27 of the best festivals in Hertfordshire this summer 2021
- Credit: Seasick Steve
Hertfordshire Festival of Music, June 4-10
This annual celebration of classical music is in its fifth year and this June welcomes Master of the Queen's Music, Judith Weir, as featured living composer and violinist Chloë Hanslip as principal artist.
Largely incorporating concerts and events in and around Hertford, this year it also takes in Hatfield and Hitchin. Under the direction and vision of conductor Tom Hammond and composer James Francis Brown, the festival features international artists and ensembles alongside innovative outreach and educational projects.
Living Crafts, June 17-20
Living Crafts is a one-stop creative shopping experience, showcasing contemporary arts and crafts and celebrating the talents of British designer-makers. In the grounds of Hatfield House, discover unique designs in fashion and jewellery and other beautifully handcrafted work, watch demonstrations and even have a go at creating your own masterpiece, with workshops including oil painting, rag rugging and chocolate making.
There will also be speciality food and drink producers on site, and brass and jazz bands playing. Admission includes entry to The West Garden and more than 2,000 acres of parkland. A fun creative day out for the whole family.
Herts Garden Show, June 19-20
This show in the grounds of Knebworth House will feature more than 100 exhibitors selling garden goods, including water features, sculptures, hot tubs, tools and garden furniture. There will also be 30 nurseries in attendance, with those in the floral marquee competing for best is show with stunning floral displays, including medal winners from Chelsea.
There will also be a craft pavilion, brass band and children's rides. Access to the formal gardens, adventure playground and dinosaur trail is included in the ticket price.
Great Balloon Race, June 25-27
Up to 50 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes – including an F1 car and a grenade – will be taking off just across the Herts border at the Shuttleworth Estate in Old Warden for the Great Balloon Race.
They will fill the skies across Bedfordshire and beyond, before returning for a dazzling night glow display at dusk, accompanied by the Ibiza Classics Orchestra. There will also be breath-taking aerial entertainment from a 100ft crane and a dynamic fireworks display. If you want to experience the magic of ballooning, flights are available.
Chilfest, July 9-10
With a strong 80s flavour, the Saturday at Chilfest has artists and bands from the decade (as well as a sprinkling of 70s and 90s) performing at Pendley Manor in Tring with Tony Hadley, Adam Ant, Boney M, Heatwave, The Christians and more. Feelgood? Yes. And the event raises thousands for charity. The preceding Friday is tribute act day with The Bootleg Beatles, Noasis and Who Are You among the bands. Check out the website for Chilfest's summer season of outdoor cinema at Pendley Manor every weekend too.
Todd in the Hole, July 16-18
Set in a pocket of countryside at Todds Green between Hitchin and Stevenage, Todd in the Hole is a three-day family-friendly festival celebrating the best of local and beyond. With entertainment from more than 80 artists over five stages from established tribute acts to emerging talent there’s sure to be something to suit everyone’s musical tastes, with the option to continue the revelry at the after-parties in Todd Woods.
There’s also plenty to keep children entertained in the kids’ arena, from circus performances and funfair attractions to interactive outdoor theatre and magic. You won’t go hungry with a delicious array of tasty street food treats from local traders, all washed down with locally brewed beers and spirits. Spend a night under the stars after some festival fun, with glamping, campervan and camping options. NB: don't miss The Great British Elvis Off, it's hilarious.
Battle Proms, July 17
A celebration of our armed forces with music, fireworks, Spitfire, parachutists, cannons and cavalry, the Battle Proms picnic concert takes place in the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field in the leafy parkland at Hatfield House. This quintessentially British party in the park features a two-hour orchestral programme with Last Night of the Proms favourites as well as the swinging popular sounds of the war years.
Whether you’re planning a romantic day out as a couple, a celebration as a group, or want to enjoy an informal concert as a family - pack up a picnic, stock up on fizz and join the party.
The Great British Food Festival, July 17-18
The Great British Food Festival is returning to Knebworth Park, bringing some of the finest local and regional artisan producers, scrumptious street food and brilliant bars. Fill your boot with great food and drink plus enjoy the hot food stalls, real ale and wine bars and craft and gift stalls.
