What’s on Bedford: 23 June – 3 July 2022


Roll up, roll up, the weekend is on its way!

Over the next 10 days, check out Bedfordshire’s first Gin Festival (featuring food, local produce and Beerfly’s beer tasting tent), the Armed Forces Day parade (Sunday 26 June), the Bedford Italian Festival (Sunday 3 July) as well as the best of live music, theatre, comedy, guided walks and film.


Thursday 23 June 2022

Theatre: Offside
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £12

It is 1892. It is 1992. It is 2022.
Four women from across the centuries live, breathe, and play football. Whilst each of them face very different obstacles, the possibility that the beautiful game will change their lives – and the world – is tantalisingly close.
With punchy storytelling, lyrical poetry and dynamic physicality, Offside places the audiences right on the touchline of the game of a lifetime.

Thursday 23 June 2022

Relax: Motown Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Newnham Steps 7.30pm
Tickets: £20

Get your dancing shoes on as it is party time on the John Bunyan with their Motown and Soul cruise featuring DJ Keith Stewart.

Boogie the night away to your favourite Motown and Soul tracks on this two-hour cruise.


Friday 24 June 2022

Music: Cilla and the Swinging 60s
The Place Theatre @ 7.30pm
Tickets: from £10

Starring Sandy Smith as Cilla, the show will take you on a rollercoaster journey through many of the greatest pop songs of the 60s including Cilla’s own chart toppers ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ “Alfie” and ‘You’re My World’.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Food & drink: Bedfordshire Gin Festival
Russell Park from 12 noon
Tickets: £18/£4.50/family ticket: £39

Bedfordshire Gin Fest will be bringing a host of juniper-based drinks to Russell Park this month for a one-day festival showcasing over 20 distilleries – from local independent companies to well-known favourites.

Read: Bedfordshire’s first Gin Festival promises to serve up something for everyone next summer

And while gin is the star of the show, the family-friendly festival will cater for all food and drink enthusiasts thanks to collaborations with TASTE Bedford and Beerfly – and with street food courtesy of Foxy Wings.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Poetry: All Through the Year
The Place Theatre @ 7pm
Tickets: Pay what you can from £8

An evening of poetry, based on the seasons. The Bedford Poetry Company will revive a pre-pandemic idea, with the added spur of fund-raising for Ukraine refugees.

Verse by local writers and mostly a selection of more established pieces, All Through the Year includes Christmas/Easter, St George/David/Andrew/Patrick, birthdays.

Seven or so readers will read 25-30 pieces, with some music.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Culture: Body & Soul Study Day
Higgins Bedford @ 11am – 4pm
Tickets £20 booking essential

Edvard Munch (1863–1944), Woman with a Brooch (Madonna), 1903 © The Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery

Explore the themes of the Body & Soul exhibition in a guided tour and a series of talks with curators and a guest speaker.
Enjoy a tour and a history of the collection with Keeper of Fine and Decorative Art Victoria Partridge and a talk from Professor Christiana Payne as she discusses ‘Remarkable Women’.

Dr Mary O’Neill will share the competing notions of ‘femininity’ represented in the artworks on display, followed by a talk in honour of Refugee Week from Charlotte Grant, Senior Lecturer in English at NCH and granddaughter of the artist Martin Bloch.

Dr Grant will discuss the pioneering women of the Bloch family, including her grandmother Charlotte whose portrait is on display in the exhibition.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Relax: Tea and Cake Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina, 2pm
Tickets: from £15

While away an afternoon with family and friends as you cruise along the River Great Ouse from Priory Marina to the Embankment and return.

Your trip takes you through tranquil countryside with swans and herons passing by and through Bedford Town’s Lock onto the Upper River where we will cruise along the Embankment before returning to Priory Marina.

Enjoy a delicious slice of locally made cake with endless tea or coffee.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Dance music: DubDub – Summer Sol-Stice Special
Herd @ 2pm – 11pm
Free before 10pm / £6 after 10pm

Reggae, dub, balearic, soul and disco dubby sounds with a big bag of house music. Follow the sun on the longest Saturday of the year at Herd this Saturday for some music for your soul (stice).

DJs include Bill Brewster, Kieron Wolfson, Neil, Gav Kendall and Matt Dix. Ticket info @its_dubdub on instagram.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Live music: Cockney Rejects + Feckin Ejits + On The Huh
Bedford Esquires @ 7pm

Cockney Rejects live at Esquires.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Live music: The Magic of Motown
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £29/£27

Music fans are invited to the biggest party of the year as the unstoppable Magic of Motown show steams into town!

