St Albans Fashion Week, Oct 24-30, St Albans

Celebrating the best of fashion and beauty in the area. Look out for pop-up beauty parlours, swap shops and street style catwalks at venues across the city promoting both seasoned and fledgling designers. The highlight of the week is the stunning Cathedral Catwalk Show held in the nave of St Albans Cathedral. stalbansfashionweek.com

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