Ready to grab 2018 by the horns? Then this list of the best events taking place across the city will come in very handy indeed…
2018 is nearly here and it’s going to be a good ‘un because there are all manner of events planned to make it special. From huge West End shows to the city’s biggest festivals, these are the biggest and most exciting events coming to Leeds in 2018.
Brewdenell Beer Festival 2018
The sixth annual Brewdenell Beer Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before. This year, it’s spread across the Brudenell’s two event spaces. They’ll have their biggest selection of Yorkshire and British breweries yet, as well as a slew of beers from around the world on keg, cask and bottle. You won’t go hungry either – they’ll be serving Pieminister pies all weekend, with a host of street food vendors coming along for the ride.
Brewdenell Beer Festival takes over Brudenell Social Club from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th January 2018.
One of America’s best loved stand-up comedians is coming to Leeds for the first time in 2018. Chris Rock is going on his first UK dates in a decade as part of his ‘Total Blackout Tour’. It’s his most incendiary show to date but also his most personal, as he blends his observations of 21st century life in America as a black man with his own personal troubles.
Chris Rock comes to First Direct Arena on Sunday 14th January 2018.
You can see Giacomo Puccini’s tragic tale of innocent love dashed by betrayal as Madama Butterfly premieres at Leeds Grand Theatre as part of Opera North’s Fatal Passions season. Expect an exquisite set and dazzling costumes as you follow Cio-Cio-San, a Japanese woman who sacrifices everything she has to marry Pinkerton, a debonair American naval officer. When he returns to the States, she’s discarded and driven to a final act of despair. With Puccini’s most famous songs, like ‘Humming Chorus’ and ‘Un bel di’, it’s a must-see.
Madama Butterfly comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Friday 19th January to Wednesday 28th February 2018.
An annual favourite, Millennium Square will once again be taken over by Ice Cube at the end of January. It’s an pop-up ice rink that’s incredibly popular, and because it’s now indoors, you can enjoy it whatever the weather. They run lessons, so you can learn how to skate, and they have special penguin skating aids for the kids. They also have a series of winter themed rides, like the North Pole Starflyer, and an alpine cafe.
Ice Cube takes over Millennium Square from the end of January to the end of February 2018.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, West Yorkshire Playhouse welcomes the acclaimed stage show of Birdsong. It’s based on the famous novel by Sebastian Faulks, which tells the heartbreaking love story of Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire. As war breaks out, Stephen fights at the Somme – it’s only his memories of Isabelle that keeps him sane as unprecedented horror breaks out all around him.
Birdsong runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th February 2018.
Opera North will be bringing Don Giovanni to the stage in 2018. Director Alessandro Talevi has created a modern production that will shift through time to bring fresh life to Mozart’s darkest opera. It’s a tense, fast-paced story that’s both dark and funny, as Don Giovanni, a classic anti-hero sets off on a mission to put as many notches on his bedpost as possible. He travels around Europe, sleeping with 1003 women in Spain alone, but when he resorts to horrific violence, his conquests and victims join forces to bring him down.
Don Giovanni takes over Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 17th February to Saturday 3rd March 2018.
The Modfather is back in Leeds in 2018 as he sets off on a massive UK arena tour to show off his thirteenth studio album, ‘A Kind Revolution’. Released in 2017, the same year The Jam’s first album ‘In The City’ reached its 40th anniversary, it’s refreshing to see an artist continually working to release fresh material – something Weller does better than most of his contemporaries.
Paul Weller plays First Direct Arena on Friday 23rd February 2018.
From Modfather to Mozfather, indie legend Morrissey returns to First Direct Arena in 2018. On his first UK tour for three years, the iconic Mancunian will show off tracks from his latest album, ‘Low In High School’. It won’t just be new stuff though, look out for gems from Moz’s solo career, as well as a few cuts from his days in The Smiths.
Morrissey plays First Direct Arena on Saturday 24th February 2018.
Northern Ballet will be bringing its adaptation of Jane Eyre back to Leeds Grand Theatre in March – and you won’t want to miss it. It’s a story we all know and love, but this is your chance to see it told through dance. Cathy Marston has created an artistic masterpiece here – from Jane’s unrestrained passion to Rochester’s brooding presence, it’s all there in the details.
Jane Eyre takes over Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 7th to Wednesday 14th March 2018.
