What’s on Bedford: 5 – 15 May 2022

Here’s our weekly roundup of the best of Bedford’s music, theatre, art, comedy, culture, shopping and family fun for the next 10 days.

Pop along to Bedford Flea, join in the Elstow May festival, book tickets for Castle Comedy or take your pick from live music at the Corn Exchange and Bedford Esquires.


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!

Sunday 8 May 2022

Shopping: The Bedford Kilo
Bedford Corn Exchange from 10.30am
Entry: Early bird (10.30am – 11.30am) £3 General admission (11.30am – 4pm) £2 Free entry (3pm – 4pm)

Bring your own bag and shop til you drop at the Bedford Kilo. There will be tonnes of sustainable, vintage, retro and branded fashion priced at £20/kilo.

The perfect accompaniment to a trip to Bedford Flea!

Tuesday 10 May 2022

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 performance features a piano recital by Jill Morton. Free entry with a retiring collection.

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Live music: Personal Trainer & Bullet Girl – Great Escape Festival Warm Up
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £8

Personal Trainer is a rock collective around singer/songwriter Willem Smit.

Live, they have an ever-shifting line-up with members from bands like Canshaker Pi, Pip Blom, Bull, Steve French, The Klittens, Home Counties and many more. Personal Trainer balances between a spontaneous and fun interaction between musicians being thrown together on a stage without having rehearsed too much, and playing well composed catchy and noisy pop songs with a rock attitude.

They were described as “a manic indie rock orchestra that taps into the wayward spirits of Car Seat Headrest, Silver Jews, The Fall and LCD Soundsystem, with Smit playing the role of everyman poet and ringmaster” and “Perfectly organized chaos.”

Catch them ahead of their appearance at the Great Escape.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Comedy: Castle Comedy
The Ent Shed at the Gordon Arms @ 8.15pm
Tickets: £12

Ahir Shah

Castle Comedy is back at its spiritual home, the Gordon Arms Ent Shed. The show will be a classic mixed bill of TV names and rising stars in an intimate environment, hosted by Bedford favourite, Paul Revill. There is also an exclusive pre-show meal offer so you can enjoy a delicious dinner beforehand.
Ahir Shah is a double Edinburgh Comedy Award ‘Best Show’ nominee and one of the fastest-rising comedians of his generation.
He is known for his sharp, intellectual brand of stand-up featuring a blend of philosophical inquiry, political vigour, and sweet gags. Ahir is a regular on television and radio and has performed stand-up on Live At The Apollo and The Now Show among many others.
Ed Heddges is taking the comedy scene by storm after winning the prestigious
So You Think You’re Funny Competition in 2013  He was invited to perform at the Adelaide Fringe in 2018 as part of their UK All Star show. He is young, funny and set to be a major star!

Thursday 12 May 2022

Live music: SINKA / Ali in the Jungle / The Hats / High Regard
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £5

One night, four bands.

Thursday 12 May 2022

Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £14 – £38

Celebrate the warmth of spring as the Philharmonia closes its Bedford season with the beautiful melodies of Mendelssohn’s life-affirming Violin Concerto paired with Sibelius’s best-loved symphony.

Appearing centre-stage is violinist Randall Goosby, whose meteoric career launched as a protege of violin legend Itzhak Perlman.

He has since taken the world by storm and makes his Bedford debut with Mendelssohn’s stunning Violin Concerto. Filled with stormy emotion, unforgettable melodies and electrifying virtuosity, Mendelssohn’s masterly work delights wherever it is performed.

Completing the programme is Sibelius’s Second Symphony. While the first notes came to him during a happy period spent in Italy, the piece is filled with the unmistakeable sound of Sibelius’s Finnish homeland.

Lush, flowing melodies in the strings balance against soulful solo moments for each instrument of the woodwind section, evoking green forests and icy landscapes.

While the second movement sees a cold, austere walking bass line underpin a melancholy mood, the music gradually builds in energy as it launches into a feverishly intense third movement. But finishing the concert – and the Philharmonia’s entire season in its Bedford residency – a towering brass finale provides a majestic send-off.

Friday 13 May 2022

Comedy: Sean McLoughlan: So Be It
The Quarry Theatre @ 8pm
Tickets: £15

International microstar Sean McLoughlin is back on the road with a scintillating new stand-up show.

