What’s on Bedford: 21 December – 7 January 2024


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.

Don’t forget, you can pick up a copy of the January edition of the Bedford Clanger for all good local independent shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, theatres, museums and more.

The Bedford Clanger’s What’s On Guide is kindly sponsored by The Cellar Bar

Last chance to see…

Exhibition: Quilla Constance – Teasing Out Contingencies
The Higgins Bedford until Sunday 7 January 2024
Free entry

Don’t miss your chance to see eight new large-scale paintings and a costume installation by Bedford artist Quilla Constance (also known as QC) at The Higgins Bedford until 7 January 2024.

As British society becomes increasingly polarised, this exhibition seeks to cross social borders, confront stereotyping, and challenge gender, racial and class inequalities.

QC states “Teasing Out Contingencies seeks to create exciting new narratives to explore: what is British society now and where are we going?” – These are timely questions as we emerge from the Covid 19 pandemic, and as we re-examine our relationship with the British monarchy in the wake of the Queen’s passing and the Coronation of King Charles III.

Read more here: Don’t miss the Teasing Out Contingencies exhibition at The Higgins Bedford

Throughout December 2023

Community: Church services in Bedford
Various locations

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

You can find a round-up of services at many of Bedford’s churches at the link here.

Thursday 21 – Sunday 31 December 2023

Pantomime: Cinderella
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 11am and 3pm (check website for daily timings)
Tickets: £19/£17.50/£16

Traditional fun-filled, family-friendly pantomime in the heart of Bedford town centre.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Children’s comedy: Comedy Club 4 Kids Christmas Cracker
The Quarry Theatre @ 2pm
Tickets: from £8

All the fun of Comedy Club 4 Kids with a Christmas twist.

Expect the finest Christmas Cracker jokes, tinsel tomfoolery, festive funnies and maybe even Santa doing stand-up!

Starring Comedy Club 4 Kids’ regular Ben Van Der Velde hims-elf, Howard Read of ‘Little Howard’ and CBBC fame, and hilarious double-act Shelf – 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).

Thursday 21 December 2023

Film: Stevington Cinema Club presents – Nativity!
The Royal George, Stevington @
Tickets: £2 / family ticket: £6

The cinema club at the heart of the Stevington community is showing festive fave, Nativity! in the run-up to Christmas. Who can resist Mr Poppy’s enthusiasm to help Mr Madden (Martin Freeman) put on the nativity to end all nativities and woo back his Hollywood girlfriend (Ashley Jenson). An absolute Christmas classic.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Dancing: Planet Swing featuring The Untouchables
The Dance Hall, Wixams Retirement Village, Bedford Road, Bedford, MK42 6EA @ 8pm
Tickets: £12

Planet Swing generic dance and event poster (Swingsters)

Suitable for dancers and music enthusiasts alike! Cashless bar, plenty of seating (night club set up) and a dance floor. Come along at 7.15pm for a 45-minute dance class in Balboa (additional payment), one of the original swing dances.

Book in advance for the dance class, but for the main event, just turn up and have fun, no booking needed.

Friday 22 December 2023

Party: The Cellar Bar’s 1 Year Birthday Bash
The Cellar Bar @ 8pm / doors open at 6pm until late
Free entry

Congratulations to the Cellar Bar on their first birthday! To celebrate, their Happy Hour prices will be available all night and Mat Roberts will be playing live with tunes from the 80s, 90s and 00s.

Every person will receive a raffle ticket on arrival for a chance to win a £50 bar tab in their free-to-enter draw with three chances to win at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

Friday 22 December 2023

Club night: Boombastic – 80s vs 90s night
Bedford Esquires @ 8.30pm
Tickets: £7

The ever-popular Decades Party comes to Esquires as a Christmas Special celebrating the biggest hits of the 80s and 90s as well the Christmas bangers.

As ever, fancy dress is customary so choose to go festive or dress as your hero from the 80s or 90s.

