Seven of the best events to book in Bedfordshire in the weeks and months ahead
From the thrill of festivals to the magic of the stage, there's plenty to look foward to
The Estate Festival, Turvey House, May 27 to June 2
Music and events series The Estate Festival is taking over Turvey House in Bedfordshire across five consecutive weekends – and is set to become the first British festival to take place this year. The event will see the best in dance music perform against a stunning backdrop of 150 acres of parkland by the River Great Ouse. There will be exclusive music events from Thursdays through to Sunday evenings, with Bongo’s Bingo bringing their social extravaganza on Thursdays. The likes of Horse Meat Disco, Patrick Topping, Melé, Monki, Sam Divine, Denis Sulta and Sam Divine will join Fat Tony, The Shapeshifters, Jonas Blue, Joel Corry, Eats Everything, Solardo and more in ringing in the night-time festivities. Not stopping there, house music collective Housekeeping will take over the third weekend, from June 11 to 13.
Bedford Esquires, from May 20
It’s one of the region’s most beloved gig venues – and it’s planning to bring live music back to fans from this month.
A series of stripped-back socially-distanced shows begins on May 20 with Ferocious Dog performing as a duo, with other shows coming up from former Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley, Mark Chadwick of the Levellers, Spike from the Quireboys and cult favourite Kirk Brandon (pictured right, in circle), the voice of Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate and Dead Men Walking. Much-loved locals Ouse Valley Singles Club play two sold-out shows – and looking further ahead, bookings include Sarpa Salpa, The Rifles, Squid, Elijah Miller and Dream Wife. Tickets are hard to come by for Bedfordshire’s own chart sensation Tom Grennan, who plays three shows in August, but those with more old-school tastes will find much to enjoy when filmmaker, musician, DJ, broadcaster and social commentator Don Letts visits on June 16 for An Evening with the Rebel Dread. The evening will feature a book reading and signing as well as a Q & A from local music aficionado Jason Foster. Jason formerly ran the legendary Sounds Good to Me record store in Bedford and with his knowledge of music and culture, coupled with his quick wit, will bring added enjoyment to the evening.
Nightflix Outdoor Cinema, Luton Airport, until May 21
Enjoy a diverse range of hit films from the comfort of your car. Expect much-loved classics Mamma Mia and Grease alongside recent family favourites like The Greatest Showman and Frozen II. Nightflix will also be on hand to ensure customers can enjoy food, snacks and drinks whilst watching the film, which will be delivered directly to their vehicle. Nightflix marketing manager Christine Penrose said: “Following the incredible demand we’ve seen with our Nightflix drive-in cinema events, we are really looking forward to bringing this experience to a much wider audience, which has been well received so far after a long year of lockdown. We want to treat them with their favourite films, drinks and delicious food in a safe environment.”
Tell Me On A Sunday, The Place, Bedford, June 22 to 26
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s one-woman musical has been performed by a number of female singers/actors, most notably Marti Webb and Bernadette Peters. A one-act song cycle, it tells the story of an ordinary English girl from Muswell Hill, who journeys to the United States in search of love. Her romantic misadventures begin in New York City, lead her to Hollywood, and eventually take her back to Manhattan. It’s presented by Bedford musical company Toffe apple Productions in The Place’s outdoor space.
The Nick Ross Orchestra: The Glenn Miller & Rat Pack Era, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, July 17
Recapture the sounds of a bygone era as the Nick Ross Orchestra presents an evening of music and song with the classic Big Band sound of the 1940s and ‘50s.
Bedford Park Concerts, July 29 to August 1
One of the county’s biggest musical events is back, with organisers confident they can put on a show for thousands while keeping everyone safe. “We were always cautiously optimistic that these events, postponed from last summer, would be able to take place this July and the latest government roadmap gives us reassurance that we can deliver all three events safely this year,” said Mark Harrison, of Bedford Park Concerts. “A combination of the vaccination programme and our concerts taking place outdoors with plenty of room for social distancing – whether that is required or not – provide us with the reassurance that we can put tickets on sale with a degree of confidence that we will not need to postpone or cancel due to the pandemic.” Pop sensation Olly Murs will open the extravaganza on July 29, while on the Friday evening the vibrant Café Mambo Ibiza provides an opportunity to relive the soundtrack of the Balearics with a star-studded line-up of DJs. Britpop heroes Ocean Colour Scene headline on the Saturday, and tenor Wynne Evans – who now appears as himself alongside Gio Compario in the famous car insurance TV advertisements - and soprano Victoria Joyce will headline Bedfordshire’s most prestigious al fresco Proms on the evening of Sunday, August 1.
DJ Koze’s Labyrinth party, Tofte Manor, Sharnbrook, August 7
The new open-air venue for dance music, in the grounds of a unique 17th-century manor house, hosts a festival headlined by DJ Koze, one of the most adventurous and constantly entertaining producers of the past few decades. His latest album features the likes of Róisín Murphy, Bon Iver and José González - the last of whom will join him at this show as a co-headliner. Also on the bill is Fred Again, who was named producer of the year at the 2020 Brit Awards after producing more than 30 per cent of 2019’s number one hits and working with stars such as Stormzy and Ed Sheeran.