50 Summer Shows 2015

PUBLISHED: 12:20 14 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:21 14 July 2015

Battle Proms

Battle Proms


Whether it’s music, theatre, food, books, comedy or art you love, we’ve just the thing for you in our guide to 50 of the best shows and festivals in Hertfordshire this summer. Compiled by Alice Cooke

Claire Martin, Herts JazzClaire Martin, Herts Jazz


St Albans Folk Music, July 10, St Albans

Featuring Leveret, Said the Maiden and Saul Bailey, this is part of the St Albans International Organ Festival Fringe. Leveret is a new trio made up of three of England’s finest folk musicians. Said the Maiden is a St Albans-based vocal trio who play the piano accordion, guitar and fiddle. Saul Bailey from Steeple Morden plays English traditional music. stalbansfolkmusic.org.uk

St Albans International Organ Festival, July 4-18, St Albans

The fact that this celebration of organ music has been going for more than 50 years is testament to its popularity. This is 10 days of music in churches including the cathedral and other venues across the city, performed by top-drawer international musicians. Hear orchestral, choral, early music and jazz. The organ competitions attract young musicans from all over the world, There are also community workshops, masterclasses, an art show and fringe music events in Vintry Gardens, The Clock Tower, The Maltings and Christopher Place. organfestival.com

Chilfest, July 10-11, Tring

Revel in classic 1980s pop over two days in the rural setting of Pendley Meadow as original acts perform your favourites. Highlights include classic disco funk with Sister Sledge and Jocelyn Brown on the Friday, and Billy Ocean and ABC on Saturday.


Farr Festival, July 15-18, Newnham

‘A boutique festival in an abandoned forest,’ this cheeky little dance music festival in Bygrave Woods has grown in stature and size in its six years, but retains its friendly feel while attratcting big name artists and DJs from across the world. farrfestival.co.uk

Battle Proms, July 18, Hatfield House

An evening of classical music, choreographed Spitfire flyovers, cavalry displays, cannon fire and a stunning firework finale, all set in the beautiful parkland of historic Hatfield House - throw in hampers and champers - and this is one of the highlights of the summer season. This year is the 15th at Hatfield and a special one - marking the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, 75 years since the Battle of Britain and 70 years since the end of the Second World War, so there are a number of special additions to the show. The classical music include Beethoven’s Battle Symphony – performed as he intended with a full complement of 193 live firing cannon providing a thunderous percussion, and ends with sing-a-long Last Night of the Proms favourites with soprano Denise Leigh.


Folk by the Oak, July 19, Hatfield House

The clue’s in the name with this one, and where better to sit back and enjoy many of today’s finest folk acts from the UK and beyond, than in the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field in the grounds of Hatfield House. The festival has developed a loyal following, and with the addition of the Acorn Stage in 2012, has become a full day of back-to-back music. Highlights this year include five-time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mercury Prize nominees The Unthanks, Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor Band, Bellowhead, Keston Cobblers Club and Lady Maisery.

Picnics are actively encouraged, while there are food, drink, vintage, clothing and arts and crafts tents round the arena, as well as children’s entertainment. It’s a perfect day for families and friends. folkbytheoak.com

Rock in the Priory, July 19, Ware

If you like your music with a hard edge, head to Rock in the Priory. rockinthepriory.co.uk Can’t make it? All is not lost – in Hertford on August 2 there’s Rock at the Castle. Taking place in the grounds of Hertford Castle, this charity festival hosts local rockin acts.

Standon Calling, July 31-August 2, Standon

As their website proudly proclaims, “We started with just 25 friends, a swimming pool, a set of decks and a birthday BBQ.’ An oversized garden party at heart, this charming festival continues to flourish, and is still all about championing new artists. Bands including Florence and the Machine, Friendly Fires, Mumford and Sons and Bastille all performed at Standon in their early days. This year is the 10th anniversary, with The Horrors, The Dandy Warholes, Slaves, Basement Jaxx and Roots Manuva some of the big name acts on the line-up.


Balstock, September 11-13

Hertfordshire’s largest free live music festival, taking place in most of the pubs across the town over the weekend. Celeberating its 10th year, the event raises thousands for local causes. balstock.com

Herts Jazz Festival, September 18-20, Welwyn GC

Having enjoyed great success over the last five years, this broad jazz festival is going for the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach and sticking to the format that’s worked for them so far - namely, all of the gigs will be in the Hawthorne theatre with free sessions in the foyer at lunchtime, in the early evenings and ‘after hours’. Highlights include Claire Martin, Big Band Britannia and Loose Tubes.


Rhythm of The Dance, July 1, St Albans

A live show celebrating the history of Ireland, the art of Irish dancing and its heritage. There will be 30 dancers, an Irish band and the Young Irish Tenors. alban-arena.co.uk

Justin Hayward, July 3, St Albans

Famous for being the voice of rock band The Moody Blues, Justin Hayward will perform songs from his new album Spirits of the Western Sky, as well as old Moody Blues favourites in an acoustic format. alban-arena.co.uk

Opera in the Garden July 4, Wimpole Estate

An outdoor production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea, performed by Eboracum Baroque in the Old Rectory. 0844 2491895

Eastern Electrics, August 1, Hatfield House

Bigger than ever before, this event began as an underground rave in London, before becoming a festival in Hertfordshire in 2007. Their heart remains in the same place though, that being the cool end of dance music, with DJs from across Europe and America.

