Bradford Council has confirmed the first acts for the 2016 Bradford Festival which will be staged in July. Known for its colourful range of street theatre, music, dance and activities, this year’s festival (8-10 July) should have something for everyone.

Dance lovers will be treated to a quirky new piece by celebrated New Zealand choreographer, Corey Baker.

Featuring an iconic vintage red telephone box, an athletic solo performer and an exhibition of precarious manoeuvres, Phone Box promises to be vibrant and energetic, surprising and fun, with lots of opportunity for audience interaction.

The Bradford Festival has a reputation for staging flamboyant and colourful street theatre.

This year’s programme includes the hilarious and innovative London troupe, Wet Picnic. In The Lift, an elegant elevator arrives accompanied by three bellhops. One of the audience members is invited to step inside and choose a moment by selecting one of nine different floor buttons. A mesmerising, interactive and slightly strange theatrical experience unfolds.

The Rat Race by outdoor puppeteering company Frolicked
The Rat Race by outdoor puppeteering company Frolicked

Planetary by Pif Paf features dynamic movement, aerial acrobatics, acting and Russian swing skills all performed on a large rotating wheel. The piece takes audiences on a journey of unstable alliances, misplaced trust, and greed, revealing what happens when you finally get what you want.

The Rat Race by outdoor puppet company Frolicked, is a surreal and darkly funny commentary on modern life told by rats through the holes in a giant wedge of cheese. Intelligent puppets highlight the absurdities of society showing what’s it’s like to be part of the rat race.

A lucky few will be invited to enter the cheese for a surprising series of sticky situations and, with help from the insightful rodents, will attempt to complete the tasks required in order to escape.

Brilliant, uplifting and inclusive rock band, Hope & Social will play on the festival’s main Centenary Square stage. The innovative Leeds-based band likes to break through the boundaries of what most people know and expect from a rock band, involving people in almost everything they do.

Taking the best aspects of reggae’s musical heritage, Bristol band, Talisman are set to play political and ‘roots’ songs which resonate with classic sounds from the 1970s and 80s, the golden age of British reggae.

Hailing from Romania, Serbia and the UK, Paprika unite traditional Eastern European, Balkan, Gypsy and Classical Music.

They have become renowned for their highly skilled arrangements of traditional Balkan music and regularly perform sell-out shows at venues across the country.

Local talent from Leeds band Hope and Social
Local talent from Leeds band Hope and Social

Local artists will stage a variety of interactive and fun workshops and activities.

People can watch as beautiful charcoal drawings inspired by the hustle and bustle of the Bradford Festival are created right before their eyes by visual artist, painter and passionate drawer of people, Lou Sumray.

Bradford-based textile artists, Morwenna Catt will help festival-goers make their own colourful, Koinobori, traditional Japanese windsocks which are hung outside homes in Japan to celebrate children during the Tango No Sekku festival.

People will make their own fragrant and decorative spice pouches complete with freshly ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and coriander.

Pungent spices and brightly-coloured fabrics and beads will be brought together in Mirch Massala workshops by local artists, Musarat Raza and Nasreen Akhtar.

Visitors to the festival are invited to join Touchstone Bradford, Uzma Kazi and fabulous Bradford women in a fun, listening, connecting, sharing space at The Square Chapatti Club. Personalised chapattis will be produced and they will be added to an ongoing art installation for everyone to see.

Square Chapati ClubStudents from Young Masters Visual Art School in Bradford will produce beautiful Habotai silk painted banners using textile patterns from India and Pakistan in Banners Sari of Bradford. The colours will contrast the greens, blues and warm stone colours of Bradford with the vivid pinks, yellows and oranges and rich gold found in sari fabrics and traditional Indian art.

Counc. Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to come into Bradford and enjoy three days of high quality entertainment.

“This year’s Bradford Festival has a rich variety of music and talent on show in the city centre. We have something for everyone here and entry is free.

“Last year we had thousands enjoying the music and stalls, this year’s programme promises to create a really vibrant, dynamic Festival to pull in the crowds.

“The festival is part of a varied programme of events and activities designed to support economic growth in the city centre.”

The Bradford Festival will be staged in Bradford City Park from 8 to 10 July.

Entry is free. For further information and updates, visit