From food festivals to gigs and comedy, make May one to remember with these amazing events.
May is here and there are loads of fantastic events to enjoy in Leeds this month. You’ve got mammoth clubnights, huge West End shows and the return of a city-wide food festival. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, especially with the duo of bank holiday weekends that await – so go ahead and make the most of everything Leeds has to offer this month.
Picks of the Month
From huge gigs to big West End shows, these are the events you can’t miss in Leeds this month.
LS6 Beer Festival
LS6 Beer Festival is back for its seventh year this May. Head to Left Bank Leeds in Burley for a weekend of the best local beers, craft ciders, street food and live music. They’ve got the likes of Ilkley, North Brewing Co. and Northern Monk on the taps, as well as a selection from further afield in Yorkshire, like Ossett, Vocation and Acorn breweries. Don’t miss Saturday night – Ben Randm hosts a special beer-related quiz, before a stand up show and DJ set.
LS6 Beer Festival is at Left Bank Leeds from Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th May 2017.
On the back of a much lauded run at the West End’s Dominion Theatre, Bill Kenwright’s production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s classic Evita comes to Leeds Grand Theatre this May. Featuring West End favourite Emma Hatton in the title role, it tells the rags to riches story of Eva Peron, wife of Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, who goes from nothing to the ‘Spiritual Leader of the Nation’. With classics like ‘On This Night of a Thousand Stars’, ‘You Must Love Me’ and ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, it’s a must-see.
Evita is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 16th to Saturday 20th May 2017.
Wakefield’s favourite musical sons The Cribs headline First Direct Arena this May to celebrate a decade of their much loved third album ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’. The 2007 LP is arguably their breakthrough album – it reached the top 15 of the UK albums chart and is considered one of the year’s finest by the likes of NME, thanks to tunes like ‘Be Safe’, ‘Our Bovine Public’ and ‘I’m A Realist’. It’s going to be a hell of a night.
The Cribs play First Direct Arena on Saturday 20th May 2017.
Leeds Indie Food
Foodies, get ready – the third Leeds Indie Food festival is almost ready to go. Across two and a half weeks, the city’s bars, cafes and restaurants are going all out with range of one-off events that you’ll want to be a part of. From a Norse supper club at Leeds Corn Exchange to the School Diner street food festival in Chapel Allerton, there’s so much to choose from. What you will try?
Leeds Indie Food is at various Leeds venues from Thursday 11th to Sunday 28th May 2017.
How To… Festival 6
It’s that time of year again. The How To… Festival is back at The HUB, with a new theme for 2017. This year’s all-dayer looks at ‘Home, Heritage and Belonging’. You’ll go on a guided tour exploring Holbeck’s past and present, take part in a cooking workshop and attempt storytelling through dance and writing. They also have two theatre performances – all of which are provided on a pay-as-you-feel basis. Manjit’s Kitchen will be serving food at their £1 Bar.
How To… Festival 6 is at The HUB on Sunday 7th May 2017.
Food and Drink
From beer festivals to supper clubs – don’t miss this month’s top foodie events.
Lotherton Hall Food and Drink Festival
Lotherton Hall is making the most of its incredible setting this May for its annual food and drink festival. Kick off the month by heading to its final day, where you can explore their massive marquee which is going to be packed full of local producers, with everything from jams to gins to take home with you. You can also grab a bite to eat while you’re there, as they’ve got a hot food court packed will local street food vendors.
Lotherton Hall Food and Drink Festival is at Lotherton Hall until Monday 1st May 2017.
Celebrating Paddy’s Day Two Months Late
Who says you have to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on 17th March? Not Friends of Ham, anyway. They’re hosting a special Irish themed night of food and booze this May. Galway Bay Brewery will be in attendance – Head Brewer Will Avery and owner Niall Walsh are coming over the Irish Sea with six brews in tow, which will be paired up with six tasty cheeses from the Courtyard Dairy. It’s not an Irish evening without music, so expect a proper ceilidh.
Celebrating Paddy’s Day Two Months Late is at Friends of Ham on Monday 8th May 2017.
Around the World Supper Club
Head to The Union this May for the return of Cath Kane, also known as The Messy Cook. She’s back with her Around the World Supper Club – the Leeds based food blogger will create some incredibly unusual concoctions by fusing together elements of different cuisines. This is deliciously different – and of course, each course will be served with a specially selected wine.
Around the World Supper Club is at The Union Coffee House on Saturday 20th May 2017.
Bears Pantry Pop-up Cafe and Deli
Horsforth is home to a new pop-up cafe and del – Bears Pantry is a rustic catering company renowned for their gastronomic feasts. Now, they’ve decided to go straight to the people with a three month stint on Long Row. They’re open on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 11am and 3pm, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 3pm. Expect street food-style hot dishes, sandwiches and cakes.
Bears Pantry is open on Long Row, Horsforth for the next three months.
