Things to do in Hertfordshire this May

Illustration of Paddington Bear

Learn about the much-loved character in Paddington: The Story of a Bear, at North Hertfordshire Museum - Credit: P&Co Ltd 2022

There's plenty of fun to be had across the county in May, and here's Herts Life's guide on the best things to do in Hertfordshire...

1. Paddington: The Story of a Bear, Hitchin

The much loved character created by Michael Bond has been charming generations for over 60 years. Now, in a touring exhibition from the British Library, Paddington: The Story of a Bear, is coming to North Hertfordshire Museum.

Follow the trail of marmalade splats and explore tales of adventure in this fun and free exhibition. It features over 50 books and original artworks by illustrators including Peggy Fortnum, David McKee and RW Alley, as well as early Paddington toys. There will also be Paddington themed activities for children and treats in the café. A marmalade sandwich-fuelled trip down memory lane.

Date: Until June 26

Time: Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am-4.30pm; Sunday 11am-3pm

Cost: Free

Address: North Hertfordshire Museum, 14 Brand Street, Hitchin,  SG5 1JE


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2. Talking Pictures: The 9th Festival Of Film, St Albans

Curated by Kings Langley-based nostalgia channel Talking Pictures TV, a celebration of British film and television from the 1940s, 50s and 60s is taking place at Alban Arena. 

As well as a variety of films, shorts and newsreels, there will be celebrity guests from the world of film on stage. Visitors will also find stalls selling film memorabilia, special book signings and DVDs. 

Date: May 8

Time: 10am-7pm

Cost: £25

Address: The Alban Arena, Civic Centre, St Albans AL1 3LD


Woman walking with toddler in Ashwell garden

Open gardens are just one of the events at Ashwell at Home - Credit: Chris Frazer Smith

3. Ashwell at Home Festival, Ashwell

The theme of this year's Ashwell at Home festival is wellbeing. Bringing thousands to the lovely medieval village, there are many open gardens, free workshops including yoga, singing and drawing, displays of arts and crafts and classic cars on show.

Listen to live music and entertainment around the village from traditional Morris dancing to acoustic, classical and folk performances or join guided walks and talks. Children's activities include a magic show, treasure hunt and junk boat modelling. And it wouldn’t be a village fair without a wide range homemade goodies and cream teas.  

Date: May 8

Time: 11am-5pm

Cost: From £7 adults /under 18s free with adult

Address: Ashwell SG7 5NS


4. Happy & Glorious, Potters Bar

Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with an uplifting afternoon of songs. Neil Sands brings with him a West End cast to celebrate the 70 years of Her Majesty’s record breaking reign with songs made famous at Royal Command performances, from show tunes to rock n roll and the swinging sixties.

Sing along to a cockney knees up, favourites from Last Night of the Proms and a flag waving finale with Songs That Won The War, a tribute to the veterans of the armed forces. The red, white and blue will be out in force at Wyllotts Theatre for this nostalgic event.

Date: May 10

Time: 2pm

Cost: £16

Address: Wyllyotts Theatre, Wyllyotts Place, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar EN6 2HN


5. Chef & author talks, Letchworth

David’s Bookshop will be serving up delicious events this month with two cookbook authors visiting. On May 11, Jack Sturgess - Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch bread expert will be talking about his new cookbook Bake with Jack. Budding bakers can get tips and inspiration and we've been told there’s some delicious bread to sample.

On May 17, Melissa Hemsley. The bestselling author of Eat Happy will discuss her latest release Feel Good: 100 recipes for fuss-free cooking. Melissa is a self-taught chef and sustainability advocate and she will be bringing a sweet treat too.

Date: May 11 & 17

Time: 7pm

Cost: Both events £7, or £22 with a copy of the book

Address: David's Bookshop, Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DE


6. Vison Matters Exhibition, Braughing

This exhibition at Gravelly Barn in Braughing features an array of 12-inch canvases each priced at £45. Artists, both established and aspiring, use every kind of medium including photography, acrylics, watercolour, charcoal and collage, embroidery, glass, tapestry and metal to make each canvas unique.

So if you are looking for affordable art, this exhibition, Vision Matters, is the place to go. The last show raised over £12,000 for various charities supported by the gallery, with 480 canvases on display. 

