From unmissable shows to gigs and comedy, make April one to remember with these amazing events.
April is here and there are loads of fantastic events to enjoy in Leeds. You’ve got immense food festivals, stellar productions and fun for all the family. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – so go ahead and find out what’s on in Leeds this April.
Picks of the Month
Boozy festivals, controversial operas and a celebration of children’s cinema – these are the events you won’t want to miss this April.
Pie & Ale Festival
Water Lane Boathouse has got a delicious way to kick off April – a festival celebrating the best in Yorkshire pies and pints. Lishman’s of Ilkley, Wilson’s and more will serve up pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls – they even have gluten-free and veggie options on sale. To wash it all down, choose from 15 Yorkshire breweries, including Kirkstall, Saltaire and Magic Rock.
Pie & Ale Festival takes over Water Lane Boathouse on Sunday 1st April 2018.
Leeds Young Film Festival
After a day out with the family? Make the most of the Leeds Young Film Festival – it’s jam-packed with motion picture magic. If you want to see classic films, there’s the Reel Kids takeover of Hyde Park Picture House showing everything from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to My Neighbour Totoro. Alternatively, you can do a Dr. Seuss-themed Film House at the Town Hall or there’s the VR Zone at Leeds City Museum, which is full of virtual reality experiences including an immersive 360° dome. You can get hands-on at Carriageworks too – they have loads of workshops going on.
Leeds Young Film Festival is at various Leeds venues until Thursday 5th April 2018.
You’ve got a chance to see one of the most successful comedy plays of all time this month. Art is coming to Leeds Grand Theatre with a star-studded cast, headlined by Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson. You’ll see Serge spend an extortionate amount of money on an all white modernist painting, much to the dismay of his two friends – but does their over-the-top reaction hide other issues? You’ll have a hilarious time finding out.
Art takes over Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th April 2018.
Opera North is taking over Leeds Town Hall for three nights this month for a special concert performance of Salomé. Richard Strauss’ work caused a stir when it first came out, but today it’s recognised as a visceral masterpiece with a relentless score that matches up with the intensity of the story. Salomé tells the savage story of King Herod’s step-daughter as she vows to defy him and kiss Herod’s prisoner Jokanaan (John the Baptist).
Salomé takes over Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 19th, Sunday 22nd and Wednesday 25th April 2018.
Leeds International Festival
After the success of its first event back in 2017, Leeds International Festival is back bigger and better than ever. Expect a programme of must-see cultural events – from the As Good As It Gets? documentary film screening about Leeds Rhinos to gigs from Nick Hodgson, conferences like Empowering Women with Science and Tech and a series of events for One Foot in the Rave, which looks back at dance culture in Leeds between 1985 and 1996.
Leeds International Festival kicks off on Friday 27th April 2018.
Food and Drink
Check out April’s top foodie events, with beer festivals, food markets and a gin-centric afternoon tea.
North Leeds Charity Beer Festival
The North Leeds Charity Beer Festival is back for its seventh year in 2018, and once again it promises a brilliant day of booze that gives back to charity. They’ll have 35 beers from seven different breweries, but you can also visit the cider and gin bar, which is brand new this year. Street food vendors will be there to feed you and they’re also planning live music. All the proceeds go to great causes in the local community.
North Leeds Charity Beer Festival takes over North Leeds Cricket Club, Roundhay on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th April 2018.
Gin & Tea
Blind Tyger is inviting you into their secret cocktail den for a one-off afternoon tea with a difference. You can tuck into pastries, canapés, sandwiches and tarts, but that’s not all. Behind the bar, they’ll be creating three expertly made gin cocktails to go with your afternoon tea, including the Amor Club, which sees Jinzu mixed with passion fruit, peach and apricot liqueurs, grapefruit juice and House Peychaud bitters.
Gin & Tea takes over Blind Tyger on Saturday 7th April 2018.
The Secret Garden Supper Club
After the huge success of its first takeover in January, The Secret Garden Supper Club is back at HEART this April. This menu is designed with the start of spring in mind, so you can enjoy dishes made with eggs or inspired by the colour green. Get ready to tuck into Spelt Pea with Bouikos, Dinosaur Egg Mezze and Sakura Cherry Sponge. There are also veggie and vegan menus available upon request and you can kick things off with a free cocktail.
The Secret Garden Supper Club takes over HEART on Monday 9th April 2018.
Prosecco and Gin Festival
The Prosecco and Gin Festival will be making its Leeds debut this April. There will be over 40 hand-picked gins on offer, alongside a huge selection of sparkling wines and a cocktail bar where their mixologists will bring the two together. Start the festival with a glass of fizz on arrival before you fill your branded glass with your favourites listed in their tasting tips and recipe booklet. They’ve also got street food and live entertainment.
