What’s on Bedford: 18 – 28 May 2023


Your weekly what’s on guide for Bedford and the surrounding area from The Bedford Clanger.

Never miss a thing in Bedford ever again. From theatre to film, live music to art exhibitions, The Bedford Clanger what’s on guide lands every Thursday and is the only guide you need to know what’s on and what’s happening across the Borough for the next 10 days.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Shopping: Clemency Jude clothes swap
Herd, St Cuthbert’s Street @ 7pm
Tickets: £12.50/golden ticket £16.50

Following two successful swish and clothes swap events last year, local sustainable fashion brand, Clemency Jude, is joining forces with, HERD Bedford again to host their third swish event.

This is the perfect way to freshen up your wardrobe while at the same time, giving it a spring clean! An evening of guilt-free shopping.

Any clothes not swished on the night are used by Clemency Jude owner, Emma Talbot, to make new hair accessories and clothing designs. Tickets can be purchased here, where you can also find out all the Swish rules.  

Thursday 18 May 2023

Theatre: NT Live presents The Best of Enemies
The Quarry Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: £14.50 / £12.50

David Harewood (Homeland) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) play feuding political rivals in James Graham’s (Sherwood) multiple award-winning new drama.

In 1968 America, as two men fight to become the next president, all eyes are on the battle between two others: the cunningly conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and the unruly liberal Gore Vidal.

During a new nightly television format, they debate the moral landscape of a shattered nation. As beliefs are challenged and slurs slung, a new frontier in American politics is opening and television news is about to be transformed forever.

Jeremy Herrin (All My Sons) directs this blistering political thriller, filmed live in London’s West End.

Thursday 18 May 2023

On the river: Motown and Soul Music Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Newnham Steps @ 7.30pm
Tickets: Adult £20

The John Bunyan Community Boat on the River Great Ouse with Bedford's Castle Mound in the background
The John Bunyan Community Boat

Enjoy an evening of Motown and Soul as the sun goes down, on board the John Bunyan as you cruise Bedford’s upper river Great Ouse along the Embankment.

DJ Keith Stewart will help passengers dance the night away to classic Motown and Soul tracks.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Music and theatre: Bedford Music Club presents – Into the Melting Pot
Bunyan Meeting, Mill Street @ 7.45pm

Music and theatre collide in this production by  The Telling. The story concerns the intolerance experienced by Jewish, Christian and Muslim women in the melting pot of 1492 Spain.

At twilight on her final night in Seville, a Jewish woman lights the lamps. She is being forced to leave Spain and set sail for an uncertain future. Her story echoes down the ages and speaks to the personal stories of people affected by politics and war today. She tunes into voices of a community of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women from across the Spanish peninsula.

Down the centuries, women’s stories of integration, love, the rich cultural heritage of the Spanish peninsula and racial intolerance are played out to a soundtrack of plaintive Sephardic songs and lively medieval music, with full staging and stunning lighting. Be transported back to 15th century Seville!

Friday 19 May 2023

Live music: The Illegal Eagles
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £32.50

Celebrating the music of the legendary West Coast Country Rock band, The Illegal Eagles return in 2023 for another outstanding show promising more of their trademark musical prowess, acute attention to detail and incredible showmanship.

This critically acclaimed show features the very best from the Eagles’ catalogue of classics including Hotel California, Desperado, Take It Easy, New Kid In Town, Life In The Fast Lane and many more.

Friday 19 May 2023

Live music: Five Five Six
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm
Doors open at 5.00pm
Free entry

Five Five Six return to the Cellar Bar, so get ready for a great night of legendary rock tunes! 

Friday 19 May 2023

Live music: King Kurt plus the Graveyard Rats
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £18

Unless you really don’t know or have been sleeping under a rock for decades, King Kurt are a psychobilly rock band from the UK.

They formed in 1981 and although these psychobilly pranksters are best remembered for “Destination Zululand,” the rambunctious smash with which they stormed the U.K. chart in 1984, to recall them purely as one-hit wonders is to decry years of achievement.

Their gigs have become tribal gatherings, songs became rockabilly psycho chants, and haircuts were — well, let’s just say they were mighty peculiar, and leave it at that.

King Kurt’s reputation has never flagged and, if anything, has grown even wilder over the years.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Dancing: Red Cuthbert Morris Dancers
Various locations from midday

Catch the Red Cuthbert Morris team on their ‘mini tour’ of Bedford.

