What’s on Bedford: 25 November – 5 December 2021

Diaries at the ready, here’s your essential guide to what’s on in Bedford over the next 10 days. It’s your last chance to see the Escaping Gravity installation at the Higgins this weekend and don’t miss your chance to catch St Paul’s annual Christmas Tree Festival which opens on 1 December…

Last chance to see…

Exhibition: Airship Dreams Escaping Gravity
Sir William Harpur Gallery at Higgins Bedford
Free entry but timed booking essential

An image from Escaping Gravity

Closing on 28 November, this weekend is your last chance to catch the incredible and immersive Escaping Gravity exhibition anchored around the pioneering vision of airship development in Bedfordshire over the decades.

In Sir William Harpur Gallery, Mike Stubbs’ contemporary new media installation invites the viewer on a spectacular journey – weaving material generated in Unreal games software, immersive audio composition, choir, archive film, and interactive sculptural elements.

The 40 minute installation will be shown on Tuesday – Saturday at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm and on Sunday at 2:30pm and 3.30pm in Sir William Harpur Gallery.

Until Saturday 27 November

Theatre: Motherless Brontes
The Place Theatre at 7.30pm
Tickets: from £10 available from the website

In 1821 Maria Branwell Bronte died. At the time of her death, Charlotte was 5, Emily 3 and Anne had not yet reached her second birthday.

Motherless Brontes features scenes and readings that describe some motherly (and un-motherly) characters from their novels.

Although Charlotte was the only one of the sisters to marry, their heroines usually (eventually) did. The evening also includes descriptions of the pleasures and hardships of finding a husband – with or without a mother’s help and guidance, bringing together a variety of characters from the novels of the Bronte sisters.

Until Friday 26 November 2021

Theatre: Animal Farm
The Quarry Theatre @
Tickets: £10/£8

This powerful dramatisation of George Orwell’s parable on the perils of totalitarianism is performed by students of Bedford School

The novel, Animal Farm, was first published in 1945 and follows the lives of a group of farm animals who overthrew their farmer, hoping for a better life. The rebellion is betrayed and the animals find out gradually that their lives are really no better under the rule of the dictator pig, Napoleon.

Friday 26 November 2021

Live music: Orlando Weeks + guests
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £10

Orlando Weeks is performing a series of intimate underplay dates this November ahead of his forthcoming headline tour in March 2022, which includes a show at London’s iconic Barbican Centre.

The dates come in the wake of the recent release announcement of Orlando’s highly anticipated sophomore solo album; ‘Hop Up’ out January 14th 2022.

Comprising a stripped-back set-up of Orlando and his long-time live collaborator Sami El-Enany on keys, these dates are the first opportunity for fans to hear new material from the forthcoming album, which so far has included the tracks ‘Big Skies Silly Faces’ with Katy J Pearson, ‘Deep Down Way Out’ featuring an iconic video with comedian/actor Lolly Adefope and current single ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Poetry: Tea Party Poetry
Higgins Bedford @ 2pm – 4pm
Free entry, booking essential

Join The Higgins Bedford for Tea Party Poetry, a session of writing poetry alongside tea and treats in a small sociable group. No experience needed. Suitable for ages 16+.

Free to join in but booking is essential. To book your place, email vicki.blair@bedford.gov.uk

Saturday 27 November 2021

Live music: Electric Six
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £15

On 27 November, one of the finest party bands on the planet is coming to take you to a Gay Bar (or Bedford Esquires!) with Electric Six headlining the small stage.

One of the best live bands around, the band formerly known as The Wild Bunch have a range of influences from New Romantic to Metal and a bit of Disco thrown in for good measure. The Jack White featuring breakthrough single Danger! High Voltage was a disco laden indie club banger that thrust the band into international acclaim and MTV stardom.

The band followed up with one of the most quotable songs of all time, as Gay Bar, and its tongue-in-cheek video took the band into another stratosphere completely.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Exhibition and workshop: Friends for Life art exhibition and Christmas workshop
The Place Theatre @ 11.30am – 2.30pm
Free entry

Friends for Life is a local charity that identifies residents in Bedfordshire care homes who are at risk of social isolation and loneliness. Although normally their service is one to one befriending service where volunteers visit homes to spend time and build a relationship with residents, during COVID-19 where this hasn’t always been possible, they have found new ways to keep in touch and keep connected.

