Discovering the Halifax Comedy Festival venues one quirk at a time

Orange Box, Halifax.
Orange Box, Halifax.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but when I heard Halifax Comedy Festival was happening across 14 venues, I had to do a double-take.

As an ex-Londoner, I’m still amazed every time I look out of the office window to see lush green moor, so the idea of 14 different venues nestled amongst the town’s millstone terraces seemed, quite frankly, ludicrous.

Six months and countless urban wanders later, I can only tell you how wrong I was.

Walking from Halifax rail station, it’s impossible to miss the red brick frontage of the Square Chapel Centre for the Arts. Distinctive eighteenth-century architecture on the outside, colourful, friendly and unarguably artsy on the inside, the building still oozes passion of the friends who, in 1988, bought the building for just £25 to save it from demolition.

A short – if steep – walk up a cobbled street brings you to Orangebox Young People’s Centre – a stunning modern building which hosts some exciting workshops as part of the festival.

Edging round the unmistakeable Piece Hall (due to reopen in 2016) you arrive at the stunning Halifax Minster.

Don’t forget to look up at the gargoyles before you step inside – they’re proof that the people of Halifax have long since had an excellent sense of humour! Parts of the Minster date from the twelfth century, after all.

Are you hungry now? I bet you’re hungry. Head up to Halifax Borough Market for tasty homemade bites; my favourite is made-to-order takeaway pizza and salad from Hey Presto but there are plenty of other treats on offer too. The market is opposite Halifax Central Library, where lots of free screenings and family events will be held.

Having refuelled, relish the downwards stroll to Dean Clough Mills. Once the world’s largest carpet factory, its epic industrial architecture now provides an awe-inspiring setting for a unique arts programme and selection of shops and bars. Relaxing in its outdoor square, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Italy.

The Halifax Comedy Festival runs from October 23 to October 31.

By Clare Fisher, Halifax Comedy Festival