What’s on Bedford: 28 April – 9 May 2022

Happy bank holiday weekend, everyone! We’ve got the best of Bedford’s live music, theatre, film, exhibitions, art and culture all right here.

Feast on Breakfast at Tiffany’s or enjoy street food dining, take in a new exhibition at the Panacea Museum or enjoy some traditional family fun at Elstow’s May Festival.


From 28 April – July 2022

Exhibition: Servants and the Working Classes at the Panacea Society
Panacea Museum open Thursday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
Free entry (no booking required)

Gladys Powell

In a new take on the story of the Panacea Society, a new exhibition explores the lives of the servants and working class Members that lived and worked within the secretive Society.

How did working class Members fit in with the middle class ladies and gentlemen of the Panacea?

The religious organisation was so deeply rooted in the class systems of the 1900s, what were the routes in for prospective Members without wealth or property?

For many such believers, becoming a servant was a way to join. The Panacea Society retained servants right up until the 1960s, and their last servants were Eva Moss and Gladys Powell (pictured).

‘Servants’ focuses on what life was like for the servants who worked for the Panacea Society, and investigates the wider social implications of service in England during the earlier years of the Society.

The exhibition also take a look at the Founder’s right-hand man Peter Rasmussen, a retired builder whose practical skills supported the Society’s Godly works.

The exhibition includes pieces from the Archive and items belonging to servants and Members. Documents, textiles and clothing will be on show, with many never-before-seen pieces on display.

Thursday 28 – Saturday 30 April 2022

Musical theatre: Hairspray
Bedford Corn Exchange
Tickets: £18.50/£17.50/£16.50

In 1960s Baltimore, dance-loving teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) auditions for a spot on “The Corny Collins Show” and wins.

She becomes an overnight celebrity, a trendsetter in dance, fun and fashion. Perhaps her new status as a teen sensation is enough to topple Corny’s reigning dance queen and bring racial integration to the show.

A great musical for all the family with some amazing show tunes as well.

Thursday 28 April 2022

Theatre: My Car Plays Tapes
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £10

A new storytelling show about minimum wage jobs, getting older and being reunited with your old cassette collection, from the creator of cult fringe show John Peel’s Shed.

The show was performed at last summer’s Edinburgh festival with two sell-out shows and was well received with glowing reviews.

My Car Plays Tapes is an hour of captivating storytelling, focussing on John’s life as a support worker and a nostalgic look at what happens when you listen to old tapes from the 1990s.

Friday 29 April 2022

Live music: Space Pistol // Bruise // Make You Cry
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £5

Did someone say BANGERS? Bedford Esquires proudly presents a night of epic alt-rock sponsored by Caution Vintage.

Friday 29 April 2022

Film: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The Place Theatre @ 8pm
Tickets: £5

Join Bedford Young Film Programmers as they host this screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The night will consist of 60s music, American Breakfast food and of course an iconic classic 60s film. Make sure to bring your friends and family along and immerse yourselves in this joyous night.

Friday 29 April 2022

Food: Bedford Eat Feast
Riverside Bedford from 4pm – 9pm

Bedford’s monthly street food festival returns to Riverside Square (near Wagamama) with a selection of food and drink vendors. To whet your appetite, check out their Facebook page for a list of all traders.

Friday 29 April 2022

Film: Bill Murray’s New Worlds: Cradle of Civilisation
The Quarry Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: £8

On a glorious Greek evening, screen legend Bill Murray and world-renowned cellist Jan Vogler rock the Acropolis with a timeless mix of music, literature and poetry.

Captured on film by director Andrew Muscato, Murray and Vogler are joined by the dazzling Mira Wang (violin) and dynamic Vanessa Perez (piano).

The international quartet enchants the Athenian audience from the 2,000-year-old stage of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus with musical reflections on love, hope and heartbreak.

Spanning from Bach to Van Morrison, Whitman to West Side Story, the wildly entertaining, humorous and deeply touching program is infused with the one-of-a-kind charm of Bill Murray.

Saturday 30 April 2022

Live music: Gene Loves Jezebel
Bedford Esquies @ 8pm
Tickets: £17

This year will see Gene Loves Jezebel embark on their 40th Anniversary UK Tour.

Fans can expect to hear all the classic GLJ songs plus a few from the critically acclaimed new album too. Last tour they wowed audiences, so make a date with destiny and be part of their 40th Anniversary celebrations.


Saturday 30 April 2022

Community: World Soup Day
The Place Theatre @ 5pm
Tickets: Free

World Disco Soup Day is an action against food waste in which volunteers (that’s you!) are invited to collect, wash, clean, cut and cook leftover foods from the local farmer’s market, or any food that would go to waste for not conforming to the commercial aesthetic standards.

All food prepared is distributed for free but voluntary donations are always welcome on the day.

On top of all of this, it’s a gastronomic, artistic and musical event that brings together people of all ages and background to battle against food waste in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

No spectators (everyone helps, everyone eats) – Not just welfare – Not only a Party – Not only Cooking – Not just for good cooks – Not just a free meal – It’s a DISCO SOUP DAY and TICKETS ARE FREE!