Flight of the Conchords
One of the most highly anticipated comedy tours of 2018 sees New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords invade the UK. They’re coming to First Direct Arena in March for their first UK tour in 7 years. It’s entitled ‘Flight of the Conchords Sing Flight of the Conchords’, so expect all your favourites from their TV series, as well as a few new songs prepared especially for these dates.
Flight of the Conchords come to First Direct Arena on Tuesday 27th March 2018.
Cocktails in the City
Across two nights in April, Cocktails in the City will take over the Town Hall to celebrate Leeds’ cocktail culture. Over 20 bars will pack up their spirits, mixers and shakers to open up their pop-up bars at the event, so you can try one-off cocktails you won’t find anywhere else. There’ll also be cocktail masterclasses, secret tasting experiences in the clock tower and unexpected adventures in the Victorian prison cells.
Cocktails in the City takes place at Leeds Town Hall in April 2018.
Join Opera North for a special concert performance of Salomé at Leeds Town Hall this April. Richard Strauss’ visceral and shocking masterpiece caused outrage when it was first performed – his relentless score matched the intensity of the story perfectly. Across 100 minutes of exhilarating drama and music, Salomé tells the savage tale of King Herod’s step-daughter who vows to kiss Herod’s prisoner Jokanaan (John the Baptist) no matter what.
Salomé takes over Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 19th, Sunday 22nd and Wednesday 25th April 2018.
Sunshine on Leith
West Yorkshire Playhouse has got a brand new production of Sunshine in Leith lined up for us in 2018. Originally a stage show, its film adaptation got rave reviews, and this is your chance to see it back in the theatre. It’s a funny and moving story which follows servicemen Davy and Ally who are trying work out who they are after returning home. Their journeys intertwine and are brought to life with an instantly recognisable soundtrack from The Proclaimers, including ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, ‘Letter from America’ and ‘Sunshine on Leith’.
Sunshine on Leith runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Friday 20th April to Saturday 19th May 2018.
One of the biggest comebacks of 2018 has already been announced as Birmingham rapper and poet Mike Skinner brings back The Streets. Responsible for iconic records like ‘Original Pirate Material’ and ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’, Skinner will take you on a musical journey into The Streets’ past playing his best known songs, from ‘Fit But You Know It’ to ‘Dry Your Eyes’.
The Streets play O2 Academy Leeds on Monday 23rd April 2018.
Leeds Indie Food
Back for 2018, Leeds Indie Food is the perfect excuse to find out why the city’s independent food and drink scene is so strong. Hundreds of bars, cafes and restaurants get involved every year – and they never fail to amaze us with their creativity and skill. From exhibitions made completely out of cake to unique tasting menus, cool collaborations and huge street food festivals – you need to get involved.
Leeds Indie Food takes place at venues across Leeds in May 2018.
Live at Leeds
Live at Leeds is a staple of the city’s music scene with over 100 bands playing across the city at the start of May. They’ve already announced their first headliners with Circa Waves, Peace, The Horrors and British Sea Power making their way to Leeds. There will also be plenty of new talent to see – keep your ears out for the likes of Pale Waves, Will Heard and White Room.
Live at Leeds takes place across Leeds on Saturday 5th May 2018.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher has been eking out quite the solo career since the demise of Oasis in 2009. He’s released three number 1 albums with his High Flying Birds and he’s coming to First Direct Arena in May to show off his latest effort, ‘Who Built The Moon?’ He’ll also pack his set with classics from his Britpop days – his last gig sold out, so don’t hang about.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds plays First Direct Arena on Monday 7th May 2018.
Fans of pop punk and metal can look forward to one weekend in particular – the late May bank holiday. Slam Dunk will take over Leeds city centre with some of the world’s biggest bands playing venues like Millennium Square, First Direct Arena and O2 Academy. 2018’s line-up has already been revealed and they’ve got the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, State Champs and Four Year Strong ready to blow your socks off.
Slam Dunk takes place at Millennium Square and various Leeds venues on Saturday 26th May 2018.
Leeds Loves Cocktails
If you love cocktails, pencil this into your new 2018 diary. Leeds Loves Cocktails brings together the city’s finest bars for a week of exclusive cocktails, one-off tastings and unmissable parties. There’s loads to look forward to, with previous highlights including a gin tasting dinner with Pinkster Gin at Shears Yard and a Hendrick’s Gin takeover of The Maven. You can buy a wristband that will get you into all of their events, with exclusive discounts at the bars taking part.
Leeds Loves Cocktails takes place across Leeds in June 2018.