They’ll be at Bromham Mill at 10.30am, Bedford Arms in Oakley at midday, the Horse and Groom in Clapham at 1.45pm and the Bluebell in Putnoe at 3pm.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Relax: Fish and Chip Supper Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 6pm
Tickets: Adult £26 Child £14

Have a relaxing evening cruise as the sun goes down along Bedford’s picturesque Embankment. Discover Bedford’s unique pyramid while enjoying our Fish & Chip supper.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Walk: North Bedfordshire Ramblers’ weekly walk
Riseley Fox and Hounds MK44 1DT @ 1.30pm

North Bedfordshire Ramblers following a footpath alongside a summer meadow towards a rural church
Joining North Bedfordshire Ramblers is a great way to explore the county and beyond (image: North Bedfordshire Ramblers)

Six mile walk. Walking towards Swineshead and back. Short stretch of road walking.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Classical music: Handbells In Concert
St Paul’s Church, Bedford @ 7 pm
Tickets: Adults £12 / Concessions £10 / Children (Under 18) Free

The East Anglian Region of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain will host a concert at St Paul’s church in Bedford this month.

Under musical director Aiden Fozard, 35 musicians will be performing with over 300 instruments, including soloists from the Bedfordshire Woodwind Academy Flute Ensemble.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Clubbing: Forever Indie Club Night
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £5

Forever Indie Club Night celebrates the 00s golden age, with nothing but wall-to-wall bangers for four hours and all wrapped up by 1am.

You’re Not Nineteen Forever…and neither are we, with an earlier start and finish time for those who think 3am is nothing but nightmare fuel. Let’s all be home and in our PJ Harveys in good time, after doing the D.A.N.C.E.

Somebody Told Me it’s Time To Pretend it’s 2002 all over again and the indie explosion is about to happen.

Expect nothing but dancefloor classics, playing the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, Klaxons, The View, Kaiser Chiefs, Jamie T, Bloc Party, The Long Blondes, The Rakes, White Stripes, The Cribs, Maximo Park, Pigeon Detectives, Art Brut, LCD Soundsystem, CSS, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer, Hard-Fi, QOTSA, The Rapture, Kings Of Leon, Kasabian, The Killers, The Libertines, MIA, Vampire Weekend, The Gossip, The Futureheads and many many more…

Saturday 20 May 2023

Classical music: Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £7 – £17

The Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra’s next concert, the last to be conducted by its renowned conductor, Michael Rose, will feature three masterpieces of folk dances by Kodaly, jazz rhythms by Ravel, and symphonic grandeur by Schubert.

Zoltan Kodály’s Dances of Galánta was composed in 1933 on commission for the 80th anniversary of the Budapest Philharmonic Society, and is based on the verbunkos folk music of Galánta (now part of Slovakia), where Kodály lived for several years.

Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major was composed between 1929 and 1931. The light-hearted nature of the concerto is confirmed from the first sound we hear: a playful, percussive whip-crack, and the work is jazz-tinged in its outer movements. In between, a slow movement of serene beauty confirms Ravel’s status as a master of melody. ‘That flowing phrase!’ he apparently commented, ‘how I worked over it bar by bar! It nearly killed me!’ Our soloist for this concert will be the Chinese born British pianist Mengyang Pan, an international soloist and prize winner, and professor of piano at the Royal College of Music.

Franz Schubert’s  Symphony No. 9 in C major, D 944, was composed in 1828, the year of Schubert’s death, and was never heard by the composer. Indeed, the symphony’s structure may have played a part, as the Vienna Philharmonic’s musicians claimed that the work was too long and difficult even to tackle in rehearsal. The symphony begins with a noble, reflective theme, initially heard from the horns, and the work’s grandeur and sense of space throughout its four movements, together with its sheer length, helped to earn it the nickname the ‘Great C Major’.

“We hope you will join us to celebrate Michael Rose’s lengthy tenure, and also enjoy this wonderful concert of music by Kodaly, Ravel and Schubert!”

Saturday 20 May 2023

Live music: Creedence Clearwater Review
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £14

Creedence Clearwater Review are the UK’s premier tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of America’s greatest bands who, despite their relatively short career, left an enduring legacy of classic songs written and sung by lead guitarist, singer and songwriter John Fogerty.

Capturing the feel, sound and atmosphere of the original songs, Creedence Clearwater Review pack all the hits and more into two hours plus of rootsy, swampy, bluesy and sometimes country flavoured rock and roll. Creedence’s biggest songs, Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son and Who’ll Stop The Rain all get the treatment as well as their covers of classics like I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Midnight Special and Susie Q.

