Written by Erica Roffe
The Philharmonia, festivals and flea markets; there’s something for everyone in Bedford this month.
July sees one of the highlights of Bedford’s events calendar – the much-anticipated bi-annual River Festival. Celebrating its 40th birthday this year, the River Festival takes place on 14 – 15 July along the banks of the River Great Ouse, with six music and performance stages, sports and heritage villages and dozens of events taking place on the water. A fabulous free family day out, this year’s festival site extends to incorporate the new Riverside Bedford development and there’s even a river taxi to help you beat the crowds. Bedford.gov.uk/riverfestival
If live performance is your thing, the 11th annual Bedfringe Festival takes place at the Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s from 18 – 22 July. Britain’s Got Talent winner, Lost Voice Guy may have already sold out his 18 July performance, but you can still catch shows from dozens of other comedians and performers including the brilliant Lucy Porter, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Patrick Monahan and Geoff Norcott. bedfringe.com
On Sunday 8 July (11am – 4pm), the second Bedford Flea of the summer takes place on St Paul’s Square. Taking its inspiration from traditional French brocante markets, Bedford Flea has an eclectic range of stalls selling collectibles, vintage clothing, rural bygones, vinyl, furniture and more. Pick up a coffee from La Piazza, browse and buy at the Flea and then take a stroll along the River, have lunch at one of Bedford’s independent restaurants or hire a boat from the Longholme Café. The perfect recipe for a great day in Bedford! bedpop.co.uk
The world-famous Philharmonia Orchestra, resident orchestra at Bedford Corn Exchange, comes to Bedford from 2 July with The Virtual Orchestra, a free event that gives everyone the opportunity to experience a symphony orchestra up-close. A large tent on Riverside Square becomes home to a 10-room installation that showcases the internal workings of the Philharmonia as the orchestra performs ‘Holst’s The Planet’s, and virtual reality headsets that transport you to a concert hall stage where you can see and hear the orchestra up close in 360-degree virtual reality. philharmonia.co.uk/virtualorchestra
Coming from out of town? Parking in town centre council-owned car parks is free for two hours every Saturday and all day on Sundays.