Saturday 30 April 2022

Live music: Moretallica
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £12

Get your tickets to see the most exciting Metallica tribute in the UK, delivering the most authentic musical performance and the most energetic show.

Moretallica formed in 2012, determined to perform the music of heavy metal legends Metallica to the highest standard, immediately setting them at the top level of UK tributes.

A Moretallica show includes songs old and new from every era of Metallica’s career, and is the most energetic spectacle and display of top quality musicianship, as you’d expect from a band with 50+ years of gigging experience across the UK and Europe.

Using the same equipment as Metallica (ESP, Gibson, Jackson, Mesa Boogie, Tama, Zildjian) you’ll only hear a more authentic performance from Metallica themselves!

Sunday 1 May 2022

Live music: The Pride play the May Bank Holiday Sunday Session 
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

Esquires is pleased to welcome nine-piece Ska band ‘The Pride’ to the May Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon session in the bar.

No work the next day so plenty of time for some serious skanking!

Monday 2 May 2022

Poetry: Read Poets Society – With Great Pleasure
The Eagle Book Shop @ 7pm
Tickets: Free

Regular readers take the opportunity to share some of their own favourite prose, poetry and drama. Surprises are guaranteed.

Note that this event takes place at the Eagle Bookshop, St Peter’s Street Bedford.

Monday 2 May 2022

Children’s Theatre: Morgan and West: Unbelievable Science
The Quarry Theatre @ 2pm
Tickets: from £10.50

Morgan & West present captivating chemistry, phenomenal physics, and bonkers biology in this fun for all the family science extravaganza!

Expect explosive thrills, chemical spills and a risk assessment that gives their stage manager chills. Leave your lab coats at the door it’s time for Unbelievable Science!

Tuesday 3 May

Live music: Lunchtime concerts
St Paul’s Church @ 1pm
Free entry with a retiring collection (suggested £5) in aid of church funds

This week’s lunchtime concert at St Paul’s church, Bedford, features the Ormonde Ensemble (Wind Quintet). Free with retiring collection.

Tuesday 3 May to Saturday 7 May 2022

Community Theatre: Present Laughter
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £10

Matinee idol Garry Essendine sits at the centre of his own universe, suave, hedonistic and too old, says his wife, to be having numerous affairs. His line in harmless, infatuated debutantes is largely tolerated but playing closer to home is not. Just before he escapes on tour to Africa the full extent of his misdemeanours is discovered. And all hell breaks loose.

Devastatingly funny and desperately sad, this largely autobiographical comedy is Noël Coward at his finest, the dialogue sparkles and the laughs flow thick and fast.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Spoken Word: Jackastory
The Place Theatre @ 10.30 am
Tickets: Pay What You Can

Listen to members of The Place team read their chosen children’s stories and discover some new favourites of your own. You are welcome to bring your own book suggestions with you too.

Each session runs for forty-five minutes to an hour, with a break for refreshments. This will be a very relaxed event with young, and old, being invited to join the readers on the stage in an intimate and friendly atmosphere, on a mound of comfortable cushions!

Jackastory takes place twice a month and is aimed at 2-5-year olds, but all ages are welcome.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Film: The Getaway
Cinema @ 3 St Peter’s @ 7pm
Tickets: £9/£10.50/£12

When convict Doc McCoy (Steve McQueen) is refused parole, he enlists his wife, Carol (Ali MacGraw), to strike a deal with crooked Texan Jack Benyon (Ben Johnson), who agrees to pull strings for Doc in return for his help on one last bank heist.

The job is a success, but Benyon’s men betray Doc, and he and Carol must take off across Texas with the money, running from both the law and other criminals, aiming to get to Mexico before they’re caught, or worse, killed.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Comedy: The Faulty Towers Dining Experience
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7pm
Tickets: £39.50 (includes three-course meal and two hour interactive show

Selling out at shows all over the world – from Sydney Opera House to London’s West End – the Faulty Towers Dining Experience returns to Bedford Corn Exchange this month.

Basil, Sybil and Manuel are gearing up to bring a healthy dose of mayhem to your door, serving up a three-course meal and nothing short of two full hours of laughter. Anything can happen and it usually does in the show that’s 70% improvised. It’s a guaranteed original experience every time.

Fully immersive, highly interactive and completely original, this is the top-flight, five-star show that is suited to anyone ready for a brilliant night out.

Thursday 5 May 2022

Comedy: Al Murray – Gig for Victory
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £27.50

As the dust settles and we emerge blinking into the dawn of a new year, the men and women of this great country will need answers. Answers that they know they need, answers to questions they never knew existed.

And when that moment comes, who better to show the way, to provide those answers, than the people’s man of the people, the Pub Landlord?

Steeped in the deep and ancient barroom wisdom of countless lock ins, the Pub Landlord is there to show the way.  Wherever you are, he will – within sensible travel limits and theatre booking policy – come, offering people thirsty for common sense a full pint of the good stuff.

Friday 6 May 2022

Live music: Coach Party
Bedford Esquires @ 7pm
Tickets: £8.50

Emerging Isle of Wight four-piece Coach Party are the latest addition to the Chess Club family, the label famed for breaking new talent – where recent signings include Alfie Templeman and Phoebe Green, and past successes include Jungle and Wolf Alice.

