About the festival

WOW Bradford was the first of 5 cities to run a WOW Festival with the support of Spirit of 2012, and took place in 2016, 2017 and 2018 at Kala Sangam Arts Centre and Bradford Cathedral.

The first festival took place 5-6 November 2016 and included everything from a Morning Rave to a Death Cafe. Talks included topics such as Domestic Abuse, international activism and women and power. There was a singing workshop, Beyonce dance class and an #IAmPerfectAsMe Paint fight organised by the WOWsers, young ambassadors of the festival. Following the WOWsers programme, WOW Bradford was the birthplace of initiatives such as Speakers Corner and the #IAmPerfectAsMe Campaign. The festival keynote talk was from Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. The festival programmer was Evie Manning.

In 2017 the festival happened 18-19 November. The programme included workshops such as How to get Elected, Self Care and creating home remedies. Talks covered all sorts of topics from redefining age-old stereotypes about hair to building a secure financial future. The festival keynote was from Reni Eddo-Lodge who explored issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism and the inextricable link between class and race from her book Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race. The festival co-programmers were Saliha Rubani and Laura Brooks, who met while volunteering for WOW in 2016.

WOW Bradford 2018 took place 17-18 November. The programme included talks such as the Badass Women of Bradford, Environmental Racism and Classism and Being a Man. Workshops included an AfroFusion Dance class and squeaky cheese cooking class. The festival featured an in conversation between Munroe Bergdorf and Emma Dabari and a performance from Kae Tempest. The festival programmer was Saliha Rubani.


About the organisers

WOW Bradford was presented by Southbank Centre and supported by Spirit of 2012.

Spirit of 2012 funded nine of the UK’s regional WOW festivals across 5 cities (Bradford, Cardiff, Norwich, Perth and Exeter) from 2016-2018. Across the three years, the project trained 107 women in cultural leadership, and supported 68 young women and girls to volunteer as ‘WOWsers’, shaping the festivals themselves. 650 people took part as facilitators, artists and speakers, and more than 9,000 people attended the events.

Spirit of 2012 is a funding charity, established by the Big Lottery Fund with a £47m endowment from the National Lottery. Spirit funds projects that bring people together – to learn something new, do something different, or experience something unique – and that leave behind a social legacy of increased wellbeing at an individual level, as well as happier and more connected communities.

Find out more

Find out more about Spirit of 2012's work with WOW here.

Discover more WOWs from around the World

WOW Festivals and events have taken place in more than 30 locations, reaching five million people on six continents since WOW was founded in 2010.