Bradford 2025: How City of Culture could propel district to a global stage as first raft of events is revealed

Sparkling opportunity is at the heart of Bradford 2025, directors have said, as the countdown begins for a "game changing" year of creativity, culture and art.

The district, over next year's triumphant designation as UK City of Culture, is to see over 1,000 events, exhibitions and shows in a "once-in-a-lifetime" celebration. After a raft of revelations and sneak peeks were revealed this week, directors have spoken to The Yorkshire Post of what it might mean for the district and for the region.

This will propel Bradford to a global audience, they said, already serving as a mighty vote of confidence in major projects from Brit School to renovations at the National Media Museum.

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"This is a city, and a district, that sees the opportunity," said creative director Shanaz Gulzar. "The moment we won - that 'roar' - said so much about what this means for Bradford. The rest of the country, and globally, is waking up to it. This is just the beginning."

Bradford 2025 Youth panel and volunteers wearing new Bradford 2025 brand. Credit Karol WyszynskiBradford 2025 Youth panel and volunteers wearing new Bradford 2025 brand. Credit Karol Wyszynski
Bradford 2025 Youth panel and volunteers wearing new Bradford 2025 brand. Credit Karol Wyszynski

There were celebrations this week over link ups to champion Bradford 2025. One Direction’s Zayn Malik was revealed as ambassador, and then a host of partners from Morrisons to Bradford AFC.

Under a new Love Bradford 2025 logo, the BD postcode is worked into a heart, with people invited to share it with pride. And there were details for early events, along with a filmmaking documentary fund.

An exhibition is to launch from May, then a photographic record featuring portraits of Bradfordians from September. Scarlet giraffes are also to feature in a new performance parade in August.

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From its textile heritage to the haunting visage of its once glorious mill history, Bradford is now forging a new reputation, directors said. Today it is blossoming as a district of "passion, imagination and entrepreneurial spirit", with a distinct sense of hope and creativity.

"We can see and feel the change that is happening," said Ms Gulzar. "There are haunting mill hulks, but there are mills being regenerated. Now the north is the creative beating heart of Britain.”

As time edges ever closer to an Autumn reveal for the full schedule, it is confirmed that some 3,500 volunteers are to be recruited as 'welcoming faces' for the district and to help out behind the scenes, with applications from April 10.

For now, said executive director Daniel Bates, fundraising continues. Teams have already raised £38m, including £10m from Bradford Council to set bids rolling. In return, it is thought the cultural programme through 2025 could attract 15.5m visitors, drawing an additional £136.9m in visitor spend.

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A wave of support seen this week already serves as a "fantastic show of confidence" in what Bradford 2025 could achieve, he added: "It puts the nation's eyes on Bradford with a laser sharp focus. It's beginning to happen now. It is our time to shine, to show off the district. And what happens in Bradford will benefit the whole of Yorkshire."