Musically, Coach Party are inspired by a broad palate of artists, but always find themselves drawn back to Nirvana, Sonic Youth and The Strokes, and contemporary artists like Wolf Alice, The Big Moon and Tame Impala. Ultimately though, Coach Party’s primary drive to write and perform music comes from “the often entertaining struggle of real life.”

Friday 6 May 2022

Live music: In The Name of Love – the Diana Ross Story
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £24.50

The World’s Premier show in celebration of Diana Ross and the Supremes, taking audiences on a spellbinding journey visiting one of the greatest musical stories ever told.

A chronological history of hits from a career culminating in over 100 million record sales fronted by two international Diana Ross performers Cheri Jade (The Supremes) and Tameka Jackson (Diana’s solo career).

Featuring ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, ‘Baby Love’ ‘Stop in The Name of Love’, ‘Reflections’, ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, ‘Stoned Love’, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, All of My Life’, ‘Touch Me In The Morning’, ‘Upside Down’, ‘My Old Piano’, ‘I’m Coming Out’, ‘Chain Reaction’, and so many more.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Community: Elstow May Festival 
Elstow Abbey Green @ 12pm – 4pm
Free entry

The annual May festival and family fun day in Elstow village. Visit the funfair, browse and buy from over 70 stalls (including street food) and enjoy the procession.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Culture: Beds Urban Sketchers
Elstow May Festival @ 1pm
Free to attend

Join the Bedford chapter of the global Urban Sketchers group, who meet up once a month to sketch on location in and around Bedford. 

Each meet up, they explore a different place, with the mission to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of on-location drawing. No artistic experience necessary!

Meet: 1pm, Moot Hall on the Abbey side

Throwdown & coffee: 3pm outside Moot Hall

Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May 2022

Children’s Theatre: Twirlywoos Live
The Quarry Theatre @ 2pm Saturday; 11am and 2pm Sunday
Tickets: from £10

Join Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy, Chick and their friends as they discover the wonderful world around us! Expect mischief, music and plenty of surprises as they set sail in their big red boat. 

The funny, loveable Twirlywoos are brought to life on stage with beautifully inventive puppetry promising an hour of colourful fun and laughter. 

From the producers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Sarah and Duck Live on Stage, Twirlywoos Live is an enchanting introduction to theatre for all ages.

Saturday 7 May 2022

Live music: A celebration of Rage Against The Machine, ft. The Machine Rages On 
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £10

A long overdue celebration at Esquires of one of the most important bands of the last 30 years, with a night dedicated to Rage Against The Machine.
The Machine Rages On are hands down the finest tribute to one of the greatest alt-rock bands to ever exist.
Expect them to roar through the RATM back catalogue, with tracks from their self titled debut, Evil Empire, Battle For Los Angeles and Renegades. This will be A LOT of fun.

Sunday 8 May 2022

Shopping: Bedford Flea, Affordable Art & Local Produce Market
St Paul’s Square from 10am

The Bedford Flea, Affordable Art and Local Produce Market is back and packed full of vintage, antiques, vinyl and collectibles. You can fill your walls with affordable art from local artists, ranging from street photography to abstract painting and textile and wall hangings.

In their local produce section, there are lots of new faces including the local vineyard, Warden Abbey as well as vegan doughnuts from The Vardo.

Special guests Feast will be serving up fresh hot food with their natural charcoal and wood BBQ from their retro horsebox and A Vegetative State will be dishing out the plant-based deliciousness for a late breakfast/brunch/lunch.

Combine your visit with a stroll along the river, do some shopping and maybe stop for a pint.

The perfect Bedford Sunday!

Until January 2023

Exhibition: Edward Bawden: Artist Plantsman
Higgins Bedford
Free entry but timed tickets required

Every day, influential British artist and designer, Edward Bawden, would spend an hour in his garden at his home in Great Bardfield before starting work in his art studio. Plants and gardens were one of the most prominent and constant subjects of not only his work but also his life.

Drawn exclusively from the Edward Bawden archive, explore Bawden’s lifelong love of plants and gardens through a wide range of his work, including early wallpaper designs, well-known prints, advertising campaigns and private commissions.

From the grand gardens of Carthage and the botanical gardens at Kew, to Bawden’s own gardens at his parent’s home in Braintree and his beloved one-acre plot in Great Bardfield, discover Bawden’s passion for plants and gardens across decades of his work, featuring pieces that have never before been on public display.

Until October 2022

Exhibition: Body & Soul
The Higgins Bedford
Free entry

Edvard Munch (1863–1944), Woman with a Brooch (Madonna), 1903 © The Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery

A new exhibition exploring how women have been represented in art over the past two centuries, opens at The Higgins Bedford on 2 April.

Read: Body & Soul: Higgins’ new exhibition explores the representation of women in art

Highlights in the Body & Soul exhibition – all drawn from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection – include artworks by Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch, Dora Carrington, Stanley Spencer, Henri Matisse, Gwen John, Roy Litchenstein, Lucian Freud and Chila Burman.

Theatre highlights by Paula Walker


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