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What’s on in May

Going out is BACK and so is our indispensable guide to what's on in Northants, including live theatre, where to dine in style and how to shop to support local. Go, go, Go!

They’re the words we’ve been dreaming of for what feels like aeons. Yearning for them, burning for them, tossing and turning at night… and here they are: What’s on this month?

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

POP-UP RESTAURANT: The Walled Garden Feast, Lamport Hall, 17-31 May

Lmaport Hall walled garden feast

The inaugural Walled Garden Feast, taking place in the splendiferous grounds of Lamport Hall looks set to be a suitably splendid affair. You can luxuriate in your very own beautifully dressed igloo or bell tent, or slum it in style with a picnic blanket for up to six people, and choose from an incredible four-course menu prepared by Danny Tompkins (formerly private chef to Earl Spencer), a super-luxe picnic, posh fish and chips and fresh seafood from the Oyster Box or afternoon tea by The Delicious Factory. There’s also a champagne bar and live music on the lawn to boot, so you’ll be feeling all Lady of the Manor in no time. Get booking as spaces are filling fast!

LIVE PERFORMANCE

Animal Farm Royal and Derngate Northampton

Real-life performance is back with a bang and I am at the front of the line clutching my ticket. First up: What happens when a ruthless political elite take control? Hmmmmn…. Well, it makes for a flippin’ fantastic bit of stage drama for a start. Award winning playwright Tatty Hennessy (A Hundred Words for Snow, F*Off) brings her edgy and politically charged production of Orwell’s Animal Farm to the stage at Northampton’s Royal and Derngate from 17-22 May with fabulous costumes and playful direction.

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m currently a bit obsessed with the 90s rave scene, which is absolutely a symptom of being cooped up with barely any human contact for months. The idea of dancing with thousands of happy revellers fills me with delight, so naturally i’m pretty excited about this new production of Othello, on stage at Royal and Derngate from 25-29 May and set against a backdrop of hedonism. As it’s Othello though, I’m guessing it’s not all utopian dreams…

EXHIBITIONS

Northampton guildhall sophie slade

Art in the Park at Abington Park Museum, an annual exhibition open to all artists across Northants, which has been running since 1961, is going virtual. This year art fans can view all the pieces online with 30 artists in the mix working in a variety of genres. We love this painting by Sophie Slade of Northampton Guildhall (above). Runs until 31 May.

VisualISE at 78 Derngate in Northampton is an exhibition of textile art by the Visualise Textile Group harnessing a wide variety of media to create a range of abstract, realist and figurative art using stitch work and which draw particular inspiration from Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his designs at 78 Derngate. Runs from 18 May to 18 July.

We love the sound of Doorstep Diaries at nearby MK Gallery, displaying a charming photography project by Stace Photography, which took photos of households across Milton Keynes during the first COVID-19 national lockdown. Though not open until 18 May, the photography will be available to view from the window of the Project Space from 3 May.

MOVIE SCREENINGS

Filmhouse drive in Delapre Abbey

The Filmhouse at Delapré Abbey is back for another drive-in season of cinematic favourites from 22 May-6 Jun including Mama Mia!, Grand Budapest Hotel, Clueless, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Bridget Jones’s Diary and loads more, as well as singalong screenings of The Greatest Showman, Rocketman and Frozen. With the stunning Abbey as a backdrop and hot food and a bar available on site you can keep the kids happy with folding chairs and blankets or snuggle up for a date night with your beloved.

The Big Family Drive-In Cinema kicks off a jam-packed season at Rockingham Castle this year. Running from 1-3 May, you can pick from some classic films to watch in the spectacular castle grounds, including Back to the Future, Grease and Jurassic Park. There’s a wireless speaker system for your dashboard so you don’t even have to have your car ignition on and, whilst you can bring your own food, there’s also hot and cold snacks available on site including pizza, burgers etc.

FOODIE

Lamport Hall Walled Garden Feast

The Walled Garden Feast at Lamport Hall (pictured) is an absolute must for foodies (see our pick of the month for more details), but if you can’t wait that long for your gourmet fix Waterside Campus at University of Northampton is playing host to a rather fabulous Food Festival across the Bank Holiday weekend (30 April-3 May, 11am-7pm). Some of our all-time favourite treats are being served up on site including Santina’s Wood Fired Pizza, By Salma Shah Granola, I’m Real Ice Cream and The Wine Tap Van.

The ever popular Bite Street food and drink pop-up at the County Cricket Ground is sold out for the early May bank holiday weekend but, if you’re a devotee, keep an eye on their social media as they might release some more booking slots. All the usual suspects will be there with burgers, loaded fries and high cholesterol indulgence in abundance.

Roman Way Brewery, based at the fabulous Weedon Depot, will be open on Sunday 2 May, serving up their artisan ales on tap along with Gurkha Street Food, then again on Sat 15 May with the brilliant Santina’s Wood Fired Pizza. Advance booking is essential, pooches welcome.

Igloo Dining at brand new woodland venue Hawthorn Grove in Great Doddington kicks of from 26 May-1 Jun with dishes served up courtesy of from Gallarwood Catering that include a rustic ploughman’s lunch, afternoon teas and a spectacular dinner menu that includes such lipsmacking treats as baked lobster and king prawn mac and cheese. Each dining pod will also have its own bluetooth speaker so you can even stream your favourite tunes while you dine.

