What’s on Bedford: 12 – 22 May 2022


Welcome to this week’s what’s on guide – your indispensable calendar of the best of Bedford’s live music, theatre, art, film and family fun over the next 10 days.


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.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

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

Bedford river bridge St Paul'sThis week’s lunchtime concert at St Paul’s church, Bedford, features Alex Collins, Violin. Free with retiring collection.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Art & Culture: Fine and Decorative Art Tour
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:30am – 12:30pm
£6.35, Concessions £5.10 (booking essential)

Have you ever wanted to know how the art collections at The Higgins were formed and why they are here in Bedford?

Then come along and join in this tour of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection to
find out more.

Book online at thehigginsbedford.org.uk or call the Box Office on 01234 718044 – line open Monday to Friday 11am-3pm.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Film: L’Amour l’apres-midi / Love in the Afternoon
Cinema @ 3 St Peters @ 7pm
Tickets: £9/£10.50/£12

Eric Rohmer’s acclaimed meditation on marital fidelity follows Frederic (Bernard Verley), a successful Parisian lawyer who is happily married to Helene (Francoise Verley), a schoolteacher.

Though Frederic daydreams about affairs with other women, he doesn’t come close to acting on such thoughts until he runs into Chloe (Zouzou), a beautiful old acquaintance.

Tempted by the vibrant Chloe, Frederic is torn between impulsive lust and his love for his wife.

Thursday 19 May – 9 June 2022

Family fun: Town centre Jubilee Trail
Bedford town centre
Free to enter

To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 12 crowns will be hidden in various windows around the town centre.

Why not explore the town while following the map to find the crowns?

The trail will run from Thursday 19 May through the long Jubilee weekend and ends on Thursday 9 June.

Maps will be available to download online, or will be available to collect from The Higgins or Central Library.

Thursday 19 May 2022

Live music: The Allergies + Miller Collective
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £15

Since forming in 2012, The Allergies have made a name for themselves with their take on sample-led beats and breaks.

Over the course of two funk-fuelled albums on Jalapeno Records the dynamic duo of DJ Moneyshot & Rackabeat have stacked up accolades and topped charts along the way. Their

last album, Push On, was a melting pot of vintage licks and modern production. It featured heavily on many end of year roundups when it dropped in 2017, and took the Album of the Year gong on BBC 6 Music, thanks to Craig Charles’ constant championing.

On record, their infectious fusion of hip-hop and rare grooves has won them fans worldwide. And live they recreate that old block party madness on the turntables, cutting up wax like no others with their party-starting DJ sets.

From ram jam stages at Glastonbury festival to rocking the legendary Space in Ibiza, they have one mission – to rock the spot.

Support comes from Bedford’s very own funkateers, the Miller Collective.

Thursday 19 May 2022

Speed dating
3 St Peters @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £25 (members) £30 (non members)

Explore your chemistry with other local singles in a safe, friendly and beautiful venue. An opportunity to make friends or to meet a potential partner.


Friendly and experienced meet up hosts will be on hand, including 3 St Peter’s experienced dating coach, Leah, who has previously run a number of successful dating events in Bedford.

Friday 20 May 2022

Creative: Talk & Draw
Friday 20 May, 12:30pm (Talk) – 4pm
Free entry, no beed to book

Join in this Talk & Draw session and take a look at some of the weird and wonderful objects in the Higgins House, followed by an afternoon of sketching.

Art materials and portable chairs are provided. No art experience needed to join in.

Friday 20 May 2022

Live music: FastLove – a tribute to George Michael
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £25/£23

Get ready for an unforgettable evening celebrating a global superstar, as he puts the Boom Boom into your heart in the all-new production, Fastlove – A tribute to George Michael.

The show is packed with crowd-pleasing anthems from Wham! classics onwards.

You’ll be getting up (to get down) to all your favourite songs including Careless Whisper, Freedom, Faith, Father Figure, Outside, Jesus To A Child, and many more.

Friday 20 May 2022

Theatre: The Letter of Last Resort and Tales for Star City
The Place theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £7

The Soviet Union. 1967. The Space Race is at its height. One woman at the centre of it all looks back on her dreams of being part of the great Communist movement during one of the most dramatic decades of the Cold War.

Some time later on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the new Prime Minister is working late into the night when she is interrupted by a request – a letter needs to be written. It can only say one of two things, but its implications could change the face of the earth forever…

This double-bill of short plays explores the brightest and darkest moments of 20th Century history through two tautly written and gripping dramas. It will leave you questioning the nature of power and asking how our political beliefs can really change our lives – and the world.

Friday 20 May 2022

Live music: The HomeGrown with Electric Circus, The Tarrows, Fraser Mackenzie & Moondog
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm

The HomeGrown are no strangers to Bedford but this will be their first gig here since before lockdown pt 1.

Electric Circus are an up and coming three-piece based in the North East of England. This will be their Bedford debut.

The Tarrows, formerly The Know are local to Bedford and they rock!

Moondog is a solo artist from Bedford who plays catchy songs whilst tackling serious issues in society.

