What’s on Bedford: 4 August – 4 September 2022

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Your summer of fun starts here, with everything you need to make the most of what’s on our doorstep.

From superstar DJs to family-friendly film screenings, river cruises to walking tours, live music to kids’ craft workshops, there is something for everyone to discover in Bedford this summer.

Enjoy!


Every Thursday in August 2022

Family Fun: Crafty Thursdays 2022
John Bunyan Museum & Library Mill Street, Bedford, MK40 3EU @ 11:30am – 3:30pm
Tickets: £2 per child (no need to book)

Craft activities are running on Thursdays throughout August for children aged 4+, accompanied.

Have a go at printmaking inspired by the Bunyan Buildings, create ‘message seeds’ to add to our summer exhibition, help nature by creating bug hotels, or use natural material to create stunning woven spirals to hang up at home!


Thursday 4 August 2022

Science fun: Take Flight with Little Science Lab
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 12:45pm, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£5 per child, Booking Essential

Discover the science of flight and design your own magnificent flying rocket.


Friday 5 and 26 August 2022

Family crafts: Lacemaking with Aragon Lacemakers
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am & 2:15pm – (lasts for about two hours)
£3.05 per child, Booking Essential

Learn lace-making techniques and create your own pillow lace bookmark to take home.


Friday 5 August 2022

Comedy: Oliver Samuels: Guilty with Explanation
Bedford Corn Exchange @ 8pm
Tickets: £25

After a three year break, Oliver Samuels is back! Celebrating 50 years in comedy, this is his most gut-busting, hilarious blockbuster play – Guilty with Explaination.

When Oliver Samuels leaves his matrimonial home and moves in with his married daughter, he immediately suspects that her husband is cheating.  He does all he can to convince his daughter to end her childless marriage, with hilarious results.

This is part of the Jamaica 60th independence celebrations.


Saturday 6 August, Saturday 20 August and Saturday 3 September 2022

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

Have a relaxing evening cruise as the sun goes down along Bedford’s picturesque countryside and the Embankment as you enjoy a delicious fish and chip supper.


Saturday 6 August 2022

Live music: The Patio Party – A Reggae, Dub, Roots and Ska Alldayer
Bedford Esquires @ 1pm til late
Free entry

From the team that brought you FoodDrunk comes Esquires’ first ever Patio Party – a brand new Reggae, Dub, Roots and Ska alldayer in celebration of Jamaican independence,

Street Food, DJs and rum for a day in celebration of a tiny island that has shaped music in culture like no other.


Saturday 6 August 2022

Live music: MattFest 22
Bedford Esquires @ 7pm
Tickets: £10
MattFest 2022 takes place at Esquires this month in memory of Matt Esposito with proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support.
The lineup includes: Lost Without Cause, Standing Like Statues, Facedown, The Tendons
and The Bleach Boys.


Sunday 7 August 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 the Tour Guides can and do!

Join Bedford’s knowledgeable tour guides to find out more.

Book in advance at their website.


Sunday 7 August & 21 August and 4 September 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. Navigate the town lock, and then see the 12th-century mound of Bedford Castle before going under the historic Town Bridge, calling at Sovereign’s Quay to pick up additional passengers, before cruising upriver passing the Guru Nanak Gurdwara temple in Queens Park, Kempston Outdoor Centre and on towards Kempston Mill before returning.


Sunday 7 August 2022

Live music: The Annual Esquires BeatleJam
Bedford Esquires @ 5pm
Free entry

An annual Sunday afternoon session to celebrate the music of the Beatles. Many local musicians take part to pay tribute to the Fab Four, all hosted by Mat Roberts. If you would like to take part email Mat at matrobertsmusic@aol.com.


Tuesday 9 August 2022

Teen crafts: Drypoint Etching with Katie Allen
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£5, Booking Essential

Make your own miniature intaglio etching inspired by the Body and Soul exhibition.


Thursday 11 August & 25 August 2022

Relax: Thursday Afternoon Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Sovereigns Quay @2.30pm
Tickets: from £10

Enjoy a relaxing cruise under the historic Town Bridge past Bedford Castle mound and then through the Town lock and along the tranquil river to Cardington Lock.


Thursday 11 August 2022

Family fun: Discovering Nature with the Wildlife Trust
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 12:45pm, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£3.05 per child, Booking Essential

Discover the extraordinary life of birds of prey, challenge yourself to recognise unusual natural history objects and enjoy a nature-themed craft.


Thursday 11 August 2022

Live Music: Irish Music Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Newnham Steps @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £20

Enjoy a lively evening cruise featuring live music from Inis Eire, a Ceilidh band providing amazing music from Ireland as you cruise along Bedford’s Embankment. A versatile trio of Irish musicians providing high-quality classical, folk, pop and ceilidh performances.


Friday 12 August 2022

Family craft: Batik with Creative Days
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 12:45pm, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£5 per child, Booking Essential

Discover the wonderful world of Batik and create a unique piece of artwork to keep forever.


