Why Bradford will make a fantastic city of culture

Opinion / 

I was delighted to see the news that Bradford has been named the UK’s 2025 city of culture.

The West Yorkshire city, one of the youngest, most diverse and most populous in the UK, beat off competition from Southampton, County Durham and Wrexham to take the title.

As with previous holders such as Derry, Hull and most recently Coventry, the city looks set to attract millions in funding and investment off the back of the accolade - and a turbo-boost to its meetings and events offer.

About time too, as far as I’m concerned. I grew up just over the hill from Bradford, and the city featured time and again in my cultural education.

The Alhambra, the city’s stunning Grade II listed Edwardian theatre, staged some of the first concerts I ever attended, while the National Science and Media Museum was a regular and much-loved school trip for anyone raised in West Yorkshire. Indeed, my favourite exhibit at the latter was the mock TV set where you could pretend to be a newsreader, which may or may not have had an influence on my choice of career.

My dad went to college in nearby Bingley, so he was (and still is) a devotee of Bradford’s illustrious curry houses. The most memorable was the Sweet Centre, home to eye-wateringly spicy curries. These were invariably eaten without cutlery, my dad insisting that using chapattis to mop up your food was the ‘proper’ way to do it.

The wider Bradford area is a further trove of cultural treasures. In Saltaire, a Victorian model village and UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll find Salts Mill, a former mill turned art gallery that houses a huge collection by David Hockney, the local lad that conquered the art world. The steep cobbled streets of Haworth were home to the Bronte sisters, who between them produced some of the finest novels and poetry of the 19th century.

Other cultural highlights include an annual literature festival attended by more than 70,000 people and the Bradford Mela, a large scale celebration of South Asian culture.

With one in four people in Bradford under the age of 18, it has the young population in place to really kick off an exciting new chapter in its history. Shanaz Gulzar, chair of the Bradford 2025 bid, said: “Bradford has been overlooked and underestimated for so long – it’s now our time to shine.”

Indeed, the accolade will undoubtedly see people from across the UK come together to celebrate and learn more about this extraordinary city. And if some of those are event professionals and their delegates, I'm confident they won't be disappointed.

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