Castle Quay Weekender
In 2011 the first Castle Quay Weekender took place in seven empty units on Castle Lane and attracted 5000 visitors. The legacy of that event was far-reaching, including being the catalyst for the launch of this very newspaper.
Five years on and those vacant shops are thriving independent restaurants, cafes and businesses surrounding Castle Mound and the Archaeology Park, with the Higgins Bedford at its heart. And the Castle Quay Weekender is back to celebrate.
In June 2016 The Castle Quay Weekender took place in and around Castle Lane. On the Saturday, the Archaeology Park hosted the live music stage with events also taking place on Castle Mound, at the Higgins Bedford and on Castle Bailey Gardens. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops were all on site to provide much needed sustenance!
From live music to food, circus workshops to an arts and crafts market, there was something for everyone at the Castle Quay Weekender. The BedPop Record Shop popped up at the Higgins, Bedford’s Spiral free runners demonstrated their awesome skills (and running workshops too) and dancers popped up all over the place.
Live music has long been a key part of Bedford nightlife, with a strong and growing reputation for producing bands capable of making it big. Over the weekend, the Castle Quay Weekender hosted a selection of the area’s best bands and solo artists, as well as a few visitors from further afield. The main stage played host to a wide variety of acts from the Barford Avenue All-Stars to My Girl the River, The Broadway Twisters to headliners, Rags Rudi.
On Sunday, the live music moved to the Higgins’ Terrace while The Lane hosted the soul sounds of DJs Geoff and Hammy, Paul Miller and Robert Gipson.
There was something for everyone!
Art & Craft Market on the Higgins’ lawn
Bedford’s best artists, designers, makers, bakers, crafters and illustrators sold their wares in the Art and Crafts Market. There was unique art, handmade crafts, jewellery and it was great chance to meet the makers and find out more about the wealth of creativity in Bedford.
Culture at Castle Quay
The museum and gallery’s permanent collections are always worth a look, but if you didn’t have time to take in everything, we hosted Ten Minute Tours throughout the day. The perfect way to whet your appetite for a return visit!
Castle Quay sponsor KSK offered their MD as an artists’ model for the day for a Portrait Masterclass. Charles Little was in the Wixamtree Gallery at the Higgins and visitors were invited to draw his portrait under the expert guidance of a professional artist.
Spoken word artist, Lee Nelson hosted a Poetry Slam for all the family
Well known on the poetry circuit, Lee will performed his own work and introduced local poets in this fast-paced celebration of the spoken word.
The Sir William Harpur Gallery at the Higgins hosted Bedford Re-Imagined, an exhibition of work by final year interior design and interior architecture students from the University of Bedfordshire. The projects are based on the Higgins Sheds and the former Topps Tiles showroom at 26 St Cuthbert’s Street.
Before I Die wall – be part of art!
Before I Die is an interactive public art project that invites people to share their personal aspirations in public space. The original wall was created by artist Candy Chang in 2011 and since then, over 1,000 Before I Die walls have been created in 73 countries and 36 languages.
Thanks to Lisa Sanderson, artist Anne-Marie Stijelia, the Higgins Bedford, Homebase and BedPop, the Castle Quay Weekender debuted Bedford’s very own Before I Die wall.
@beforeidiewall on Instagram
On the Higgins’ lawn was the ConTENTment, the Castle Quay Weekender’s home to happiness.
Hosted by the #breakthestigma team, ConTENTment was filled with ideas, people, concepts and opportunities to help you find your own personal nirvana. Taking up a hobby or volunteering, discovering sport or trying meditation – there are lots of ways to enhance and maintain your mental wellbeing.
There was something for all the family at the Castle Quay Weekender including Bedford Juggling Club running circus skills workshops on Castle Mound. Throughout the weekend, the Circus of Illustration hosted art workshops in the Art and Craft Market and also Narrative Industries at Animal Studio on Castle Lane welcome families for loads of arty animation activities.
The crew from Two Step will be popping up with demos and dance workshops and there are facepainters too. All of this to a backdrop of live music, delicious food and (we hope) glorious sunshine!
It all started back In 2011, when We Are Bedford ran an empty shops art festival in the seven vacant units on Castle Lane. Here’s a video of the first Castle Quay Weekender and this year will be even better.