THE countdown is almost over for Bradford Festival as the city centre gets ready to host a weekend-long celebration of culture.

The festival, which kicks off on Friday, July 12, will feature no less than 21 music acts, 20 street theatre shows, three dance pieces and 15 workshops.

Centenary Square will be the backdrop to both musical and foodie highlights on Friday, with some of the district’s most talented children first on the stage at 10.30am.

Three-piece folk band Red Hippos will play melodies with ‘posh jazz chords’ from 5pm.

Two markets will grace nearby Channing Way and City Park from noon over the weekend.

The food and drink market will be open until 9pm and Made In Bradford stalls will close at 7pm.

Food lovers can sample delicious speciality foods and refreshments including Caribbean, Italian and Asian fare.

The bars in Centenary Square will serve alcoholic drinks from 3pm on Friday.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, healthy people and places portfolio holder, said: “We are all really excited about this year’s Bradford Festival which promises to be the best yet.

“The 2019 programme is packed with brilliant things to see and do, and the incredibly diverse programme offers rich and varied experience.

“Admission is free and everyone is welcome.”

Normanton Street, a band providing warm bass grooves and tight rhythmic drums, play from 6pm.

While Leeds-based quintet Happy Daggers will take to the stage at 7pm.

Chantel McGregor, Bradford’s own multi award-winning singer-songwriter and powerhouse of blues and rock, returns to the festival at 8pm.

There’s plenty of family-friendly activities throughout the weekend, from Oriental lantern-making to hat and mask making with a master puppet maker.

People can unlock their inner rock star with the Bradford School of Rock and Media, learn how to upcycle anything at specialist workshops and more.

Budding superheroes can also make their own cuffs, capes, masks, gliders and shields.

Theatre lovers can stop by City Park for a variety of street performances.

Shows include Special Delivery by A Bird In the Hand Theatre, Froojamaflip and Fred by Curious Creations, L’Hotel by Circo Rum Ba Ba and Plain Bob by Noisy Oyster.

The child-friendly and comedic displays will be shown at various times throughout the day.

SEED by Sheffield-based theatre group Pif Paf will star a Rockabilly Tree-Planting Anarcho-Nomad and a giant snail.

While Celebrated Cumbrian street theatre troupe bring their hilarious 60s and 70s rolling buffet, Kitsch Kafé.

Skeleton-Elvis will return from the dead while stilt walking Dragons, a grizzly troll and a giant chicken will also roam City Park.

Dance lovers can witness beautiful Indian temple dancing or a playful and funny male-female duet.

Bradford World Music People will perform Egwundu from noon on Saturday - followed by Jazz instrumentalist Arun Ghosh.

Eight-piece band Dende start the party from 2.15pm before Noble Jacks play high-energy fiddle rhythms.

The Beat Goes Bang, The Electric Swing Circus and Black Water Country are billed for Saturday evening, bringing a mix of punk and electro beats to the stage.

The Peace Artistes will roam City Park at 2.15pm and 4.30pm, blending cabaret and pop with worldwide influences.

Soznak will set up stage at the Mirror Pool with smoking vocals, bass and drums at noon, 1.15pm and 3pm.

The party isn’t over on Sunday, with electro-tropical band Camo Clave singing in Centenary Square from 1pm.

Zong Zing All Stars will play uplifting Cavacha dance music from 2.15pm.

Cavacha is the core rhythm of Central African music that gave rise to Soukous in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Makosa in Cameroon and Coupez Decallez in the Ivory Coast.

The Harvey Sahota Band, Maroon Town and Scarlet Heights will play into the evening - ranging from Latin beats, Irish tunes to Punjabi vocals.

City Park will become a cultural hub for children with traditional African drumming workshops.

Instruments and African dancing outfits will be provided.

Green-fingered folk can also learn how to sew bee friendly plants.

Freedom Studios will help budding writers use words, images and objects to make their own mini-dramas.

The full timetable for the multicultural festival is available online at bradford