Prosecco and Gin Festival takes over New Craven Hall on Saturday 21st April 2018.
The Messy Cook’s Supper Club
The Messy Cook is back at The Union Coffee House this month with another delicious supper club lined up. In the past, she’s done themed menus, taking inspiration from all around the world, and this one will be no different. She’s opening up the cafe after hours with a tapas-style menu full of dishes influenced by her global travels.
The Messy Cook’s Supper Club returns to The Union Coffee House on Saturday 28th April 2018.
Head to the city’s best music venues to see punk newcomers, rising indie stars and rap royalty.
Queen Zee and the Sasstones
Liverpool is an iconic musical city and one of the most exciting bands to come from the banks of the Mersey right now is Queen Zee. They’re something of a culture clash, blending the worlds of pop music and drag with a punk aesthetic. There’s nothing contrived about their loud, angry and downright infectious tunes, which will make this one of the must-see shows of the year at Oporto.
Queen Zee and the Sasstones play Oporto on Sunday 8th April 2018.
Love good old fashioned garage rock & roll? Avalanche Party will be your next favourite band. The Cleveland five-piece have played Leeds a lot in recent years, but they’re now starting to show their full potential with tunes like ‘Porcelain’, ‘I’m So Wet’ and ‘Solid Gold’. Their live show really isn’t to be missed, especially in the intimate surroundings of The Library.
Avalanche Party play The Library on Saturday 14th April 2018.
London poet and rapper Akala is one of the most important and influential voices of this generation. His activism stretches beyond his music, but its his songs that will take centre stage at Belgrave Music Hall this month. He’s heading out in support of his latest release, 2017’s ‘Visions’, which he’s described as a comic book opera and it shows Akala at his very best.
Akala plays Belgrave Music Hall on Tuesday 17th April 2018.
He’s back! Mike Skinner has dusted off his old guise of The Streets after a 7-year break and this O2 Academy Leeds show is going to be one of the year’s biggest. Expect Skinner to run through an illustrious back catalogue, including hits from seminal albums, ‘Original Pirate Material’ and ‘A Grand Don’t Come for Free’, as well as brand new music like ‘If You Ever Need to Talk I’m Here’.
The Streets play O2 Academy Leeds on Monday 23rd April 2018.
Rejjie Snow isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a modern hip-hop artist. He’s from Dublin for starters, and his trademark Drumcondra drawl is all over his debut album ‘Dear Annie’. And what a debut it is. It’s chock full of laid back, East Coast beats and should make Snow a star on both sides of the Atlantic. For fans of Kendrick Lamar, Loyle Carner and Matt Martians, it’s a must.
Rejjie Snow plays Leeds University Union on Thursday 26th April 2018.
Need a laugh? There’s a stellar line-up of stand-up comedians coming to Leeds this month.
On the back of a sell out 103-date tour in 2016, ‘The Kardashians Made Me Do It’, Shazia Mirza is back with a brand new show this year. ‘With Love From St Tropez’ is a show about lies and truth, in which she contemplates the fashion etiquette of French beaches and just how nudity and The Periodic Table hold the key to the future.
Shazia Mirza comes to Carriageworks Theatre on Saturday 7th April 2018.
As misanthropes go, it’s a little bit ironic that Jon Richardson is so well-loved. But he comes to Leeds Grand Theatre this April determined to become a little more easygoing for the sake of his mental health. Whether he can actually manage it though, is another thing, and you’ll have to be there to find out.
Jon Richardson comes to Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday 8th April 2018.
Duke Studios is one of the newest stand-up venues in Leeds, and this April, it will host British Comedy Award nominee, Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and Chortle Award winner, Simon Munnery. ‘Renegade Plumber’ takes you deep into the mind and life of a middle aged man, from plumbing woes to under tent heating, the issues with capitalism and maybe even a few songs.
Simon Munnery comes to Duke Studios on Thursday 12th April 2018.
You’ve got a chance to see one of the US and Canada’s most popular stand-up comics in Leeds this April. Russell Peters is making his way across the pond for a series of rare UK shows on his ‘Deported’ world tour, which features all-new material. After the success of his Netflix comedy-drama, The Indian Detective, and his last stand-up special, Almost Famous, this is a must.
Russell Peters comes to First Direct Arena on Saturday 28th April 2018.
Canadian Bobby Mair is making waves with his unique brand of stand-up comedy on the back of appearances on shows like 8 Out of Ten Cats and Virtually Famous. He’s headlining Leeds University Union in April, on his first ever national tour, which brings together his best jokes with stories about the sad and funny side of trying to find his biological parents.
