Ready to grab 2019 by the horns? Then this list of the best events taking place across Leeds will come in very handy indeed…
2019 is nearly here and it’s going to be a good ‘un because there are all manner of events in the pipeline. From huge West End shows to the city’s best festivals, these are the biggest and most exciting events coming to Leeds in 2019, so get your diaries out and start planning for a seriously good year.
Brewdenell Beer Festival
The seventh annual Brewdenell Beer Festival kicks off the year with loads of great drinks. It’s spread across the Brudenell’s two event spaces and 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 11th to Sunday 13th January 2019.
The Magic Flute
Opera North will bring The Magic Flute to Leeds this January. Mozart’s incredible score will blow you away, but that’s not the only reason to go, because Director James Brining has given this new production an intriguing twist. This modern day fairy tale blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, good and evil to create a magical world where nothing is as it seems. Expect huge tentacles, Tim Burton-esque costumes and incredible projections as Tamino sets off to save the damsel in distress.
The Magic Flute takes over Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 19th January to Friday 1st March 2019.
See one of Yorkshire’s finest plays this year as Kes comes to Leeds Playhouse three years after its first run at the theatre. It follows Billy, a young lad growing up on a 1960’s council estate who’s bullied by his big brother Jud. He finds and trains a kestrel who makes a huge difference to his life, but his world collapses around him after one fateful decision – can Billy make it out the other side?
Kes comes to Leeds Playhouse from Friday 25th January to Saturday 16th February 2019.
Millennium Square will be taken over by Ice Cube at the start of February. The annual pop-up ice rink is incredibly popular, and because it’s 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 new Airmaxx, and a cafe.
Ice Cube takes over Millennium Square from Friday 1st February to Sunday 24th February 2019.
See Shakespeare in a totally new way as Hamlet comes to Leeds Playhouse. Their dark, visceral production brings it into the 21st century, as they follow a young girl returning from university to attend her father’s funeral. Consumed by grief, she makes a promise to seek revenge for her father’s death in a 3-hour show that brings together love, loyalty, betrayal, madness and mortality.
Hamlet comes to Leeds Playhouse from Friday 1st to Saturday 30th March 2019.
Opera North is bringing one of Leoš Janáček’s most celebrated works to Leeds this February. Katya Kabanova is a tale of love and betrayal that brings together the mother-in-law from hell, a passionate affair and a dramatic climax. It’s set to an impossibly complex score that adds new depth to the drama, so you’ll be on the edge of your seat as you watch Katya’s life spin out of control.
Katya Kabanova comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 9th to Wednesday 27th February 2019.
The Rite of Spring/Gianni Schicchi
Opera North and Phoenix Dance Theatre are teaming up for an unmissable double bill at Leeds Grand Theatre. The Rite of Spring, a ballet that caused riots after its debut, will be given new life by International renowned choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, while the Orchestra of Opera North play Stravinsky’s dissonant score. Afterwards, Christopher Alden will present his take on Puccini’s only out-and-out comedy – Gianni Schicchi is a hilarious opera inspired by a passage in Dante’s Inferno. When Buoso Donati dies and leaves his fortune to a monastery, his greedy family come up with a plan to get it back, but it all goes wrong.
The Rite of Spring/Gianni Schicchi comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 16th February to Saturday 2nd March 2019.
The story of Victoria will be brought to life through dance this Spring, as Northern Ballet have once again teamed up with acclaimed choreographer Cathy Marston to create a brand new ballet. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Beatrice, you’ll see her rediscover her mother through her journals. This remarkable production is full of passion, tragedy and devotion as it tells of her romance with Albert and her inconsolable devastation after his early death.
Victoria comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 9th to Saturday 16th March 2019.
Blue Planet II Live in Concert
Blue Planet II is one of the most successful BBC TV shows of the decade. Sir David Attenborough’s BAFTA Award-winning documentary explores the mysteries of earth’s oceans and it’s now going out on a special UK tour. Expect a host of incredible video sequences from the TV series that take you into the depths of the blue planet on a 200 square metre 4K Ultra HD LED screen, as a full symphony orchestra perform the soundtrack live.