WELLBEING

Pose fitness studio

Pose Fitness, based in the most beautiful studio space in Weedon Royal Ordnance Depot, are re-opening their doors for in-person classes from 17 May and to celebrate are offering a whole week of free classes. Choose from barre fitness, pilates, yoga and ballet classes from beginners to advanced. Hop on to their website to book before spaces fill up.

Whether you need some me time and fancy trying something new or are a seasoned yogi, sunset yoga with Clare Bradbury will be taking place at two picturesque locations this month. Holdenby House on Sunday 9 May and Winwick Hall on Sat 22 May. Suitable for all ages and abilities you’ll enjoy are meander through the gardens, a relaxing, peaceful yoga session on the lawn and tea and cakes afterwards. Sounds like the perfect way to unwind to us.

OUT AND ABOUT

Tudor History Days on 30 and 31 May at Rockingham Castle look set to be fab family days out, especially of you’re a clan of history nerds like the Muddy Crew. Visitors will meet and get to know some famous faces from the past including the six wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Free event with garden admission.

Thrapston Farmers’ Market pops up in Muddy’s Best Place to Live on Saturday 1 May from 9am to 1pm, offering a huge range of local produce, from fresh fruit and veg to meat and preserves, cakes and treats, fresh-bakes bread, locally made spirits and cider and some well-deserved street food stalls for when you’re all shopped out. Towcester Farmers’ Market will be on Friday 14 May this month in Richmond Road car park along with the usual variety of brilliant local producers. Rockingham Farmers’ Market rounds off the month from 9am-1pm on Sun 30 May, so don’t miss the chance to support local growers and producers if you can.

The Rear of the Plough B&B in Everdon (behind The Plough, as you’d expect) are hosting their Seasonal Market on Saturday 1 May (11am-4pm), with arts, crafts and local produce on offer including handcrafted textiles from Muddy favourite Abi Jackson as well as refreshments to be had. We highly recommend a glorious bluebell walk in Everdon Stubbs while you’re here.

The Boat House at Rushden Lakes will host their fist record Record Fair of 2021 alongside the fabulous Vinyl Coffee on Sunday 2 May with stacks of pre-loved vinyl to root through and add to your collection and more events scheduled monthly throughout the year.

Also at Rushden Lakes, head to the Nene Wetlands Birdsong Walk at the Visitors’ Centre on Sunday 2 May, where you’ll have the chance to learn about how to listen for birds and identify what you hear. This is suitable for adults and children from age 7.

Wicksteed Park will host it’s Indie Market on 13-16 May (10am-4pm) in wooden chalet style huts with loads of independent makers selling their wares on site plus refreshments to boost weary shoppers.

Cranking it up a gear, the Historic Sports Car Club will be tearing it up around the track at Silverstone on 22 & 23 May, a delight for petrol heads and vintage design lovers alike. You’ll get grandstand seats for your £14 entry fee (kids 15 and under go free) and there are loads of classic car races including a special celebration to mark 60 years of the Jaguar E-type.

Holdenby’s Home and Garden Fair is set to take place in the beautiful grounds of this historic house across the late May Bank Holiday weekend (Sat 29- Mon 31 May, 10am-5pm) and will have plenty of gorgeous things to admire or splurge on from plants and homewares to falconry displays and cookery demos, plenty of food on offer and free parking.

KIDS & FAMILY

Whisper tree royal and derngate

The Whisper Tree (30 Apr-26 Jun) is a free audio performance that guides you and your children as they take a walk through nature in Becket’s Park in Northampton. Starting out at The Royal and Derngate theatre, you’ll follow a beautifully illustrated map, created by the brilliant Fridge Street, as you’re immersed in the story of Rory and Tilly’s adventure to find the Whisper Tree (it’s a real tree btw!) You can also book online workshops (available for 7-8 or 9-13 year-olds) to accompany your adventure.

Inflatable Family Fun Days hit Kettering RFC on 22 & 23 May. There’s loads of outside space to enable social distancing at this mega-fun event packed with bouncy slidey things to wear out your tiny and not so tiny terrors.

The Twirlywoos will be live on stage at the Deco Theatre at The Old Savoy in Northampton on 28 & 29 May, with live interactive puppetry to delight even the smallest of tiddlers from age 1 and up

VIRTUAL PERFORMANCE

If you feel you’ve missed out on adventures this past year then take comfort in the fact that you were safely tucked up at home and not struggling for survival in the Andes like Joe Simpson and Simon Yates did when they attempted to scale Siula Grande in 1985. Follow their struggle for survival in this live streamed, dramatised performance of their real life journey in Touching the Void from Royal and Derngate and Bristol Old Vic. Streaming from 26-29 May, it tells the truly harrowing tale of what can happen when adventures go terribly wrong.

Want more brilliant things to do?

Check out our recommended Spring Bluebell WalksNorthants Perfect Picnic Spots (plus food) and Northamptonshire’s Must See Attractions.

Find more ideas here

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