Friday 22 December 2023

Dance music: Herd All Stars Christmas Party
Herd, St Cuthbert’s Street @ 8pm til late

Soul, disco and boogie on vinyl with Rupert, Marin and Gian plus House and Techno in the basement with Dave, Gav, Matty and Kieron. Last entry at 1am.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Walking: North Bedfordshire Ramblers’ weekly walk
Clapham Park MK41 7GE @ 10am
Elstow MK42 9YF @ 1.30pm

Ramblers of all abilities are sure to find a walk to suit at the Bedfordshire Festival of Autumn Walks. Image: North BedfordshireRamblers
Ramblers of all abilities are sure to find a walk to suit at the Bedfordshire Festival of Autumn Walks. Image: North BedfordshireRamblers

Two walks in Bedford Borough to choose from this week – the perfect way to relax and unwind in the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside before the Christmas frenzy begins.

At 10am, the Saturday morning walk is a 9.5 mile circular walk around Clapham Park. It begins in Brickhill (parking available on Ashmead Road), walking towards Mowsbury.

The afternoon walk begins at 1.30pm at Elstow and is a six mile circular wallk.

Please bring a drink, snack or lunch as there’s always a break during the walk. For more information contact Margaret Sawyer 07780 933729 or check out North Beds Ramblers on social media or on their excellent website.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Live music: New Groove Formation + easydread
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £10

Skanxmas is upon us! Two of the finest party bands around, New Groove Formation and Easydread join forces for a very special, one off Xmas party at Bedford Esquires.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Live Music:  Double Header – Black Ridge & Five Five Six
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / bar opens @ 6pm / Happy Hour until 9pm / 3am close
Free Entry. 

Needing no introduction, Five Five Six are back at the Cellar Bar, guaranteeing a fantastic night of legendary rock tunes.

They are supported by Bedford band, Black Ridge, so expect classic rock tunes, delivered with passion and raw talent.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Club night: Forever Indie Xmas Party
Bedford Esquires @ 9pm
Tickets: £5

After a whirlwind year, Yard Act were hoping to come back to Esquires to spin some tunes, especially for Christmas.

However, in a note to fans, James and the band said: “Very sorry to you all but we realised that being away just before Christmas was a step too far for us and our families ahead of a very busy 2024. We’re going to have to reschedule for 26th January, when we’ll bring the Furry Boombox in all its glory”

The Yard Act DJ night will now take place on Friday 26 January but the Esquires Xmas ‘Indie Forever’ club night will still take place on 23 December with The Pad DJs taking over the decks for a night of bangers.

Entry is free to anyone who had already picked up a Yard Act DJ set ticket and YA tickets remain valid for the 26 January, too! Your name will be automatically added to the guestlist for the December event.

If you don’t already have a ticket – you can still party with us for just a fiver, tickets now live on Seetickets!

Sunday 24 December 2023

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

The last Sunday session before Christmas and the final one of the year, featuring the legendary A Band.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Live music:  Xmas Eve Party – Double Header – Lord Baker & Mat Roberts
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / bar opens @ 6pm / Happy Hour until 9pm / 3am close
Free entry

For this Christmas Eve double header, rirst up is the incredible Soul and Ska show that will get you dancing from the first song. Lord Baker really knows how to entertain.

Following that is Bedford Musical Royalty, Mat Roberts, keeping the party going past midnight, playing a mix of classic anthems and party tunes to keep you dancing until the small hours.

From Boxing Day Tuesday 26 December 2023

Walking: Wrest Park
Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HR
Members: free entry
Non-members: £12.70/adult £33.10/family with two adults

Wrest Park will be open from this Boxing Day through to New Year’s Day to give locals and visitors alike the chance to grab some Betwixmas fresh air in its beautiful historic settings. Members of English Heritage get free entry to all sites for them and up to six children.

Even in winter, Wrest Park offers a glorious place for a post-Christmas walk in one of the finest gardens in the country. The house, a near-unique example of French-inspired English architecture from the 1800s, sits proudly above acres of formal landscaped gardens that include a Bowling Green House, a Chinese Temple and Bridge, and over 40 statues. Dogs can join in on a walk if they are on a lead.

