Plans for Bradford's long-awaited City of Culture year are already well underway.

An exciting line-up of events throughout 2024 have now been revealed and there's now a superstar backing for Bradford 2025.

East Bowling's Zayn Malik has been announced as the Ambassador for Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture.

Here’s a brief look at the story so far…

Bradford's City of Culture journey 

July 2019

In July 2019, it was officially announced that Bradford would bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025.

Awarded every four years by Government, the City of Culture title has had a major impact on host cities, securing millions of pounds of investment and acting as a catalyst for creative place-making and culture-led regeneration.

The competition is run by the Department of Culture Media and Sport. The independent judging panel is chaired by producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, creator of TV’s Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks.

The previous winners were Londonderry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry 2021.

Winning City of Culture gave Hull a £300 million projected value of tourism, at least, for 2017; a 346 per cent increase in successful applications to Arts Council England; one in four businesses taking on new staff in 2017; increased turnover at over 50 per cent of businesses; average hotel occupancy up 10.5 per cent; and over 60 new business start-ups in the city centre.

The bid, backed by Bradford Council, was created and driven by the Cultural Place Partnership.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The partnership includes the University of Bradford, Bradford College, Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Bradford was competing against several cities and areas, including Luton, Lancashire, Southampton, Medway, Gloucester, and Tees Valley.

It came nearly 20 years after Bradford bid to be European Capital of Culture 2008, which went to Liverpool.

September 2019

Bradford’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025 was launched at the end of September 2019 - both in the district and London’s Southbank Centre.

The same-day North and South celebration of Bradford brought together civic, business and community leaders with a diverse range of cultural figures. Both events were held to position Bradford as a place to live, invest, visit and work.

Bradford Council pledged £400,000 of support towards the bid as part of a £1.4 million package for other cultural investment in the city.

The investment would go towards staffing, marketing and an advanced programme of activity with the aim of engaging the whole district behind the bid.

The City of Culture bid was launched at Kala Sangam with the premiere of a new short film by Bradford-based film-maker Jack King.

Titled ‘We Are All Bradford’, it was the first commission by Bradford 2025 and featured more than 70 people from the district.

The cast included young activists from Speakers Corner, Shipley-based photographer Tim Smith, Punjabi Roots Academy, the Cathedral Choir, Bradford City Women’s Football Club and Bradford Modified Car Club.

July 2020

In July Bradford was officially named as one of 20 UK locations bidding for the title - the highest number in the competition’s history.

September 2020

Artist, producer and TV presenter Shanaz Gulzar was announced as chair of Bradford's bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.

Other roles at Bradford 2025 were taken up.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Shanaz and the Bradford 2025 team in Coventry after the announcement was made. Pic: Mark Radford PhotographyShanaz and the Bradford 2025 team in Coventry after the announcement was made. Pic: Mark Radford Photography

November 2020

37 new films were funded by Bradford 2025’s grants of either £1,000 and £4,000.

More than 94 submissions were received from people across Bradford.

May 2021

A new 10-year cultural strategy for the Bradford district was launched.

It is designed to get more people involved in cultural activities and more recognition on the national, and international, stage.

Made alongside hundreds of people, the strategy hopes to involve more people from all backgrounds in cultural activities, as well as developing a new programme of events.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mick Chandsoor, Bradford 2025 Head of Partnerships, Pakeezah Zahoor, Programme/Community Co-ordinator and T&A Sales Director Steve Lowe. Pic: Karol WyszinksiMick Chandsoor, Bradford 2025 Head of Partnerships, Pakeezah Zahoor, Programme/Community Co-ordinator and T&A Sales Director Steve Lowe. Pic: Karol Wyszinksi

During the same month, The Telegraph & Argus joined forces with the Bradford 2025 bid team to bring the UK City of Culture title home.

Yorkshire-based property investors Rushbond Plc were announced as a founding partner with the 2025 team.

June 2021 

The Broadway Shopping Centre and Bingley-based global publishing company Emerald Group are announced as partners of Bradford 2025.

July 2021

Bradford-based supermarket giant Morrisons join the bid as a founding partner.

September 2021

New partners announced - including Regency Hall, Sunrise Radio, Jinnah, Expect Distribution.

Bid Champions were named - such as Bombay Stores and Platinum Partnership Solicitors.

The bid welcomed partners Balfour Beatty, Faithful+Gould; accountants, Naylor Wintersgill, Sovereign Health Care and LCF Law.

Bradford Bulls backed the bid as a founding partner.

October 2021

Bradford made it to the long list of places through to the next round of the competition.

The Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Nadine Dorries, said the list was “highly competitive and far-reaching field of 20 locations from all four nations of Britain”.