Saturday 13 August 2022

Dance music: Original Culture Festival
Priory Country Park @ 1pm – 11pm
Tickets: £32

Bedford’s biggest and brightest new festival, celebrating original sounds from a range of genres including garage, R&B, soul, reggae, soulful/deep/funky house, jungle, DnB and more.
The day features a host of amazing DJs & live acts from all over the UK, plus supporting & celebrating the very best local talent.

Parking will be available to those who have purchased tickets with parking included.


Saturday 13 August & Wednesday 17 August

Afternoon Tea: Mercure Hotel Afternoon tea Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 2pm
Tickets: £30

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon cruise on the River Great Ouse, having Afternoon Tea* at the Mercure Bedford Centre Hotel with its picturesque views overlooking the river, before returning by boat to Priory Marina. A John Bunyan cruise for those who enjoy a relaxing time on the river coupled with a delicious afternoon tea.


Sunday 14 August 2022

Shopping: Bedford Flea, Affordable Art and Local Produce Market
Harpur Square @ 10am – 3pm

They say a change is as good as a rest, and due to essential maintenance work happening on St Paul’s Square, for August only Bedford Flea will be relocating around the corner to Harpur Square in the area between the Library & the Harpur Suite and the Harpur Shopping Centre.
Expect the same standard of amazingness in the Local Produce section (grown-not-flown seasonal flowers, sheep cheese & milk, jams & chutneys and local honey, savoury goodies & sauces, traditional Indian Halwa, Bedfordshire brewed beer & distilled gin, cakes and bakes & vegan fudge) plus Peach & Palm with their selection of house plants and locally made candles too.
Feeling peckish? Special guests Rawboys Club will be there with their fresh oysters, as well as Really Good Sausages and A Vegetative State giving delicious vegan options.
The Affordable Art section will be filled with a dozen local artists of varying disciplines, with 12 ‘A-boards of art’ gracing the square.

The Flea section will be full of the best antiques, collectables, vintage clothing, second-hand vinyl and all the treasures you never knew you needed. Happy shopping!


Sunday 14 August 2022

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

The Jewel in Bedford’s Crown is undoubtedly the River Great Ouse and its Embankment. Find out how the construction of this part of the town came about and hear about the many important features which stand on either side of the river and which can easily be overlooked.

Join Bedford’s knowledgeable tour guides to find out more.

Book in advance at their website.


Tuesday 16 August 2022

Teen crafts: Modern Brush Calligraphy with Katie Allen
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£5, Booking Essential

Get creative with text and learn the basics of brush calligraphy.


Thursday 18 August 2022

Science Fun: Sun Prints with Little Science Lab
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 12:45pm, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£5 per child, Booking Essential

Discover the science of using light to print images before cameras were invented and create stunning prints inspired by nature.


Thursday 18 August 2022

Eat: Thali Tandoor Curry Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 6.30pm
Tickets £25

Enjoy a relaxing evening cruise as the sun goes down along The Embankment, past the 12th century Castle Mound, and under the historic town bridge – all whilst enjoying a traditional thali curry supper.


Sunday 21 August 2022

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

The Jewel in Bedford’s Crown is undoubtedly the River Great Ouse and its Embankment. Find out how the construction of this part of the town came about and hear about the many important features which stand on either side of the river and which can easily be overlooked.

Join Bedford’s knowledgeable tour guides to find out more.

Book in advance at their website.


Monday 22 – Friday 26 August 2022

Summer workshop: Ma-Game-Zine: Workshops for Young Imaginators
The Place Theatre @ 10am
Tickets: £10 per day or £45 for the whole week

This summer workshop for young people aged 11-16 will focus on creative writing, storytelling and game design.
Following on from the Place Theatre’s regular term-time role-playing games (RPG) club sessions, this week-long summer workshop will encourage young people to work together to create their own ideas for games, which will be pulled together over the course of the week to create a Zine, full of ideas, snippets and adventures pulled together from the creative minds of the participants.
No prior knowledge of anything game/RPG is required, just an over-active imagination & a thirst for adventure.
Perfect for young people interested in flexing their creative writing skills, as well as budding illustrators, cartoonists or visual artists.
Sessions run 10am – 4pm each day. There is a 45min break for a healthy lunch each day which will be provided on-site (and included in the cost).

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Family crafts: Repeat Pattern Prints with Katie Allen
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 12:45pm, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£5 per child, Booking Essential

Create pattern prints inspired by the gorgeous plates in the Design gallery.


 Wednesday 24 August 2022

Relax: Anchor Lunch Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Priory Marina @ 10am
Tickets: £39

The John Bunyan Boat at Great Barford

Enjoy a three-hour relaxing and picturesque cruise on the River Great Ouse to Great Barford, departing from Priory Marina at 10.00am. You will arrive at Great Barford for lunch at 1.30 pm and return by coach at 3pm back to Priory Marina.


Thursday 25 August 2022

Family crafts: Star Gazing
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£3.05 per child, Booking Essential

Discover the patterns we find in the stars and make a constellation projector.