Alongside letter writing, video calls, music sessions and readings being sent into homes, Friends for Life have been encouraging residents to get creative.

Residents have enjoyed art packs, pottery, photography and poetry and this weekend we celebrate all they have achieved and created with an exhibition of some of their work.

On Sunday 28th November, Friends for Life invite you to The Place Theatre where you will be able to take a look at the creative work that our care home residents have created. You will be able to join in the creativity with a free Christmas decoration activity, led by Anne-Marie Abbate, which will be perfect to be carried out between grandparents and grandchildren.

If you visit someone in a care home or you visit someone who lives alone, we welcome you to bring them along to get creative and celebrate the talents of our local residents.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Shopping and crafts: Museum Shop Sunday
Higgins Bedford @ 2pm – 5pm
Free Entry

Join the Higgins Bedford for festive shopping and free family Christmas crafts on Museum Shop Sunday.

The Higgins Bedford shop has a range of bespoke and creative items and offers the perfect opportunity for shoppers to purchase a unique Christmas gift for that special someone.

Alongside browsing the shop, visitors can enjoy free family Christmas craft activities designing paper stars to add to their decorations at home. There is no need to book for these Christmas craft activities, families can drop in anytime between 2pm – 4pm.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Bedford Craft Market
St Paul’s Square, Bedford

Market stalls on St Paul’s Square

Head to St Paul’s Square for the last Craft Market of the season. The perfect place to find unique Christmas gifts handmade by local crafters.

Sunday 28 November 2021

Live music: Sunday Night Jam Night
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Free entry

Mat Roberts returns to Esquires to host the weekly Jam night in its new home on Sunday nights.

Everyone welcome. Singer/songwriters and full band line-ups.

Wednesday 1 December – Sunday 5 December 2021

Community: St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival
St Paul’s Church (times vary, please check website)
£3 / under 16s free

St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival is back – oh yes it is! The annual event will open to the public on Wednesday 1 December and this year’s theme is the traditional British pantomime.

The ever-popular event traditionally kicks off the festive season in Bedford, with 60 Christmas trees, decorated by local schools, community groups, charities and businesses and this year’s panto theme is bound to raise a smile.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Comedy: Carl Hutchinson
Harpur Suite @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £15

After two consecutive sell-out years, Carl returns with a brand new show. Expect stories, observations & audience interaction. Always an exciting night, join this dynamic and versatile performer for a truly unmissable evening of comedy.

“Captivating… outstanding…. .an all-round comic” ★★★★★ One4Review, Edinburgh

Joyously funny… Great self-effacing warmth… Brilliant characterisations and expert timing. ★★★★ Theatre Bath

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Live music: Philharmonia Orchestra : Santtu conducts Beethoven
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £14 – £38

Santtu returns to Bedford for the first time since taking up the title of Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in this programme inspired by the natural world.

SIBELIUS Violin Concerto  Listen 

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6, Pastoral  Listen 

Celebrating the start of his tenure as just the sixth Principal Conductor in the Philharmonia’s 75-year history, Santtu’s opening season focuses on our fragile planet and humanity’s place within it. Joining him onstage tonight is fellow Finn Pekka Kuusisto, whose virtuosic and uniquely engaging performance style has won over the hearts of audiences across the world.

As the evening comes to a close with an optimistic finale, it’s a chance to share in our responsibility to protect the fragile, beautiful world that surrounds us.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Film: Reservoir Dogs
Cinema @ 3 St Peters
Tickets: £9/£10.50/£12

Concluding their season of Quentin Tarantino movies, Cinema @ 3 St Peters presents Reservoir Dogs.

