KEIGHLEY Arts and Film Festival is back.

A packed programme of events is planned as face-to-face activities return after an enforced break due to the pandemic.

Attractions at the extravaganza – over the weekend of October 8 to 10 – will range from street theatre, buskers and a lantern parade featuring mythical beasts to a tour of a hidden subterranean street and a world-record-breaking human beatboxer.

Many of the events and performances are free, although pre-booking is required for some.

On the Friday evening, Cecil Green Arts will bring giant Rombald and the Cottingley Fairies to life at Cliffe Castle – accompanied by live performances from Drum Machine. And the Bradford Boar will lead a lantern parade in Cliffe Castle Park on the Saturday evening.

Actor Irene Lofthouse will adopt the persona of Nancy Newbody to lead a guided trip through the basement of the town’s Royal Arcade, where preserved shops and stables still exist. Nancy will regale visitors with tales of the shoppers and their customers, in six separate performances on the Friday and Saturday. Booking is essential, and the tour is not suitable for under-14s or people with access needs.

Live music and street theatre will take place inside and outside the Airedale Shopping Centre – and around the bus station – on Friday and Saturday. And a puppet show will be staged in a currently-empty shop unit.

The weekend will also feature a specially-commissioned production.

A spokesperson for Keighley Creative, the charity behind the festival, said: “Keighley-based theatre company Shoutdrama is bringing a brand-new piece.

“In a time before mass car ownership, buses were integral to many people’s lives – ferrying children to school, workers to their offices and factories and even brides to their weddings. Hearts were lost – as were umbrellas in their thousands – and forgotten friends reunited. Come and see some of those moments brought to life by professional performers, including an actor who many people may recognise from appearances in various TV soap dramas.”

The weekend will include several collaborations with Ilkley Literature Festival, kicking-off on the Friday evening with Testament – a nationally-acclaimed rapper, spoken-word poet and world-record-breaking human beatboxer – performing at Jam on Top Studios, in Melbourne House, Chesham Street.

A new exhibition, Worth, will be open at Keighley Creative’s gallery in Hanover Street, featuring two artists whose work includes Keighley scenes. A number of locally-made short films will also be shown throughout much of Saturday in the centre’s pop-up cinema.

A second collaboration with Ilkley Literature Festival takes place at Central Hall, Alice Street, on the Saturday, between 5pm and 6pm. Writer, journalist, broadcaster and screenwriter Sarfraz Manzoor will discuss his personal take on modern Muslim life in Britain, using material from his recently-published book They. Bookings should be made with Ilkley Literature Festival via its website or by calling 01943 816714. There is a £5 entry charge, redeemable against a copy of Sarfraz’s book.

And at 8pm, Keighley Picture House will screen the film Blinded by the Light, based on Sarfraz’s memoir of his life as a British teenager of Muslim descent growing-up in Luton in the 1980s.

Throughout the weekend there will be free arts and crafts sessions, including tutored workshops, to enable visitors to make illuminated window displays in preparation for a Light Up Keighley weekend from November 5 to 7. The workshops and all materials are free.

On the Sunday, there will be a poetry and spoken-word event at Keighley Creative. The Sunday Practice will feature live music and poetry hosted by the Ilkley festival’s apprentice poet-in-residence Rheima Robinson. Entry is £2, including soup and a drink – book via Ilkley Literature Festival.

For updates on Keighley Arts and Film Festival, visit