Date: May 13-15 & 21-22

Time: TBC

Cost: Exhibition entry TBC

Address: Gravelly Barn, Gravelly Lane SG112RD


Vintage car

See an array of vintage, modern, supercars and motorbikes at Cars at the Castle in Hertford - Credit: Hertford Town Council

7. Cars at the Castle, Hertford

With around 80 classic cars and special modern models on display, plus motorbikes for the first time, this free event in the lovely grounds of Hertford Castle attracts car lovers but has the added bonus of the castle being open to explore and little ones being encouraged to come dressed as princes and princesses. Alongside you will find food stalls, a bar and live music including acoustic and folk. Vintage family fun. 

Date: May 15

Time: 12pm-4pm

Cost: free

Address: Hertford Castle, Castle Street, SG14 1HR 


Woman with child, Bubble Rush fun run

Raise money and have fun at Bubble Rush in Gadebridge Park - Credit: Ben Brotherton

8. Bubble Rush, Hemel Hempstead

It’s been two years, but this bubble bonanza of a charity fun run is run is back. The course at Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead is family friendly, so walk, run, dance, jog, or toddle through the foamy route. It begins and ends in a sea of bubbles with eight bubble stations in between.

The five km route is completed in two loops but runners can stop after one loop if preferred and there’s no time limit. At the end there is a free bubble Rush t-shirt, medal and the satisfaction of raising funds for the great work of the Hospice of St Francis.

Date: May 15

Time: 10am-3pm

Cost: Adults £18, children £12

Address: Gadebridge Park, Leighton Buzzard Road, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1DN


9. Day At Night: A Musical Tribute to Doris Day, St Albans

The wonderful music of a much-loved movie star is celebrated at Alban Arena in Day At Night: A Musical Tribute to Doris Day. Doris began her career as a big band singer so it's only apt that a big band plays tributes to the American legend.

Singers Lynda Radford and Brad Pepper join James Gutteridge and his band to perform 24 unforgettable hits, including Secret Love, Sentimental Journey, Teacher’s Pet, Move Over Darling and Que Sera Sera. Images from her glittering career will form a backdrop to the show. 

Date: May 18

Time: 2.30pm

Cost: From £18.50 

Address: The Alban Arena, Civic Centre, St Albans AL1 3LD


10. Swan Lake, Bishop's Stortford, Letchworth & Potters Bar

One of the greatest ballets, this stunning production of Swan Lake by The Royal Ballet at London's Royal Opera House is being live streamed at Southmill Arts in Bishop's Stortford on May 19 (7pm) and then on May 22 at Broadway, Letchworth (7pm) and Wyllyotts Theatre, Potters Bar (1pm). 

The fairy tale set to music by Tchaikovsky tells the story of the doomed love of Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette. It premiered in 1877 to  a lukewarm reception. Luckily for us, audiences have taken it to their hearts and it's become a classic. 

Date: May 19 & 22

Cost: £16.50

Address: 1 – 3 South Road, Bishop’s Stortford CM23 3JG; Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3DD; Wyllyotts Theatre, Wyllyotts Place, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar EN6 2HN


11. Mark Steel, Tring

According to comedian Mark Steel's latest tour coming to the Court Theatre, Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright. It wasn’t long ago that it seemed highly unlikely the UK would vote to leave the EU, we had a reasonable opposition to the government, Donald Trump was never going to beat Hilary Clinton and Mark was living the married suburban ideal. Since then, well things really have gone a bit Pete Tong. The star of Radio 4’s Mark Steel’s in Town gives us his take.

Date: May 20

Time: 8pm

Cost: £16

Address: The David Evans Court Theatre, Station Road, Tring, HP23 5QY


12. The Chilterns Walking Festival

These Boots Are Made For Walkin sang Nancy Sinatra. So grab them and discover walks in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Chilterns Walking Festival includes over 70 guided countryside walks, events and activities.

Routes this year include a mindfulness stroll stopping at the Amaravati Buddhist monastery, a Butties, Birds and Beautiful Views walk through the Gade Valley starting with a bacon butty at The Alford Arms in Frithsden; and our favourite - The Hills are Alive! - walking and singing. The graded walks include family friendly ones and those that are more easily accessible.

Date: May 21 to June 2