There’s audience involvement, singalongs and plenty of rousing choruses to join in on with the Review’s authentic and power packed tribute to the Creedence legacy. There’s also a nod to John Fogerty’s solo career in the show, with songs like Almost Saturday Night, Hot Rod Heart and of course Rockin’ All Over The World.

Saturday 20th May 2023

Live music: AD Stranik & The Padres
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm. Doors open at 5.00pm
Free entry

A marvellous team-up of AD Stranik from The Broadway Twisters with Danny & George, otherwise known as the two-fisted blues explosion that is… Dios Padres.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Walking: Bedford’s movers and shakers – a Bromham Road walk
Bedford Town Centre @ 11am at St Loyes, opposite Bedford Prison
Tickets: Adult £3 / children over 8 £1.50. All walks must be pre-booked here.

Join the Association of Bedford Tour Guides for one of their fascinating weekly walks. Each walk is of 90 minutes to two hours duration and covers a distance of one or two miles. Most walks are suitable for people who are less mobile.

Children of all ages are most welcome on all of our walks but those aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Each walk costs £3.00 per adult or £1.50 for children over 8. All walks must be pre-booked.

Sunday 21May 2023

Relax: Sunday Afternoon Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 1.30pm, Sovereigns Quay 2.30pm
Tickets: From Adult £15 Child £7.50

The John Bunyan Community Boat on the River Great Ouse with Bedford's Castle Mound in the background
The John Bunyan Community Boat

What better way to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon cruising though picturesque pastures of Bedford.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Live music: Dead Shady play the Sunday Afternoon Session
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

Dead Shady make a welcome return to the Sunday afternoon session at Bedford Esquires.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Live music: Vistas + guests
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £14

Scottish band Vistas made their name gigging tirelessly across the UK, with word-of-mouth praise of their chaotic, life-affirming show travelling far and wide. Backed up by a host of bright, anthemic singles including ‘Retrospect’, ‘Calm’ and ‘Tigerblood’ and racking up over 100 million plays for songs released in the last three years, they have been garnering support from the likes of Jack Saunders, Clara Amfo and Huw Stephens at Radio 1.

After two critically acclaimed Top 40 albums, the band have certified their status as one of the most promising indie bands in the UK.

Their last headline tour saw the band play their biggest headlines to date, selling out two Barrowland Ballrooms in Glasgow as well as sold out venues up and down the country.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Live music: Tuesday lunchtime concert
St Paul’s church, St Paul’s Square @ 1pm
Free entry with retiring collection (suggested donation £5)

Featuring a cello recital by Anna Cranford. All welcome.

Tuesday 23 May – Saturday 27 May 2023

Community Theatre: See How They Run
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £10

This hilarious English farce is set in the idyllic village of Merton-cum-Middlewick during the 1940s.

It’s World War II, and the village inhabitants are preparing themselves for the imminent threat of Nazi invasion. Meanwhile, resident spinster, Miss Skillon, becomes convinced that her beloved vicar’s actress wife is having an affair and attempts to expose her. Add an escaped German prisoner of war, a handsome actor, the visiting Bishop of Lax, a rotund locum priest and some meddling neighbours and hilarious confusion and mayhem result.

Tuesday 23 – Sunday 28 May 2023

Culture: Climate Crisis exhibition
Bunyan Basement, Mill Street @ 11am – 4pm
Free entry

Photographers from Bedford College have been working on a collaborative project with their fellow students in Fine Art to host a Climate Crisis Exhibition at the Bunyan Basement this month.

This exciting exhibition includes 11 exhibitors who are all delivering works on the theme of:  “Can creativity counter the effects on our local landscapes resulting from the climate emergency?”

Wednesday 24 May 2023

On the river: Anchor Lunch Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 10am
Tickets: Adult £41

The John Bunyan Community Boat on the River Great Ouse with Bedford's Castle Mound in the background
The John Bunyan Community Boat

Enjoy a cruise on the River Great Ouse, departing from Priory Marina to Great Barford for lunch and return by coach back to Priory Marina.

Enjoy morning coffee and cake or pastry available onboard from the Galley Bar.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Film: Cinema @ 3 St Peter’s presents – Jerry Maguire
3 St Peter’s Street @ 7pm
Tickets: £12/£10.50/£9/£6

“You had me at hello”…

Sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) tries to get back on his feet after being fired from his job. However, the only client he has is Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jnr), a disgruntled football player who wants a better contract.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Live music: JOHN plus guests
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

Four arms, four legs, two heads, wood, metal and plastic. A band of two Johns from Crystal Palace, the two-piece JOHN (both members aptly named John) offer a deadpan approach that has become the recognizable trait of their live performance, with an almost mechanical solidity rare for only two bodies.

