Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival returns after the pandemic - bigger and more fabulous than ever

The hotly anticipated Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival (HBBF), an annual event established in 2013, returns to the stage this Spring after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

By Abigail Kellett
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 6:00 pm

The almost sold-out 2020 edition of the festival was cancelled only six weeks before the opening night when the world went into lockdown.

But, with their “keep calm and carry on” attitude, an online show took place via Zoom and over 250 people bought tickets and watched live from their living rooms as 11 Burlesque performers transformed their homes into stages and performed their acts to their phones and laptops.

Now, Festival producer, Lady Wildflower, is delighted to finally bring the Festival back to the stage on April 28 to May 1.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Picture: DeboraSpencerPhotography

Previously, HBBF – the biggest and most renowned Burlesque Festival in the UK outside of London and now in its ninth year, took place at various venues throughout the Calder Valley with its Saturday night Gala at Todmorden Hippodrome.

This year, due to demand, all five shows will be taking place at the Hippodrome and will be making use of the larger stage and venue capacity for what’s set to be the biggest and most anticipated HBBF yet.

Lady Wildflower, who produces the Festival said: “Following a tough couple of years for the live entertainment industry, I am so excited to bring back the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival in 2022.

"HBBF has been sorely missed over the past two years and I’ve been touched by the support of our audiences throughout the pandemic and their enthusiasm for being able to attend live shows and visit the valley once more.

"From nearby residents to those coming from around the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe, attendees have always brought a real buzz to Calderdale when the Festival is on, with local accommodation and businesses reporting an uplift over the weekend. It’s great that the Festival can contribute so much to the local community again.

"Described as ‘the Jewel of the Burlesque Calendar’ by 21st Century Burlesque, and with performers and artists coming from all over the world, this year’s bigger and better HBBF is a show not to be missed!”

HBBF opens on Thursday, April 28 with the Legend in the Making newcomers competition – the most prestigious Burlesque competition in the country. 12 upcoming artists from all over the UK will compete for the title in front of a panel of industry professionals and an audience vote.

On Friday 29 April, there are two shows running back to back for a full night of exciting, cutting-edge entertainment. First up is a visiting show from London: The Cocoa Butter Club (TCBC) - the game changing burlesque of ground-breakers, space makers and booty shakers. TCBC invites audiences to join a movement of culture, history and empowerment, to revel in the rhythm and soak up the stories. Featuring Burlesque, live music, Drag, circus and more from a cast of BIPOC performers from the world of alternative cabaret. Next up on the Friday evening is The Late Night Quickie - A short but sweet foray into the edgier side of cabaret. Showcasing the finest neo-burlesque artists from all around the UK.

On Saturday 30 April, the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Gala takes place as the highlight of the weekend. Starring the crème de la crème of burlesque, cabaret, comedy and circus entertainment, the Gala will be headlined by international Burlesque royalty, Miss Exotic World & Queen of Burlesque 2018: INGA – who will be flying to the UK from the USA to perform exclusively at HBBF. The Gala will be hosted by Antipodean chanteuse KIKI DEVILLE – one of the most recognisable faces in the European cabaret world and star of BBC’s The Voice and judge on All Together Now. Kiki and Inga will be joined by an all-star cast bringing aerial circus acts, fire performances, hilarious comedy, clowning and mime performances and of course, the most glamorous and sensational burlesque acts.

The Festival goes out with a bang on Sunday 1 May with the most anticipated event of the weekend – Live & Stripping. The worlds of burlesque and live music collide in this electric, exciting show like has never seen before. Each internationally acclaimed artist will perform exclusive Burlesque acts accompanied by live band Cabaret Against the Machine with their eclectic and unique set list of rock, pop, metal, funk, dance and blues tunes.

During the day on the Saturday and Sunday, HBBF promises to keep attendees busy with a programme of fun and informative workshops and master-classes from travelling artists – taking place at the Todfellows Space on Oxford Street, Todmorden. With topics ranging from Beginners’ Burlesque to Drag Aerobics to Retro Go-Go Dancing and much more.

There will also be a “Pop-up Vintage Hair & Beauty Parlour” taking place on the Saturday afternoon ready for attendees to get glammed up and feeling fabulous for the Saturday night Gala.

Dolly Trolley’s Drag Bingo returns after a sold-out success in 2019. This glitzy and glamorous game show for all to partake in, with camp anthems, prizes, lip-sync battles, conga lines, spot prizes and drag performances from Dolly Trolley throughout will be taking place at The Golden Lion, Todmorden on Sunday 1 May at 2pm.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.hebdenbridgeburlesquefestival.co.uk