To book, visit english-heritage.

Boxing Day Tuesday 26 December 2023

Dancing: Silent Disco – Boxing Day special 80s vs 90s vs 00s
Bedford Esquires @ 9.30pm
Tickets: £8

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Esquires’ legendary Boxing Day Silent Disco. These annual, festive events are a good chance to escape the house for a few hours and get on down, but make sure you book in advance as they always sell out.

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 bangers vs Channel 2: 90s anthems vs Channel 3: 00s and beyond

Over 18s only. ID will be required on entry.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

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

“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) is a quintessential Christmas film directed by Frank Capra, embodying the spirit of hope and community.

Starring James Stewart as George Bailey, whose life’s tribulations lead him to wish he’d never been born, the film explores the profound impact of one individual through the intervention of an angel. Its heartfelt narrative, richly-drawn characters, and the ultimate message of life’s intrinsic value resonate deeply, making it a beloved holiday staple.

The film’s enduring appeal lies in its ability to capture the essence of humanity and the magic of Christmas, making it a timeless classic in holiday cinema.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Live music: Daybreak + Matty Ram + Withdrawn
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £8

One of Bedford’s finest, new young bands, DAYBREAK returns to esquires for a very special homecoming Christmas show.

Joining them on the night are Matty Ram and Withdrawn.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Live music/Drag: Miss Palma Violet, & Miss Lushes Lips
The Cellar Bar @ 8pm / doors open at 7pm
Free entry

Join the laughter, fun and entertainment with two fabulous local drag queens – Miss Palma Violet & Miss Lushes Lips.

The evening will include live cabaret, lip syncing, adult fun and games, insult comedy, raffle, disco and much more!

Over 18s only.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Live music: Motorheadache
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

A three-piece tribute to the 40-year musical career of Lemmy with Motörhead.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Live music: Punxmas ft Sick on the Bus + The Tendons + more
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm

Filling the gap between Christmas and NYE is the Punxmas festive special featuring Sick on the Bus, The Tendons, The Bleach Boys and Hazard. First band on stage at 7:30pm.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Live music: Pearl Handled Revolver
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £10

Pearl Handled Revolver have travelled a long way to get to 2023. Thankfully, over the last decade, they have had the decency to send regular updates of their escapades.

Their four EPs, two live albums and four studio albums chart a journey from the limits of primal blues, via unlikely liaisons between cult film scores and bare-bones Stoner Rock, to blackened psychedelic soul music.

The aim, to move the feet while the head slowly succumbs to a barrage of ideas regarding states of madness induced by the modern world.

Friday 29 December 2023

Live Music: Matt Bedford
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / doors open at 6pm until late / Happy Hour 6pm – 9pm
Free Entry

Matt Bedford returns to the Cellar Bar to perform some classic 80’s songs for a festive Friday night. Cellar Bar regular, Matt, also hosts Thursday’s Fusion Night, a combination of Bandeoke, Karaoke and Open Mic, so those of you that have been will have had a glimpse of Matt’s talent.  Now it’s time to watch the full show!

Open until 1.30am

Friday 29 December 2023

Live music: Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

Viral sensation and Bedford resident, Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq., returns to Esquires for a special, hometown evening of music, laughter and raucous singalong fun to blow out that Twixmas malaise.

With banjolele in hand, Thomas has been delivering his own brand musical humour since 2016. The video for his sweary anthem ‘I’ve No More F***s To Give’ has been viewed over 15 million times on YouTube alone, and his debut album ‘Awkward Encounters While Walking My Dog’ reached number three in the Billboard Comedy Album Chart in 2019.

Thomas takes inspiration from the wit and wisdom of the songwriters of the early-mid 20th century and combines them with punk rock sensibilities to create pithy songs full of catchy tunes and social and political commentary that speak volumes about the times we live in.

Friday 29 December 2023

Live music: The Dekkertones + Dr Ska
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £14


The annual Christmas show from The Dekkertones takes place at Bedford Esquires on Friday 29 December.

