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Shopping in Watford: What to expect in Watford post-covid

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intu Watford outlines how it will keep people safe

As part of our ongoing guide to shopping in Beds, Bucks & Hertfordshire, we have created this guide to shopping in Watford. If you have not been to Watford before, this guide will give you an overview of where to go and what to expect when shopping in Watford post-covid.

Watford – A brief history lesson

Watford began as a settlement in the 12th century when a market was granted to the Abbot of St. Albans as the lord of the manor. He chose a site along a route already used by travellers, where the market continued to be held until 1928.

With employment high and most enjoying a reasonable income, the early 1960s saw a growth in consumerism. During the Swinging Sixties, Watford like many other places in Hertfordshire started to change into the town we know today. This period saw the birth of the Harlequin Shopping Centre – although not built until 1990, planning started as far back as 1963.

Old Watford High Street

Watford High Street’s Pond has seen many transformations

Since then, Watford has grown to become a popular shopping destination for people of all ages. Being home to Hertfordshire’s largest shopping mall, Watford is also well known for its football club and its popular tourist destinations. These include the Harry Potter Studio tour at Warner Bros Film Studios and Cassiobury Park.

Shopping destinations in Watford

Watford has three main shopping destinations. The main shopping centre is intu Watford. The second shopping destination is Watford High Street which is also home to the third, New Watford Market.

intu Watford - One of the best destinations for shopping in Watford

intu Watford – One of the best destinations for shopping in Watford

1. intu Watford

Formerly known as The Harlequin Shopping Centre, intu Watford has undergone some major changes recently. Coronavirus has hit Hertfordshire’s largest shopping destination hard. The large Debenhams has gone and will be replaced by The Beauty Hall by Next, an upmarket beauty hall being launched by fashion retailer Next. John Lewis Watford closed in July and there have been some other closures to restaurants and small retailers.

Despite the closures and with over 25 fashion retailers over two floors, intu Watford is still a favourite destination amongst fashionistas. Stores include Accessorize, Aldo, Hugo Boss, Clarks, Ernest Jones, Fatface, H&M, Hollister, Jack Wills, Jack & Jones, JD, Joules, Kurt Geiger, Levi’s, New Look, Next, Office, Phase Eight, River Island, Superdry and many more.

2. Watford High Street

If intu Watford is for the fashionistas, Watford High Street is for the foodies. Watford High Street is still extremely busy despite the drop in footfall due to COVID. Many of the restaurants that reopened after the lockdown are still relatively busy. They are operating with social distancing measures which mean they are limited to the number of diners they can host at any time. Our favourite Watford restaurants include:

  • TGI Fridays – Watford Central
  • Five Guys Watford
  • Côte Brasserie
  • The Florist Watford

The good news is Watford Bid has been working in the background to ensure shopping in Watford is safe. From supporting many of the local retailers with track and trace to installing social distancing signage, the Watford Bid team have been busy in the local area and online.

3. New Watford Market

Another shopping destination in Watford is New Watford Market. Unlike the traditional markets, New Watford Market combines a mixture of inside units and street stalls. These stalls offer a range of products and world foods. The design of New Watford Market has been the subject of local debate. The inside units were made from 42 recycled shipping containers. This means some units have only one side for entry and exit.

New Watford Market has been hit-and-miss with locals and some of the traders themselves. The concept is great for artisan stalls and micro-businesses. Traditional market traders prefer open spaces with lots of footfall. Unfortunately, New Watford Market doesn’t have a lot of either.

New Watford Market

Travelling to Watford

Watford has great transport links by car or rail. Watford has three stations bearing the name Watford. There is Watford Junction, Watford High Street and Watford Station. Watford Junction is served by both train and London Overground services from Central London. The main train terminus is London Euston Station, and the National Rail train service takes about 20 minutes. The Overground train service takes around 50 minutes.

Watford High Street is a London Overground station with fast links to Euston. Watford High Street also connects to the interchange at Watford Junction, just one stop to the north. Situated in the south end of Watford’s busy High Street, the station is just minutes’ walk from the shops, including intu Watford Shopping Centre.

Parking in Watford

Parking in Watford is pretty easy and we will start with the easiest place to park, the intu Watford car park. intu Watford has 4 individual car parks, totalling 2,773 parking spaces. These include disabled and parent and child spaces. Passenger lifts and escalators give easy access from each car park directly to the shopping centre.

Right next door to Watford High Street is CitiPark Church. With great access to intu Watford and IMAX Cineworld, CitiPark Church is located on Exchange Road, Watford and has over 550 spaces.

Depending on the time you visiting Watford, you can park on some of the residential roads but ensure you have either paid where applicable. Pay attention to parking during enforcement times – Watford Borough Council is notoriously known for strict parking enforcement.

If you don’t mind walking, parking is also available at Watford Junction Station. There are 763 parking spaces at the mainline station. Again, slightly pricey but cheaper than a parking ticket.

Shopping with kids in Watford

If you are shopping with children in Watford, there are a number of places and activities to keep them entertained. The No.1 destination for kids in Watford is Rock Up Watford. Located in intu Watford, Rock Up is the thrilling indoor climbing centre. It is strongly advised to book in advance especially for busy times such as weekends and school holidays.

 

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Film & Theatre

Wycombe Swan Summer Youth Project is back for 2022

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Returning for the first time since 2019, this year sees the return of Wycombe Swan’s Summer Youth Project.