Wetherby Beer Festival
If you haven’t had your fill of real ale yet, end May with a trip out to Wetherby. St James’ Church is the venue for this year’s Wetherby Beer Festival, and for the first time, it’s spread across two days. There are more than 20 real ales to sup while you’re there, from the likes of Collingham Ales, Stoffolds Brewery and Isaac Poad Brewery, as well as a cider and wine bar. You can also tuck into pie and peas or a barbecue, with live music and children’s activities to keep the whole family entertained.
Wetherby Beer Festival is at St James’ Church on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th May 2017.
Head to the city’s best music venues to see metal legends, folk favourites and ska icons.
Metal icons Iron Maiden are coming to Leeds for a huge show at First Direct Arena this May. It’s part of a long-awaited UK tour in support of 2015 album, ‘The Book of Souls’, which rocketed to number one on these shores. Expect plenty of cuts from the latest record, mixed in with a slew of solid gold hits, from ‘Run to the Hills’ to ‘Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter’.
Iron Maiden play First Direct Arena on Thursday 11th May 2017.
Northumbrian sisters The Unthanks return to City Varieties this May, on the back of an incredible sell out show in the same venue back in 2015. This is a special show, however. Titled ‘How Wild the Wind Blows’, they are performing the songs and poems of Molly Drake, the mother of the late, great Nick Drake. With full support from the Drake family estate, The Unthanks will show off Molly’s incredible musical talent, that has stayed remarkably hidden for six decades.
The Unthanks play City Varieties on Friday 12th May 2017.
This show has been a long time coming for Leeds-based singer-songwriter, Sam Airey – his Brudenell performance is also his album release show. ‘In Darkened Rooms’ has been in the works for years and brilliantly weaves together elements of folk, indie Americana and post-rock. It’s been worth the wait for all involved, so go along and show your support for a local gem.
Sam Airey is at Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday 24th May 2017.
Fancy rolling back the years to the peak of Madchester? 80s indie legends Inspiral Carpets were one of the biggest bands of the era, led by Tom Hingley. He’s heading out on the road with renowned Inspirals’ tribute band The Kar-Pets to play through the band’s greatest hits at Belgrave Music Hall, where you can expect to hear tunes like ‘Joe’, ‘Move’ and ‘This Is How It Feels’.
Tom Hingley and the Kar-Pets play Belgrave Music Hall on Thursday 25th May 2017.
Their last show in Millennium Square was a riot, and ska icons The Specials’ return to Leeds this May won’t be anything different. They’ll be running through the songs that made them one of the most culturally important bands of the past 50 years, from ‘A Message to You Rudy’ to ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Little Bitch’ and ‘Nite Klub’. To make it even more of a must-see, they’re bringing reggae legends Toots and the Maytals along for the ride.
The Specials play Millennium Square on Saturday 27th May 2017.
Need a laugh? There’s a stellar line-up of stand-up comedians coming to Leeds this month.
Peter Kay’s Dance for Life
Here’s a Peter Kay tour with a difference. The Dance for Life tour is a mammoth, three hour dance-a-thon, led by Peter Kay himself on the decks – and it’s all for a great cause, because proceeds are going to Cancer Research UK. You can show off your skills as the First Direct Arena floor is turned into an enormous dancefloor, with state-of-the-art sound and lighting effects. And if you’re brave, you’re encouraged to come in some fancy dress.
Peter Kay’s Dance for Life is at First Direct Arena on Saturday 6th May 2017.
As misanthropes go, it’s a little bit ironic that Jon Richardson is so well-loved. He comes to Leeds Grand Theatre this May determined to become a little bit more easygoing for the sake of his mental health. Whether he can actually manage that is another thing – you’ll have to make a beeline for Leeds Grand Theatre this May to find out.
Jon Richardson is at Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday 14th May 2017.
You’ve got two chances to go ‘out out’ with Micky Flanagan this May as the Cockney comic comes to First Direct Arena for a duo of dates. His brand new show, ‘An’ Another Fing’, comes four years after his last, and his 2013 run was the biggest comedy tour anywhere in the world that year. A sign you really can’t miss the return of the Mick.
Micky Flanagan is at First Direct Arena on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th May 2017.
Mark Maier’s Greatest Schmitz
It’s not just one thing that gets Mark Maier’s goat – in fact, it’s pretty much everything Jewish. Whether it’s trying to keep kosher, schlepping about in shopping centres or coping at daily functions, there are things that just don’t sit well with him. You’ll most likely be able to relate, so go along to his City Varieties show and let him vent hilariously.
Mark Maier’s Greatest Schmitz is at City Varieties on Tuesday 23rd May 2017.
The second star of Phoenix Nights making his way to Leeds this May is Dave Spikey. He’s heading out on a massive UK tour with brand new show, ‘Juggling On a Motorbike’. It’s something of a career retrospective, as Spikey recalls being told to become a comedian after 19 years working in the NHS and winning the talent show Stairway to the Stars with a routine about a juggler on a motorbike. He revels in his remarkable journey from working class kid to telly star, with plenty of hilarious stories to tell.
