What’s on Bedford: 20 – 30 July 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 20 – Sunday 30 July 2023

Festival: Bedfringe 2023
The Quarry Theatre @ all day every day
Tickets: From free – prices vary

This month, the Quarry Theatre will host the 16th International Bedford Festival Fringe, bringing over 140 events – old and new – to the town.

From Thursday 20 until Sunday 30 July a carefully selected programme of comedy, theatre, live music, film, dance and physical theatre, spoken word and poetry will be performed across three venues, with Bedfringe director, James Pharaoh MBE, hoping there will be something in the programme for everyone.

Read: Bedfringe 2023: Over 140 events in Bedford over 11 days

Thursday 20 July 2023

Music: A Night of the Stars
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £12

A stylish celebration of music from some of the most legendary performers of all time. From Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, Barbara Streisand and Elaine Paige right up to Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and many more, each track is handpicked to
‘wow ‘and entertain you.

Starring the unforgettable voice of former West End Singer and as seen on ITV, Sandy Smith, who some of you will have already seen in the sell-out show of Cilla & The Swinging 60s.  This show will take you on a journey through the decades including many of the greatest songs   ever recorded such as ‘I Who Have Nothing’, ‘Evergreen’, ‘I’m Alive’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘You’re My World’ to name just a few!

The likes of Diana Ross and Donna Summer, Tina Turner and Cher will leave you with that feel-good vibe whilst the anthems of Abba and Queen will bring you to your feet!!  

Thursday 20 July 2023

Live music: Bad Manners + Splodge
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £25

Ska legends, Bad Manners, fronted by the impossibly large-tongued Buster Bloodvessel, return once again to Esquires. Tickets exclusively via Seetickets.

Friday 21 and Sunday 23 July 2023

Community: Make a ‘Bedford Brick’ with Artist in Residence Lisa Tilley
POP Bedford, 5 Midland Road @ 10am – 5pm
Free entry

Join POP Bedford’s first Artist In Residence Lisa Tilley to create a collaborative artwork that will be show in the exhibition: ‘This Is Bedford’ from 16 -20 August.

Lisa Tilley is a local artist and trained textile designer. Mainly known for her sustainable accessories brand ‘U Old Bag!’ Lisa also creates art using her wide range of textile skills and runs workshops widely.

This time she needs your help to work together to build a ‘non wall’.

Guided by Lisa, anyone can come along to join in craft sessions in the space, where we will be using drawing materials with stitch to decorate a cloth brick each, based on what Bedford means to you. The bricks will later be hand-pieced together by Lisa to create one large soft wall installation, that will be exhibited at POP Bedford.

All ages and abilities are welcome! The aim of this project is to celebrate Bedford’s wonderfully diverse community, so please bring your mum, dad, your nan, kids and your neighbours – this project is for everyone so do come along and get involved.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own photos of Bedford for inspiration, it could be anything and everything that means something to you about our amazing town.

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Sessions can be pre booked on eventbrite or just turn up. If a large group, please book to avoid disappointment. Works can also be made at home for those with access difficulties, please get in touch with Lisa for more details at workshops@uoldbag.com

Friday 21 July 2023

Comedy: Laugh out Proud
The Place Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: £15

Featuring the best in established and upcoming acts from the LGBTQIA+ community on the UK comedy circuit. 

This is night is all about giving acts and audiences alike a fun and friendly place to express themselves, kick back, have a laugh and good time in an inclusive and welcoming comedy club environment.

Whether it’s comedy, cabaret or anything in between – Laugh Out Proud is the queer night out you’re looking for. Laugh Out Proud in Bedford will feature the stand-up delights of Celya AB, Dane Buckley and all held together by your host and compere Andrew White.

Friday 21 July 2023

Musical theatre: Lipstick on Your Collar 2023
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £26/£24

Lipstick On Your Collar is back with a new show for 2023!

Step back in time to the golden era of music where the jukebox roared and feet didn’t touch the floor. Get your dancing shoes at the ready, grab yourself a milkshake and relax – you are in for an evening of back to back hits from the 1950s and 60s!

