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Early Bird Summer Bookings are GO!

This is one summer where FOMO is a NO NO! It's time to get some summer fun organised. And guess what? We can help!

LIVE MUSIC

Newmarket Nights, Newmarket

Newmarket Nights are back! The line-up is always spot on with stadium and arena level acts that just love playing to this up-for-it party crowd at the Newmarket racecourse. The race nights and concert combos kick off on 16 Jun with The Script, followed by Rick Astley (25 Jun), Bryan Ferry (16 July), the legend that is Tom Jones (23 July), Olly Murs (30 July) and rounded off with a full-on Balearic summer party on 13 Aug with Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics. You can make it a bit of an all-dayer (gulp) as gates open at 3.35 pm. Have a flutter on the first race at 5.35 pm, maybe a few glasses of fizz, more fluttering and then music starts at 9. Might have to get in training for a session like that– my stamina is not what it once was.

Audley End, Saffron Walden

If a more serene affair (at least to begin with) is your cup of tea, why not take a picnic to Audley End this summer and enjoy some stunning singers. James Blunt’s dulcet tones will grace the stage on 13 Aug, plus Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, and Hackney Colliery Band; Van Morrison, and The Waterboys on 14 Aug and Russell Watson, and The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, and NHS Voices on 15 Aug. It may start off quite civilized, but you will be dancing at the front by the end, even to Russel. Make sure you ‘up’ your picnic game –  I went one year to see an 80s concert and there was a group in tuxedos and ball gowns, with a table, and candelabra! Rather overshadowed our blanket and sausage rolls, but it didn’t stop us from having a great party.

Ipswich Jazz Festival

The Ipswich Jazz Festival will return on 26-27 Jun 2021 at St Peter’s by the Waterfront Arts Centre, Ipswich giving a much-needed opportunity to brilliant gigging musicians to finally play to live audiences. The festival will feature nine very different bands – we love the sound of all these cool cats –including Kansas Smitty playing joyful spontaneous jazz rooted in swing and blues or how about  Alina Hip Harp an internationally renowned harpist and her trio mashing up many different influences. These will be safe small gigs with just 30 people with ventilation, socially distanced seating and other Covid-safe practices in place. Tickets on sale now are just £10 with a limited number of concessionary tickets for Ipswich residents on low incomes at just £1.

FESTIVAL FUN

Latitude, Henham Park, Suffolk

Latitude 2018, Photo credit: Matt Eachus

Latitude has just announced that they will be going ahead this year – with Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, First Aid Kit, and Snow Patrol (reworked). If you have never been this could be the year to try this fab family festival that has grown to 35,000 people over the years. You can dip into comedy, literature, dance, music, arts and crafts, funfairs, and find everything from art installations or den building to discos in the woods of the gorgeous Henham Park grounds. I have camped in the family campsite with my teens and it’s a great atmosphere and good place to get away from the madness for a few minutes/hours.  There will be plenty of safeguards this year, including testing to ensure visitors and staff are Covid free. Book your tickets here.

Red Rooster, Euston Hall, Suffolk

Red Rooster will be held across the bank holiday weekend (27-29 Aug) so (in theory)  you can party through the night knowing the Monday is a day off. This is a small, friendly festival in lovely grounds that feels very relaxed and suits families, especially if you want something smaller and more chilled with no pressure to see and do everything. The line-up is yet to be announced, but it is always an incredible mix of highly talented blues, soul and Americana singers. There is also river swimming, pedalos, den making, bushcraft, dog agility, games & workshops, and a kids area and plenty of bars too! The food is always fab and has a real deep south flavour – think ribs, cajun chicken, mac n’ cheese, and waffles (not all at the same time!) – cockadoodle doo!

 The Wildwood Rumpus- nr Cambridge

The Wildwood Disco (adults only party) has sold out already as people are so desperate to party and this magical festival in the woods near Linton is a winner every time (keep an eye out for mini parties tba!). But you and your family can still get tickets for the Wildwood Rumpus (now moved to Sept 18) a small and wondrous one-day family festival run by the same creative team. Brass Funkeys will headline with their foot-stomping brass versions of funky hits, plus there is perfectly programmed theatre, circus, arts and literary entertainment plus loads of wild and wonderful nature-based activities, like wild bush skills, nature crafting, den building and more. Not forgetting the Street food forest feast and bars stocked with craft beers gin and prosecco. Hooray!

