50 events and venues in our area to get the nostalgia flowing
- Credit: Phil Drury
To mark the Comet’s 50th birthday, we counted the 50 biggest events (and venues!) across our areas, in no particular order.
Set up by Tom and Olly Wilkes in memory of their brother Matthew in 2007, Wilkestock has welcomed hoards of local music lovers since 2010. The charity festival returns this September, with proceeds split between Bloodwise, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team and The Nick Alexander Memorial Trust.
Bringing a buzz to Hitchin over the festival weekend, ROTW has evolved considerably since its foundation in 1992. Starting at the town hall, ROTW took over Hitchin Priory in 2008 until 2015, and has since put on smaller events in and around the town centre.
Staying in Hitchin, the town's annual festival - which was founded in 1991 - is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer with a month-long programme of culture and entertainment. Hitchin Festival promotes a huge variety of events including poetry, art exhibitions, concerts, theatre and kids entertainment.
4. Stevenage Carnival
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Although the event was axed in 2003 after 41 years in the town, Stevenage Carnival saw the town come alive with floats, live music and rides, with residents from far and wide cherishing fond memories.
Held virtually for the second consecutive year, Stevenage Day is organised by Stevenage Borough Council and usually holds around 200 stalls, and activities. First held in 1959, the event sees Stevenage residents come together to celebrate the town.
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Celebrating the booming businesses that line the busy Hitchin thoroughfare, Hermitage Road Day attracts swarms of shoppers and passers by with classic cars, food, music and fun!
As a town that hosts a hoard of thriving independent businesses, Independents Day allows all of Hitchin's finest indies to congregate on Market Place and share the best produce Hitchin has to offer.
Who's the most famous artist you've seen at Knebworth? Oasis? Queen? Led Zepplin? Robbie Williams? Kaiser Chiefs? The first Knebworth festival was held back in the summer of 1974, and nearly 50 years later it is still a badge of honour to have played the Hertfordshire stately home of rock.
Knebworth was also home to the UK leg of Sonisphere, the European touring summer rock festival. Metallica, Frank Turner and The Prodigy were notable names that graced Knebworth's stage before it was announced four years ago that there would be 'no UK Soni in 2017'.
10. Todd in the Hole
Fun for the 'hole' family, the family-friendly music festival is like Herts' Glastonbury. Todd in Hole is cancelled this summer due to Freedom Day's delay, with the organisers stating that they were "cruelly close" to putting on the event, and "to miss the deadline for opening up by just one day is truly heart breaking."
The Steam Fair and Country Show takes place each May, to help raise money to keep the mill and nature reserve open for visitors. The fair features a working steam collection including a 1932 Sentinel Steam Bus, mechanical organs, vintage cars and lorries.
12. Hitchin Food Festival
Held in September, the food festival attracts a vast number of visitors - with stalls selling high-quality street food, including craft ales, gourmet cheese and more, as well as seasoned local produce.
Balstock is Herts' biggest free music festival, with a huge line-up of artists performing at pubs and venues throughout Baldock. The event has been running for nine years, and each year raises money for a different charity.
The festival features a delicious range of world cuisines, brewery stalls, prosecco vans and cocktails stands. Held in May, visitors can also enjoy live entertainment, cookery demonstrations and children's activities.
15. Letchworth Festival
Possibly the biggest event in Letchworth's calendar, the festival is a two-week celebration of life in the Garden City. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a range of exhibitions, shows, talks and family activities.
16. Slam Dunk
A festival of UK pop-punk, emo, metal and alternative music held in Hatfield and Leeds over May Bank Holiday. Now catering to all ages but with after parties for over-18s, the festival includes food stalls and bars on site.
17. Standon Calling
An annual music festival held in the village of Standon, which grew from a birthday barbecue in 2001 into a huge public event. This year the festival is celebrating its 15th birthday with an impressive line-up including Bastille, Craig David and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
18. Classic Ibiza
Described as a 'magical rollercoaster ride of dance music's most iconic tracks', reinvented by the Urban Soul Orchestra, this year's concert will be held in Hatfield Park on August 21.
19. Cool Britannia
A music festival held in Knebworth Park and celebrating UK music of the 90s. Music fans can enjoy camping, glamping, street food, themed bars, street entertainers, funfairs, fireworks and much more.
20. Dog Fest
Probably the biggest event of the canine calendar, a community of dog lovers comes together at Knebworth House for advice from industry experts, exciting activities and arena displays. Pet products are also sold on site.
21. Hitchin Beer & Cider Festival
Run by North Herts CAMRA - Campaign For Real Ale - the event, hosted at Hitchin Rugby Club, brings people together through their love of beer!
22. Luna Cinema
Although it was already well-established for its open-air cinema delights at Knebworth House, in the depths of social-distancing, the Luna Cinema drive-in saved our summer in 2020, and is also returning for 2021.
23. Hitchin Lavender – outdoor cinema and other events
Hitchin Lavender is a gorgeous attraction in its own right - but it has been home to some events over the years, including Sundown Outdoor Cinema.
24. Baldock Beer Fest
The Baldock Beer Festival at Brandles School in Baldock is a staple for the town. Organised by the community volunteers, the event raises money for local charities, and gives everyone a great time in the process.
25. Ashwell Show
The Ashwell Show has been running for a decade, and has attracted thousands each year, raising more than £100,000 for local clubs, societies and organisations. At the 2019 event, it introduced camel racing, which proved to be a huge hit.
The music festival in Codicote, GoatFest, brings local acts a platform to show off their skills right on their doorstep. The family-friendly event is set to welcome Kim Wilde to headline this year's event. Restrictions allowing, it will take place at August Bank Holiday.