Friday 20 May 2022

Cabaret: Extravaganza Cabaret featuring Delilah Bon + Attitude
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

Delilah Bon is headlining the extravaganza!

Bedford’s leading cabaret and drag act is back – bigger and better and on the Main Stage at Esquires.

Read more here: Bedford’s alternative drag and cabaret show is back


Saturday 21 May 2022

Comedy: Jokes and Laffs
The Place Theatre @ 8pm
Tickets: £12

Travis Jay is among the performers at Jokes and Laffs this month

GMG Promotions presents an evening filled with laughter and more. Showcasing the very best of established and new comedy talents – both homegrown and international, while also making sure to cater for all comedy lovers of all backgrounds.

Saturday 21 May 2022

Children’s Comedy: James Campbell: The Funny Life of …
The Quarry Theatre @ 2.30pm
Tickets: from £8.50

It’s time to stick a banana in each ear and blow your nose without using your hands. No, it isn’t that at all, actually.  It’s actually time to watch James Campbell’s one-man comedy show.

Stand-up comedy is a wonderful art form.  Nothing else allows an artist to interact so wonderfully with their audience.  Some comedians have recently started trying to do this with children.  James Campbell invented the whole thing.

Saturday 21 May 2022

Wellbeing: Saturday Wellbeing
The Higgins Bedford @ 12pm – 4:15pm
Free entry, drop in – no need to book

Come along and enjoy some down-time at Saturday Wellbeing with soundbath meditations, tea party poetry, table-top games and Aragon Lacemakers sharing their skills in Bedfordshire lacemaking.

Saturday 21 May 2022

Live music: Ceremony #2 – a new music all-dayer
Bedford Esquires from 12.30pm
Tickets: £27.50

Big Joanie are among the acts playing at the festival

This month sees the return of Esquires’ all-day music festival, Ceremony, a multi-room, gender-balanced music festival that aims to highlight diverse and exciting new music.

The joyful Dutch four-piece PIP BLOM, will be headlining the second edition of ‘Ceremony’, having recently sold out London’s Islington Assembly Hall. This is their first time performing in Bedford and the very first time to head up a line up that includes the horn-fuelled sleaze of Brighton’s Opus Kink, the eclecticism of New York’s Babi Ali and the soaring post-punk shoegaze of the hotly tipped Damefrisor.

Also appearing will be Big Joanie, the London based feminist punk band who combine the melodic pop of sixties girl groups with the fury of nineties riot grrrl and have been championed by the likes of Idles & Skunk Anansie. They will be performing at Esquires prior to an appearance at the ‘Meltdown Festival’ at the personal invite of Grace Jones and a UK tour with St Vincent.

Other confirmed acts include Welsh firebrands Panic Shack, who recently stole the show at the BBC 6Music Festival in Cardiff, ‘excited skint Northerners’ Low Hummer and the acerbic Orwellian observations of Portsmouth’s Hallan.

With three stages running throughout the day, including an outdoor stage showcasing some of the best new acts from Bedfordshire and the surrounding Counties, the full lineup can be found on their website.

There will also be authentic street food on-site from Cartina Carnitas and A-Vegetative State, catering for vegans and carnivores and everyone in between.

Saturday 21 May 2022

Theatre: Twelfth Night
The Quarry Theatre Garden @ 7pm
Tickets: £19 [one “under 10” ticket free of charge with each paid ticket]

Join The HandleBards at The Quarry Theatre for a bicycle-powered, laugh-out-loud production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Duke Orsino is in love with Lady Olivia, but she won’t have anything to do with suitors. Viola is shipwrecked and believes her twin brother Sebastian to be dead. Meanwhile, a bunch of Olivia’s servants plot to make a fool out of her pompous butler, Malvolio. There’s drunkenness, frivolity and cross-dressing a plenty.

This is an outdoor production, so please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on, a picnic to dig into, and dress for the weather!

Saturday 21 May 2022

Classical music: Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: prices vary

Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert is an exciting mix of musical masterpieces.

Under the direction of the orchestra’s regular conductor Michael Rose, the concert starts with Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger, followed by Rachmaninov’s Concerto for Piano No. 2, which sees the return of Chinese born British pianist Mengyang Pan as soloist.

The concert concludes with Sibelius Symphony No. 1.

Sunday 22 May 2022

Family fun: Sunday Crafternoon
The Higgins Bedford @ 2pm – 4pm
Free entry, drop in, no need to book

Enjoy an afternoon of free family creative crafts. Explore amazing art and fascinating artefacts around the museum and art gallery, then use your imagination and a range of media and materials to get arty.

Suitable for under 12s and children must be accompanied by an adult. Drop in anytime during the afternoon. Please be aware that places are limited and there may be a wait to start.

Sunday 22 May 2022

Live music: May Contain Nutz play the Sunday Afternoon Session
Bedford Esquires Until 12 June 2022
Free entry

The Party Rock band from Bedford bow out of the limelight, playing their last ever gig at the Esquires’ Sunday Session.

”It’s been a great ride for the past eight years. A ton of great gigs, lots of parties and a shedload of inflatable guitars but now it’s time to move on.”

Until 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

This week’s What’s on guide is sponsored by Clapham Cars

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