Bradford will be the UK City of Culture 2025, with more than 1,000 events and performances expected to be part of the celebrations. Southampton, Wrexham and County Durham were also in the running for the coveted title.
The Yorkshire city takes the mantle from Coventry, where an extended calendar of events has just concluded. Part of its legacy includes The Reel Store, a vast immersive digital art gallery celebrating the region’s talent and that of artists around the world.
Here’s a brief taste of what you can expect in Bradford, both now and in the future…
Bursting with character and diversity, Bradford was named as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, paying homage to its association with the birth of cinema, and its role as a key location for film and TV production. Its place within the UNESCO creative cities network is celebrated with film festivals throughout the year, including the Widescreen Weekend in the city’s National Science and Media Museum (October 2022).
Renowned as an industrial powerhouse, Bradford is packed with remnants of its historic past. Its textile, steam-power and engineering legacy can be seen at Bradford Industrial Museum, alongside a packed events calendar.
Heading north out of the city will lead you to Shipley, near to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire – home to the Salts Mill. With a unique mix of new and old, the grand Victorian building now houses contemporary visual arts, shops, an espresso bar and café. Look out for Bradford-born and internationally-acclaimed artist David Hockney’s permanent exhibition, one of the largest displaying his works. For a slice of Hockney in Bradford, head into Little Germany and marvel at a portrait of the artist created by Marcus Levine, made from 250,000 nails.
A trip to Bradford wouldn’t be complete without a venture underground. Travel to subterranean Sunbridge Wells and discover a labyrinth of independent retailers, an eclectic long cellar bar and tasty street food. Tuck into woodfired pizza, drink ale in one of the city’s oldest pubs, or journey back in time at a series of themed events. Keep an eye out for tours that lead you further into the medieval vaults, and gin masterclasses that teach you the tricks of mixology.
For a pedal-powered way to whiz through the city’s sights, you can hire a bike from two locations – Bradford Interchange Train Station or Shipley Train Station. A leisurely ride can take you along the Great Northern Railway Trail, gliding past the city’s iconic Alhambra Theatre and out along a disused rail line for a traffic-free countryside cycle. Alternatively, keep your feet firmly on the ground on a heritage walking tour, helping to bring the city’s past to life through stories of the people who helped it thrive during the Industrial Revolution.
Set to open its doors in central Bradford in summer 2023, Darley Street Market will span three floors bringing international flavours and all-day entertainment to the heart of the city. Expect an eclectic food hall that hosts thirteen street food vendors, an outdoor balcony providing views over the newly created city square, and a jam-packed events calendar. This is just the start, with hundreds of events expected in the coming years as Bradford gets ready for its time as UK City of Culture 2025.