Wilkestock, September 4-6, near Walkern

This charity music festival began life as an outdoor party for friends in 2006 – a little festival with a big personality. wilkestock.com

The Counterfeit Sixties, September 18, Harpenden

Relive the sounds of the swinging sixties, as Britain’s No 1 1960s tribute show brings alive the hits. harpendenpublichalls.co.uk

Last Daze of Summer, September 25, Harpenden

Superstar DJs play hits from yester-year alongside modern classics. dazeofsummer.com

The Rollin Clones, October 2, Harpenden

The band’s greatest hits, as performed by the popular tribute act. harpendenpublichalls.co.uk

UB40, October 22, Hatfield

Reggae favourites UB40 will play at the University of Hertfordshire. Best known for 1983 chart topping hit Red Red Wine, The band’s appearance at The Forum is their only scheduled show in the county. forumhertfordshire.co.uk

Tom Robinson Band, October 30, Harpenden

The songwriter and broadcaster is back to perform hits from his latest album. harpendenpublichalls.co.uk

Livewire: The AC/DC Halloween Show, October 31, Harpenden

A tribute band complete with trademark cannons and a wall of Marshalls. harpendenpublichalls.co.uk


Watford Live, June 1-July 5, Watford

In an exciting new collaboration, two of Watford’s biggest arts festivals, Watford Live! and Imagine Watford come together alongside Watford Colloseum for this community arts fest. This is 17 days of live experiences across the town, from film and theatre to art, music and dance, as well as a whole host of workshops, screenings and talks on everything from writing to cheerleading. watfordlive.org

Carvings in the Garden, July 1-August 31, Knebworth House

A selection of sculptures Knebworth Carvers in the gardens of Knebworth House. There will also be carving demonstrations on most afternoons. The exhibition will include more than 100 sculptures including seating, figurative, fantasy and wildlife. knebworthhouse.com

Tringe Festival, June 28-July 25, Tring

You’ve heard of fringe festivals, but have you heard of the Tringe? All things laugh-out-loud funny come together for a month of riotous comedy at venues across Tring as many of the biggest names in UK comedy come to the town. Name a comedian and they are likely to be here. But be quick - tickets (including a festival passport) sell out fast. tringefestival.co.uk

Art in Clay, July 3-5, Hatfield House

If pottery is your thing, whether appreciating it or having a go yourself, you’ll be in good company here. Talks, workshops and demonstrations at this celebration of ceramics are supported by a fantastic range of exhibitions from across Europe.

Displays range from practical pots to use in the kitchen and garden to top-class artworks. artinclay.co.uk

Welwyn Play Day, August 5, Stanborough Lakes

This is a large free event for local families hosted by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, and there’s plenty for everyone to do, including free junk percussion, dance and arts workshops for families. welhat.gov.uk

Pendley Shakespeare Festival, August 5-9 & 12-16, Pendley Manor

Twelfth Night will be performed in the first part of this festival followed by Henry V in the second, as this outdoor Shakespearean festival at Pendley Manor marks its 66th year. This year, there are also Sunday matinee performances. The event is great for families. Take a picnic - to have in the grounds before the play - and do bring some warm clothing - just in case the weather doesn’t behave. pendleyshakespearefestival.co.uk

Shakespeare in the Park, August 9-10, Hatfield House

Twelfth Night takes place on the afternoon of August 9 and Romeo and Juliet the following evening, performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men in the Elephant Dell in the historically fitting grounds of Hatfield House. Bring chairs or picnic blankets to sit on. Performances will go ahead whatever the weather, so make sure you come prepared! hatfield-house.co.uk

Hertford Children’s Book Festival, October 1-7, Hertford

Organised by much-loved local creatives (who are also great friends) Freya North and Maureen Pegg, this is a celebration of children’s books that is rapidly becoming a major literary festival. Talks, readings and Q&A sessions with some of the UK’s finest children’s writers, poets, comedians and actors at Hertford Theatre and other venues in the town are a big draw for both adults and children. hertfordchildrensbookfestival.co.uk

The Garden Museum Literary Festival, October 3-4, Hatfield House

A celebration of gardening at the home of the the Marchioness of Salisbury, an avid gardener. On both days, talks will be divided between the Old Palace and Marble Hall in Hatfield House, while visitors can also explore the estate’s gardens alongside the head gardener. gardenmuseum.org.uk

St Albans Fashion Week, October 26-31, St Albans

As part of the many events being staged throughout St Albans over the course of the week, the ever-popular Cathedral Catwalk Show will be back. This year it will be in a new guise - having sold out for the past two years, there will now be two catwalk shows at St Albans Cathedral. Each show will then end with a Shop The Catwalk experience, which does exactly what it says on the tin. stalbansfashionweek.com

