Keighley Arts and Film Festival Is Back With Full Programme of Events

Photo by Judy Connor

Keighley Arts and Film Festival is coming back, with a full bill of events planned across the town during October.

Attractions will include street theatre, buskers, a lantern parade featuring Mythical Beasts, a tour of a hidden subterranean street and a world-record-breaking human beatboxer.

Face-to-face events will return over the weekend of 8-10 October, after a two-year break caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the events and performances are free, though some need to be pre-booked.

Cecil Green Arts will be bring local stone giant Rombald and the Cottingley Faeries to life at Cliffe Castle on Friday evening accompanied by live performances from Drum Machine, with the Bradford Boar leading a lantern parade in Cliffe Castle park on Saturday evening.

Actor Irene Lofthouse will adopt the persona of Nancy Newbody to lead a guided trip through the basement of Royal Arcade, where preserved shops and stables still exist. Nancy will regale visitors with tales of the shoppers and their customers, in six separate performances on the Friday and Saturday. Booking for the event is essential, and the tour is not suitable for those under 14 or people with access needs.

Live music and street theatre will take place inside and outside the Airedale Shopping Centre and around the bus station on Friday and Saturday. A puppet show, which sold out in Keighley and Bradford over the summer will be staged in one of the currently empty shops inside the shopping centre.

A spokesperson for Keighley Creative, the arts charity behind the festival, said: “Keighley-based theatre company Shoutdrama! is bringing a brand-new specially commissioned piece to KAFF 2021.

Keighley Arts and Film Festival: actor Sue Dyde of Shoutdrama

“In a time before mass car ownership buses were integral to many people’s lives, ferrying children to school, workers to their offices and factories and even brides to their weddings. Hearts were lost – as were umbrellas in their thousands – and forgotten friends reunited all under the watchful eye of the bus conductress.

“Come and see some of those moments brought to life by professional performers, including an actor who many of you may recognise from appearances in various TVs soap dramas.”

Friday evening will also see the first of several of the weekend’s collaborations between KAFF and Ilkley Literature Festival. Testament, a nationally acclaimed rapper, spoken-word poet and world-record-breaking human beatboxer will be performing at Jam on Top Studios in Melbourne House, Chesham Street, off Dalton Lane.

A new exhibition, Worth, will be open in Keighley Creative’s gallery on Hanover Street, featuring two artists whose work includes Keighley scenes. A number of locally made short films will also be shown throughout much of Saturday in the centre’s small pop-up cinema.

The second of the Ilkley Literature Festival collaborations will take place on Saturday between 5pm and 6pm at Central Hall, Alice Street. Writer, journalist, broadcaster and screenwriter Sarfraz Manzoor will discuss his personal take, drawn from his own life experiences and those of other muslims he has interviewed, on modern muslim life in Britain, using material from his recently published book They. This event needs to be booked directly with Ilkley Literature Festival via their website or box office 01943 816714. There is a £5 entry charge redeemable against Sarfraz’s book They.

At 8pm Keighley Picture House, North Street, will screen the film Blinded by the Light, based on Sarfaz’s memoir of his life as a British teenager of muslim descent, growing up in Luton in the 1980s. The film, directed by Gurinder Chadha of Bend it like Beckham fame, is a joyful story of courage, love, hope, family and the unique ability of music to lift the human spirit. The film has a great soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen’s music too. Throughout the weekend there will be free arts and crafts sessions including tutored workshops to enable visitors to make illuminated window displays ready for the big Light Up Keighley weekend from 5 to 7 November. All materials and the workshops are free and participants will learn skills they can use with family and friends in the future for their own window illuminations.

Festival-goers can chill out on Sunday, with a poetry and spoken-word event at Keighley Creative on Hanover Street, again, in collaboration with Ilkley Literature Festival, when Leeds’s most popular spoken-word night comes to Keighley for an afternoon. The Sunday Practice features live music and poetry hosted by Ilkley Literature’s apprentice poet in residence Rheima Robinson. You might decide to get up yourself and read some of your work too! Booking is needed for this event via Ilkley Literature Festival. Entry is £2 but includes soup and a drink.

Full details of all the performers and events will be posted on the KAFF website, social media and in programmes. Regular updates are on the KAFF Facebook page:

Finally, while restrictions have been eased, please remember to follow the latest COVID-19 guidelines in order to enjoy these events in a safe and responsible manner.

Don’t forget to tag @visitbradford and #VisitBradford and let us know about what you’ve been enjoying across the district!

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