The Cambridge Club – Childerley Orchard

This festival has grown fast and although the main headliner is to be announced they already have a stellar line up including Jack Savaretti, Beverly Knight, Shalamar, Soul2Soul and Toploader. There is plenty going on with comedy from Cam Uni Footlights plus lots of family entertainment, glamping, bars and street food too.

CINEMA

Enchanted Cinema, Cambridge

Enchanted Cinema at the Gonville Hotel

Enchanted Cinema (Cambridge) has been creating magical cinema experiences since 2015, and last summer, they did a great job of adapting to the circumstances, serving drinks direct to your deck chair with the audiences safely spaced out. The summer programme will commence again in May with many popular films playing in the pretty garden of the Gonville Hotel, as well as at the Plough at Fen Ditton, and the Orchard Tea Rooms in Grantchester (plus another secret location soon to be announced). Evenings usually include acoustic music or DJs before the movie, drinks from the bar, and one of the many superb street food vans provide the eats. Blanket on lap, I have watched many a film in at the Enchanted Cinema, fairy lights in the trees twinkle as the sky fades into night – and it is pretty special, so make sure you get there this summer.

Adventure Cinema (Peterborough and Huntingdon)

Sing-A-Long outdoor cinema events (organised by Adventure Cinema) are coming to the region, presenting “The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long” and the “Dirty Dancing Outdoor Experience” in both Peterborough and Huntington. They are at the Peterborough Weston Homes Stadium on 28 May and at Huntingdon Racecourse on 25& 26 Sept. Buy a ticket, pack your picnic, your camping chairs and blanket and enjoy an evening under the stars with a favourite movie. If you’re feeling flush, you can even book VIP deck chairs with the best views in the house

Star and Mouse Drive-in Cinema (Suffolk)

The Star & Mouse Picture Show describes itself as a “trinket-cinema” – so think vintage-styled unique outdoor screenings, beautifully curated, with pre-film entertainment from giant Jenga, in-car bingo, to live music. They are taking up residency in the beautiful Helmingham Hall Gardens near Stowmarket throughout April and then move to Burwash Manor outside Cambridge for much of May and June. Films include recent treats such as Knives Out, Le Mans, A Star is Born and then classics including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Mary Poppins and Point Break. Films start at nightfall and tickets start at £25 for two in a car.

Cinema Sleepovers at South Angle Farm Park, Soham

Summer Cinematic Sleepovers are new on the agenda at South Angle Farm Park  this year. Bring your own tents, and stay for one or two nights at this lovely farm on the outskirts of Soham near Ely. A different classic family film will show at the outside cinema every Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. There will be lots to keep the kids entertained during the day on the farm too but watch out for these chaps nibbling on your free continental breakfast (not really – they’re safely fenced off). I don’t even like camping, but I’m dusting off the bell tent as we speak.  Pitches are limited to 15 per weekend so book here ASAP.

THEATRE

Thorington theatre, Nr Southwold

Thorington theatre is another of those wonderful and rare silver linings of the Covid era– a theatre that has come into being because the founder – Silas Raynor– finally had time to achieve his dream and build a woodland theatre. A truly stunning example of craftsmanship Silas and his team have used surrounding chestnut trees to build the theatre into a WW2 bomb crater which left a natural amphitheatre. Productions will be a real mix and be as inclusive as possible, from local theatre groups to national touring companies and include Shakespearian classics to musicals and circuses. The theatres will seat 350 people and a wooden bar will serve up all your favourite tipples.

Cambridge Arts Theatre

It has been a sad sight indeed to see the usually buzzing Cambridge Arts theatre closed, a regular haunt of mine, where amazing West End plays often come on tour. I’m delighted to hear the news that they will reopen their spring/summer season with a bang –  with none other than Ralph Fiennes in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets  (28 Jun – 10 July). Book now as it is likely to sell out fast with all those theatre buffs desperate to get back into those velvet chairs with a G&T in hand, and see this brilliant actor in what’s set to be a moving and powerful production.

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