What’s on Bedford: 15 – 31 December 2022

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With just 10 days til the big day, we’ve got a full round-up of festive things to do, taking you right through til New Year’s Eve.

From traditional pantomimes to live music, Santa’s Grotto to festive crafts and comedy to classic films – we’ve got you covered.

Extra special thanks to Clapham Cars for sponsoring our seasonal what’s on guide.


Festive church services

Christmas at St Paul’s church, Bedford (image: Facebook)

You can find details about festive services at Bedford town centre churches here.


Thursday 15 December 2022

Comedy: Castle Comedy Xmas Special
The Quarry Theatre @ 8pm
Tickets: £16

Castle Comedy is back with its traditional Christmas Special.

The show, headlined by Ivo Graham – will feature star names, big laughs, mince pies, crackers and plenty of Christmas cheer.

Apologetic Eton and Oxford alumnus, Ivo is a regular fixture in the clubs and theatres of the UK circuit, his gauche charm and crafty, self-aware wit has proved a hit with audiences of all ages, and led to appearances on multiple TV and
radio shows including Backstage with Kathrine Ryan, Live At The Apollo, British as Folk, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, Comedy Central At The Comedy Store, Live From the BBC and Fighting Talk.

David Eagle is one of the funniest, fastest-rising acts on the comedy circuit with an array of competition wins and some quality comedy club performances already under his belt. With David being blind, his comedy often explores how his disability means the most ordinary, commonplace events are turned into surreal and convoluted dramas.

Mad Ron is the Third Hardest Man in Uxbridge, is a comedy creation of Steve Lee, first appearing on the comedy circuit back in December 2015. Since then Mad Ron has gone on to win multiple awards.

Castle Comedy favourite Paul Revill will host the show.


Thursday 15 December 2022

Community: Death Café
The Place Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: Free

Join the Death Café at The Place Theatre every third Thursday of the month. A Death Café is an informal gathering of people (often strangers) to talk about death over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. The topic of discussion is generated by the group and there is no agenda, objective or prescribed theme.

A Death Café is an open, accessible and confidential space for those interested in talking about anything in relation to death.


Thursday 15 December 2022

Live music: The Drifters 2022
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.3pm
Tickets: £25/£27

The Drifters are the longest running singing group in pop history still performing live, having enjoyed over 50 hits world wide.

Performing all the hits Saturday Night At the Movies, You’re More Than a Number, Come on Over to My Place, Up On the Roof, Under the Board Walk, Kissin in the Back Row, Save the Last Dance for Me, Down on the Beach, Stand By Me, Like Sister and Brother and many many more.


Friday 16 December to Saturday 24 December 2022

Theatre: Pantaloons present: Dick Whittington and his Cat
The Place Theatre @ 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Tickets: from £10

After the success of Cinderella in 2019, the team returns with another panto classic, Dick Whittington and his Cat. It’s time to find out what the streets of London are really paved with (hint: it isn’t gold) in this raucous new family pantomime from the critically-acclaimed Pantaloons Theatre Company.

Adventure awaits brave Dick Whittington in the big city – and beyond – where he’ll need all the help he can get from his furry friend… And from you, of course!

Expect musical mayhem, rampaging rats, silly sailors and a cat who’s convinced the story is actually Puss in Boots.


Friday 16 December 2022

Live music: The Ramonas Revelations Christmas Knees Up
Bedford Esquires @ 7pm
Tickets: £15

The Ramonas are the UK’s best tribute act to the iconic New York forerunners of punk; The Ramones.

The band began in 2004 and has since evolved into the ultimate re-creation of the 1976 spirit of the definite garage punk rock band. Known for high-energy performances that thrill the audiences with all the classic songs, you better be going to see them play!

Their relentless shows and non-stop touring has earnt them the label of one of the hardest-working bands on the scene in recent years.

The Ramonas not only perform sets of Ramones tunes; since 2016 they have also written and released a number of self-penned albums and EP’s which include their hits First World Problems, Speak Up, The Daily Fail and more.


Friday 16 December 2022

Live music: Elijah Miller + special guests
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £10

Elijah Miller returns for his final show of the year at Bedford Esquires with support from very special guests Hutch.


Friday 16 December 2022

Irish craic: One Night in Dublin
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £22

One Night in Dublin is back, the night when The Wild Murphys will set up Murphy’s Pub at the Corn Exchange, guaranteeing one glorious night of high-energy Irish music and more than a little bit of Irish Craic.