Blue Planet II Live in Concert comes to First Direct Arena on Tuesday 19th March 2019.
Leeds Indie Food
Back for 2019, Leeds Indie Food is the perfect excuse to try the city’s independent food and drink. 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 from Thursday 9th to Monday 27th May 2019.
Aida is one of the most famous operas of all time. This heart-wrenching tale of star-crossed lovers will transport you to a world at war – Aida has fallen in love with an enemy general, but when he’s chosen to lead a new assault, she’s forced to choose between betraying their love and betraying her country. Set to Giuseppe Verdi’s beautiful, affecting score, this concert staging of Aida at Leeds Town Hall is simply unmissable.
Aida comes to Leeds Town Hall from Wednesday 1st to Friday 10th May 2019.
Tour de Yorkshire
The Tour de Yorkshire is one of the biggest cycling events in the UK and it’s coming to Leeds city centre in May. It starts on the county’s East Coast before travelling through North and South Yorkshire ahead of the big final stage, which kicks off in Halifax. The riders will cycle through Brontë Country, the Yorkshire Dales and Nidderdale, before making their way into Leeds on the final day. You can line the roads by Kirkstall Abbey or join the hordes for the big finale on The Headrow.
Tour de Yorkshire ends in Leeds city centre on Saturday 5th May 2019.
Live at Leeds
Live at Leeds is a staple of the city’s music scene as it welcomes over 100 top bands to play at 16 venues at the start of May. They’ve already announced their first headliners, so you can expect Sundara Karma, Tom Grennan and Metronomy to get you dancing. You can also look forward to seeing plenty of new talent – keep your ears out for the likes of Sports Team, The Mysterines and The Skinner Brothers.
Live at Leeds takes place across Leeds on Saturday 4th May 2019.
Fans of pop punk and metal can look forward to the late May bank holiday with huge anticipation. Slam Dunk are moving out of the city centre for a huge outdoor shindig at Temple Newsam. 2019’s line-up has already been revealed and it’s a big one – they’ve got All Time Low, Bullet For My Valentine, NOFX, New Found Glory and Bad Religion ready to blow your socks off.
Slam Dunk takes place at Temple Newsam on Saturday 25th May 2019.
Leeds Loves Cocktails
If you love cocktails, pencil Leeds Loves Cocktails into your new 2019 diary. It 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 – previous highlights have included a gin tasting dinner with Pinkster Gin at Shears Yard and a Hendrick’s Gin takeover of The Maven. Just buy a wristband to get entry to their events and exclusive discounts at the bars taking part.
Leeds Loves Cocktails takes place across Leeds in June 2019.
Cocktails in the City
Across two nights in June, Cocktails in the City will take over the Town Hall to celebrate Leeds’ cocktail culture. 20 of the city’s best bars will pack up their spirits, mixers and shakers to open up pop-up stalls at the event, where you can get one-off cocktails you won’t find anywhere else. There will also be cocktail masterclasses, secret tasting experiences and unexpected adventures in the Victorian prison cells.
Cocktails in the City takes place at Leeds Town Hall in June 2019.
Pub in the Park
Pub in the Park comes to Leeds for the first time in 2019 and it’s taking over Roundhay Park for a three-day celebration of food and music. The festival is organised by acclaimed chef Tom Kerridge and it brings together the best pubs and restaurants in the UK, including his own two Michelin-starred venue The Hand and Flowers. They will show off their signature dishes, which you can pair with real ale, wine and cocktails. To soundtrack your weekend, you can look forward to an impressive line-up of top musicians.
Pub in the Park comes to Roundhay Park from Friday 31st May to Sunday 2nd June 2019.
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 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 30th May to Sunday 2nd June 2019.
Michael Bublé is one of the biggest stars in the world and you can see him live in Leeds in 2019. He’s heading out across the UK to show off his tenth album ‘Love’, which includes his smash hit single ‘When I Fall in Love’. He’ll also run through favourites from his entire back catalogue at First Direct Arena, so you can hear him play tunes like ‘Everything’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Haven’t Met You Yet’.