There's foraging walks and demonstrations by top chefs, cake competitions and the popular Men vs Food, all accompanied by live music. It’s a foodie day out for the whole family with children's entertainment laid on and access to Knebworth Park and Gardens included in the ticket.
Folk by the Oak, July 18
From the intimacy of the Acorn Stage to the open-air festival buzz of the Main Stage, this family-friendly festival in the parkland of Hatfield House brings award-winning folk and blues musicians together with inspiring new talent in one memorable day. This year’s line-up includes Seasick Steve, Kate Rusby, Kitty Macfarlane and the Sam Sweeney Band.
The music is complemented by carefully-selected caterers and craftspeople, and for younger Folk by the Oakers there are creative workshops and a dedicated family area. Have a go at willow sculptures, circus skills or the climbing wall, before trying your luck on the traditional fairground stalls. Bring a picnic and settle in for joyful day.
Standon Calling, July 22-25
Starting as a pool party for friends at Standon Lordship near Bishop's Stortford, Standon Calling has grown into Hertfordshire's premier music festival and is celebrating its 15th birthday this year with a stellar line-up, including headliners Bastille, Hot Chip and Primal Scream. There’s also Craig David, De La Soul, Sister Sledge and Sophie Ellis-Bextor among the dozens of acts and shows.
There are big names in comedy too, including Ed Gamble, and dance tents with the likes of Club de Fromage. Enter your pooch in the dog show and join the fancy dress parade. Standon Calling is a very family-friendly festival - kids will love How to Train Your Dinosaur Live, Horrible Histories, Dick and Dom’s DJ Battle, the adventure playground and building a woodland tribe.
Just want to relax? There will be hot tubs, a swimming pool, wellbeing classes and workshops. And if you want your creature comforts, there's boutique camping as well as general and family sites.
Big JiveSwing Festival, July 25
The Big JiveSwing Festival from the bandstand at Watford’s lovely Cassiobury Park is one of the UK’s largest free jazz festivals, featuring internationally-acclaimed jazz musicians, bands and dancers.
It’s a great family day out, with live cabaret, dance classes for children and adults, and a vintage photo booth – all for free. This year’s line-up is yet to be announced, so keep an eye on the website for updates.
The Legends Festival, July 31- August 1
Hertfordshire Showground in Redbourn will play host to an impressive line-up of 13 of the world’s biggest arena tribute acts over two days. Put on your dancing shoes and and sing along to acts including Killer Queen, Take That Rule the World, ABBA Mania, Absolute Bowie and The Upbeat Beatles.
With a focus on family, festival goers are very welcome to bring the youngsters and a picnic or take advantage of the artisan vendors.
Royston Kite Festival, August 1
Watch kites of all colours, shapes and sizes as they take to the skies on Therfield Heath in Royston. Take 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.
Take a picnic or enjoy food from the stalls. This charity event, organised by the Rotary Club of Royston, is run alongside the Historic Vehicle Show, which will showcase fascinating vehicles of all makes and ages on the heath.
TOTFest, August 7
A festival with babies and toddlers as its focus, little ones will have a whale of a time when Redbourn’s Hertfordshire Showground is transformed into a giant playground. Just some of the activities include Mega Block Mania, Music Alley, a mini gym, giant canvas art, water play and a Happyland village.
With the chance to meet and greet favourite princesses, test out footie skills with Stevenage Football Club, and watch enthralling theatre shows, it’s going to be a tough job convincing youngsters to go home at the end of the day.
Garden Theatre, August 8
On the Sunken Lawn at Knebworth House, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men will give an evening performance of Macbeth. A play of supernatural magic, vaulting ambition and an examination of the dreadful consequences of the lust for power it has perhaps Shakespeare’s most chilling power couple and stirring poetry.
Take chairs and a picnic and enjoy Shakespeare as it was first performed - in the open air, by an all-male cast, with Elizabethan costumes, music and dance. Part of Knebworth's Garden Theatre festival, there are also performances of Romeo and Juliet by Three Inch Fools on June 16 and The Jungle Book by Immersion Theatre on August 25 and 26.