In their own inimitable style, multi-award-winning Irish band The Wild Murphys perform classics tracks including: Galway Girl, Tell Me Ma, Dirty Old Town, The Irish Rover, Brown Eyed Girl, Seven Drunken Nights, Sally MacLennane, When You Were Sweet Sixteen, Whiskey in the Jar, Wild Rover and Molly Malone, guaranteed to have the audience’s hands clapping and toes tapping all night long.


Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 December 2022

Family fun: Face painting, Santa’s Grotto, free fairground rides and balloon artistry
Bedford town centre from 10am
Free (cost for the Harpur Centre Christmas Grotto but use code HC1 for a 20% discount)

It’s the last shopping weekend before Christmas, and there’s plenty to keep the children entertained in Bedford town centre.

Santa’s Grotto at the Harpur Centre is open every day until Christmas Eve. Opening times are 10am – 5pm on Saturdays and weekdays, 10am – 3pm on Sundays and Christmas Eve.

There’s no need to book and shoppers can claim a 20% discount by quoting code HC1 on arrival.

To celebrate the beginning of the Christmas holidays, BedfordBID will be hosting family festive fun between 10am and 3pm. There will be face painting, balloon artistry and mini fairground rides for youngsters, all free of charge.


Saturday 17 December 2022

Family fun: Santa’s Grotto
The Panacea Museum @ 10.30am – 1.30pm
Free entry (suggested donation to Bedford Foodbank)

Santa is paying a flying visit to the Panacea Museum this Saturday and every child that visits his Grotto will be able to meet him a receive a cuddly toy gift.
There will also be free crafts all day and the cosy Tea Shop is selling delicious hot chocolate.
A visit to the Panacea Museum’s Santa’s Grotto is free, but Father Christmas has asked for donations to Bedford Foodbank. You can find the things they’re most in need of here.
Please note:
Santa’s Grotto, refreshments and crafts will all be in the ‘Haven’ building which is accessed via 11 Newnham Road, which will be clearly signposted.
This is a drop-in event and there is no need to book.

Saturday 17 December 2022

Comedy: Comedy Club for Kids Christmas Cracker
The Quarry Theatre @ 2pm
Tickets: from £6.50

Expect the finest Christmas Cracker jokes, tinsel tomfoolery and festive funnies, in the Comedy Club 4 Kids Christmas Cracker special yuletide family comedy show.

Starring Comedy Club 4 Kids’ regular host Tiernan Douieb himself, Howard Read of ‘Little Howard’ and CBBC fame, and the gregarious Helen Duff, this show will be jam-packed with a whole heap of Christmas Comedy Fun to get you in the
mood for the BIG DAY (you know, when the big red jolly guy comes down the chimney).

Comedy Club 4 Kids gives kids a chance to see some of comedy’s biggest names, just like mum and dad would go to see if they can get a babysitter, but without the rude bits!


Saturday 17 December 2022

Live music: Foo Fighters GB
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

Foo Fighters GB return to Bedford following numerous previous sold-out shows at Esquires. Celebrating the hits of the Foo Fighters in full volume Foo Fighters GB have quickly established themselves as the UK’s finest and most talked about tribute to the Foo Fighters, the greatest rock band on the planet.

Foo Fighters GB have been rocking out festivals and music venues since summer 2015 with their charismatic and adrenaline-pumping show and take audiences on an absolutely epic, exhilarating journey playing all their favourite Foos tracks, from the first eponymous album to their most recent instant classic Saint Cecilia.


Saturday 17 December 2022

Live music: Lost In Music
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £25

Get ready to recreate the Magical 70s and let us take you on a musical journey straight to the heart of D.I.S.C.O.

Relive some of the greatest songs of all time from artists such as Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sister Sledge and Chic.

This show boasts a sensational live band, incredibly talented cast and stunning vocals. So, come dressed to impress as we celebrate the golden age of Disco featuring songs such as Never Can Say Goodbye, On The Radio, Hot Stuff, Car Wash, Boogie Wonderland and many, many more.

It’s the feel-good show of the year!


Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 December 2022

Workshop: 48-hour Panto Workshop
The Place Theatre @ 10am
Tickets: £30 for both days

Join the fantastic workshop leaders from The Pantaloons for this full weekend exploring everything Panto. This two-day workshop for young performers aged 10-16 will make sure all participants leave knowing their Slop Scene from their Widow Twankies as we crash, jumble and bump our way through everything silly and slapstick.

At the end of the workshops participants will work together to make their own short Panto scenes, which will then be performed before the main Christmas show on Tuesday 20 December.


Sunday 18 December 2022

Family crafts: Make paper Christmas stars
The Higgins Bedford @ 2pm – 4pm
Free

Explore the amazing art and fascinating artefacts on display around the museum and gallery, then make your very own paper Christmas star to decorate your home.


Sunday 18 December 2022

Live music: Cherry Lee Mewis & her Blues Gems play the Sunday Afternoon Session
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

The last Sunday afternoon session of the year features the welcome return of Cherry Lee Mewis and her Blues Gems .. Always a big event in the Esquires Christmas calendar – and the return of the Christmas Raffle.


Sunday 18 December 2022

Film: Love Actually (2002)
The Place Theatre @ 6.30pm
Tickets: £5

The best Prime Minister we never had

Starting at 5pm, arrive in time to fill your glass with our delicious mulled wine, and enjoy this classic romantic comedy.

Love Actually follows the lives of eight very different couples dealing with their love lives, in various loosely and interrelated tales, all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.


Monday 19 December 2022

Film: Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
The Place Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: £5

Six-year-old Susan Walker has doubts about childhood’s most enduring miracle – Santa Claus. Her mother told her the secret about Santa a long time ago, but, after meeting a special department store Santa who’s convinced he’s the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all – something to believe in.


Wednesday 21 and Wednesday 28 December 2022

Storytime: Jackastory
The Place Theatre @ 10.30am
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.

(Aimed at 2-5-year olds, but all ages welcome).


Wednesday 21 December 2022

Film: Cinema @ 3 St Peter’s presents – It’s a Wonderful Life
3 St Peter’s Street @ 7pm
Tickets: £12/£10.50/£9/£6

To celebrate Cinema @ 3 St Peter’s being open for three years, the team is showing the film that they showed on their opening night back in December 2019.

George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years



Thursday 22 – Sunday 31 December 2022

Panto: Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Corn Exchange @ times vary
Tickets: £19/£17.50/£16

A tale as old as time, told in the timeless tradition of panto. Fun for all the family, guaranteed.


Friday 23 December 2022

Club night: Loaded
Bedford Esquires @ 10pm
Tickets: £5 advance / £7 on the door

Once again, the crew is getting back together for a LOADED Xmas special on Friday 23 December. Expect to hear dancefloor destroyers from the past to the future from the worlds of Indie, Punk, Rock & Roll, Old Skool Hip Hop and Beats.
Once a mainstay of Saturday nights at The Pad, the Loaded club night is an evening of good music, good people, plenty of debauchery and good times. This is going to be a fun one.

Christmas Eve 2022

Live music: The A Band play the Christmas Eve Session 
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

The festive season wouldn’t be the same at Esquires without the A Band Christmas show. Bruce, Mark, Pete, Richard and Tim will be playing live from 5pm.


Christmas Eve 2022

Storytelling: A Christmas Carol
Streamed from The Place Theatre @ 6pm
Free

Bedford Players Trust and Swan Theatre bring you an online story to entertain the whole family at home on Christmas Eve.

Recorded as Live at The Place Bedford in the lead up to Christmas Eve 2022, this simple evening of storytelling from members of Swan Theatre Company & The Place Bedford volunteers will bring Charles Dickens’ timeless tale to life.

Available to watch through our YouTube channel, this live premiere of this year’s adaptation will be the perfect start to your Christmas Holiday festivities.

 



Boxing Day 2022

Club night: Silent Disco – Boxing Day edition
Bedford Esquires @ 10pm
Tickets: £8 advance / £10 on the door

The time has once again come to dance off the turkey bellies with Esquires’ legendary Boxing Day Silent Disco.

Never been to a silent disco? Grab a pair of three-channel headphones on the way in – three DJs will be spinning big tunes, just choose which one you want to listen to. Dance, sing, shout the night away and leave with a big smile on your face!
Channel 1: 80s & 90s Hits
Channel 2: Indie & Rock bangers
Channel 3: Hip Hop & Dance Anthems

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Theatre: Alice in Winterland
The Place Theater @ 6pm
Tickets: £12 / £8 / family ticket £32

 
Curiouser and curiouser. Alice is lost in Winterland, the caterpillar was no help, and the Cheshire Cat only grins. The flowers speak, the turtles talk in rhyme and everyone is scared of the Red Queen. There’s only one person that can help, but unfortunately, he’s quite mad.
 