Michale Bublé plays First Direct Arena on Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th June 2019.
AJ Bell World Triathlon Series
The AJ Bell World Triathlon Series will take over the city once again in 2019, as the world’s best triathletes compete for gold in the eight-race series. You can watch them pass through Leeds, as they kick off in Roundhay Park with the swim then move into the city centre on their bikes to complete the race on foot in Millennium Square. The Brownlee Brothers took gold and silver for the first two years, but last year South African Richard Murray came first – can the local lads make a comeback in 2019?
AJ Bell World Triathlon Series starts at Roundhay Park on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June 2019.
Grease the Musical
Grease the Musical will be one of the most electrifying shows in Leeds this year. Relive this classic production, which sees leather-clad greaser Danny and girl-next-door Sandy reunited for senior year at Rydell High after a whirlwind summer romance. Will teenage life ruin true love? Join the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies to find out, backed by a soundtrack that includes ‘Summer Nights’, ‘Greased Lightnin’ and ‘You’re the One That I Want’.
Grease the Musical comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 19th June to Saturday 20th July 2019.
Eagles are one of the biggest-selling artists of all time and the classic rockers are coming back to Leeds for the first time since the death of founder and frontman Glenn Frey. His place has been taken by his son Deacon Frey, who will join Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit to run through all their greatest hits, from ‘Hotel California’ to ‘Take It Easy’, ‘One of These Nights’ and ‘Desperado’.
Eagles play First Direct Arena on Tuesday 2nd July 2019.
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 sixth year in 2019. It has grown to include over 160 tattoo artists who travel from all over the world to show off their work. There will be boutique stalls selling everything from t-shirts to taxidermy, and plenty of live entertainment, whether it’s music, fire breathers or a live piercing show.
The Leeds International Tattoo Expo takes place at First Direct Arena on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July 2019.
Cocoon in the Park
One of the biggest events of the UK dance music calendar, Cocoon in the Park celebrates its 11th year in 2019. It’s organised by the Cocoon record label, which is owned and run by the iconic Sven Väth. He’ll make an appearance behind the decks, followed by some of the biggest DJs in the world. 2018 welcomed the likes of Apollonia, Seth Troxler and Enzo Siragusa, who know what they’ll have for us this year.
Cocoon in the Park takes over Temple Newsam on Saturday 13th July 2019.
The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics
For the last two years, Opera North and Back to Basics have come together to rework a set of dance classics – and they’re going to do it again this year. They’re putting together a brand new set for the show, which will see special guest DJs, live vocalists and a 50-piece orchestra join forces to take house hits to new heights.
The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics takes over Millennium Square in July 2019. Tickets on sale from Friday 25th January 2019.
Expect a rainbow of colours across the first weekend of August to celebrate Leeds Pride. It’s a three-day extravaganza that culminates in the famous Sunday afternoon parade. It starts with live music in Millennium Square, before weaving its way through the city centre and ending at a second stage on Lower Briggate. Expect a street party atmosphere in the city’s Freedom Quarter until the early hours.
Leeds Pride 2019 takes place across Leeds city centre From Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th August 2019.
One of the most successful musicians of the 21st century is coming to Leeds this summer. Ed Sheeran is taking over Roundhay Park for the biggest show the park has seen since Robbie Williams brought 138,000 people to the venue in 2006. Expect him to run through all his chart-topping hits, like ‘The A Team’, ‘Bloodstream’ and ‘Shape of You’.
Ed Sheeran comes to Roundhay Park on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th August 2019.
The Rocky Horror Show
Head to Leeds Grand Theatre this summer to check out legendary rock’n’roll musical The Rocky Horror Show. Join two squeaky clean college kids, Brad and Janet, as their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion on their way to visit their professor. It’s the start of a spooky, hilarious adventure that will introduce you to classic numbers like ‘Sweet Transvestite’, ‘Damn It Janet’ and ‘Time Warp’.
The Rocky Horror Show comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th August 2019.
