Bedford is a vibrant, multicultural market town. The centrepiece is the River Great Ouse and picturesque Embankment where daily promenades have been popular since Victorian times. The river provides much in the way of recreation and regularly hosts regattas for prominent national and international boat clubs and schools alike.
Russell Park is the venue for an annual weekend Kite Festival and, every two years, the Bedford River Festival is held. By repute, this is the second largest and most widely attended outdoor festival in the country behind the Notting Hill Carnival.
Bedford Park hosts an annual Proms in the Park in August. The event features everyone’s classical favourites on the Saturday of the event followed by popular, contemporary bands on the Sunday. Bands to have featured in recent years include Status Quo, UB40 and the Happy Mondays.
The renowned Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama is an annual event held at Bedford’s Corn Exchange drawing talent from the whole county with a particular emphasis on young performers. There is an active amateur dramatics scene in the town with an annual Fringe Festival – the ‘Bedfringe’.
Bedford enjoys a wealth of pubs and restaurants; the eateries provide a wide selection of culinary styles as a result of the diverse ethnic population. Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Thai and Chinese establishments are much in evidence alongside traditional fayre.
The town has a strong sporting tradition with rugby at its roots. Inaugurated in 1886, Bedford Rugby Club has enjoyed considerable success through its illustrious history and is currently a competitive Championship side. Many former ‘Blues’ players have international honours; Derek ‘Budge’ Rogers and Martin Bayfield being notable Blues players to have represented club, country and The Lions. Bedford’s International Athletic Stadium is internationally renowned and hosts many national and international track and field events.
With London property values forcing homeowners further north, Bedford is a popular and convenient destination. A fast rail link takes commuters to London’s St Pancras within 40 minutes whilst, by road, Milton Keynes is within 25 minutes and Cambridge approximately 40 minutes. The M1 and A1 junctions are also easily accessible courtesy of the southern bypass.
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