THE 2025 City of Culture year will be the “beginning of even better things” for Bradford, the council leader told an excited crowd at Valley Parade.

Hundreds of people gathered at the University of Bradford Stadium as Bradford 2025 unveiled major plans for the big year.

Exhibitions and a magical street theatre parade featuring life-size red giraffes are set to take place this spring and summer. 

Former One Direction star and solo artist Zayn Malik was named Bradford 2025’s official ambassador. 

Meanwhile, major partnerships with Morrisons and Bradford City will showcase the new, official logo and branding.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: L to R, Shanaz Gulzar, Dan Bates, Ryan Sparks, Rami Baitiéh and Tracy BrabinL to R, Shanaz Gulzar, Dan Bates, Ryan Sparks, Rami Baitiéh and Tracy Brabin (Image: Karol Wyszynski)

Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe told the audience: “Going back to May 2022 it was a really moving night if you were in City Park that night suddenly hear Nadine Dorries shout ‘Bradford’. It’s wonderful to see the tremendous work so far to get us to this moment.

“City of Culture 2025 isn’t just going to be a good party, folks. It’s going to be the beginning of even better things for Bradford.

"It’s all about the legacy now, looking forward to what can be achieved through this. There’ll be young people who will find talent they never knew they had. People who had confidence to volunteer they never knew they had.

"That leads to new opportunities and better lives for people. There’s already legacy and investments being attracted into the district because of City of Culture.

“This is a real springboard for success for the city.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The crowd listens to the big announcementsThe crowd listens to the big announcements (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “It’s just a taste of things to come. It’s very inspiring. Our young people talking about it, how confident they are to get up on stage and talk about what they’re doing, that’s what we want to see.” 

Applause and cheers echoed as a black and white selfie of Zayn Malik was broadcast on screens around the room.

The photograph - showing the singer wearing a hat adorned with the newest branding - even attracted attention from Zayn’s dedicated online fan base.

One X user, @Zayn4eva, said: "So proud of @zaynmalik to stay rooted to his homebase regardless of his popularity! Another proud moment to be his fan!”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The council leader said: “Zayn Malik as a global brand ambassador is fantastic.

"He’s got massive global reach. He’s always been very proud of where he’s from which is great for us all to see, however much of a super stellar star he is, he still knows Bradford’s home, so he’s a great choice for us and it’s great to have his backing.”

It was a moving time for executive director Dan Bates and creative director Shanaz Gulzar.

The programme for 2025 is expected to be revealed this September, Dan said.

The executive director also suggested there was “more to come” from Zayn. 

Asked whether the star will be getting involved in projects, Dan said: “We really hope so.

"Everything's to do with scheduling and his time but yeah we really hope he will do some things with us as well, but there's more to come from that one.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Some of the young people involved in 2025's volunteering programmeSome of the young people involved in 2025's volunteering programme (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

Describing people’s responses to culture so far, Dan said: “People in Bradford really love culture, they love different experiences and are kind of curious.

"I've learnt from people in Bradford that they don't hold back with their views and comments and I welcome that kind of immediate feedback as well.

"There's no doubt about that. People in Bradford are so passionate about Bradford and the whole district."

He added: "It’s such a glorious district and I can’t wait to show people that.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Shanaz Gulzar speaks to the audienceShanaz Gulzar speaks to the audience (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

Shanaz said: “It’s fantastic to get to this point and to be able to share the brand. This brand has been designed and developed with the people of Bradford. When you’ve been working so hard on something you’re desperate to share it and you get to this point, you’re both nervous and excited.

"But it’s been absolutely amazing to see how this brand, the projects we announced, how it’s landing with people. I hope it lands in the same way with the rest of the district. This moment is for Bradford.”

Lydia, a 19-year-old City of Culture volunteer from the BD3 area, said: “Lots of performances, that’s the main goal to share the talents of everyone in this city and not having to pay so much to showcase your talents - dancing, singing, all of it, especially with the Odeon opening up.”