Thursday 25 August 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 Boat’s Motown and Soul cruise featuring DJ Keith Stewart. Dance the night away to your favourite Motown and soul tracks on this two-hour cruise.


Saturday 27 August 2022

Live music: Ruts DC
Bedford Esquires @ 7pm
Tickets: £20

Ruts DC play their first-ever gig in Bedford. This is not part of their tour, it’s a one-off exclusive club show which is bound to sell out fast. Get your tickets now!


Sunday 28 August 2022

Live music: Ural Thomas & The Pain + Afreine + The Miller Collective DJs
Bedford Esquires @ 7.30pm
Tickets: £15

Universally recognised as one of the most exciting singers remaining from the original soul era, 82-year-old Ural Thomas and his band The Pain released their third LP “Dancing Dimensions” on the uber cool Brighton-based ‘Bella Union’ records earlier this year.

Thomas initially made his name in the 1960s with stone-cold soul classic releases like “Pain Is The Name of Your Game,” “Can You Dig It,” “Deep Soul,” and his 1964 recording debut with The Monterays “Push – Em Up.”

After a musical journey that commenced in his native Portland, Oregon, and led to Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and New York, Ural shared stages with everyone from James Brown to Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding to Etta James.

He became disillusioned with the music business and returned home where he continues to reign as Portland’s uncontested Soul Brother Number One.

Guest support comes from Afreine. Birthed from a gospel background, she has a style heavily influenced by blues and soul with a modern pop edge. Accompanied with jazz and blues musicians her music is open to all with heartfelt lyrics written from her life experiences.

Seamlessly keeping the night together will be the sounds of The Miller Collective who will be spinning the best in funk and soul cuts.


Monday 29 August 2022

Family Fun: Bank Holiday Cruise
John Bunyan Boat, Sovereigns Quay @ 12pm, 1.45pm, 3pm
Tickets: from £5

Enjoy a relaxing 45 minute Bank Holiday river cruise along the Embankment from Sovereign’s Quay. It’s the perfect way to try the John Bunyan Boat for the first time, and great for families with young children.


Tuesday 30 August 2022

Family crafts: Personalised Pencil Cases
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am & 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£3.05 per child, Booking Essential

Decorate your own bug-themed pencil case.


Wednesday 31 July 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 survive though few are still family homes.

Join Bedford’s knowledgeable tour guides to find out who lived where and why these Bedfordians were important to the town.

Book in advance at their website.


Thursday 1 September 2022

Family crafts: Optical Illusions
The Higgins Bedford @ 11:15am, 2:15pm – (lasts for about an hour)
£3.05 per child, Booking Essential

Discover how the eye can be tricked and make Victorian-style optical illusion toys.


Friday 2 – Sunday 4 September 2022

Festival: Bedford Running Festival 2022
Russell Park

The Bedford Running Festival is more than just a running race!
Take part in one (or all) of the races, including Bedford Half Marathon, Bedford Twilight 10K, Bedford 5K, Bedford 20 and Bedford Mini Miles.

The festival also features live music, open air cinema, comedy club, yoga and wellness classes, street food stalls, running seminars, recovery zone and Kids Club.


Friday 2 September 2022

Film: Sundown Cinema presents Dirty Dancing
Russell Park @ 8pm (doors open at 7pm)
Tickets: £15

Friday night? Dirty Dancing? In Bedford’s Russell Park? Sundown Cinema are back in Bedford to round off the summer and they’re kicking off with a stone clod classic – Dirty Dancing.

Come and have the time of your life and start your weekend the Sundown way! This screening forms part of the Bedford Running Festival hosted by Active Training World.


Saturday 3 September 2022

Film: Sundown Cinema presents Encanto
Russell Park @ 3pm (doors open at 2pm)
Tickets: £5.50

The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift – every child except Mirabel.

However, she soon may be their last hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger.


Saturday 3 September 2022

Film: Sundown Cinema presents Top Gun
Russell Park @ 3pm (doors open at 2pm)
Tickets: £15

Where it all began. Some people say it’s the best movie about volleyball, planes and aviator shades ever. Some people shout “Missile lock” (a lot), we just say Great Balls of Fire its the original Top Gun on the big screen in the middle of Bedford. Awesome!

This screening forms part of the amazing Bedford Running Festival hosted by Active Training World


Sunday 4 September 2022

Film: Sundown Cinema presents Sing 2
Turvey House @ 11am (doors open at 10am)
Tickets: £5.50/£11

This Before Sundown open-air screening of Sing 2 is perfect for families and sees Buster Moon reunite his singers for a trip to the big city.

This screening forms part of the amazing Bedford Running Festival hosted by Active Training World


Until 4 September 2022

Family fun: Future Bedford children’s art competition
The Higgins Bedford, Castle Lane
Free entry

Visions of the future of Bedford as imagined by local school children are on display at the Higgins Bedford as part of the Harpur Trust’s bi-annual art competition.

An exhibition of the prize-winning works has been curated by the team at the Higgins Bedford and is on display in the Sir William Harpur Gallery until 4 September. Entry is free.


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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