This nine-piece ska / reggae / rocksteady / 2tone covers band play authentic ska and reggae from the late 60’s Trojan and Bluebeat scene right through to the 2tone era. Packing out venues around the region this mighty warhorse of Ska and Reggae play a set of over two hours getting the party started in the room every time and for lovers of that music this is a night not to be missed !

This annual event has sold out every year well in advance so with that in mind it’s best to secure your ticket sooner than later to avoid disappointment.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Live Music: Double Header – Joe Cullen + BLAME CAESAR
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm /bar opens at 6pm / Happy Hour til 9pm / 3am close
Free Entry

Joe Cullen is back to rock the Cellar Bar, playing covers by Ed Sheeran, The 1975, Oasis, Harry Styles, The Killers, Coldplay and more. He’ll the join his band, BLAME CAESAR – a new original five-piece indie rock band from Bedfordshire.

Since Joe founded BLAME CAESAR, the band have been rehearsing and working on original material behind the scenes.

Their sound is described as having songwriting elements at its core with Indie / Rock and Roll influences including Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, The 1975, Biffy Clyro, Guns n Roses and Oasis.

BLAME CAESAR are set to record their debut EP at the start of next year and are delighted to be playing again at The Cellar Bar.

Open until 3am.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Dance music: Bhangra Town
Bedford International Athletic Stadium @ 5pm – late
Tickets: £22.49

A night of live music and entertainment is on the cards at Bedford’s first Asian indoor festival, taking place on 30 December at the International Athletic Stadium.

Bhangra Town boasts a fabulous line-up for fans of Bhangra, house and hip hop, guest hosted by BBC Asian Network presenter (and Bedfordian), Noreen Khan and DJ Arvee.

New Year’s Eve Sunday 31 December 2023

Party: Duzzy Avocado party night
The Wellington Arms @ 8pm
Tickets available in advance from the pub

Country, folk & bluegrass covers and originals with a Duzzy twist. Happy new year!

New Year’s Eve Sunday 31 December 2023

Live Music: New Year’s Eve – Double Header of live music – Samantha Hughes + Five Five Six
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / bar opens at 6pm / Happy Hour ALL NIGHT / 2am close.
Tickets: £5

Roll up roll up! The Cellar Bar has two fantastic performances at their New Year’s Eve exravaganza.

Starting the night off is Samantha Hughes, playing a selection of Rock n Roll, Country and party hits. As we head towards midnight, Five Five Six will rock the crowd into the New Year with classic anthems.

Also win a £50 bar tab in our free-to-enter raffle with 3 chances to win at 9pm, 10pm and 11pm.

Open til 2am.

New Year’s Eve Sunday 31 December 2023

Party: NYE Ft Jaguar Skills + The Soul Shack
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm – 2am
Tickets: £10

NYE is nearly upon us once more and this year Esquires is going big. Three rooms of music are covered on one single ticket and best of all, it will cost no more than the club’s usual NYE.

Room 1: Jaguar Skills / Roll Your Own Records / Optimum – to ring in the New Year, Esquires has secured the finest mash-up, party DJ on the planet to see in 2024 on the main stage. Expect the unexpected and strap on your dancing shoes. Support from the finest purveyors of beats, RYOR and Optimum.

Room 2: The Biggest Party. Ever – The Pad’s resident DJ Sam Voidoid is back with his annual Biggest Party. Ever. Expect to hear some of the greatest tunes ever made, all killer no filler. Simply, dancefloor destroyers from the underground to plain old Prince at midnight! Indie – Punk – Funk – Pop gems.

Room 3: The Soul Shack ft The Workshop Boys live – Bedford Blues-Rock legends The Workshop Boys play their annual NYE show in the bar and then The Soul Shack DJs will carry on into the early hours. Expect: Motown – Soul – Stax.

Happy New Year!