The world may be a strange and scary place but there’s no need for the bastards to get you down.

Come sit in a dark room and listen to some jokes told by “an impassioned and uniquely brilliant talent” (The List). Widely acclaimed for his hilarious and incisive stand-up, Sean has recently supported Ricky Gervais in arenas across the globe having previously opened for Bill Burr at the Royal Albert Hall.

He has made multiple TV appearances, been nominated for a Chortle Award and released two extremely successful US comedy albums.

Friday 13 May 2022

Live music: The Dirt Road Band
Bedford Esquires @8pm
Tickets: £10

The Dirt Road Band features the combined talents of Steve Walwyn (32 years in Dr Feelgood), Horace Panter (42 years in The Specials) and Ted Duggan (Badfinger, The Beat and The Selecter).

Friday 13 May 2022

Live music: The Shires
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 8pm
Tickets: £29.50

Two of country music’s most prominent voices, The Shires return to Bedford Corn Exchange to perform tracks from the new album, Good Years. The album was recorded in Nashville and is a poignant project for Crissie and Ben as they have made huge waves both on home soil and across the pond as the first UK artists to win ‘Best International Act’ at the prestigious Country Music Awards.

Friday 13 May 2022

Live music: New Groove Formation + The Tics
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £10

New Groove Formation and special guests bring their Spring Party to Bedford.
Let’s have it !!!

Saturday 14 May 2022

Live music: Organ recitals
St Paul’s Church Bedford @ 12 noon
Free entry with a retiring collection

The series of Saturday lunchtime organ recitals will be held at St Paul’s throughout the year. Why not combine your visit with a light lunch or coffee and cake from the church’s Saturday cafe? Admission is free with a retiring collection.

This weekend sees a recital from Sean Tucker. Free with retiring collection.

Saturday 14 May 2022

Retro: Stranger Things 80s Night
Rewind Retro Arcade @ 7.30pm – 10pm
Tickets: £17

To celebrate the highly-anticipated release of season four of Stranger Things, Rewind Retro Arcade hosts a time-travelling party.

It’s time to go back to the 80s, get dressed up in your grooviest clothes for a night at the Palace Arcade. Boom boxes at the ready for the 80s soundtrack to your evening, you can even enjoy an ice cream from Scoops Ahoy!

Saturday 14 May 2022

Live music: Balaam and The Angel + Dawn After Dark
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm

Rescheduled from way back in 2020, Balaam and the Angel finally make their return to Bedford Esquires.

The 80’s post punk legends will be playing a set full of all their classic tunes and bringing their full live experience.

Special guests are Dawn after Dark, showcasing their critically acclaimed new album ‘New Dawn Rising’.

Saturday 14 May 2022

Musical theatre: Calling Planet Earth
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £22.50

Calling Planet Earth – the show that defines a decade.

A New Romantic symphony journeying through one of the greatest musical eras of all time – the electrifying 80s.

Featuring songs from now legendary artists including Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, The Human League, Ultravox, Tears of Fears, Depeche Mode, OMD, Japan, ABC, Soft Cell and many more…

Sunday 15 May 2022

Live music: Sunday Afternoon Session ‘A Drink for Sid’
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

It’s that time of year when Bedford Esquires hosts its annual Sunday session to pay tribute to Bedford’s Mr Music ‘Sid Worth’.

Sid’s old band ‘The A Band’ will be hosting and introducing some special guests.

Until 12 June 2022

Exhibition: Archipelago: Take Part Queen’s Park Community Exhibition
The Higgins Bedford until 12 June 2022
Free entry

Still from the Archipelago film of the Allotted sequence © Caroline Wendling

Still from the Archipelago film of the Allotted sequence © Caroline Wendling
A new exhibition celebrating the vibrancy of Queen’s Park opens at the Higgins Bedford this month.

Using film, embroidery and clay, curated by artist Caroline Wendling the exhibition is a collaboration with residents as part of the Take Part Queen’s Park project.

“Queen’s Park is like an archipelago [a group of islands] – a place where people who each have their own cultures and traditions come together to form one unique, vibrant and unified community,” said Caroline Wendling.

Delivered by Bedford Creative Arts in partnership with The Higgins Bedford and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Harpur Trust and housing association bpha.

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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