5 venues and leisure attractions that can reopen from Monday, May 17

The Abbey Theatre auditorium in St Albans adapted for a COVID-19 safe audience.

The Abbey Theatre auditorium in St Albans adapted for a COVID-19 safe audience. - Credit: Nick Clarke / Abbey Theatre

A further easing of restrictions is set for Monday, May 17 when England is due to move to Step 3 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

So what will be able to open from May 17th?

Here's five entertainment venues and leisure destinations that will welcome back customers at Step 3.


1. Cinemas

While streaming movies at home is fun and convenient, we've missed watching blockbusters on the big screen. That's all about to change.

Drive-in cinemas have been allowed since we entered Step 2 of the government's roadmap.

But from May 17, cinemas can reopen their doors to film fans with social distancing measures in place.

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Odeon, which has a cinema at The Galleria in Hatfield, has confirmed it will reopen the vast majority of its screens in the UK on May 17 – the first day on the government’s roadmap when indoor venues can reopen.

Bosses will introduce strict social distancing measures and screens will be unable to operate at full capacity.

Screenings will be limited, including empty seats between groups of guests and staggered start times to reduce queues in foyers.

The Odeon cinema at The Galleria in Hatfield.

The Odeon cinema at The Galleria in Hatfield. - Credit: Alan Davies

Customers will also be encouraged to book tickets online and order pre-packaged food and drink, while cash payments will no longer be allowed.

Cinema-goers will also have to wear a face covering, although they will be allowed to remove them to eat or drink snacks, and masks will not be needed when sat in Odeon’s Costa outlets.

The chain pointed out that recent research from MetrixLab suggests strong pent-up demand for cinema in the UK, with a recent survey showing 59 per cent of people say cinema is one of the activities they miss the most – the highest level during the entire pandemic.

The Broadway Cinema and Theatre in Letchworth 

The Broadway Cinema and Theatre in Letchworth is set to reopen. - Credit: Alan Davies

Letchworth's Broadway Cinema is already taking bookings for the return of movies with Judas and the Black Messiah, Sound of Metal, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, and Godzilla v Kong among the films to be screened in the first week back.

Godzilla battles Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure Godzilla vs Kong. 

Godzilla battles Kong in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure Godzilla vs Kong. - Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures.

The independent cinema and theatre in Eastcheap posted on Instagram: "We are looking forward to welcoming you all back from May 17th!

"We have a bumper selection of films for all the family including everything from Oscar-winning Nomadland to Peter Rabbit and lots of fantastic musicals.

"It's not long to go now until you’ll be back enjoying the magic of Broadway Cinema."


Frances McDormand in the film Nomadland.

Oscar winner Frances McDormand stars in the film Nomadland. - Credit: Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios


The Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar will also be showing films again, with Nomadland, starring Academy Award winner Frances McDormand, available to watch in the cinema from Wednesday, May 19.

Hertford Theatre will also reopen its cinema this month, subject to government guidelines, with director Chloé Zhao's award-winning Nomadland and Sound of Metal starring Riz Ahmed among the movies to be screened.

Not all cinemas will open straight away though once lockdown rules are eased.

The cinema at Campus West in Welwyn Garden City is not due to reopen until July.

Campus West

The cinema at Campus West in Welwyn Garden City isn't at present due to reopen until July. - Credit: WHBC

The Campus West website currently states: "Our cinema will re-open on 9 July. Roller City and Soft Play City will open on 23 July.

"We want the roadmap out of lockdown to have settled to ensure that you are safe and to offer you the best experience possible when you come back to Campus West."

Likewise, the Odyssey in St Albans won't open this month and is due to screen films again from June.

The website of the restored Art Deco cinema in London Road states: "We are very excited to announce our reopening date as Monday 21st June 2021."

The Odyssey cinema in St Albans.

The Odyssey cinema in St Albans is temporarily closed. Cinemas are not allowed to reopen until Step 3, which will be no earlier than May 17. - Credit: Alan Davies

Outdoor cinemas, such as the open-air cinema coming to Knebworth House in August, can open at Step 3.


2. Theatres

Hertfordshire's wonderful theatres have been dark so far this year.

However, the curtain will rise again on live performances next week.