Returning for the first time since 2019, this year sees the return of Wycombe Swan’s Summer Youth Project. Running since 1993, numerous participants have gone on to have successful careers both on and off stage. Join us on our next adventure! Build confidence, develop skills, have fun, and make long-lasting friendships.

About Wycombe Swan Summer Youth Project (SYP)

Over the two-week project, Wycombe Swan comes alive to the sights and sounds of 150 young people doing everything they can to put on a full-scale musical in time for curtain up!

Participants have the option of taking to the stage as a performer, or to make magic happen as part of the Technical Team.

All performances take place on our main stage in the 1,000 seated Wycombe Swan Theatre.

Only those wishing to have a principal/speaking role or be a dance captain need to audition.

Wycombe Swan Summer Youth Project is back for 2022

Big Fish The Show

This year, the show is BIG FISH. Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton.

AUDITIONS (FOR THOSE WISHING TO HAVE A SPEAKING ROLE): Sunday 22 May

DATES: Mon 15 to Sunday 28 August

AGES: 9-21 (performers). 14-21 (technical team)

PRICE: £190

It is our wish that no young person misses out due to financial constraints. For this reason, we offer bursaries of up to 100% so that anybody can take part.

TO APPLY, AND FOR MORE INFO: Visit https://wycombeswan.co.uk/Online/summerproject

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday 13 May

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Eating

The Chequers in Woolmer Green reopens after refurbishment

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The Chequers in Woolmer Green reopens its doors

Wells & Co’s Hertfordshire based pub, The Chequers, is opening its doors after an extensive refurbishment. Completed works include an entirely refreshed bar and dining area, redecorated throughout to create a modern and chic look and feel to the pub located in the civil parish village of Woolmer Green. The cosy interior boasts an intimate lounge area, large dining area and an extensive garden makeover inclusive of heated spaces and high table fire pits, perfect for those late-Summer evenings.

Wells & Co’s Hertfordshire based pub, The Chequers, is opening its doors after an extensive refurbishment.

Upstairs has been reconfigured to make room for four en-suite bedrooms for guests to book, as well as a private dining room holding up to 20 people. The new dining room is perfect for all event needs, whether its a private party, private function or even to host a work meeting.

The updated food menu features seasonal and fresh dishes inclusive of much loved pub classics like fish and chips or the ever popular 21-day aged beef burger, where the team will also be donating 25p of every burger sold to local primary school St Michael’s. Aloingside the classics the full dining menu at The Chequers includes more indulgent dishes such as cajun sweet potato, okra, and black-eyed pea gumbo, wild porcini mushroom, truffle and ricotta filled mezzaluna pasta and new daily specials.

There is also a great new range of drinks behind the bar including a range of tasty Brewpoint beers brewed just down the road in Bedford, as well as a full wine and spirits list for guests to enjoy.

Greg Knox, General Manager for the Wells & Co. site said, “The Chequers has, quite simply put, been a transformational refurbishment. The pub is ready, our food is prepped, drinks will be flowing, and our team are on hand to welcome the people of Woolmer Green and beyond, back to their much-loved pub. I can’t wait to personally welcome everyone back.”

To book a room or table at The Chequers visit the website here: https://chequerswoolmergreen.co.uk/

Wells & Co’s Hertfordshire based pub, The Chequers, is opening its doors after an extensive refurbishment.

 

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Events

Ware Festival’s Rock in the Priory line up has been confirmed

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Ware Festival's Rock in the Priory line up has been confirmed

After a two year break, Rock in the Priory 2022 is back and will be at its usual location on the Priory Island on Sunday, 17th July.

Showcase auditions were held at Southern Maltings on the April 10th and helped determine the line-up for the main event. The organisers are grateful to all the musicians who came along to perform.

The high standard of performances made the selection process difficult. The seven bands and three acoustic acts who will be entertaining the crowds on July 17th are listed below.

Quivering Lip

Quivering Lip are a two-piece originals and cover band playing rock and brit pop anthems. Quivering Lip wrote and recorded their first 5 track album Generation Panic in 2018, following it up with a new release “Ashes” in April 2019.

Quivering Lip at Rock in the Priory

Quivering Lip are a two-piece originals and cover band playing rock and brit pop anthems.

Uptown Punk

Uptown Punk are a high energy, 5-piece pop/punk band, covering fan favourites from 90s to present. Their set is full of well known pop/punk tunes, with a bit of Rock thrown in. Artists covered include; Blink 182, Green Day, The Offspring, Foo Fighters, Sum 41 and many more.

Uptown Punk are a high energy, 5-piece pop/punk band, covering fan favourites from 90s to present.

Uptown Punk are a high energy, 5-piece pop/punk band, covering fan favourites from 90s to present.

Grace Whitford

Grace is a singer, pianist and songwriter based in Hertfordshire specialising in acoustic pop, golden oldies, jazz and much more. Take a moment to listen/watch her Thinking Out Loud cover.

 

Other artists performing at Ware Festival’s Rock in the Priory include Adam Fearn, Mr No Face, Back to the 50s, George Croucher, Junkyard Dolls, Second Bite, The Routine.

Ware Festival and Rock in the Priory

The last Rock in the Priory was held in 2019.  This annual event is known for its excellent atmosphere and energy.  It takes place in the unique setting of the Island bandstand, nestled within seven acres of picturesque riverside gardens of the 14th century Ware Priory building. Tickets in advance are £5 entry or a family ticket at £15 for two adults and up to four children. Further details about Ware Festival and Rock in the Priory can be found on rockinthepriory.co.uk

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