Six criminals with pseudonyms, and each strangers to one another, are hired to carry out a robbery. The heist is ambushed by police and the gang are forced to shoot their way out. At their warehouse rendezvous, the survivors, realising that they were set up, try to find the traitor in their midst.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Live music: Choir performcances at St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival

10.30 – 11.00 Greenacre Independent School
11.00 – 11.30 Bedford Pipe Band and Panto Dame
11.30 – 12.00 Greenacre Independent School
14.00 – 14.30 Polam School
14.30 – 15.00 Ravensden Primary Academy

Thursday 2 – Saturday 4 December 2021

Theatre: Once Upon a Christmas Song
Sharnbrook Mill Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £14

Sharnbrook Mill Theatre has the perfect way for you to start the yuletide season with a show packed full of holiday treats.

“Once Upon a Christmas Song” is a little present of the best of stage, screen and literature, all wrapped together to celebrate everything festive.

Filled with a rich collection of music, poems, dance and readings from traditional stories, it really is a glittering show for all the family.
Performed by their talented cast of 15 and accompanied by the theatre’s live band, at the most wonderful time of the year you are guaranteed a wonderful Christmas time!

Tickets are now on sale from the theatre website or in person from Pick-A-Lily Florists in Sharnbrook.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Musical theatre: Totally Tina
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £23

The award-winning Tina Turner spectacular comes to Bedford, inviting us all to come and shake a tail feather with the UK’s supreme Tina – Justine Riddoch – and her talented cast.

This breathtaking recreation of a live Tina Turner concert celebrates the golden anniversary of the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll’s signature tune Proud Mary. Tina’s no-holds-barred take of the song established a reputation for fearsome live performances – and those never-ending legs!

Early hits, including River Deep – Mountain High and Nutbush City Limits, were just a taste of what was to come. We Don’t Need Another Hero, Simply the Best, What’s Love Got to Do With It, I Don’t Wanna Lose You and When the Heartache is Over propelled Tina to stadium concert stardom.

Supported by her dazzling dancing girls in sequins, feathers and diamonds, Justine recreates those famed live performances.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Live music: Emily Capell
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £10

Emily Capell returns to Esquires after an amazing show in February 2020. The singer-songwriter and musician from North West London has it all, the voice, the talent and the beehive.

With a wide range of influences from Dolly Parton to The Clash, Emily has brought a new genre of country, ska, doo wopp and pop to the music scene.

In 2018 Emily won the ‘Jools Holland Best Newcomer’ award at the Boisdale venues. She has been record of the week on Radio X, 6 music and BBC radio London with her infectious floor-filler, ‘Bonanza’.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Live music: Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £20

“We never set out to start a band,” says Peter Yanowitz, one third of the all-star avant-indie trio Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum. “It feels more like the band started us. Some of the best moments in art, though, are the ones you don’t plan for.”

Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum’s captivating self-titled debut is evidence of that. Recorded spontaneously for the sheer joy of creation and collaboration, the EP showcases what happens when three consummate artists commit themselves to fully inhabiting the present, working together without boundaries or restrictions.

One of those artists, Michael C Hall, may be the most recognizable face in the band (known for his work on the HBO drama Six Feet Under and the Showtime’s series Dexter), but his bandmates boast similarly prodigious resumes. Yanowitz began his career playing drums in The Wallflowers before going on to co-found indie stalwarts Morningwood and work with artists as varied as Natalie Merchant, Yoko Ono, Andrew W.K., and Billy Bragg & Wilco. Keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen, meanwhile, spent the last decade touring and recording with Blondie, in addition to working with the likes of Boy George and Cindy Lauper.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Live music: Choir perfromances at St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival

10.30 – 11.30 Wixams Academy
11.30 – 12.00 Bedford Girls School
12.00 – 12.30 Kempston Hammers Community Choir
13.30 – 14.00 Bedfordshire Home Education
14.30 – 15.00 Bedford Girls School
15.30 – 16.00 The Rock Choir

Friday 3 December 2021

Children’s theatre: Jack Frost
The Place Theatre @ 11:30am, 1.30pm & 3,30pm
Tickets: £10/£5

A magical, wintery production brings Jack Frost to life through puppetry, music and enchanting storytelling. Meet our mischievous sprite on a snowy adventure but wrap up warm or you’ll catch Jack nipping at your fingers and toes! A story about embracing and celebrating differences to warm hearts this winter.

