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What’s On In Leeds – 2021’s Big Event Calendar

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

Take a look at 2021’s biggest events – and pray they’ll happen!

AnonyMas Leeds West Indian Carnival costumes

Fingers crossed, normality will resume and these unmissable events will go ahead in Leeds in 2021…

Let’s start the year with a little optimism. Vaccinations are a-go and normality is loitering just over the horizon, so we’re looking forward to the events that could, should and hopefully will go ahead in 2021. We’re starting the list in March (optimism only takes you so far), by which time, we hope the events world will be allowed to reopen to entertain us once again. It’s been a long time coming, but boy will it be worth the wait.

The Book of Mormon

Leeds Grand Theatre Book of Mormon

Credit: Paul Coltas

It’s one of the most popular new musicals of the 21st century and you can (hopefully) watch The Book of Mormon at Leeds Grand Theatre this spring. From the creators of South Park, it follows the hilarious misadventures of a pair of mismatched missionaries who find themselves a long, long way away from home. Blending rib-tickling comedy with spine-tingling music, it’s a truly great night at the theatre.

The Book of Mormon comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 23rd March to Saturday 10th April 2021.

Stormzy

Stormzy

After a stunning rise over the past few years that included a number 1 album and a huge headline set at Glastonbury in 2019, Stormzy is back with a brand new album, ‘Heavy is the Head’, and one of the most anticipated tours of 2021. If all goes to plan, he’ll finally play First Direct Arena in April as he shows off his highly anticipated new record, as well as popular tunes like ‘Big For Your Boots’, ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ and ‘Vossi Bop’.

Stormzy comes to First Direct Arena on Thursday 8th April 2021.

Genesis

They’re one of the biggest bands of all time and now Genesis are back on the road. The core line-up of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks have reunited to play their first shows together since 2007 and they’re playing two at First Direct Arena in April. From ‘Invisible Touch’ to ‘I Can’t Dance’, ‘Turn It On Again’ and ‘Hold On My Heart’, they’re playing all their biggest hits, perhaps for the last time, as they’ve teased this will be their final tour.

Genesis play First Direct Arena on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd April 2021.

Leeds Indie Food

Leeds Indie Food

Leeds Indie Food is one of the highlights of the year. And if it goes ahead, 2021 will be the fifth edition of this wonderful celebration of everything that makes the independent food and drink scene in Leeds great. Hundreds of bars, cafes and restaurants get involved every year – and they never fail to amaze us with their ingenuity. From unique tasting menus to cool collaborations and huge street food festivals – you won’t want to miss this.

Leeds Indie Food takes place at venues across Leeds in May 2021.

Live at Leeds

The Tea Street Band Live at Leeds

Live at Leeds is a staple of the city’s music scene as it welcomes over 100 top bands to play across 20 venues each year. They’re celebrating their 15th anniversary in 2021, so it’s set to be the biggest festival to date – and boy, will we need it. The line-up has yet to be revealed, for obvious reasons, but with past events welcoming everyone from Ed Sheeran to The Cribs, George Ezra and Stormzy, you know you’re in for an almighty weekend of live music.

Live at Leeds takes place across Leeds on Saturday 2nd May 2021.

The North Leeds Food Festival

North Leeds Food Festival

The North Leeds Food Festival has confirmed its intention to return to Roundhay Park not once, but twice in 2021. Get ready to tuck into pad thai, paella and churros from one of the street food stalls or head to their artisan market, where you can gorge on cured meats and extravagant brownies. Wash it all down with a tipple from eight independent bars while you move your feet as bands play on the live music stage.

The North Leeds Food Festival takes place at Rounday Park from Saturday 8th to Sunday 9th May 2021 and Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th August 2021.

Slam Dunk

Slam Dunk is all set to take over Temple Newsam for one of the region’s biggest punk and metal festivals in 2021. Fans who were salivating at the prospect of 2020’s line-up can breathe easy – the festival’s organisers have confirmed that it will be very similar to what was announced last year. That will make a lot of music fans very happy because the likes of Sum 41, Don Broco, NOFX and Billy Talent have all confirmed they’re playing.

Slam Dunk takes place at Temple Newsam on Saturday 29th May 2021.

AJ Bell World Triathlon Series

AJ Bell Triathlon, Leeds Cares

After the postponement of the 2020 edition, the AJ Bell World Triathlon Series will return to Leeds in 2021. You can watch the world’s best triathletes compete for gold in the eight-race series. 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. For the first time this year, elite paratriathletes will also be taking to the start line for the World Paratriathlon Series.

AJ Bell World Triathlon Series starts at Roundhay Park on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June 2021.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross

As one of The Supremes and through a storied solo career, Diana Ross has cemented herself as an international musical icon. She’s coming back to the UK for her first headline tour in over a decade, which includes a visit to First Direct Arena, a week before she headlines Glastonbury. Expect all the hits, from ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ to ‘I’m Coming Out’, ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ and ‘Upside Down’ as Ross proves why she’s such a legend.

Diana Ross plays First Direct Arena on Wednesday 16th June 2021.

Sounds from the City

Foals

Sounds from the City is expanding from Manchester for a trio of massive outdoor shows in Millennium Square in 2021. The first concert will be headlined by everyone’s favourite punks IDLES with support from The Big Moon on Thursday 8th July 2021. They’re followed the next evening by Oxford indie legends Foals before Aussie rockers DMA’s are joined by fast-rising Wigan group The Lathums.

Sounds from the City comes to Millennium Square from Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th July 2021.

Les Misérables

It’s been nearly a decade since the last sell-out UK tour of Les Misérables, so it’s about time Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of returned to the stage this year. It’s coming to Leeds Grand Theatre across July and August and this exciting new staging will see all new scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo as the backdrop to an incredible performances of classic songs like ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, ‘On My Own’ and ‘Bring Him Home’.