Seen by over a million people, it’s no surprise that the show is one of the biggest success stories in British theatre history, even performing for Her Majesty the Queen, as special guests at the Royal Variety Performance.

Prepare yourself for 40 back-to-back classic Motown hits, glittering costume changes, dazzling dance moves and outstanding musicianship in this explosive concert experience.

Celebrate the sound of a generation as the timeless music of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and more, are sensationally recreated for you by an exceptionally talented cast and band.

This breath-taking concert spectacular takes you on a musical journey through all your favourite songs, including: Ain’t No Mountain, Signed Sealed Delivered, Grapevine, Get Ready, Dancing In The Streets, My Girl, Blame It On The Boogie, Uptight, Endless Love, My Cherie Amor, All Night Long, Heatwave and many, many more.

Sunday 26 June 2022

Community: Armed Forces Day parade
From De Parys Avenue @ 10.30am and onto Merchants Yard at Riverside Bedford

Armed Forces and Veterans Day will be marked in Bedford on Sunday 26 June, starting with a parade from De Parys Avenue at 10:30am and convening in Merchant Yard at Riverside Bedford.

There will be information stalls from the Poppy Appeal and SAAFA and live entertainment in Harpur Square, featuring a swing band, singer-comedian Adam Hoffman, and 40’s-themed singer May Blossom.

Sunday 26 June 2022

Craft: Sunday Crafternoon
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.

Monday 27 June 2022

Film: Monday Night is Movie Night: La Vie en Rose
The Place Theatre @8pm
Tickets: £5

Bedford Film Programmers present La Vie en Rose, a 2007 biographical film about the life of French singer Édith Piaf.
A victim of poverty during her childhood, Piaf ends up attaining global notoriety as a charming singer.
However, despite her many friendships and romances, personal crises ravage her. The film follows Piaf’s struggles and tragedies she has to overcome on her rise to fame.
Join the Bedford Film Programmers for their food offering before the film, and stay after for a discussion over a drink.

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Live music: Neil Sands’ Happy & Glorious
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 2pm
Tickets: £13/£11

Neil Sands and his West End cast are back to celebrate the 70 glorious years of Her Majesty’s record breaking reign.

This uplifting afternoon will bring back golden memories with songs made famous by many of her favourite singers and stars from her Royal Command performances.

From show tunes to the golden days of rock & roll and into the swinging sixties, sing along to a cockney knees up, a rousing section from Last Night of the Proms, and of course our signature flag waving finale in a tribute to the veterans of her armed forces, with those legendary ‘Songs That Won The War’.

All of this mixed with wonderful voices, spectacular costumes, a patriotic stage set and lots of good old fashioned fun, makes this the perfect nostalgic way to celebrate this historic occasion.

Tuesday 28 June 2022

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

This week’s lunchtime concert at St Paul’s church, Bedford features Alis An, piano. Free with a retiring collection.

Tuesday 28 June – Saturday 2 July 2022

Community Theatre: Twelfth Night
The Place Theatre Outside @ 7pm
Tickets: from £10

In the dream world of Illyria, Shakespeare plays with the rapidly shifting sands of love to create the mother-of-all rom-coms.

Orsino loves Olivia, who mourns her brother’s death and has ‘abjured the sight and company of men’…Viola, shipwrecked, also mourns her brother’s death (in the same shipwreck) is employed (as a man – Cesario) by Orsino to woo Olivia on his behalf…Olivia promptly falls for him/her/Cesario, but he/she/Viola has fallen for Orsino…‘Even so quickly may one catch the plague’ … just what is love?

And that is just Act One of one of the best-loved comedies ever written.

Mix in Malvolio (pompous, proud, tricked into wooing Olivia and being humiliated), Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and others for a rapidly shifting rom-com set in the 1967 Summer of Love (with appropriate music).

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Guided walk: Places and Faces of Bedford
Meet at the gold letterbox in St Paul’s Square at 11am
Tickets: £3/£150

Bedford has many impressive properties, often built as homes for the professional and the wealthy.

Many survived though few are still family homes. Join the Bedford Tour Guides to find out who lived where and why these Bedfordians were important to the town.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Film: In The Mood for Love
Cinema @ St Peters @ 7pm
Tickets: £9/£10.50/£12

In 1962, journalist Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his wife move into a Hong Kong apartment, but Chow’s spouse is often away on business.

Before long, the lonely Chow makes the acquaintance of the alluring Su Li-zhen (Maggie Cheung Man-yuk), whose own significant other also seems preoccupied with work.

As the two friends realize their respective partners are cheating on them, they begin to fall for one another; however, neither wants to stoop to the level of the unfaithful spouses.

