Looking forward to a happier, arts-filled 2021 in the St Albans district

Jazz at Lussmanns.

Jazz at Lussmanns. - Credit: Lussmanns

Undoubtedly 2020 was a wash out in terms of cultural events to enjoy in St Albans and the surrounding area. The pandemic had a huge impact on the arts and on the events industry as lockdowns forced theatres to close and events to be cancelled – sometimes at the very last minute.

Now, with the vaccine programme already rolling out in Hertfordshire, we can hope that 2021 will be different, and, from spring onwards at least, we can begin to get out and enjoy ourselves once again.

And St Albans won’t disappoint: there are already a bunch of wonderful exhibitions, productions, shows and gigs in the pipeline to look forward to next year.

Due to the Alban Arena having to close unexpectedly because of St Albans going into Tier 3, the Maltings Theatre’s hit production of Peter Pan has stalled, but Maltings Theatre director Adam Nichols has said that the shows will be rescheduled for early 2021. This has been so popular with audiences and critics alike, so it’s worth getting tickets for an early new year treat to Neverland for the family.

Peter Pan
at The Alban Arena, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, Great Britain
11th December 2020

Peter Pan at The Alban Arena, produced by OVO/Maltings Theatre. - Credit: Elliott Franks

The Maltings Theatre’s spring season is also looking exciting with a range of productions to choose from. I like the look of Meet Me At Dawn, showing in March, and written by the celebrated playwright Zinnie Harris. Directed by Adam Nichols and produced by OVO, this award-winning play takes an intriguing look at the friendship between two women.

If you like modern art, the St Albans Museum + Gallery is planning a large-scale modern art installation in the Assembly Room from January for six weeks. Chaos Dancing Cosmosis by artist Rosana Antoli and has been curated in partnership with UH Arts.

Chaos Dancing Cosmos installation by Rosana Antoli

Chaos Dancing Cosmos installation by Rosana Antoli - Credit: Rosana Antoli

This stunning installation, which uses 2km of rubber and copper piping and uses small motors to create movement, thereby giving almost human qualities to this huge piece of art, was first exhibited in Barcelona in 2016 since when it has toured across Europe.

It is made site-specifically for each venue and is set to create a stir in the beautiful Georgian Assembly room with its pulsating beauty. One not to miss.

If live music is your thing, and more specifically jazz, then Lussmanns in St Albans is intending to continue with its Friday Night Jazz in 2021, so you can eat at this award-winning restaurant while enjoying some wonderful music from the likes of Bob Haddrell, Mike Gorman and Hope Winter.

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There will also be music filling Rothamsted Manor in 2021. Harpenden resident Steve Moss, who also happens to be the musical director of the legendary west end production of Les Miserables, is hoping to bring us more of his wonderful winter concerts at this stunning venue in the New Year.

Each concert features a west end star up close and personal, singing some of their favourite songs and chatting with the audience, within the beautiful and intimate surroundings of the Great Drawing Room at the Manor.

I saw Dean Chisnall there in December, who played Jean Valjean in the West End production and then on the UK tour. It was an incredible hour and a half of vocal ability from one of the best musical theatre performers in the world; his rendition of Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera was so moving something might have been in my eye.

Rothamsted Manor Winter Concert (Emma Kingston singing)

Rothamsted Manor Winter Concert (Emma Kingston singing). - Credit: Steve Moss

More of these concerts for 2021 are being planned, and will feature some of the brightest stars of theatre world. We are so lucky to have this calibre of entertainment on our doorstep, bringing the best of the west end to Harpenden. Tickets are likely to sell out fast so keep an eye out for announcements from Rothamsted Manor.

Another show in a stunning venue will be the eagerly awaited Chloe James Lifestyle Fashion Show which is now set to be held in St Albans Cathedral in May. This will be a real treat for fashionistas, and will help the boutique to celebrate 10 years since it opened in St Albans. Get on the FROW for this one!

The Cathedral has some other fantastic events in store for 2021, including its Medieval Summer extravaganza, postponed from 2020, and a light show – always a breath-taking experience in the Cathedral - in the October half term.

For festival fans, Pub in the Park is planning a come-back to St Albans, after the success of its Michelin food and music festival in Verulamium park in 2019. Tom Kerridge and his friends are scheduled to be arriving on the weekend of September 10-12, so watch out for the early-bird tickets going on sale for that as it’s sure to be a popular event.

Pub in the Park 2019 in St Albans

Pub in the Park 2019 in St Albans - Credit: Striking Places Limited

And later in September our very own St Albans Food and Drink festival will be returning, showcasing some of our incredible food and drink independents in the city centre. Thousands of people have descended on St Albans for this in the past and it will be the festival’s fourteenth year in 2021.

St Albans Museum + Gallery

St Albans Museum + Gallery - Credit: Stephanie Belton

Hopefully by this time next year words like ‘restrictions’ and ‘tier’ will be consigned to the history books, and we will once more be enjoying the usual - and much-missed - Christmas panto at the Alban Arena, and carol concerts at the Cathedral. Let’s all look forward to our hearts, and the arts, being filled with joy again in 2021.