A vibrant town that is home to live music, several theatres, stand-up nights and live sporting action, when it comes to entertainment in Bedford, there’s something for everyone.
Entertainment in Bedford
Head to our dedicated pages on Esquires and the Bedford Corn Exchange to find out more about two of Bedford’s best live music venues.
The Ent Shed is a tiny – and we mean tiny – spot that puts on some of the best low-key music and stand-up events in town. Next to the Gordon Arms Pub, each show is limited to just 100 tickets and they enforce a loose ‘no talking’ rule during all live music shows. Plus, they say that if you don’t enjoy the gig, they’ll give you 100% of your money back. You can’t say fairer than that.
With several auditoriums – the largest of which can seat 282 guests – The Quarry Theatre is a converted church and a popular theatre and bar that attracts a largely contemporary programme, including modern interpretations of classic plays.
With a focus on new, original and imaginative writing, the theatre is a great place to come for something a little different, while the cool bar – which spills into a neat garden – is worth a visit on its own.
Founded in 1984, The Place found their theatre space in 2002, converting a former boxing club on Bradgate Road into a 130-seat theatre. It now puts on an impressive programme of plays, poetry, family events, film screenings and live music, with an emphasis on local talent. With high standards and its intimate setting, it’s a great place to discover another side of Bedford’s theatre scene. The nearest Premier Inn for The Place and The Quarry is our Bedford (Priory Marina) hotel.
Part of the Bedford University campus, the University of Bedfordshire Theatre is a 280-seat theatre which puts on a wide range of dance, theatre, spoken word, music, comedy and family shows that are open to the public, as well as university students and staff.
Lastly, the small but modern theatre at the South Banks Art Centre at Bedford College has put on a wide range of shows in recent years. These include Shakespeare plays, Queen musicals and classics, such as The Little Shop of Horrors.
Running on the second Thursday of each month, Castle Comedy pulls together some of the best comedians on the UK circuit and puts them and local host Paul Revill on stage at the Ent Shed; the 100-capacity space attached to the Gordon Arms pub. Doors for the show open around 7.30pm, with the first comedian on stage just after 8pm and the night coming to a close around 10.30pm.
If you’re after bigger, more household names then the Bedford Corn Exchange in St. Paul’s Square regularly puts on a wide range of stand-up names, including Jim Davidson, Ruby Wax and Milton Jones.
Interesting pub quiz fact, sports fans – Bedford is one of the largest towns in the UK not to have a league football club. And, interestingly, the rugby team are better supported than the football side.
That’s good news for Bedford Blues; the town’s rugby team who play in the Championship, the second tier of the rugby league. Thanks to a tie-up with the Leicester Tigers, the team has access to some of the best young players in the country and has jostled for promotion several times in recent history. Founded in 1886, the Blues play home games at the 6,000 -capacity Goldington Road ground, with average attendance hovering around 2-3,000.
By contrast, Bedford Town Football Club plays in the Southern League Division One East with their home games in the nearby village of Cardington at a 3,000-capacity stadium. Around since 1884, they’ve had limited success, having twice made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and winning the Southern League in 1959.
Designed for high-performance sports cars, the Bedford Autodrome in Thurleigh is a great place to take your bike or car out on one of their regular track days or book one of their driving experiences. The 1.8-mile track is designed with extensive run-off areas, meaning that it isn’t eligible to hold races or host spectators. It’s just a 20-minute drive from our Bedford Town Centre (Riverside) hotel.
Bedford & County Athletic Club is a leading UK club and competes in the British Athletics League. Meets and races take place throughout the year at the Bedford Athletics Track near the River Ouse, one mile east of the town centre.