Thursday 30 June 2022

Live music: Jazz Jam
3 St Peter’s @ 7pm – 11.30pm
Tickets: Free for members and their guests/£7.50 for non-members

In keeping with the impromptu spirit of jazz, a group of talented local musicians have launched a Jazz Jam at 3 St Peter’s. The idea was proposed by Ryan McCaffrey who is aiming to bring a little of what he’s experienced during his gigs at England’s top Jazz venues to 3 St Peter’s.

Come and enjoy the sounds of the 3 St Peter’s house band and perhaps join them for an improvised jamming session!


Friday 1 July 2022

Live music: The Glenn Miller Big Band Spectacular
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £23.50

The music that filled the dancehalls during the Big Band era is brought to life again by The Moonlight Serenade Orchestra UK. The hardest swinging big band in the UK recreates the million sellers of the 40s and 50s.

Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug, Pennsylvania 6-5000 and String of Pearls are just a few of the numbers that shot band leader Glenn Miller to world stardom.

Pieces from other band leaders including Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington and Count Basie not to mention songs made famous by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are featured in this two-hour show which will take you down Memory Lane and start your feet tapping.

Friday 1 July 2022

Live music: Bad Manners
Bedford Esquires @ 8pm
Tickets: £22.50

Missing in action for five years in Bedford, ska legends Bad Manners return to Esquires this summer.

Bad Manners were at their peak during the late 1970s and early 1980s when other ska revival bands, such as Madness and The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter, filled the charts. Bad Manners spent 111 weeks in the UK Singles Chart between 1980 and 1983 and have continued as a worldwide popular touring live act to this day. Some of Bad Manners’ more notable hits include “My Girl Lollipop”, “Lip Up Fatty”, “Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu”, “Lorraine”, “Just A Feeling”, “Walking In The Sunshine”, “Can Can” and “Special Brew”.

Saturday 2 July 2022

Workshop: Bedford Repair Cafe
The Place Theatre @ 11am-3pm
Tickets: free, but booking is essential and donations are welcome.

The Bedford Repair Cafe volunteers are back to help you fix your broken stuff. Bring your broken bikes, clothes, sewing machines, garden equipment, and electricals, or come along to learn more about repair and maintenance.
Booking is essential to help the team manage the day.
Repairs are free but donations are welcome to help run future events.

Saturday 2 July 2022

Relax: Fish and Chip Supper Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 6pm
Tickets: from £21

Have a relaxing evening cruise and watch the sun go down among Bedford’s picturesque countryside and the Embankment.

The cruise navigates the town lock, and then past the 12th century mound of Bedford Castle before going under the historic Town Bridge as we make our way along to Queens Bridge, enjoying a fish & chip supper.

Sunday 3 July 2022

Relax: Sunday Afternoon Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina 1.30pm or Sovereigns Quay 2.30pm
Tickets: from £10

Enjoy a relaxing cruise through Bedford’s picturesque countryside, to discover Bedford’s unique pyramid!

After navigating the town lock and cruising past the 12th century mound of Bedford Castle, the John Bunyan Boat will call at Sovereigns Quay to pick up additional passengers, before heading upriver to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara temple in Queens Park, Kempston Outdoor Centre and on towards Kempston Mill before returning.

Sunday 3 July 2022

Guided walk: The Silent Faces of Bedford
Meet at the gold letterbox in St Paul’s Square at 11am
Tickets: £3/£150

Bedford has many impressive statues and memorials. They cannot tell their own story – but we can and do!

Sunday 3 July 2022

Festivals: Bedford Italian Festival
Harpur Square @ 12noon – 6pm
Free entry

Bringing Little Italy right to Harpur Square with a fun-filled day of music, food and cars.
The event organisers have special guests flying in from Italy to perform and they promise a stage filled with amazing live acts throughout the day.
This celebration of Bedford’s Italian community last took place in 2019 and attracted over 3,000 visitors.
This year’s event is organised by Carmela Facchiano, a proud Bedford Italian who says she is determined to reconnect the community feeling within the Italian families and businesses.

Coming soon…

Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July 2022

Festivals: Bedford River Festival
Free entry

This year’s River Festival returns after a three-year hiatus and we are so ready for it.

There are lots of new additions this year, including Bands on the Bridge, the BBC Introducing Music stage, a vegan lounge as well as the One Hundred Motoring Exhbition along Bedford High Street and St Paul’s Square.

As ever, there will be lots of fun on the river, plus plenty to see and do, from live music to sports activities, historical renactments to food and drink.

Read:Everything you need to know about Bedford River Festival 2022

Find out more at the Explore Bedford website and also the Bedford River Festival official website.

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


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