Around this time, MPs Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative) and Robbie Moore (Ilkley and Keighley, Conservative) met with the Culture Secretary to “push the case” to win.

Bradford Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said: “Thousands of people across Bradford, Keighley, Ilkley, Shipley and Bingley have been involved in getting the district to this point.

"To be selected for the longlist of eight is a massive show of confidence in all that we’ve done together.”

Yorkshire Building Society came on board as a bid partner.

December 2021

Bradford 2025 is added to the Bradford Bulls’ rugby kits.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Is Lit FestivalBradford Is Lit Festival

February 2022

Bradford’s UK City of Culture bid is submitted.

The full bid contains detailed information about what Bradford’s potential year as City of Culture would look like, with thousands of spectacular events, increased access to culture, and innovative new uses for the district’s historic settings all in the pipeline.

March 2022

Bradford made it to the final stage of the competition.

Joined by County Durham, Southampton, and Wrexham County Borough, the district was one of four shortlisted places approved by Ms Dorries.

It was selected from a shortlist of eight locations across the UK.

May 2022

The panel of judges on the UK City of Culture special advisory panel - led by Sir Phil Redmond - took a guided tour of Bradford district.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Stops included the National Science and Media Museum, the Hindu Cultural Society, Bradford Central Mosque, Bradford Live, Salts Mill, Keighley, Kala Sangam, Lister Mills and Darley Street Market.

In partnership with People Powered Press, quotes from local poets, school children, residents, writers and rappers appear in landmarks and different locations across the district.

Sir Phil told the Telegraph & Argus: “I think the purpose of this visit is to get a sense of the place and people who not only put the bid together but who are supporting it. It's been great seeing the vitality and vibrancy within the people.

“Having read the bid I read a lot about the city. I have been here quite a bit in the past. I've seen the changes in the city so that's good. I've been shown the old and shown the plans for the future.”

Later that month, it was announced that the winner of the UK City of Culture would be announced live from Coventry on BBC One’s The One Show.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The moment Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced Bradford as the winner on The One ShowThe moment Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced Bradford as the winner on The One Show

Crowds gathered in front of the big screen in City Park in anticipation of the long-awaited announcement.

There was an eruption of joy and euphoria when the culture secretary revealed Bradford had won.

A cacophony of multicoloured flares was let off into the sky.

August 2022

Cultural figures Shanaz Gulzar and Dan Bates were appointed to lead the development and delivery of the UK City of Culture programme.

Provident Financial Group (PFG) came on board as the team’s first official delivery partner for Bradford 2025.

October 2022

London 2012 legacy funder, Spirit of 2012 announced the award of a quarter of a million pounds to Bradford Council to develop volunteering in the area.

There were similar volunteering programmes during Hull’s City of Culture year.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

February 2023

Five new recruits at Bradford 2025 will oversee commissions, partnerships, marketing and events.

The first recipients of seed funding from Bradford 2025 have also been awarded, chosen from more than 160 applications to a commission call-out.

July 2023

There was a funding boost for City of Culture plans -  £10m was awarded from the government’s DCMS, £5m came from National Lottery funding through the Arts Council, and there was another £4.95m from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

October 2023

A total of 21 organisations across the Bradford district received capital grants from the 2025 team’s £3m Cultural Capital Fund.

Meanwhile, Bradford Culture Company, the charitable organisation behind Bradford 2025, announced a new chair and seven new members joining its board of trustees.

These appointments included Kersten England, the former Chief Executive of Bradford Council, who became chair.

January 2024

17 young people were recruited for Bradford 2025’s Youth Panel, which offers people aged 16–22 the unique opportunity to shape the year of culture.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Some of the youth panel members

An 18-month Young Creatives scheme, supported by a £250,000 grant from the Bradford-based Harry & Mary Foundation, opens for applications. It gives 10 young people the opportunity to work in Bradford 2025’s producing and engagement departments.

Applications also open for six paid apprenticeship roles.

March 2024

Some of the big events due to take place in the run-up to 2025 are revealed.

A new Love Bradford 2025 logo - designed to become the symbol of the city's big year - was shown to guests at The University of Bradford Stadium, Valley Parade.

Meanwhile, music superstar Zayn Malik is named the official ambassador for Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture.

Details of high-profile partnerships with Bradford-based Morrisons and Bradford City AFC are announced.

Morrisons is set to use a special City of Culture themed van to make deliveries across the district.

Meanwhile Bradford City AFC will proudly wear the logo on the club's ticket, tickets, social media, and the stadium ‘big screen’.

The logo will also appear on the team's coach.