Suitable for ages 3+. Visit the website to find out about relaxed performances.

Friday 3 December 2021

Shopping: Christmas Jumper Party
The Arc @ 5pm – 9pm

Head to the Arc on Howard Street any time from 5pm to 9pm for fizz, food and shopping. And wall to wall CHRISTMAS.

The wearer of the best Christmas jumper will win a £100 voucher for the Arc. Perfect to spend on Christmas shopping or – even better – treats for yourself.  T&C’s Apply.

Friday 3 December 2021

Live music: Choir performances at St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival
Entry: £3

12.00 – 12.30 St Joseph’s and St Gregory’s Primary
14.00 – 14.30 Carers in Bedfordshire Choir
14.30 – 15.00 Come and Sing Saturday 4th December
10.30 – 11.00 Greensand Community Choir
11.00 – 11.30 Ouse Valley Singers
11:30 – 12:00 Biddenham Handbell Ringers
12.00 – 13.00 Music4Memory –Tibbs Dementia Foundation
13.30 – 14.00 Fusion Youth Choir
14.00 – 14.30 Eagle Choir
14.30 – 15.00 Kempston Musical Society
15:00 – 16.00 Sharnbrook Community Choir
16:00 Christingle Service

Saturday 4 December 2021

Comedy: Love Me Some Comedy
Harpur Suite @ 7.45pm
Tickets: £19.50

A night of comedy from some top class acts including Aurie Styla (BBC / Jonathon Ross Comedy Club / Comedy Central) – Birthday Boy!
Slim (Russell Howard’s Good News / Mo Gilligan’s Black British & Funny)
Trixx (Great Canadian Laugh-Off / Award-Winning International Comedian)
Luisa Omielan (Live At The Apollo / What Would Beyonce Do?)
Raj Poojara (Rising Star New Comedian of the Year Finalist)

Music is provided by DJ X Wilson and there’s a free Love Me Some VIBES afterparty featuring The SheJay, DJ Ross Anthony and more…

Friday 3 December 2021

Live music: LIFE + Guests
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £9.50
“We’re very, very excited about this one,” said Esquires’ Gareth Barber. “We’ve spent literally four years trying to get a show with Life sorted out in Bedford.
“We’ve caught this band on many occasions and can very much vouch for the fact that you must make yourself available on this date and you must get a ticket to see them.
“It’s either that, or be forever swimming in a sea or regret for all of eternity, your choice.”

Friday 3 December 2021

Live music: Evening Festival Concert
St Paul’s Church @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £17.50

Experience the St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival at night during the atmospheric evening Festival Concert by Minerva Piano Trio playing Mozart, Vivaldi, Ravel and Stravinsky.

Funds raised during the Christmas Tree Festival are shared between St Paul’s church and the Bedford Hosptial and Friends Charity.

Friday 3 December 2021

Film: Seven Samurai (1954)
The Place Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: £5

A samurai answers a village’s request for protection after he falls on hard times. The town needs protection from bandits, so the samurai gathers six others to help him teach the people how to defend themselves, and the villagers provide the soldiers with food. A giant battle occurs when 40 bandits attack the village.
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Length: 207 min
Language: Japanese with English subtitles

Saturday 4 December 2021

Children: The Mo-Joe Children’s Book Event
Higgins Bedford @ 11:30am & 2pm
Free entry but booking is essential

Mo is a feisty, adventurous grandma who sends monsters packing and is forever rescuing her beloved cat, Siamese Joe, who gets himself into all sorts of pickles.

Join Grandma Mo and Siamese Joe at The Higgins Bedford as they read fun stories about their adventures. Suitable for ages three to seven-years-old.

Book your free tickets online at thehigginsbedford.org.uk or call the Box Office on 01234 718044 (line open Monday – Friday 11am – 3pm).