Join Lamphouse on a fascinating, funny, music-filled adventure down the rabbit hole this Christmas. Based on Lewis Carroll’s original story with new songs, lots of laughs and many many hats, this is Alice, with a difference! We’re all mad here!

 


Wednesday 28 December 2022

 

Family fun: Board game day
The Place Theatre @ midday
Free entry
A free, open afternoon dedicated to board games and play. The Place Theatre will open up their spaces, lay out the tables & chairs and invite everyone to join in an afternoon of gaming.
Bring the family, bring your friends, bring that game you just got for Christmas. A chance to mix and mingle with other board gamers & unwind.
 
Perfect if you’ve got that huge box game that takes a dining table and six hours to play.

Thursday 29 December 2022

 

Zoom via the Place Theatre
£10/team of up to six people

Join The Place Theatre’s film programming team for a quick-fire, 10-round movie quiz. Test your knowledge from across genres, decades and countries in this team quiz competition.

Know your Goddard from your God-awful? Your Noir from your Noe? Your Bout de Souffle from your Das Boot?

Then this is the quiz for you!


Friday 30 December 2022

 

Live music: Full Circle
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Free entry

The last show from one of Bedford’s most popular bar bands. Free admission, early arrival advised.


New Year’s Eve 2022

Club night: Silent Disco – family edition
Bedford Esquires @
Tickets: £8 advance /£10 on the door / group saver tickets for groups of four – £27 (save £5)

Esquires is bringing back its kids and adults party on New Year’s Eve with a festive Silent Disco to tire out the little ones before the adults go out to play.
Three channels of music will be transmitted to your LED Headphones
Channel 1: Adult Party Anthems Channel (kid friendly)
Channel 2: Kids Pop Channel (adult friendly)
Channel 3: Disney Hits Channel
Recommended for kids 12 years and below. On the day, all children must be accompanied by a participating adult. Likewise, Adults are not permitted unless accompanied by a child. Children must be supervised at all times.

New Year’s Eve 2022

Live music: The Workshop Boys
Bedford Esquires @
Tickets: £7

Workshop Boys

One of Bedford’s best-loved bar bands play the New Year’s Eve bash in the bar at Esquires. £7 in advance from Slide Records and Esquires Bar.


New Year’s Eve 2022

Club night: The Biggest Party Ever
Bedford Esquires @
Tickets: £8 advance / £10 on the door

Let’s face it, the best bit of 2023 will be the first few hours when you are dancing your cares away with your friends before having to face reality again. It’s the one time all year you can wipe the slate clean and clear you mind while screaming the words to all the songs you really love but forgot about because they don’t play them on the rolling news channel you’ve been watching to keep up with who the latest prime minister is.
To aid those magical moments of carefree abandon Team Esquires be playing the Greatest Hits*. All of them. In order. All gold, all bangers, all killer and (you guessed it) no filler.
There will be an awkward countdown and some chimes somewhere around midnight and plenty of confetti cannons set off about 10 seconds later because those things are really hard to actually get to work when you’re under pressure.
*Greatest Hits may vary depending on personal preference but will almost certainly include indie and guitar anthems, dance bangers, classic hip hop joints, soul, funk, disco, rock n roll, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, the best bits of Now 33 (CD2 only, CD1 was lost years ago) and all those moments in history when pop goes bang.

 


Until April 2023

Art and culture: Changing Times: A century of modern British art
The Higgins Bedford
Free entry

Some of the most well-loved British artists of the 20th and 21st centuries feature in a new exhibition at the Higgins Bedford on Castle Lane this autumn.

From Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Paul Nash to Elisabeth Frink, David Hockney and Lucian Freud, the exhibition brings together some of the biggest names in British art, and explores its history since the 20th century.

Changing Times: A Century of Modern British Art is the first large-scale exhibition since the post-pandemic reopening of The Higgins Bedford.

Read more: David Hockney and Lucian Freud shine in new Higgins autumn exhibition


Theatre highlights by Paula Walker