The Yorkshire Food and Drink Show
Start June with a trip to Millennium Square for The Yorkshire Food and Drink Show. The city’s finest cafes and restaurants come together to show off their wares, so get stuck in. You can also visit stalls from local producers and watch live cookery demonstrations from famous chefs. Fancy a few drinks? An impressive line-up of Leeds bars and breweries will be there too.
Yorkshire Food and Drink Show takes place at Millennium Square from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd June 2018.
ITU World Triathlon Series
The ITU World Triathlon Leeds will take over the city once again in 2018, as the world’s best athletes compete for gold in the eight-race series. You can see watch them pass through our home city, as they kick off in Roundhay Park with the swim then move into the city centre on the bikes and complete their laps on foot. The Brownlee Brothers have taken gold and silver for the past two years, which has been great to watch.
ITU World Triathlon Series starts at Roundhay Park on Sunday 10th June 2018.
Wicked the Musical
One of the most popular shows in West End history, Wicked the Musical is going back on tour in 2018, stopping at Leeds Grand Theatre in the summer. There’s a star-studded cast led by Amy Ross as Elphaba, Helen Would as Glinda and Aaron Sidwell as Fiyero. It’s a spellbinding production that reimagines L. Frank Baum’s classic characters, leading you on an adventure through Oz and showing you how these young women became Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Wicked the Musical takes over Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 13th June to Saturday 7th July 2018.
Leeds International Tattoo Expo
The Leeds International Tattoo Expo has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated events in the industry and it returns to First Direct Arena for its fifth year in 2018. It’s grown this year to include over 160 tattoo artists who will travel from across the world to show off their work. There will also be an array of boutique stalls, selling everything from t-shirts to taxidermy, with plenty of live entertainment, whether it’s live music, fire breathers or a live piercing show.
The Leeds International Tattoo Expo takes place at First Direct Arena on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July 2018.
Cocoon in the Park
One of the biggest events of the UK dance music calendar, Cocoon in the Park will reach a special milestone in 2018. This will be its tenth annual party, and they’re going to make Temple Newsam the place to be if you love house music. It’s organised by the Cocoon record label, owned and run by the iconic Sven Vath, who will himself make an appearance behind the decks, with some of the biggest DJs in the world. 2017 welcomed the likes of Richy Ahmed, Annie Errez and Adam Beyer.
Cocoon in the Park takes over Temple Newsam on Saturday 14th July 2018.
The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics
2017 saw the 50-piece Orchestra of Opera North and Back to Basics come together to rework a set of dance classics – it went down so well that it’s coming back for 2018. They’re putting together a brand new set for the Millennium Square show that will see an array of special guest DJs and vocalists hit the stage to celebrate Back to Basics’ ultimate anthems. This will be the first of three shows for the Opera North in the City Festival, so keep your eyes peeled.
The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics takes over Millennium Square on Friday 27th July 2018.
Leeds will be awash with a rainbow of colours for the first weekend of August to celebrate Leeds Pride. It’s a huge three-day extravaganza which culminates in a Sunday afternoon parade. It starts with live music in Millennium Square, before weaving its way through the city centre and ending at another live music stage on Lower Briggate. Expect a street party atmosphere in the city’s Freedom Quarter until the early hours.
Leeds Pride 2018 takes place across Leeds city centre on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August 2018.
Walking With Dinosaurs
You’ve got one last chance to see Walking With Dinosaurs in the summer of 2018. The arena spectacular has wowed over 9 million people across 250 countries over the past decade. You can watch them walk, hear them roar and see how they fought for survival with incredible cinematic realism. It’s an incredible live experience for the whole family, so get in there before they go extinct – again.
Walking With Dinosaurs comes to First Direct Arena on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd August 2018.
The big bash at Bramham Park will be one of the standout events of 2018. Leeds Festival are yet to announce their line-up, but you can be sure it will feature some of the biggest pop, indie and rock bands from around the world. 2017 witnessed Muse, Eminem and Kasabian headline alongside performances from Liam Gallagher, Bastille and Major Laser – you can be sure they’ll pull out all the stops for this year.
Leeds Festival takes place at Bramham Park from Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th August 2018.
Leeds West Indian Carnival
After huge celebrations for the 50th year in 2017, the Leeds West Indian Carnival will be back on August bank holiday weekend. Expect joyous dancing, vibrant music and colourful parades through Chapeltown as the city comes alive with the sights and sounds of Caribbean culture. Afterwards, there will be a huge party in Potternewton Park, with live music and tasty food.
