The 10-person panel of judges took a guided tour of the Bradford district on Tuesday, to find out about its rich history, the
exciting plans for the future and the communities which call it home.
They are visiting the other three finalists – County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough – this week and each of the bid teams will then be interviewed by judges and government officials before a winner is announced at the end of the month.
The Government, which will ultimately choose the winner, said it wants each bid team to show how they will use culture to “grow and strengthen” their local area.
Shanaz Gulzar, chair of Bradford 2025, said people in Bradford were “really excited” to show the judges what the district has to offer.
She said Bradford is often “forgotten and undermined” but its “incredibly ambitious” bid has “galvanised” people across the district who are determined to win the coveted title.
“They really understand that culture is a catalyst for change – I think that really came across yesterday,” she said.
“Everyone that the judges met was engaged and committed. It was really fantastic to see Bradford put itself forward like that.
“It’s not just about our capital projects. We didn’t just want to talk about Bradford Live, the National Science and Media Museum and Salts Mill – it’s about our communities, the people who have chosen to make this city and district their home.
“We were really, really keen that they actually saw the true heart and soul of the bid and of the district.”
She added: “With every step we get closer and I think: ‘We could do this, we could clinch the title.’”
The judges began Tuesday’s tour of the Bradford district at the National Science and Media Museum.
They then visited the former Bradford Odeon, which is being transformed into a 4,000-seat venue called Bradford Live, as well as Little Germany, to see the £23m Darley Street Market development.
The judges were given guided tours of Manningham’s Lister Mills and the Salts Mill heritage site, where they took a look at a unique collection of artwork created by Bradford-born artist David Hockney.
They also stopped off at Kala Sangam Arts Centre, where they spoke to a range of talented local performance artists, before they were introduced to a number of faith leaders across the district.
After the visit, Sir Phil Redmond, who is leading the panel of judges, said he was impressed by the “very vibrant” city of Bradford and the people there have shown “a real hunger” for the UK City of Culture title.
Bradford is one of four locations that made it into the final round, after 20 submitted applications. The winner of the competition will take over from Coventry, which has held the title since 2021.
The Government said previous winners have enjoyed a year in the spotlight and encouraged participation in the arts by staging hundreds of exciting events, but also attracted millions of pounds in additional investment to help boost regeneration.