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What’s on in Essex and beyond this September

Transition into autumn in style with our round-up of outdoor festivities, art-house cinema nights, pop-up exhibitions, theatre, shopping events and more. Ladies, meet your month-long hit list...

H Beauty at Lakeside

Shop: H Beauty’s new Lakeside launch

We all like to make ourselves feel special with a new lippie now and again, right? But H Beauty – a new concept store from Harrods – is pioneering a whole new way to shop with an interactive Playtable, where you can experiment with luxe brand products from La Mer and Chanel, as well as cutting edge cult buys from the likes of The Ordinary and UOMA. Launching at Intu Lakeside shopping centre on 17 September, there will also be a Skincare Station for mini facials, plus an Insta-worthy Harrods Champagne Bar to enjoy. Now that’s what we call forward facing! See and for more details. 

Firstsite Films

Film: culture flicks at Firstsite

Missing art house cinema? Head to Firstsite in Colchester this month for its culturally diverse big-screen offerings. From a sweet-sour (and slightly bizarre) showing of Pinocchio by Italy’s Matteo Garrone (7-9 September), and Max Richter’s Sleep – a documentary following the acclaimed composer as he navigates an ambitious performance in LA (8 September), to National Theatre Live: Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller (10 September), and Hope Gap – an intimate, powerful portrayal of separation led by Bill Nighy and Annette Bening (19 September), this isn’t your usual Saturday night lineup. And we love it! Tickets from £6.50; see for booking details. 

Twelfth Night Halstead

Theatre: Halstead’s Twelfth Night takeover

Hit Hedingham Castle in north Essex on 10 September for the Pantaloons Theatre Company’s critically-acclaimed brand of open-air Shakespeare mayhem. Nestled between the rolling grounds, glass-like lake and medieval turrets, you’ll love this immersive alfresco theatre experience, which starts at 6pm and promises faux fights, cross-dressing drama, live music and plenty of laughs. Tickets cost £12.60 for adults or £9 for under 18s; family tickets cost £37.80. Visit for full details and booking information. 

Dantes Ceramics Studio

Art: the Wivenhoe Art Trail returns

Putting independent creatives back on the Essex map, the Wivenhoe Art Trail will be taking place (in a safe, socially distanced way) from 12-13 September this year and it’s set to be an absolute corker. From David Purdey’s expressionist landscapes and standout prints at the Sentinel Gallery, to contemporary textiles by Laura Fletcher and stunning Scandi-style ceramics at Dantes Ceramics, this talented quayside town has more than 20 artists participating, so check out the Wivenhoe Art Trail map and start planning your open studio stops. See for full details.

Fizz and Chips live music

Music: fish, chips and all that jazz…

The innovators at Gallerywood Winery in Chelmsford have moved their popular All Stars band outside this month for two Saturday-night Fizz & Chips alfresco dinning experiences overlooking the vineyards, taking place on 12 and 19 September. While you wash trad cod and chips down with lashings of the vineyard’s delicious sparkling wine, the Winery All Stars will be delivering their signature dulcet tones to ease you into an evening of jazz from 7.30pm. Worried about grey skies? Don’t be: the Winery’s new marquee will ensure the music plays on, whatever the weather. Tickets cost £27.54; see for info.

Beyond Essex: neighbouring wins for fun further afield…

Hertfordshire: Pub in the Park’s Drive In Garden Party, 11-13 Sept

The symbolic home of the rock concert, Knebworth House, is getting back to its pre-Covid roots. Get your groove on from the comfort of your own private garden space at The Drive in Garden Party, with Kaiser Chiefs, Basement Jaxx, Gabrielle, Toploader and Rick Astley all hitting the stage. Make sure you wander around the arena between sets, too, to make the most of the game-changing food offerings from Tom Kerridge, Paul Ainsworth and Atul Kochhar. Tickets from £45.

Bedfordshire: Lazy Sunday Music Series, Wrest Park, 6-27 Sept 

Roll out that picnic blanket, open a bottle and spend a Sunday afternoon in September enjoying beautiful music in the historical grounds of Wrest Park. Who wouldn’t want to discover the glorious gardens alongside a live chilled-out soundtrack? Delightful.

London Design Festival, various London locations, 12–20 Sept

Now in its 18th year, this cool festival features commissions and installations across the city, including The Hothouse, located in the newly coined International Quarter (Stratford). The glasshouse installation provides a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate. 

Aubrey Beardsley

London: Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain, until 20 Sept

Here’s the last call to see this awesome retrospective exhibition of Aubrey Beardsley’s work, from his early medievalist and mythological subjects to his bold illustrations covering themes of sex, death and humour.

The Willow Tree Bourn

Cambridge: Giggles in the Garden, The Willow Tree, Bourn, 23 Sept

There’s not been a huge amount to laugh about this year, so it’s about time we had an evening dedicated to having a good old belly laugh and forgetting about the dreaded C-word. Marcus Brigstocke from Live At The Apollo is headlining at this event in the magical gardens at organised by Custard Comedy. Not to be missed.

Cambridge: The Enchanted Cinema, Gonville Hotel, 5–20 Sept

The Enchanted Cinema series is back this autumn with its heavenly mix of alfresco cinema, a bar fully-stocked with regional indie brands and live music from local artists. This month, you can catch Romeo & Juliet, Hook, Rocketman, and Fight Club in The Gonville’s gorgeous gardens. Book here.

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