Leeds West Indian Carnival takes place in Potternewton Park on Sunday 26th August 2018.
Leeds Beer Week
Leeds has become a hub of craft beer over the past few years, and to celebrate that fact, Leeds Beer Week was launched in 2016. It’s a celebration of all the bars, pubs and breweries that have made the city such a destination for beer-lovers. Across 10 days, you can expect beer tastings, brewery talks, special collaborations, beer masterclasses and much more – we can’t wait to find out what they have lined up for us this time around.
Leeds Beer Week takes place across the city in August and September 2018.
Leeds International Beer Festival
The Leeds International Beer Festival is now in its seventh year, and in that time, it’s become one of the biggest events on the craft beer and real ale calendar in the city. It will take over Leeds Town Hall in September for four days of beer-related brilliance. There will be hundreds of brews from Yorkshire, the UK and beyond, as well as street food and live entertainment.
Leeds International Beer Festival is at Leeds Town Hall from Thursday 7th September 2016 to Sunday 10th September 2016.
After the huge success of their first Leeds show in 2017, Hacienda Classical is back with a brand new set and soundtrack in September. Original Hacienda DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering are teaming up with the Manchester Camerata for a live orchestral performance of your favourite dance classics in ways you’ve never heard them before.
Hacienda Classical takes over First Direct Arena on Saturday 29th September 2018.
Light Night 2018
Leeds Light Night was the first of its kind in the UK, and 13 years on, it’s bigger than ever before. It’s spread across two nights and puts on a cultural feast that showcases some of the best creative minds in Leeds. Expect art installations, dance performances and huge visual projections all over the city – and that only scratches the surface, because over 100 events help to transform the city after dark.
Light Night 2018 takes place across Leeds in October 2018.
The Leeds Christmas Light Switch On
If you’re looking for a night out with the family that’s guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit, head to the Leeds Christmas Light Switch On in Victoria Gardens. It promises an array of live music, dance and theatre performances before the city’s Christmas lights are turned on, with a huge fireworks display.
Leeds Lights Switch On is at Victoria Gardens in early November 2018.
Thought Bubble seems to get bigger and better every year – a surefire sign that Leeds is becoming one of the most important places in the world for comic art. The biggest names in the industry come to Leeds for a series of talks, Q&As and workshops at venues across the city, culminating in a huge Comic Con in Millennium Square, Leeds Town Hall and Carriageworks Theatre.
Thought Bubble takes place at Royal Armouries and various Leeds venues in early November.
Leeds International Film Festival
Every November, Leeds becomes a film city. The Leeds International Film Festival takes over venues across the city with a fortnight of big name flicks, independent releases and some of the best cult films across all genres. It’s this combination that’s made it one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK, attracting over 40,000 people to 300 events every year – and 2018 will be no different.
Leeds International Film Festival takes place across Leeds from Friday 2nd to Saturday 17th November 2018.
The War of the the Worlds
Jeff Wayne’s iconic musical version of The War of the Worlds is returning to the UK in 2018 for a special 40th anniversary tour which comes to First Direct Arena at the end of the year. They’ve overhauled their set for this tour with the 9-piece Black Smoke Band and 36-piece Ulladubulla Strings playing on a completely immersive stage – it will have a 3 tonne, 35 foot Martian Fighting Machine firing flames at its centrepiece.
The War of the Worlds comes to First Direct Arena on Tuesday 4th December 2018.
Northern Ballet’s final show of 2018 comes in the form of an absolute classic – The Nutcracker. Nothing will lift your spirits more than this – it’s a magical world where toys come to life and even snowflakes seem to dance before your eyes. Set to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score, with characters that will delight adults and kids alike (we’re talking giant mice and Sugar Plum Fairies), this is a festive favourite that’s not to be missed.
The Nutcracker comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 4th to Sunday 16th December 2018.
Leeds Grand Theatre are bringing Shrek The Musical back for Christmas. Stefan Harri stars in the title role, in a story that’s based directly on the much-loved original DreamWorks film. Join Shrek and Donkey as they try and save Princess Fiona from the fire-breathing dragon and the dastardly Lord Farquard. It’s an all-singing and all-dancing show that everyone will enjoy.
Shrek comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 18th December 2018 to Sunday 6th January 2019.Feature image copyright Emma Kauldhar.