27. Hitchin Pancake Race
Hitchin Pancake Fayre and Races, hosted by the Rotary Club of Hitchin, has been running for more than two decades. Not only does it bring joy to people of all ages - it also raising thousands each year for local charities.
28. Farr Festival
Farr Festival is held at Bygrave woods between Baldock and Royston. The electronic dance music event has welcomed thousands to its grounds over the years, and a number of acts to its stages, including multi-instrumentalist Tom Misch and Shy FX.
29. Stevenage Charter Fair
The history of the charter fair spans back 800 years, when Edward I granted a permanent charter for a market in 1281. Turning into a pleasure fair in the 19th century, the fair now takes over High Street with rides and attractions.
30. Stevenage Panto
Each year a panto is held at Stevenage's Gordon Craig Theatre. Last year's performance of Aladdin was sadly cancelled due to COVID-19, but is expected to be on as planned for 2021/2022.
31. Battle Proms at Hatfield House
Taking place in the historic surroundings of Hatfield House, Battle Proms features classical music, a Napoleonic cavalry display, parachute displays, spitfire displays and an evening gun salute.
32. St Ippolyts Church Nativity Crib Festival
Exactly what it says on the tin - at Christmas St Ippolyts Church is filled with as many cribs as it's possible to cram in. The festival boasts cribs of all shapes and sizes and from all around the world, made of virtually any material.
33. Kimpton Folk Festival
Featuring an impressive line-up of folk artists, the one-day festival also includes free events on the Village Green, an ale bar, food stalls and two evening concerts in the memorial hall and church.
34. Flamstead Scarecrow Festival
Since 2002 villagers in Flamstead have displayed scarecrows in their front gardens and around the village for the public to enjoy, with a competition to see who has made the best scarecrow.
35. Chilli Festival – Benington Lordship
The Chilli Festival is held over three days, and offers visitors a chance to buy chilli plants and products and to sample food from all over the world. Stalls are set up throughout the gardens with independent traders selling everything and anything you can make with chillies.
36. Codicote Village Day
This annual one-day festival begins with a parade up the high street to the Great Field, where there are events, stalls, attractions, refreshments and live music. The day is aimed at helping local organisations, businesses and charities raise money and awareness while providing a fun day out for the community.
37. The Hertfordshire Garden Show
Held in Knebworth Park in spring, the Hertfordshire Garden Show boasts more than 100 exhibitors, providing plenty of inspiration for the summer months ahead, with items for sale and on display including garden furniture, water features, tools and sculptures.
38. The Knebworth Classic Motor Show
Also held in Knebworth Park, the Classic Motor Show is a great day out for all ages. As well as static displays of vintage vehicles including saloons, sports, American, commercial, military and motorcycles, there is also a show arena hosting parades.
39. Hitchin Christmas Market
This German-style Christmas market in the heart of Hitchin sees sellers trading out of log cabins. Spreading some Christmas cheer, expect to find luxury products, stocking fillers, mulled wine and festive food.
40. Ashwell at Home
With proceeds donated to Ashwell Museum, St Mary's Church and Ashwell Primary School, this annual event began 38 years ago. There is plenty of entertainment, including open gardens, free workshops, live music, guided walks, Morris dancing and a funfair.
41. Stevenage Beer Festival
Organised by North Herts CAMRA, the Stevenage Beer Festival is a popular event amongst the town’s residents.
Held at the Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, the event showcases more than 100 beers, ciders and meads, as well as both local and non-local cask ales, and international keg and bottled beer.
42. Baldock charter fair
Starting way back in 1199 thanks to a charter from King John, the fair has become a part of the fabric of Baldock.
The annual fair, which takes place in October, started out as a market in the middle ages, but it now see the town’s high street filled with rides and attractions for all the family to enjoy.
43. St Paul’s Walden Bury Shakespeare performances
St Paul’s Walden Bury - famous as the birthplace of the Queen Mother – has seen regular William Shakespeare performances over the years.
The most recent of these took place earlier this month when Drama Impact visited the gardens of the Grade II listed house to perform Twelfth Night, with the plays always popular among theatre goers.
44. Herts County Show
Run by the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society, The Hertfordshire County Show started as a ploughing match on the grounds of Hatfield House in 1879, becoming a full county show seven years later.
Since 1962, it has been held at the Showground in Redbourn with the intention of educating and raising awareness about local agriculture. There is also plenty of fun for the family, including show jumping and a grand parade of more than 50 animals.
45. Hitchin market events
While the golden years of the market are long gone, Hitchin’s Market Place is still a hub for plenty of exciting events thanks to the hard work of the town’s BID.
Among the many events are the Christmas Market, Vegan Festival, Independents Day and Street Food Monthly, all of which have become huge hits with Hitchin residents.
46. Wimpole History Festival
Since 2018, visitors to the three-day event would step back in time with a host of stellar guest speakers. In the past, the event has brought Dakota and Spitfire flyovers, Suffragette protestors and more to transport us back in time.
The charity music festival in Ashwell sadly announced it would not be returning in 2013. Prior to this, the annual event attracted hundreds, and included a ACDC tribute band, and a host of artists from near and far.
48. Club 85
Independent music venue Club 85, in Hitchin, has been a staple of the community for decades. Dubbed 'the best live music venue' in the area, it played host to many local acts from North Herts and beyond to entertain us.
49. Bowes Lyon
Youth centre Bowers Lyon in Stevenage also played host to live music, going back to the 80s. More recently, in the 2010s, the venue welcomed under 18s for 'After Dark', once a month, welcoming bands as well as acoustic performers to show off their skills.
50. Baldock Big Lunch
The Baldock Big Lunch celebrates the delicious offerings of our local food and drink industry, and brings together the community of Baldock, with a huge lunch in the town centre and live music.
Share your memories from these iconic events and venues with us at email@example.com