Bobby Mair comes to Leeds University Union on Sunday 29th April 2018.
From huge West End shows to incredible ballets, there’s plenty on at the city’s theatres.
The Damned United
Whether you’re a Leeds United fan or not, The Damned United is one of the biggest shows in April. Based on David Peace’s landmark book about Brian Clough’s 44-day reign of the Elland Road club, it shows how the legendary manager found it impossible to succeed local icon and rival Don Revie – it’s a masterful way of showing a different side to The Beautiful Game.
The Damned United takes over West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 7th April 2018.
2Magpies Theatre are back in Leeds with a unique show at The HUB. It takes you to Guantanamo Bay, but not the one you think you know. They’ve created an alternate universe where the waterboarding has stopped and it’s now become a holiday destination – and you’re the holidaymakers. You’ll sit on a deckchair, rum cocktail in hand, with sand between your toes. The actors will be your tour guide through an immersive tropical haze of a reality that doesn’t exist.
Last Resort takes over The HUB on Sunday 15th April 2018.
Sunshine on Leith
There’s a brand new production of Sunshine on Leith coming to Leeds this month. It was originally a stage show, before its film adaptation brought it to wider audiences, and now you can see it in the theatre once again. It’s funny and moving, as you join Davy and Ally, two people who are trying to adapt to life back at home after serving in the army. Their story is brought to life thanks to The Proclaimers’ soundtrack, 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.
An Officer and a Gentleman
You’ve seen the film, now catch the stage version of An Officer and a Gentleman. This is a brand new musical based on the Richard Gere movie – his character Zack Mayo goes on an incredible journey, he joins the US Navy, falls in love with a local girl, and loses his best friend, but can he win over Paula when he realises life’s too short not to follow his heart? Expect to hear the classic soundtrack too, including ‘Up Where We Belong’.
An Officer and a Gentleman takes over Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th April 2018.
Ballet Central 2018 Tour
Get a glimpse of the rising stars of dance theatre as Ballet Central returns to Leeds this month. The young dancers will perform a mixed bill of works, including Jenna Lee’s Black Swan, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty and an excerpt from Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Valley of Shadows, under the artistic direction of Christopher Marney.
Ballet Central 2018 Tour comes to The Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre on Sunday 29th April 2018.
Another month, another batch of intriguing exhibitions for you to see in Leeds’ galleries.
Sticks & Bricks
Yorkshire-based photographer Danny Marsh presents his second solo exhibition at Lady Beck Studios across two days this April. Sticks & Bricks sees Marsh using double exposure photography to bring together natural and man-made forms in one image. All the images you’ll see are a result of film swapping with the photographers in London and Brisbane, creating abstract and thought-provoking visuals.
Sticks & Bricks takes over Lady Beck Studios on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th April 2018.
Pleasure Principles is a new collaborative exhibition from Alexandra Hayter and Michael Savage that extends the ideas tackled in Savage’s self-published book, In Formalities. It combines work from the book and Hayter’s instant photography, to look at how the eroticised body can be interpreted as a sculptural, sexual and performative entity.
Pleasure Principles takes over Village Bookstore and Gallery until Sunday 15th April 2018.
The Irregularity of Order
You can see the work of Leeds-based artist Amanda Burton at Inkwell Arts throughout April. The Irregularity of Order is a collection of new contemporary drawings and smoke, ink and fire artworks. They contemplate ideas of chaos and order, using Burton’s academic background in mathematics and science as a source of inspiration.
The Irregularity of Order takes over Inkwell Arts until Tuesday 8th May 2018.
The Sculpture Collections: Anne Hardy
Leeds Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute will join forces this month for their most expansive and ambitious exhibition of sculptural work to date. The Sculpture Collections promises over 125 sculptures and 75 framed works from the 18th century to today, including an ambitious new installation from Anne Hardy, the large-scale field work: Falling and Walking [phhhhhhhhhhh phossshhhh crrhhhzzz mn huaooogh].
The Sculpture Collections: Anne Hardy takes over Leeds Art Gallery until Sunday 20th May 2018.
Art Roundhay Park
The English Art Co. are back at The Mansion in Roundhay Park for their annual exhibition of emerging and local artists. They’ll be showcasing a series of original art, prints, stationary and gifts in their longest show to date. You’ll be able to see the work of David Lyon, Jo Dunn and Judy Merchant, as well as the craft-ware of The Monkey Puzzle Tree, Corinne Lapierre and Lubylu,
Art Roundhay Park takes over The Mansion Conservatory until Sunday 3rd June 2018.