From the birth of Rock n Roll through to the Beat Group sounds of the British Invasion and beyond, the show is packed with over forty hits from the likes of Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Ronettes, Cliff Richard, Cilla Black and many more.

Performed by a full live band, featuring some of the country’s top musicians, this incredible show features excellent vocals, tight harmonies and an infectious sense of fun.

Dancing in the aisles is strictly compulsory so bring your dancing shoes and let the good times roll!

Friday 21 July 2023

Live music: The Bluetones + Cusp
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £25

The Bluetones are heading back to Bedford Esquires for a festival warm up on Friday 21 July.

The band, formed in 1993, had an impressive run of hit singles throughout the late 90’s/early 00’s, including ’Bluetonic’, ‘Slight Return’, ‘Marblehead Johnson’, ‘Solomon Bites The Worm’, ‘If’ and ‘Keep the Fires Burning’.

They scored thirteen Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts before a hiatus in 2010. Returning in 2015 with a run sell out shows the band continue to tour to packed houses up and down the UK.

Friday 21 July 2023

Live music: BBC Introducing presents Junior + Pat + Jesi
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £8

25-year-old Bedford artist, Junior (James Watkinson) is joined by fellow Bedford boy, Pat and local MK rapper Jesi in this BBC Introducing showcase. A homecoming gig not to be missed!

Saturday 22 July 2023

Festival: The Patio Party: 002 – A Reggae, Dub, Roots and Ska Alldayer
Bedford Esquires @ midday – late
Free entry

It’s the return of one of Esquires’ best events of last year – it’s the 2023 edition of The Patio Party!

This Reggae, Dub, Roots and Ska alldayer is brought to you by the team behind FoodDrunk and is a celebration of a tiny island that has shaped music in culture like no other.

Last year was an absolute ram jam and a whole heap of fun. This year they’re ramping it up further, with more bands, more DJs and more rum!

Live music comes from The Pride, EasyDread, The SGs and Uprising, with Roll Your Own Records curating DJ sets from Ital Trio, Keiron Wolfson, Sherry McGill, Paul Miller and more.

Carumbar are once again setting up shop, with the finest Caribbean cuisine served throughout the day. Joining them this year are a new street food vendor we are very excited about, Taco Diablo, who will be bringing a Mexican twist to the proceedings.

The Patio Party Rum Punch bowls, created by the legendary Bears & Tales team, are back and there is FREE pint of Red Stripe for the first 50 people through the gates (one per person).

All ages welcome!

Saturday 22 July 2023

Festival: Take to the Streets
Throughout the town centre from 11.30am

Six local acts – from circus to opera to Bollywood dancers – will take to the streets at iconic locations throughout the town centre this weekend to entertain locals and visitors alike from 11.30am.

Talented Bedfordians are bringing eclectic family-friendly performances to our historic High Street as part of the one-day ‘Take to the Streets’ festival.

Full details of timings and locations can be found here.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Community: Big LOWD painting workshop
POP Bedford, 5 Midland Road @ 10am – 3pm
Free entry

Join LOWD (Legacy of Windrush Descendents) for a free day painting together to create a legacy artwork to celebrate 75 years of Windrush and the Caribbean community of Bedford.

The image created will highlight the incredible contributions that our Windrush generations have made to Bedford, such as NHS workers and factory workers and even those starting cricket teams. There will also be symbols highlighting the importance of the Cultural Roots Sounds System museum over the last 40 years within our community.

All of the painted canvases will be joined together to create one giant image. All materials are provided, just turn up and join the fun and the conversation.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Workshop: Brave 2023 – Youth Theatre for All
The Place Theatre @ 1pm, 2pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm
Tickets: Free

The Place Youth Theatre meets weekly to develop the skills of creative young people, tell stories, and make new friends.

They’re looking for creative young people to become the first participants in a brand new Youth Theatre, so if you want to use your imagination to explore the world you can audition to take part in the weekly workshops. Sessions will cover all kinds of storytelling from stage to screen, inside performance spaces to outdoor performance, and for audiences of one to crowds of 100s.

