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What’s on: June 2021

From gorgeous open gardens and rockin’ vintage festivals to high-octane fun and electrifying live music, it’s all going on in Essex this month. Diaries at the ready!

GARDENS National Garden Scheme, Barnards Farm, every Thur from 3 June, plus Sun 27 June

Photo: John Elliot

If your homies recoil at the mention of going to a garden with lots of eye rolling and groans (and that’s just my other half), then hopefully Barnards Farm will help them see what they’ve been missing. With beds of gorgeous blossoms showing off their summer looks; ponds, lakes and streams (with cute duckies); a ‘Japanese garden’; amazing sculptures; and – the highlight of many a garden trip – a miniature railway ride through the woodlands (only on 3 and 27 June), this makes a lovely day out. Entry to the gardens is by ticket only from the NGS – buy here.

FAMILY FUN 5K Inflatable Obstacle Run, Barleylands, Billericay, 5 June

Bloomin’ love a bouncy castle but they’re usually just for those jammy littlies. Not so with this beauty – the UK’s biggest inflatable obstacle course for kids (from five years) and big kids alike. Apparently, this year the run is even bigger and bouncier, with two 2.5k lap courses and 28 gigantic obstacles to bound over, plus a brand-new foam zone, powered by the world’s largest foam cannon. Where do I sign?

KIDS Big Dinosaur Day Out, Lee Valley, Waltham Abbey, until 6 June

Perhaps your kids are of the opinion that if it ain’t got scales and died 66 million years ago, it ain’t worth their attention. Just for them, we have Lee Valley Animal Adventure Park at Waltham Abbey and their Big Dinosaur Day Out. Guests can meet dinosaurs, learn facts, and dig for prehistoric fossils – and that’s on top of the usual Lee Valley favourites.

GARDENS Midsummer Nights, Helmingham Hall Gardens, Stowmarket, 17 June to 15 July

Now the warmer nights have arrived, it seems a shame to just flop in front of the telly after a day’s work. So instead, why not pop over the border to Suffolk’s Helmingham Hall Gardens on one of their four special evening openings? A rather magical way to discover the gardens or just to experience them in a new light – even better if you add a glass of chilled wine. Ahh, summer nights, we’ve missed you.

MARKET Farmers’ & Craft Market Hylands Estate, Chelmsford 20 June

Photo: Aaron Crowe Photography

Always looking for an excuse for a visit to Hylands House, and this market hits the sweet spot. It’s a treasure trove of treats from local producers and makers, so expect to fill your basket with freshly baked bread, honey from Essex bees and hand-reared port and beef from nearby farms. You’ll also find lovely crafts, such as handmade candles and jewellery, again from local makers. This year, they’re bringing in the big guys – Hawthorn heavy horses – to take you and your shopping on an estate carriage ride like a proper lady of the manor.

DANCE The House & Garage Orchestra, Admirals Park, Chelmsford, 25 June

Step back to the 1990s and prepare to dance all night with this homage to old skool house and garage. I had tickets for this a couple of years ago but missed out due to AWOL babysitter (grrr), but friends reported back that the whole night was nothing short of electric (and they had the sore feet to prove it). This year’s tour promises more of the same, from iconic dance anthems played by a large-scale orchestra and live guest vocalists to incredible light shows and an electrifying atmosphere. I’ll meet you down the front.

VINTAGE FEST A Vintage Day Out, Cressing Temple Barns, Nr Braintree, 27 June

Photo: Stephanie Stephenson 2019

Love all things vintage and rock and roll? Then dress to impress and twist your way over to Helen Rollason Cancer Charity’s A Vintage Day Out. Celebrating all the cool cat things from the 1950s, this is the 11th Vintage Day Out at the beautiful Cressing Temple Barns. From vintage stalls and pop-up hair and beauty parlours to classic cars and motorbikes (both British and from across the pond), rockabillies will be in retro heaven. There’ll also be live rock ’n’ roll bands, jive dancing and loads to entertain the littlies – from face painting to vintage games. You won’t go hungry either, with everything from American fast food (natch) and vegan nosh to fresh lemonade and booze, too.

FESTIVAL The Legends Festival, Orsett Showground, Thurrock,  26-27 June

Never thought you’d see the likes of Queen, Bowie, Elton and Abba sharing a stage? Welcome to the magic of tribute bands. In fact, The Legends Festival will be rocking 13 of the world’s greatest pop and rock acts on the humongous stage at the Orsett Showground with two days of live music. Grab your friends and fam, pack a picnic and get ready to rock out to the legends festivals were made for.

LITTLIES The Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild, throughout June

You don’t need to have little ones to get involved with the Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild campaign – although there are tonnes of kid-friendly activities available. The idea is simply to commit to doing one wild thing a day throughout June, from litter picking to seed planting, and kicking off with a Big Wild Breakfast outdoors. Sign up now to receive a free postal or digital pack to inspire your Random Acts of Wildness.

LIVE MUSIC Music in the Gardens with Jax & Co, Hemingway Hall, Stowmarket, 27 June

Why put up with a cowpat field when you can enjoy live music in a beautiful garden? Jax & Co are a six-piece Johnny Cash Tribute family band from Ipswich that perform the music of Johnny Cash (clue’s in the name) and June Carter in a theatrical, fun-filled show, all in the enchanted gardens of Hemingway Hall. Bring a blanket and a picnic, or make it really easy and take advantage of the house BBQ & bar. Then sit back and enjoy a chilled evening with your country-loving friends.

HIGH OCTANE FUN Lee Valley White Water Centre, June onwards

And finally for those who like their thrills with lots of spills, make a beeline for the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross (a teeny hop across the border to Herts). As this adventure lovers go-to, you can try out white water rafting, tubing or hydrospeeding on the rapids.

WIN! Fancy unleashing your wild side on the rapids for free? Then click here for your chance to scoop a White Water Voucher for Two!

ART This Living Hand, Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Perry Green, until 31 October

If you’re familiar with Moore’s sculptures, you’ll know that they’re innately tactile. This exhibition (just a hop across the border to Herts) by acclaimed artist, Edmund de Waal, explores the role of touch in the sculptor’s work. Naturally, visitors are invited to get hands-on with the pieces on display – including Moore’s works in bronze and stone, plus a series of carved benches by de Waal. Moore’s studies of own and others peoples’ hands, as an expression of power and symbolism, will also feature.

Find more ideas here

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