Thursday 4 January 2024

Live Music: FUSION – A combination of Bandeoke, Karaoke and Open Mic
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / doors open @ 6pm / Happy Hour 6pm – 9pm
Free entry

The Cellar Bar’s FUSION night has something for everyone: a full karaoke setup with over 50,000 songs, sing with your friends or go solo, or why not sing with their house band, no backing tracks but the reassurance of having the words in front of you.

Finally, Bedford’s local musicians are welcome to come along for a jam session. This really is a night for all, a FUSION of musical style and experience.

Thursday 4 January 2024

Quiz: Esquires Monthly Music Quiz
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
£2 per person / max six people per team

It’s the first monthly music quiz of the year at Esquires. Featuring music from the 50’s to the present, it’s £2 per person to enter with teams of up to a maximum of six people.

Cash prize for the winning team.

Friday 5 January 2024

Live Music: Mat Roberts
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / doors open @ 6pm / Happy Hour 6pm – 9pm
Free Entry

One of the Cellar Bar’s biggest supporters, Mat Roberts, is welcomed back for a night of musical entertainment.  Expect a diverse range of music, from pop to rock and anything in between.  He may even take requests!

Saturday 6 January 2024

Live music: The Ouse Valley Singles Club
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £12

Ouse Valley Singles Club
Ouse Valley Singles Club

Keeping up traditions of years gone by The Ouse Valley Singles Club return to the main stage at Bedford Esquires to play what has become their ‘Traditional First Gig Of The Year’. The scourge of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite’ The OVSC put on a show that gives a hysterical observational account of everyday tales of woe with a razor-sharp observational narrative whilst rocking the crowds with their infectious ear-worms.

Saturday 6 January 2024

Live Music: Matt Bedford
The Cellar Bar @ 8.30pm / bar opens @ 6pm / Happy Hour until 9pm / 3am close
Free Entry. 

Matt Bedford is back at the Cellar Bar to perform some classic 80’s songs. Matt hosts the Thursday Bandeoke/Karaoke nights, so those of you that have been will have had a glimpse of Matt’s talent.  Now it’s time to watch the full show!

Sunday 7 January 2024

Live music: Esquires’ annual BowieJam
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

Image: BowieJam Facebook page

On the 77th anniversary of David Bowie’s birth, fans will be congregating at Bedford Esquires to celebrate his life in music, featuring the very best of Bedford’s local musicians as they play tribute to the Starman.

The BowieJam is a unique jam night event at Esquires, in that you can show up with your guitar, bass, drumsticks, voice and make some music.

Where it is different is that it has a theme and a little more structure to it. David Bowie released 26 studio albums between 1967 – 2016 but, without a guiding hand, it could end up with Ziggy Stardust twenty times.

House band, Weird & Gilly, are on hand to support anyone who needs them, but if you want to play guitar but need backing, they are there to help. If you want to join in and play a specific song, email Charly (The Host) at porcelainwhite@gmail.com. There will be local bands coming along to do their versions of David Bowie hits – some will be faithful covers, others personal renditions.

The event will be raising money for Bedford Daycare Hospice and last year they raised a total of £358.

Until Saturday 3 January 2024

Festive family fun: WinterWonderland @ Bedford Park
Bedford Park / parking @ Queen Street car park (two hours free every day/all day every Sunday)
Entry: £2

The Ferris Wheel at this year's WinterWonderland in Bedford Park
The Ferris Wheel at this year’s WinterWonderland in Bedford Park

The biggest real ice rink in the county and a 36m high Ferris wheel are just two of the attractions at Bedford’s Winter Wonderland. The festive event is taking place in Bedford Park and hopes to attract local visitors as well as families from further afield for a one-stop Christmas day out.

The 600sqm ice rink is the biggest in Bedfordshire and is fully covered, so skaters can enjoy the ice, whatever the British weather throws at us. In addition, there is a Christmas Tree Maze – featuring 200 festive firs and Santa’s Grotto, plus fairground rides for thrill-seekers and younger children too.

Park at Queen Street Car Park (two hours free everyday).

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

Guitar, open mic night

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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