The big bash at Bramham Park will be one of the standout events of 2019. The Leeds Festival line-up has already been revealed and it features some of the biggest pop, indie and rock bands from around the world. Friday night welcomes Foo Fighters, Bastille and The Distillers, before The 1975, Juice Wrld and Pale Waves take over on Saturday. It all ends with Post Malone, Twenty One Pilots and Blossoms on Sunday night.
Leeds Festival takes place at Bramham Park from Thursday 22nd to Sunday 25th August 2019.
Leeds West Indian Carnival
The Leeds West Indian Carnival will be back on August bank holiday weekend. Expect joyous dancing, vibrant music and colourful parades through Chapeltown as Leeds comes alive with the sights and sounds of Caribbean culture for the 52nd edition of the famous festival. Afterwards, there will be a huge party in Potternewton Park, with live music and tasty street food.
Leeds West Indian Carnival takes place in Potternewton Park on Sunday 25th August 2019.
Leeds Beer Week
Leeds is now a well known hub for craft beer, and to celebrate, 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 2019.
Leeds International Beer Festival
The Leeds International Beer Festival is now in its eighth year, and in that time, it’s become one of the biggest events on the craft beer and real ale calendar. 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 5th September 2019 to Sunday 8th September 2019.
Thought Bubble’s increasingly popularity is 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 will come to Leeds for a series of talks, Q&As and workshops at venues across the city, culminating in a huge Comic Con spread across Millennium Square, Leeds Town Hall and the Carriageworks Theatre.
Thought Bubble takes place at Royal Armouries and various Leeds venues in early September 2019.
2019 UCI Road World Championships
The UCI Road World Championships is coming to Yorkshire for the first time ever. Harrogate is the hub for this massive week of road cycling, but the star attraction kicks off in Leeds – the Men’s Elite Road Race starts in Millennium Square, before taking the riders through Headingley, Otley and the Yorkshire Dales on its way back to Harrogate. It will also help out a great local cause as Leeds Cares is the Official Fundraising Partner for this year’s event.
2019 UCI Road World Championships comes to Leeds from Saturday 21st to Sunday 29th September 2019.
Light Night 2019
Leeds Light Night was the first of its kind in the UK when it launched in 2005. Now, 14 years on, it’s the cornerstone of the city’s cultural offering. It’s spread across two nights and puts on an artistic feast that showcases some of the best creative minds in Leeds. Expect art installations, dance performances and huge visual projections all over the city, with over 100 events to choose from.
Light Night 2019 takes place across Leeds in October 2019.
The legendary Cher is making her debut at First Direct Arena in 2019. She’s one of the most successful artists of all time. Not only has she sold millions of records across six decades, she’s also won multiple Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. Her Leeds show is one of just five UK dates, which will see her run through all her biggest hits, like ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’, ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ and ‘Believe’.
Cher plays First Direct Arena on Wednesday 30th October 2019.
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. Every year, it gives us a mix of live music, celebrities, dance shows 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 2019.
Leeds International Film Festival
The Leeds International Film Festival takes over venues across the city every November with a fortnight of big name flicks, independent releases and the best cult films across all genres. It’s this combination that has made it one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK, attracting over 40,000 people to 300 events every year – and 2019 will be no different.
Leeds International Film Festival takes place across Leeds from Friday 1st to Saturday 16th November 2019.
Little Mix are the UK’s biggest girl group and the chart superstars are coming to Leeds for two nights at First Direct Arena in 2019. You can hear the group’s most popular tunes, like ‘DNA’, ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, and ‘Black Magic’, alongside cuts from their latest album, ‘LM5’, including their new hit single, ‘Woman Like Me’.
Little Mix play First Direct Arena on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th November 2019.
Next Christmas, you can see a classic fairy tale brought to life through the magic of dance. Northern Ballet are bringing back their critically acclaimed production of Cinderella, so you can see the ugly sisters, the evil stepmother and Cinders herself as they set off on an enchanting adventure. Will she make it to the ball? Can she win the heart of Prince Charming? You’ll have to watch it to find out.
Cinderella comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 17th December 2019 to Thursday 2nd January 2020.Cover image copyright Guy Farrow.