Les Misérables comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Thursday 22nd July to Saturday 14th August 2021.

80s Classical

Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, 80s Classical has been rescheduled for 2021 – and with a line-up this good, that’s very good news. Pop legends like Jimmy Somerville, Belinda Carlisle, Go West and T’Pau’s Carol Decker are joining the Orchestra of Opera North in Millennium Square for an all-out spectacular. A host of 1980s hits will be given a new lease of life by the 60-strong orchestra, including Toto’s ‘Africa’ and The Jacksons’ ‘Can You Feel It’.

80s Classical comes to Millennium Square on Friday 23rd July 2021.

Leeds Pride

Leeds Pride

Credit: Bryan Ledgard licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

2020 was meant to see the 15th anniversary celebrations of Leeds Pride take over the city centre, but it wasn’t to be. Luckily for us, they’re planning an all out extravaganza for August 2021 to make up for it. All being well, you can look forward to a weekend-long party that culminates in the famous Sunday afternoon parade. There’s also live music in Millennium Square and a street party in the city’s Freedom Quarter until the early hours.

Leeds Pride takes place across Leeds city centre on Sunday 1st August 2021.

Leeds Festival

Leeds Festival

The big bash at Bramham Park is full steam ahead with plans for a blowout festival in 2021. To make up for lost time, they’ve announced that the two main stages will run simultaneously for the next event, which means double the headliners. They’ve already been announced – Stormzy and Catfish & the Bottlemen take Friday night duties, followed by Post Malone and Disclosure on Saturday. That’s before Liam Gallagher and Queens of the Stone Age close out the weekend’s fun on Sunday night.

Leeds Festival takes place at Bramham Park from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th August 2021.

Leeds West Indian Carnival

Leeds Carnival 50

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Ali Turner

After 50+ years of colourful fun, 2020 saw a surprising first for the West Indian Carnival – it all took place online. And while it was a huge success as people joined in from home, their return to the streets of Chapeltown on August bank holiday weekend can’t come soon enough. Fingers crossed, it goes ahead because that means we’ll have joyous dancing, vibrant music and colourful parades to look forward to for the 54th year of this iconic festival.

Leeds West Indian Carnival takes place in Potternewton Park on Sunday 29th August 2021.

Leeds International Beer Festival

Leeds International Beer Festival

Since it started in 2011, Leeds International Beer Festival has become one of the biggest events on the craft beer and real ale calendar. Despite having to take an enforced break in 2020, it’s set to return this year for its ninth celebration of hoppy goodness. 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 2nd to Sunday 5th September 2021.

Thought Bubble

Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival

Thought Bubble’s increasing popularity is a surefire sign that Leeds is becoming one of the most important places in the world for comic art. It spent 2020 online with its first ever digital convention, but plans are afoot to get back to normal in 2021. 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 city-wide Comic Con.

Thought Bubble takes place at Royal Armouries and various Leeds venues in September 2021.

Light Night

Light Night With Love

When it launched in 2005, Leeds Light Night was the first of its kind in the UK. 15 years on, it’s the cornerstone of the city’s cultural offering. They brightened up 2020 with their interactive light show, Laser Light City, but the festival itself is being rescheduled for 2021. Spread across two nights, it’s an artistic feast that showcases some of the city’s finest creative minds. Expect art installations, dance performances and visual projections, with over 100 events.

Light Night 2021 takes place across Leeds in October 2021.

Leeds Christmas Lights Switch-On

Leeds Christmas Lights Switch on

Credit: Sarah Zagni

Another event that went online in 2020 was the Leeds Christmas Lights Switch-On. It hails the start of the festive season in Leeds with a night of light entertainment. The perfect night out for all the family, it’s hoped it will take over Victoria Gardens once again in 2021. 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 2021.

Leeds International Film Festival

Leeds International Film Festival

Credit: Sally Molineaux

Leeds International Film Festival went digital for its 2020 edition. They launched the Leeds Film Player, so people could enjoy at home, but they’re already planning a return to normal with a fortnight of big name flicks, independent releases and the best cult films across all genres in 2021. 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.

Leeds International Film Festival takes place across Leeds from Wednesday 3rd to Thursday 18th November 2021.

Elton John

Credit: Ben Gibson

The final leg of Elton John’s mammoth Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour will finally come to the UK in November 2021 and includes a huge show at First Direct Arena in Leeds. Elton has been one of the biggest pop stars in the world for over five decades and you’ll see why during this show. Expect stunning costumes, visuals and stage design as he plays through his most famous songs, like ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Your Song’.

Elton John comes to First Direct Arena on Friday 5th November 2021.

Michael Ball & Alfie Boe

One of the nation’s best-loved musical duos are storming the charts once again and they’re joining forces for a massive UK tour in December 2021. Michael Ball and Alfie Boe have both enjoyed incredible careers in music and on stage, but the two have spent the past few years working together, performing their own versions of classic songs and Christmas favourites. You can see them both live at First Direct Arena at the end of the 2021.

Michael Ball & Alfie Boe play First Direct Arena on Thursday 9th December 2021.

Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow is heading out on a massive solo UK tour in 2021. He’s just released his fifth solo album, ‘Music Played by Humans’, which includes the hit single ‘Elita’. He’ll be playing through his latest record at First Direct Arena, as well as a host of his past hits. Classic solo material like ‘Open Road’, ‘Stronger’ and ‘Let Me Go’ will get an airing, alongside more than a few Take That favourites.

Gary Barlow plays first Direct Arena on Friday 11th December 2021.