Stone Valley Festival South, August 13-15
With headliners The Undertones, Happy Mondays and The Boomtown Rats at Hillside Farm in Great Amwell near Ware, this is a three-day music festival indulging in nostalgia.
As well as iconic live acts covering genres from mod and punk to indie, ska and Northern soul (just some are The Selecter, Sham 69, The Blockheads and Skids), there will be DJ sets, trade stalls, rides, scooters on show and plenty of refreshments. Camping and day tickets are available.
Hertford Food and Drink Festival, August 13-15
With free events across the town centre, highlights over the weekend include the Hertford Castle Beer & World Food Festival, street food markets, activities hosted by bars and restaurants, samples, promotions, and cookery demonstrations.
Herts Fest, August 15
For a joyful, reggae and soul-filled summer afternoon, head to Hertfordshire Showground in Redbourn which will be alive with the sound of music from UB40, Aswad, Soul II Soul and The Drifters. Open to over 18s only.
Warm Up Festival, August 19-22
Held in Bygrave Woods in Newnham near Ashwell, Warm Up Festival is a dance music festival with a difference - bringing the London club and rave scene to the depths of a Hertfordshire pine woodland to celebrate emotive electronic music over four days.
There's a wellness zone with a full weekend schedule of events, a focus on healthy food, and art installations too. Camping is available including a range of boutique options.
Classic Ibiza, August 21
In the grounds of Hatfield House, Classic Ibiza will take you on a rollercoaster ride of iconic dance music reinvented by a full orchestra. Alongside DJs and a laser light show, The Urban Soul Orchestra will play tracks from the likes of The Prodigy, Faithless, Moby and Orbital. Take along a picnic and be transported to the White Isle at this al fresco nightclub.
Goatfest, August 27-29
Held in the village of Codicote, Goatfest is a family weekend of live music and award-winning street food in the glorious Hertfordshire countryside. Having been going for more than 10 years now, this annual event has showcased the likes of James Bay, The Real Thing, Grandmaster Flash and The Showhawk Duo. This year’s line-up has yet to be announced, so keep an eye on the website.
Benington Chilli Festival, August 28-30
Started in 2006, the chilli festival in the beautiful Benington Lordship Gardens is a popular family event attracting thousands of visitors over three days.
Offering a chance to buy chilli plants and products and sample foods from around the world, more than 60 stalls will be selling everything you can make with chillies, including chutneys, sauces, pickles, cheese and chocolate. There will also be the wince-inducing chilli-eating competitions, hot food, cold beers, cocktails and ice creams, with face painting, entertainers and sand art to keep the children happy.
Classic Motor Show, August 29-30
Lovers of classic cars should make a bee-line for Knebworth Park as stunning examples of vehicles of all kinds from across the decades will be on show and taking part in arena parades. For those less-than-impressed by a 1950 Jaguar XK120, there's access to the gardens, dinosaur trail and Fort Knebworth included in the ticket.
Slam Dunk Festival, September 5
Starting out as a pop-punk night at a Leeds nightclub in the Noughties, Slam Dunk is now a well-established and popular pop-punk, rock and alternative festival in the UK and is coming to Hatfield Park this year for a Sunday special.
Pub in the Park, September 10-12
Now the biggest food and music festival tour in the UK, when Tom Kerridge's Pub in the Park comes to Verulamium Park in St Albans visitors will have the chance to tuck into dishes from award-winning restaurants and pubs including The Hand and Flowers, The Hardwick, The Star Inn, The Green Man and St Albans' own Thompson, before enjoying live performances by All Saints, Basement Jaxx, Gabrielle, The Lightening Seeds and more.
Dogfest, September 11-12
Join a community of dog lovers at Knebworth Park to celebrate our furry friends. Get advice from industry experts (check out the Puppy Academy); let the pooch loose on activities including hay bale racing, hide and seek and a dogstacle course; watch arena displays and shop an amazing array of pet products.
Art on the Common, September 18-19
Coinciding with Harpenden Food and Drink Festival on the Sunday, nearly 50 artists working in a wide range of mediums will be displaying their creations on Harpenden Common over the weekend. A chance to buy unique pieces direct from the artists before heading to enjoy the goodies on offer in the town.