Saturday 4 December 2021

Live music: Folk night featuring Blair Dunlop
The Place Theatre @ 8p
Tickets: £12

The award-winning British singer-songwriter and guitarist, Blair Dunlop, has now released four albums, two EPs and toured around the globe. All of this – plus Radio 2 playlist staus for his two singles (The Egoist and 365) – in just a five-year career.

Prior to this Blair released his acclaimed album ‘House Of Jacks’ in mid-2014 which lived up to the promise of his 2012 debut ‘Blight and Blossom’ (the quality of which contributed to his winning the BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award).

Sunday 5 December 2021

Family: Cairngorm reindeer, free face painting, Bedford Town Band and more
Harpur Square, Howard Centre and the Old Arcade
From 11am

Image Credit – Hen Robinson

From 11am – 2pm, the Cairngorm Reindeer are taking a break from the North Pole and coming to Harpur Square. Santa will also be coming to say hello to his four-legged friends.

From 10am to 3pm – free face painting and balloon artistry in Howard Centre.

If you’re feeling peckish, Lingers Butchers will be offering hog roast baps and other hot snacks, while Dessert Boss will be on hand to serve up some sweet treats.

Bedford Town Band will be performing a medley of Christmas songs and traditional carols and from noon, Kempston Hammers Community Choir will be performing a festive set in Harpur Square.

Sunday 5 December 2021

Live music: Choir performances at St Paul’s Christmas Tree Festival
Entry: £3 / under 16s free

12.00 – 12.30 Bedford Modern Singers
13.00 – 13.30 Opus 18 Community Choir
14.00 – 14.00 The Phoenix Chorus
14.30 – 15.00 The Goldentones
15.00 – 15.30 Inis Eire

Sunday 5 December 2021

Food & Drink: EAT Feast Christmas special
Riverside Square @ noon til 9pm

This free event kicks off at lunchtime and goes on into the evening, so grab your family and friends and get ready to share some gorgeous food – washed down with a cheeky Christmas tipple.

With plenty of vegan, veggie and gluten free options on offer, EAT Feast will have an array of international flavours from established food trucks and caterers, coming together to celebrate good food and great company.

Sunday 5 December 2021

Poetry: Read Poets Society: an evening of poetry and prose
Eagle Bookshop @ 7pm
Tickets: pay what you can – £10

Join The Read Poets Society for their monthly event at the Eagle Bookshop. This month’s theme is ‘When Willy met Annie; Shakespeare and Other Lovers’ – a romantic evening of prose, poetry and drama celebrating 439 years of that horse and carriage, love and marriage.

Hosted at The Eagle Bookshop, this welcoming venue can accommodate an audience of up to 30, and features a raised stage area for performers.

The Read Poets Society welcomes real enthusiasts. To volunteer as a performer, please contact Paul at jpbarnes2021@gmail.com

To attend as an audience member, you can book tickets here.

Sunday 5 December 2021

Live music: Beans on Toast
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £15

Folk hero Beans On Toast returns to Esquires as part of his UK tour.

Until January 2022

Exhibition: Edward Bawden: Architectural Elements
Higgins Bedford
Edward Bawden Gallery, Free Entry

Explore the passion for architecture of influential British artist and designer, Edward Bawden, displaying his originality, wit and skill in giving character to the buildings featured in his work.

Until March 2022

Exhibition: Going to Town – 200 Years of Bedford’s Art
Higgins Bedford
Wixamtree Gallery, Free Entry

Celebrate artists views of Bedford and the surrounding area with a number of watercolours, oils and prints from the past two centuries, some of which haven’t been seen by the public eye in several decades.

The exhibition includes artworks by JMW Turner, Dora Carrington, Thomas Fisher and Stanley Orchart, highlighting their fascination with the town and River Great Ouse.

Until October 2022

Exhibition: Warden Abbey Revealed
Higgins Bedford
Outside Settlement Gallery, Free Entry

Research by the Old Warden History and Heritage Society alongside the results of the geophysical survey by MOLA (Northampton) have revealed the grandeur of the medieval Cistercian abbey.

The reconstruction illustration by Peter Dunn based on this work will be on display with a selection of archive items.

Theatre highlights by Paula Walker

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