Among the theatres eager to welcome back audiences is the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

The home of the Company of Ten plans to reopen from Tuesday, May 18 with a 'hybrid' performance of Endgame by Samuel Beckett.

The production can be seen either on the main stage at the theatre at Westminster Lodge in Holywell Hill or as a livestream at home. Take your pick.

The Abbey Theatre auditorium adapted for a COVID-19 safe audience.

The Abbey Theatre auditorium adapted for a COVID-19 safe audience. - Credit: Nick Clarke / Abbey Theatre

If you are not quite ready to sit socially distanced in the venue you can still enjoy the revival of Beckett’s bleakly comic masterpiece from the comfort of your living room, albeit via a computer screen.

The Market Theatre in Hitchin will also welcome back visitors from Thursday, May 20 with the return of the Sun Street venue's adult panto ‘Senmeafella'.

The cast includes St Albans' Christmas panto regular Jemma Carlisle.

The new cast of Hitchin Market Theatre's adult panto Senmeafella

The new cast of The Market Theatre's adult panto Senmeafella, which will reopen in Hitchin on May 20 - Credit: Market Theatre

Outdoor theatre performances are also allowed again, such as the Roman Theatre Open Air Festival in St Albans.

The historic Barn Theatre in WGC is planning to reopen in early July with two productions back-to-back.

Class will run in the Barn Studio from July 6 to July 9. 

My Old Lady will then go on the main stage from July 10 to July 17, with the usual Sunday break.

Theatre club chair Simon Parr states on the Barn website: "We are still being prudent, so not all seats will be on sale just in case, but we hope to be fully back up to capacity when the new season starts in September."


3. Museums

Heritage sites such as the de Havilland Aircraft Museum – the oldest aviation museum in the country – can reopen later this month.

The site at Salisbury Hall, London Colney, plans to welcome back visitors from Tuesday, May 18 with tickets on sale n.

A family view the DH98 Mosquito collection at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum 

A family view the DH98 Mosquito collection at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum - Credit: Garry Lakin

Celebrating 101 years of the Hatfield-based de Havilland Aircraft Company, the museum's exhibits include three DH.98 Mosquito aircraft, including the prototype, and the DH.106 Comet, the world’s first turbojet-powered commercial airliner.

For more, visit www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk


4. Indoor attractions at zoos

Zoos and wildlife parks were allowed to reopen from April 12 – but outdoors only.

From May 17, indoor attractions at zoos will be able to welcome visitors again.

Hertfordshire zoo Paradise Wildlife Park is looking forward to reopening indoor areas such as the reptile temple. 

The family-run zoo in White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne, is also launching a new after hours event this summer.

World of Animals at Paradise Wildlife Park. Picture: Paradise Wildlife Park

World of Animals at Paradise Wildlife Park is found in Broxbourne - Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

The Zoological Society of Hertfordshire site is keeping its gates open into the evenings every Friday and Saturday evening from July 30 to August 28, 2021.

You can enter from 6.30pm to enjoy the evening at the zoo, with the park closing its gates at 9.30pm.

Visitors will be able to see the zoo in a new light with the animal park and neighbouring World of Dinosaurs remaining open later into the evening.

A lion at Paradise Wildlife Park.

A lion at Paradise Wildlife Park. - Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

PWP will also showcase some of Hertfordshire's finest musical talent at its summer nights.


5. Live music venues

Gigs will finally return to The Horn in St Albans later this month.

The popular live music venue will stage socially distanced concerts again from Tuesday, May 18, subject to the government moving to Step 3 of the lockdown exit roadmap. 

Music venue The Horn in St Albans. Picture: Alan Davies

Live music venue The Horn in St Albans. - Credit: Alan Davies

A Horn emailed newsletter said: "If all goes to plan that will mean that we will be able to return to putting on live music again at The Horn."

Shows taking place at Step 3 will be subject to social contact legislation, which means capacities will be extremely limited, and advance tickets only.

A number of gigs have already sold out at the Victoria Street venue, such as Billy Lockett's evening show on Friday, May 21, with an earlier performance added.

Visit www.thehorn.co.uk to check latest ticket availability.

After 29 virtual streamed events, Baldock Folk Club will be bringing live music again to The Orange Tree from May 19.

Down to play the first night back are that local band of troubadours Skimmington Ride. 

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