Alongside the tight rhythmic synchronisation of guitar and drums, introspective lyrics suggest that literature and spoken word are just as important influences as the Punk, Noise and Rock genres they might comfortably fit into. This balance between content and volume has lead them on to stages with bands such IDLES, Mclusky and METZ, as well as gathering support from BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq and Seattle’s KEXP.

Last seen at tearing it up Esquires at the Ceremony Festival.

Thursday 25 May 2023

On the river: Fish and Chip Lunch Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 12pm
Tickets: Adult £26

Have a relaxing lunchtime cruise among Bedford’s picturesque countryside and the Embankment, to discover Bedford’s unique pyramid.

Enjoy a fish and chip lunch while navigating the town lock, past the 12th-century mound of Bedford Castle before going under the historic Town Bridge to Queens Bridge.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Live music: Coach Party + Slaney Bay
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £12

A triumphant return to Bedford for the Isle of Wight four-piece who have received bundles of support from the likes of 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, Jack Saunders on BBC Radio 1, and Radio X’s John Kennedy.

The band have been Ones To Watch tips from Dork, The Daily Star, and Radio X – with continuous support from tastemakers The FADER, NME, The Line Of Best Fit, DIY, CLASH, Music Week, Fred Perry as well as national newspapers such as the i and The Observer – where the band were marked as star quality in the making.

Support from Slaney Bay.

Friday 26 May 2023

Live music: Lord Baker Soul & Ska Show
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm. Doors open at 5.00pm
Free entry

An incredible soul and ska show that will get you dancing from the first song. Lord Baker really knows how to entertain!

Friday 26 May 2023

Live music: Luther UK
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £26.50

The world’s premier show in celebration of ‘The Velvet Voice’ of the one and only Luther Vandross. Experience all the hits from his amazing career, culminating in over 40 million album sales and eight Grammy awards including many of the greatest dance anthems and love songs ever written.

Fronted by international Luther Vandross tribute, Harry Cambridge and his 10-piece band, the evening will feature classic tunes including “Never Too Much”, “ Here and Now “, “Give Me the Reason”, ”I Really Didn’t Mean It”, ” Stop to Love”, “So Amazing”, ”The Best Things in Life Are Free”, ” Always and Forever”, ” Endless Love”, ”Ain’t No stoppin’ Us Now”, “Your Secret Love”, “Shine”, “The Closer I Get To You”, “Love The One You’re With”, ”Any Love”, “Superstar”, “Until You Come Back to Me”, ”Dance with My Father” and many many more.

Luther Vandross – the legend lives on in Bedford.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Walk: North Bedfordshire Ramblers’ weekly walk
Sharnbrook Academy MK44 1JL @10am

North Bedfordshire Ramblers following a footpath alongside a summer meadow towards a rural church
Joining North Bedfordshire Ramblers is a great way to explore the county and beyond (image: North Bedfordshire Ramblers)

12-mile walk from Sharnbrook to Souldrop, Wymington and Podington. Meet at Sharnbrook Academy.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Food/Drink/Music: FoodDrunk 07
Bedford Esquires @ midday – 9pm
Free entry

The only way to kick off the Esquires’ summer season and always one of the highlights of the calendar – FoodDrunk is returning to Bedford for the club’s seventh all-day street food, cider and music party.

Bedford’s first street food festival took place here in 2017 and returns bigger and better for 2023, with more bands and DJs than ever before.

Once again the car park will be transformed into a mini food market, whacking up the bunting and even getting out a few hay bales for good measure. With sounds as good as the tastes throughout the day, there will have two indoor rooms of live music, with the Roll Your Own Records crew taking over the outdoor area.

All of the street food vendors have five-star hygiene ratings and they have all been tested by the Esquires team first. In addition, a selection of over 15 specialist ciders will be on offer, exclusively for FoodDrunk, as well as the usual bar offerings.

Entry is FREE all day – gates open at midday just in time for lunch.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Magic: Magical Bones: Soulful Magic
The Quarry Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £18

Following sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival and across the UK, the Britain’s Got Talent finalist takes to the road with a brand-new show full of the most awe-inspiring and high-energy magic you’ll see this year. 

