‘Welcome Home Sexy!’ – Bradford’s humour to be celebrated in 2025

BRADFORD’S City of Culture year will involve 24 festivals, 365 artist commissions and over 1,000 performances and events – a meeting has heard.

And one strand of the celebration will be influenced by a cheeky bit of graffiti at a city station, proclaiming “Welcome Home Sexy!”

At a meeting of representatives from cultural and sports bodies across West Yorkshire, the team behind Bradford’s Year of Culture detailed when the event will bring to the District, and explained some of the thinking that will shape the yearlong celebration.

They heard that there will be numerous new events in the run up to 2025 – starting this March with the first annual food festival for the District, called Taste: BD.

Organisers also revealed that the celebration is likely to cost at least £35m. So far, Bradford Council has pledged around £10m, with the team looking to other organisations like the National Lottery and private sponsors for the rest of the funding.

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It is estimated it will bring £700 million to the District.

Bradford 2025 was discussed at a meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Culture, Heritage and Sport Committee on Thursday.

Creative Director Shanaz Gulzar told members that early plans for the year will involve;

  • 24 festivals
  • 1,000 new performances and events
  • 365 artist commissions
  • 100 community led arts projects
  • 52 artists in residents
  • 15 major national and international collaborations

A “runway” to 2025 – now only 100 weeks away, will see a number of new and returning events come to the District, starting this year. Many of the events will be a partnership with Bradford Council.

  • Taste: BD, a food festival that will be held the last weekend of each March (24/25 this year)
  • BD: Festival – a rebranded Bradford Festival that began last year and will be held on the last weekend of July each year
  • BD is Lit – a light festival that began in 2021 and will run every two years. The next one will be held this November
  • Music Month – starting this November
  • BD: Walls – a series of public art installations across the District

Ms Gulzar said there would be four strands to the year – each representing a different aspect of the District.

City of the World will look back at Bradford’s time as a world leader in industry, as well as the mix of cultures from across the globe that now call Bradford home.

Coming of Age reflects the fact that Bradford is the youngest city in the country, with 26 per cent of residents under the age of 18.

STEAM Powered – which will highlight science, technology, engineering, art and maths.

“Welcome Home Sexy!”

Ms Gulzar explained the unusual name of the final strand.

For years Welcome Home Sexy graffiti greeted train passengers arriving at Bradford Interchange. More recently a mural featuring the same message has been painted on a wall near the exit to the Interchange.

She said: “We’re a beautiful District, but we have to own the fact that the Interchange is not the most beautiful station in the world.

“I’m proud of it because it’s a gateway into our city, but it’s the ugliest train station I would say.

“But we own it – someone just thought ‘I’m going to welcome people into this city and painted Welcome Home Sexy. It says we’re a bit cheeky, we’ve got a sense of humour, we know what we’re dealing with – come and play. It’s about our hospitality – it’s exactly who we are.”

The festival would create almost 7,000 jobs, 4,453 directly and the rest indirectly, and 4,000 volunteers will be recruited – similar to volunteer programmes seen in other Cities of Culture.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The moment Bradford was announced 2025 City of CultureThe moment Bradford was announced 2025 City of Culture

The event is expected to generate over 15 million visits to the Bradford District.

Dan Bates, Executive Director of Bradford 2025, said the year would lead to an “explosion of cultural opportunities across the District.

He added: “Its about big ticket events, international work, but its also about community based culture and creativity.

“It’s about bringing life into our city centre, but also our neighbouring towns and villages, from the mills to the hills. Above all it’s about transforming Bradford’s image and giving it a reputation as a thriving cultural destination. We’re expecting visitors from across the world.”

Calderdale Councillor Jenny Lynn, who sits on the committee, said she hoped there was connectivity between Bradford and its surrounding areas, pointing out that towns like Shelf and Queensbury are neighbours, despite being in different Districts.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Executive fore Health People and Places on Bradford Council, said the year would give a huge boost for businesses in the district, from make up artists to bars and restaurants.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus | Bradford