Clubnights & DJs
From Ibiza raves to Wes Anderson-themed parties, get yourself down to Leeds’ clubs this April.
Lost in Ibiza Warehouse Rave
Freedom Mills is the place to be this month if you can’t wait for the summer to get a taste of the Balearic Islands. Lost in Ibiza is a mammoth warm-up party and the venue will be decked out in custom-made drone footage of Ibiza. The DJ line-up is special too – Jacky headlines with a 2-hour set and he’s joined by Oneover, Jey Kurmis, Kev Hawley and Jack Law.
Lost in Ibiza Warehouse Rave takes over Freedom Mills on Saturday 7th April 2018.
Wild Visions is back this month with its second big electronic music party and its first at Wharf Chambers. Glasgow-based Luxembourgian Lo Kindre will headline the night, showing off cuts from his debut EP on Optimo Records. He’ll be joined on the night by Zoya, one of Leeds’ most respected up and coming DJ talents, and one half of The Bathtime Sessions.
Wild Visions takes over Wharf Chambers on Friday 13th April 2018.
Wes Anderson Party!
How do you fancy partying like you’re in a Wes Anderson movie? Remake Remodel are taking over The Wardrobe and invite you to dress up in your best fancy dress – we’re talking Tenambaums, Zissous, bell boys and so on. There’ll also be Mendl’s cake stall, Wes-inspired props and visuals from all his films, with a soundtrack of indie rock to keep you going until 4am.
Wes Anderson Party! comes to The Wardrobe on Friday 20th April 2018.
Bugzy Malone & Friends
Party until 5am with Manchester’s finest grime superstar Bugzy Malone. He’s coming across the Pennines to headline an all-nighter at Canal Mills to celebrate the release of his new album ‘King of the North’. The Mancunian has well and truly established himself as the face of grime outside London, and it’s safe to say he’s only getting better. Look out for a support bill featuring some of the UK’s best up-and-coming grime artists.
Bugzy Malone & Friends take over Canal Mills on Saturday 21st April 2018.
MK & Jax Jones
End April with a massive shindig at Canal Mills. They’ve lined up two of the biggest producers in the world – MK will be coming over from Detroit to spin tunes like ‘Look Right Through’, ‘Always’ and ‘Love Changes’. He’ll be joined by Jax Jones, whose known for work on hits like ‘You Don’t Know Me’, ‘I Got U’ and ‘Instruction’.
MK & Jax Jones take over Canal Mills on Saturday 28th April 2018.
Families have plenty to look forward to this April, with theatre, dance and history.
The Gingerbread Man
Catch a stone cold children’s classic in Leeds this month as The Gingerbread Man runs to Leeds. Expect a mix of puppetry, music, comedy and live action when Stuff and Nonsense do their thing – it’s an incredible adventure that sees the Gingerbread Man escape from someone who wants to dunk him in their tea. He manages to get away, making friends and foes with geese, foxes and even trains along the way.
The Gingerbread Man takes place at Carriageworks Theatre on Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th April 2018.
What the Moon Saw
What the Moon Saw brings together dance and circus at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre this month. 2Faced Dance Company have taken Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale and turned it into something new. It follows Jack, a boy whose world comes to life when he peers out of his bedroom window at the moon. It’s an interactive show that’s jam-packed with music, circus skills and dance – you can even turn up in your pyjamas, just like Jack will.
What the Moon Saw takes place at The Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre from Wednesday 4th to Saturday 7th April 2018.
One of the most popular children’s stories in recent times, you’ve got another chance to check out Christopher’s Caterpillars in Leeds this month. Christopher Nibble becomes a detective with his best mate Posie, after the prize caterpillars they’ve been growing in their garden go missing. Can they find them? They might need your help.
Christopher’s Caterpillars takes place at Carriageworks Theatre on Saturday 7th April 2018.
Wars of the Roses Weekend
There’s a fascinating weekend in store at Royal Armouries as they take you back to the 15th century and to the Wars of the Roses. You’ll find out about how the Houses of Lancaster and York battled it out for the crown, with re-enactments of the Battle of Towton and an interpretation of a 15th century military encampment preparing for battle. There’ll even be combat demonstrations and a chance to have a go at archery.
Wars of the Roses Weekend takes over Royal Armouries on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April 2018.
Anatomical – The Doodle Dance Show
Join Anatomical for a show that will get you doodling and dancing. The Doodle Dance Show will take you on a magical journey that looks at what makes great friendships. It’s an interactive production that creates worlds full of birds, pirates, and underwater creatures, and gives you the chance to show off your dance moves.
Anatomical – The Doodle Dance Show comes to The Riley Theatre on Friday 13th April 2018.