You don’t have to be experienced, you just need to be interested and excited about developing your skills as a performer, director, designer, technician, writer… and if you want to bring your own creative skills to the mix with other creative young people BRAVE could be just what you’re looking for.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Family fun: Arts and Crafts Family Fun Day
Emmaus Village Carlton, School Lane, Carlton MK43 7LQ @ 11am
Free entry

Bedfordshire homelessness charity, Emmaus Village Carlton is hosting an Arts and Crafts Family Fun Day on Saturday 22 July.

Promising to be a great day out for all the family, the Family Fun Day will feature a bouncy castle, ice-cream, arts and crafts stalls and activities, there will also be a selection of children’s clothing, as well as toys and games on sale in the community chapel.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Theatre: Nan Me and Barbara Pravi
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £12

An epic tale of love, loss and explaining how to use the microwave.

“I wish I could say here our story starts. But this story starts later and ended earlier. Is entirely fictional, and completely true. Voila.”
In 2021, Hannah Maxwell moved back to the Home Counties to care for her terminally ill grandfather. But this show isn’t about that. It’s about France’s Eurovision star Barbara Pravi, who’s just lovely.
In between cooking, cleaning and Countdown, Maxwell escapes into an intensifying fantasy of ballroom dances, heartfelt ballads, Parisian cafés, fluent French and definitely-not-creepy plots to engineer a meeting with a random foreign celebrity. It’s La La Land meets Mission Impossible meets Hannah’s nan.
Combining spoken word, video and la chanson francaise, Nan, Me and Brabara Pravi sits you down at the kitchen table to talk through grief and care, addiction and recovery, and hope and coping in unprecedented times.

Saturday 22 – Sunday 23 July 2023

Community: Riverfield Community Jumble Trail Weekend
Riverfield Drive, MK41 0SA @ 10am – 2pm
Free entry

Black Tom Jumble Trail

A Jumble Trail is like a car boot sale but on your own street; sellers all across Riverfield will set up a stall outside their houses (or clear their garage out) to sell bric-a-brac, toys, vintage clothes, furniture, home made items or anything they don’t need anymore to pass it on.

Sunday 23 July 2023

Walking: “The Jewel in Bedford’s Crown” guided walk
Bedford Town Centre @ 11am at the gold postbox in St Paul’s Square
Tickets: £3/£1.50

The River Great Ouse, Bedford: View from Newnham Bridge.
The River Great Ouse, Bedford: View from Newnham Bridge.

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 23 July 2023

Music: Aayush Mohan: Shared Values Festival
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £15

The first Indian to perform at Grammy Museum Los Angeles, Aayush Mohan is today considered one of the finest Sarod players on the global scenario of Indian Classical Music.

His Sarod playing is enriched with traditional repertoire of ragas and the old-world classical essence and yet is a favorite among listeners of all genres. Aayush Mohan has won the hearts of audiences at prestigious classical music festivals and venues across the world. He is also a noted speaker and has given several talks on Indian classical music on platforms like TEDx to make the younger generation more aware about classical music.

In March 2022, Aayush performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre London for ‘The Ravi Shankar centenary’ concert with Anoushka Shankar, John Maclaughlin and other eminent musicians.

Sunday 23 July 2023

Live music: Willy Mason + guests
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £18

Bedford welcomes NYC’s Willy Mason to Esquires for his first show in Bedford. Willy Mason burst into the Indie-Folk scene in 2004, with the huge support behind his single ‘Oxygen’.

A string of commercially successful and critically acclaimed albums have followed for an artist often talked about in the same breath as Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Family crafts: Franken-vehicles
The Higgins Bedford @ 11.15am, 12.45pm and 2.15pm

Celebrate all things travel and get creative with fun activities inspired by our Edward Bawden exhibition, Trains Planes and Automobiles. Invent your own crazy plane of maybe the transport of the future in this collage activity with local artist and illustrator Katie Allen.

(Use promotional code HIGGINS30 to avoid any transaction fee.)

Tuesday 25 July 2023

On the water: EyeSpy Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Sovereigns Quay @ 12pm, 1.45pm & 3pm
Tickets: £7 adult/£4.50 child (plus booking fee)

Gran and granddaughter enjoying the Eye Spy Cruise on the John Bunyan Community Boat.