Welwyn Festival, June 19-28, Welwyn

Highlights in the village include a street market, barn dance; photography, film and art shows; concerts and family fun day. welwynfestival.org.uk

Childwickbury Arts Fair, July 3-5, Childwickbury

The Old Stable Block on Childwickbury Estate will house more than 60 demonstrating artists and craftspeople, plus there’s live music, food and drinks. childwickburyarts.com

Open Air Theatre, July 31, Wimpole Estate

An upbeat new adaptation of Emma, in which the story is told by a group of artists. 0844 2491895

Summer Showcase, August 8, St Albans

Students from Living the Dream School of Performing Arts sing, dance and act their socks off. alban-arena.co.uk

Sundown Cinema, August 12-16, Ickleford 
Five nights of open air cinema at the lovely Hitchin Lavender on Cadwell Farm near Hitchin, with films including Ghost, Grease and Ghostbusters. sundowncinema.co.uk

Outdoor Cinema, September 11-13, Knebworth House

Classic films shown on a giant screen in the park, including a Frozen singalong. knebworthhouse.com

Royston Arts Festival, September 18-27, Royston

With an art trail and dozens of music, drama, dance and writing events and workshops, the town will be brimming with creativity. roystonartsfestival.org

Get Writing 2015, September 26, West Herts College

An independent conference by writers for writers – learn more and make connections. facebook.com/pages/Get-Writing/243587442436048


St Albans Custom Classic and Food Show, June 28, St Albans

Combining motors and all things foodie might not be an obvious partnership, but going on the success of previous years, it’s a winner. See fabulous vintage cars and motorbikes and also get stuck into the delicious dishes to try and buy in the food hall. There’s also craft and vintage stalls.


Food and drink festival, July 18, Frithsden

Tastings of Frithsden Vineyard’s 2014 vintage are just part of a summer special event at this boutique English vineyard and winery set in the Chiltern foothills on the edge of the Ashridge Estate near Berkhamsted. There will also be a barbecue, home-baked cakes, foodie stalls, soft drinks, teas and coffees plus a gift shop and a vine trail. The festival is open from 11am-5pm. The vineyard is also holding a Mexican night on July 24 with dips, enchiladas, Mexican chicken rice and salads, plus layered passion fruit jellies. frithsdenvineyard.co.uk

Knebworth Country Show, August 15-16, Knebworth House

Set in the rolling parkland at Knebworth House this family event is now in its fifth year. A destination for its fine foods alone, this is also a family day out with a sheep show, ferret racing, birds of prey, working dogs, children’s entertainment with Devilstick Peat and (a particular favourite) and a circus skills workshop. The Knights of Honour medieval village is well worth a visit, as are the arts and crafts marquees.


Benington Chilli Festival, August 29-31, Benington

The popularity of this celebration of the fiery chili has meant it’s expanded to three days this year. Set in the lovely grounds of Benington Lordship you can buy plants and try artisan products that include chilli flavoured beers and ice cream. If you’re feeling brave enough, enter the chilli eating competition and test your mettle. There’ll be food from around the world, including Mexican, Moroccan, Indian and Filipino. beningtonlordship.co.uk

Hatfield House Food Festival, September 5-6, Hatfield

This is what is described as a festival village; jam packed with local food and drink producers. There will be handmade British food gifts, charcuterie, artisan cheese makers, local eateries, bakers, wines and beers, wood oven pizzas, fruit and veg, chilies, sauces and pickles, sweets, juices as well as produce from around the world. What more could you possibly want? hatfield-house.co.uk

Hertford Food and Drink Festival, October 10-12, Hertford

Walks, demonstrations and competitions, alongside opportunities to buy and sample the very best local food. This year’s highlights include a food trail, a farmers’ market and an Old Hertford pubs walk. There’s also a popular beer festival, cookery classes and even a treasure hunt (entertaining whether you’re a child or just a big kid at heart.) hertford.gov.uk

Hertford Castle Beer and Street Food Festival, October 11, Hertford

Part of the Hertford Food and Drink Festival, picture Hertford Castle grounds filled with a multitude of world food stalls from Italian to Chinese and Thai to Mexican. The castle beer fest takes place on the lawn, with local and national beers, ales and cider. And there’s live music thrown in too. 01992 552885

CAMRA St Albans Beer and Cider Festival, September 30–October 3, St Albans

There will be a vast array of all things beer, ale and cider related to taste, buy and learn about, including at least 100 Campaign for Real Ale favourites on tap at Alban Arena. There’s ciders, perries and bottle-conditioned beers come from every corner of the globe too. Live music and screenings of the Rugby World Cup top off the county’s premier beer fest. stalbansbeerfestival.org.uk

Radlett Festival, June 7, Radlett

There’s a food village, music and family fun events galore. Those in the know head for hog roast and the tea and cake tent. radlettfestival.com

Letchworth Festival, June 13-28, Letchworth

Food stalls, music, entertainment, art, crafts, dancing, classic cars and fairground rides take over the garden city. letchworthfestival.org

Ashwell Show, August 31, Ashwell

A food hall is new for this year and looking like a great addition to the ever-popular bank holiday event. ashwellshow.co.uk

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