There are loads of festivals to make the most of in April, whether you want heavy metal, post-rock or Japanese culture.
Fans of post-rock, post-metal and math-rock are in for a treat this April as the famed StrangeForms festival returns to Wharf Chambers. Across two days, they have 18 bands to blow your mind, with the likes of Rolo Tomassi, Talons and Valerian Swing. Also on the bill are Codes in the Clouds, Alpha Male Tea Party and Poly-Math, amongst many others that’ll make this a weekend to remember.
StrangeForms takes over Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April 2018.
If you like your metal heavy, black and full of powerful riffs, don’t miss Wrath Fest as it takes over Church for its second year. They’ve got a mammoth line-up, which reads like a who’s who of the scene. It’s headlined by Swedish group The Crown, alongside the likes of Ten Foot Wizard, Foetal Juice, Barbarian Hermit, Ramage Inc and Dream Troll.
Wrath Fest takes over Church on Saturday 14th April 2018.
Pay a visit to Hyde Park Book Club for the second annual Labourfest. Raising money for the Headingley and Weetwood Labour Party, they’ve got a stellar line-up of live music. Local indie heroes The Seven Inches head up the bill, and they’re joined by the likes of Ubunye, The Wind-up Birds, Mvmv, All Ashore and Toria Garbutt. There’s even a veggie BBQ going and DJs until the early hours.
Labourfest #3 takes place at Hyde Park Book Club on Saturday 14th April 2018.
Hot! Fest #1
The very first Hot Fest comes to Mabgate Bleach this month, and it promises to be an all-day feast of heavy psych, garage, stoner, noise and doom rock. It kicks off in the afternoon, so get down early doors to see an impressive cast of rock’n’roll mayhem, including the likes of Dense, Femur, Curb, No Teeth, Susan, Lurker and Multinut Butter.
Hot! Fest #1 takes over Mabgate Bleach on Sunday 15th April 2018.
Japanese Sakura Festival
Get in touch with Japanese culture at the Sakura Festival this April. Eight Japanese students have created a day of activities at Leeds City Museum and there’s loads going on. You can try on traditional Japanese dress, experience a tea ceremony, take part in calligraphy workshops, see koto harp performances and eat Japanese food.
Japanese Sakura Festival takes place at Leeds City Museum on Saturday 28th April 2018.
Best of the Rest
From strongman competitions to vintage furniture, this is the best of the rest this April.
Easter Weekend Market
How are you planning on spending bank holiday Monday? If you’re looking for things to do, treat yourself to a tasty bite down at Leeds Dock. Their Easter Weekend Market will see the likes of The Little Yorkshire Pie Company, The Mexican Pilgrim and The Donut Kitchen dishing up food. You can also browse craft stalls, enjoy the live entertainment and go on an Easter egg hunt with the kids.
Easter Weekend Market takes over Leeds Dock on Monday 2nd April 2018.
Europe’s Strongest Man
It’s that time of year again. Europe’s Strongest Man is touring the UK, as the muscle-bound mammoths battle it out for the ultimate prize. It’s a classic family day out, and you’ll get to see one of the greats of the sport, as Stoke-on-Trent’s Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall will be trying to regain the title he won for the first time in 2017.
Europe’s Strongest Man takes over First Direct Arena on Saturday 7th April 2018.
National Theatre Connections
The National Theatre Connections tour has become a big date on the theatre calendar. It’s an annual showcase of new plays for youth theatres and schools, giving local young people the chance to perform in a nearby, professional theatre which forms part of a larger festival taking place all over the country.
National Theatre Connections takes over West Yorkshire Playhouse from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th April 2018.
An Evening with Lita
It’s not every day you get to be up close and personal with a WWE Hall of Famer in Leeds, but you have the chance to do just that this month as Lita comes to Leeds. She was one of the pioneers of the Attitude Era alongside The Hardy Boys, before going on to have an immense singles career that included a famed rivalry with Trish Stratus. You’ll get to ask all your burning questions in a 45 minute Q&A, as well as getting pictures and autographs.
An Evening with Lita comes to Elland Road on Saturday 28th April 2018.
Leeds Vintage Furniture and Home Fair
If you want to spruce up your home, make a beeline for the Leeds Vintage Furniture and Home Fair at Sunny Bank Mills this April. There will be more than 30 stalls full of vintage gear that could add that wow factor to where you live. There’ll be everything from mid-century furniture to industrial lighting and art deco ceramics. Get ready to dig, it will be well worth it.
Leeds Vintage Furniture and Home Fair takes place at Sunny Bank Mills on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th April 2018.Cover image copyright Tom Joy.