Keep the kids busy this summer holiday with the John Bunyan Family EyeSpy cruises. While you relax, the boat will cruise by Bedford’s landmarks along the Embankment amid the river wildlife. ncluded in the child cruise ticket is the John Bunyan community boat I-SPY card so you can tick off the landmarks that you spot.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Art: The Circus of Illustration’s Drink and Draw – make your own zine!
The Park pub, Kimbolton Road @ 7.30pm
Free (donation appreciated)

The Circus of Illustration’s monthly Drink and Draw is back and everyone (over 18) is welcome. This month’s theme is ‘zines’ and you can make one (a mini magazine) about any topic you like…

Any skill level, free to attend, no need to book, just turn up. Equipment and resources are provided in a no-pressure, relaxed atmosphere to chat, drink and doodle.

Tuesday 26 July 2023

Walking: “The Tower and the Steeple” guided walk
Bedford Town Centre @ 11am at the gold postbox in St Paul’s Square
Tickets: £3/£1.50

St Pauls Church
St Paul’s Church is in the heart of Bedford town centre

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.

Friday 28 July 2023

Choral music: Continuum present: A Heritage of British Choral Music
St Paul’s Church @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £18 (either via Eventbrite or on the door)

Continuum’s summer tour comes to St Paul’s Church with music by Tallis, Byrd, Howells, Stanford (and many more), culminating with Hubert Parry’s six Songs of Farewell. 

Continuum choir was founded in 2018 by Bedford conductor, Harry Guthrie, and represents the very best traditions of British choral singing.

Singers come from the UK’s leading choral institutions with several having met as members of Trinity and St John’s College Choirs in Cambridge. Many of the singers perform with leading professional ensembles including Polyphony, Tenebrae, The Sixteen and The Monteverdi Choir.

Watch a taster of Continuum here.

Friday 28 July 2023

Live Music: Rob Le Tash
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm
Doors open 6.00pm.Free Entry

Rob will be playing an eclectic mix of songs from the past and present including Alanis Morissette, Fleetwood Mac, Ed Sheeran and many more! In the words of George Ezra, Let’s have a party!

Saturday 29 July 2023

Family fun: Holy Cross Catholic Church Family Fun day
Holy Cross Catholic Church on Goldington Road @ 10am – 3pm
Free entry

A family fun day is set to take place at Holy Cross church on Goldington Road with over 20 stalls selling goodies from hand-crafted gifts and sweets to holy items from the church shop.

There will also be a range of children’s activities including face painting and bouncy castles.

All of the collections gathered will be used to help pay towards the costs of the summer camp programme run every year for young children and an organised trip in October to Cardiff for its alter servers.

The church also welcomes new families and members to join the church community.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Music: Fynnius Fogg
The Sharnbrook Mill Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £13

Back by popular demand, the legendary local band Fynnius Fogg will return to The Sharnbrook Mill stage for a special fundraising gig. 

Join the amazing trio as they take you on a musical journey from 1958 to 1970, with happy pop music that will evoke memories and that you’ll know the words to. So if you like The Beatles, The Eagles, The Hollies, Billy Ocean, and The Kinks, you’ll love this.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Live Music: Crossroader
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm
Free Entry

Returning to The Cellar Bar is Crossroader – a multi-award nominated rock band from Cambridge.  With Cellar Bar regular Mr Hugo St Ledger on drums they already have nine studio releases and countless live performances under their belt.  The band will be serving up some fantastic new material as well as some familiar crowd pleasers.

Sunday 30 July 2023

Walking: “I Never Knew That” guided walk
Bedford Town Centre @ 11am at the gold postbox in St Paul’s Square
Tickets: £3/£1.50

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.

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: We Are Ten
The Higgins Bedford, Castle Lane
Free entry

The Higgins begins its 10th birthday celebrations with an exhibition featuring old favourites and rarely seen works from the collection, all chosen by organisations, groups and individuals who have worked with the museum and gallery over the last decade.

The exhibition runs for the next year, with special events planned next month to mark the exact date the museum reopened in 2013. Watch this space for more information.

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

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