Direct from appearances on America’s Penn & Teller Fool Us, BBC1’s BAFTA Awards, ITV1’s This Morning and Sky’s Around The World In 80 Tricks.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Live music: The Primitives – 35th anniversary of LOVELY
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £18

In the band’s own words: “A power jangle, noise pop band originally from Coventry, UK. Got in the charts a few times”.

The Primitives was the second gig that promotor, Mr ROAR went to at Esquires waaay back in March 1987 (whaaaat?) – although the venue was called The Greyfriars International Club in those days, fact fans.

Does this band need an introduction? Nah, but don’t think it starts and ends with mega chart buster CRASH, there are dozens of fuzz pop smashes in their locker and Tracy Tracy is still a dab hand with a tambourine.

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of the album ‘Lovely’, the set will feature a mini acoustic set, as well as all the hits.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Live music: Louisa Nixon
The Cellar Bar @ 9.00pm. Doors open at 12 noon.
Free entry

This weekend sees Louisa Nixon’s debut performance at The Cellar Bar. She’ll be performing hits from the decades, and it promises to be a truly great night.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Walking: “I Never Knew That”
Bedford Town Centre @ 11am (meet at the gold postbox in St Paul’s Square)
Tickets: Adult £3 / children over 8 £1.50. All walks must be pre-booked here.

Join the Association of Bedford Tour Guides for one of their fascinating weekly walks. Each walk is of 90 minutes to two hours duration and covers a distance of one or two miles. Most walks are suitable for people who are less mobile.

“I Never Knew That” is the most commonly heard phrase after the completion of a Guided Walk. This Walk encompasses all that information about Bedford and its many features that YOU never knew!

Sunday 28 May 2023

On the river: Mini cruises on the River Great Ouse
From the Suspension Bridge, Bedford Embankment @ 12pm, 1.45pm and 3pm
Tickets: £7 / £4.50 / children under five go free

John Bunyan Boat

All aboard! The John Bunyan Boat will be moored up by the Suspension Bridge on Sunday 28th May, ready to offer three short cruises of the Embankment.

These will be “pay onboard” cruises so no need to purchase tickets in advance, just come along 15 minutes before the cruise time and pay by cash or card.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Live Music: Soul On Sunday
The Cellar Bar @ 3.00pm.  Doors open at 12 noon.
Free Entry

An afternoon of Soul and Motown classics at the Cellar Bar with DJs Bobby and Shazza at the helm.  Playing only vinyl records, what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  The wheels of steel will be spinning from 3pm until 7pm.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Live music: Optimist play the Sunday Afternoon Session
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

Optimist make their Sunday afternoon session debut at Esquires.

Every Thursday

Cocktails, Quiz Night & Karaoke
The Cellar Bar from 5.00pm

Pit your wits against The Cellar Bar’s resident quizmaster to see if you can win the jackpot every Thursday from 8pm. £2 per person entry and a maximum of six per team. The winning team will win the jackpot PLUS a round of shots. Followed by Karaoke til close.

Every Saturday

Food & drink: Cocktail mixology masterclass
The Cellar Bar @ 3pm / doors open at 12 noon
£30 per person

The Cellar Bar’s resident mixologist, Marley, will explain how to create some outstanding cocktails for your tasting enjoyment. Then, it’s your turn to put what you’ve learned into practice by making (and drinking) three cocktails!

Every Sunday

Live Music: Open Mic Night
The Cellar Bar @ 7.30pm
Free Entry

Every Sunday, join Mat Roberts for the Cellar Bar’s weekly Open Mic night. An opportunity for new and experienced performers to get up on stage and perform.

So whether you think you are the next Tom Grennan or just want a good night of entertainment, head the to Cellar Bar from 7.30pm.

Until 2024

Exhibition: Edward Bawden – Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Higgins Bedford @ Tues – Sat: 11am – 5pm/Sun: 2pm – 5pm/Closed Mondays
Free entry

The Titfield Thunderbolt 1952 by Edward Bawden. Image: The Edward Bawden Estate
The Titfield Thunderbolt 1952 by Edward Bawden. Image: The Edward Bawden Estate

Let Edward Bawden transport you in this exhibition celebrating all things travel.

Drawn exclusively from the Higgins Bedford’s Edward Bawden archive, see large linocuts of London’s iconic stations and an array of wonderful vehicles from hot air balloons to jumbo jets and tall ships to cruise liners.

Read: New Edward Bawden ‘trains, planes and automobiles’ exhibition to open this weekend

Theatre highlights by Paula Walker