Dave Spikey is at City Varieties on Friday 26th May 2017.
There’s plenty on in Leeds’ theatres this month – from innovative productions to West End hits.
The Who’s Tommy
There’s a special version of The Who’s ground-breaking rock opera Tommy coming to Leeds this month. New Wolsey Theatre and Ramps on the Moon have teamed up to tailor a production to a cast of deaf, disabled and non-disabled actors to make it accessible to all. Pete Townshend has even lent a hand, recording two new songs for Tommy, named after the show’s lead who struggles to deal with witnessing the death of his father.
The Who’s Tommy is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Thursday 4th to Saturday 13th May 2017.
The Best of Both Worlds: A Beggar’s Opera
You won’t have seen an opera like this before. The Best of Both Worlds is the first collaboration between Ali Matthews and Leo Burtin and uses their experience as expatriates abroad to comment on the UK’s class system. It sees the pair make a song and dance of their financial woes, blending pop songs, French street music and even a bit of audience participation – you might even get paid for your input if you’re lucky.
The Best of Both Worlds: A Beggar’s Opera is at The HUB on Sunday 14th May 2017.
Opera North’s Turandot
Don’t miss your final chance to see Opera North’s concert staging of Puccini’s acclaimed final opera, Turandot. Head to Leeds Town Hall to be transported to ancient Beijing as Princess Turandot starts her search for a prince to become a husband. They have to solve three riddles to win her heart, and if they fail they’ll be killed – not that it puts Prince Calaf off.
Opera North’s Turandot is at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 14th May 2017.
The Play That Goes Wrong
Go back in time this May with the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt to go back to the 1920s for an intriguing murder mystery. Attempt is the key word here, as everything that can go wrong, does – and to hilarious effect. These accident prone actors battle on to reach the curtain call – by the time they do, you’ll see why it was a sell out on the West End.
The Play That Goes Wrong is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th May 2017.
You may well have seen the film, but now it’s time to see The Graduate on stage. This hilarious black comedy and coming of age story sees Benjamin return home after college to what’s expected to be a bright future. But the thought of it makes him feel sick to his stomach, and he finds salvation in the form of an illicit affair with the equally lost Mrs Robinson, his parents’ best friend. With a blistering soundtrack of Sixties classics to boot, it’s one of the theatre highlights of the month.
The Graduate is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Friday 28th April to Saturday 27th May 2017.
There’s an eclectic array of new exhibitions to check out this month, from cartoons to sculpture.
People Soup Cartoons by Ross Macintosh
Kapow Coffee’s first exhibition in their Thornton’s Arcade branch is from cartoonist Ross Macintosh. People Soup Cartoons sees Ross share his thoughts and observations on life, using experiences from his other job as an organisational and coaching psychologist. The exhibition proves that cartoons are an intriguing art form in their own right.
People Soup Cartoons by Ross Macintosh is at Kapow Coffee until Saturday 1st July 2017.
Pumped: The Art of Modern Beer
The popularity of craft beer has made the visual element of your favourite bevvie incredibly important and that’s what Pumped: The Art of Modern Beer shows off. It displays the best in design, from James Ockleford for North Brewing Co. to Drew Millward for Northern Monk, so you can see how much care and attention goes into every can, bottle and pump clip.
Pumped: The Art of Modern Beer is at Colours May Vary from Thursday 4th to Tuesday 23rd May 2017.
Refinding: Jessie Flood-Paddock with Kenneth Armitage
The newest exhibition at The Tetley sees the juxtaposition of old and new. London-based artist Jessie Flood-Paddock presents her latest works alongside the Oak Tree series of sculptures, drawings and prints by renowned 20th century artist Kenneth Armitage. it comes on the back of Flood-Paddock winning the Kenneth Armitage Fellowship, which allowed her to live and work in Armitage’s studio for two years – this exhibition showcases her efforts alongside their inspiration.
Refinding: Jessie Flood-Paddock with Kenneth Armitage is at The Tetley from Saturday 6th May unitl Sunday 30th July 2017.
Jo Lee Ceramic Showcase
Yorkshire artist Jo Lee stands out from the crowd and not just because of her infectious personality. Her porcelain creations are rather eye-catching, as she makes use of photography, Photoshop and ceramic decals to make her crazy creatures inspired by her childhood imagination while playing about with Mr Potato Head and Fuzzy Felt.
Jo Lee Ceramic Showcase is at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery from Tuesday 2nd May until Saturday 29th July 2017.
Ghisha Koenig: Machines Restrict their Movement
Perhaps quite an unusual study for a sculptor, Ghisha Koenig spent thirty years closely following industrial labour in factories in South East England, particularly around St Mary Cray. Through sketch books, sculptures and large scroll drawings, this exhibition displays Koenig’s efforts to find humanity in a harsh industrial world, a world dominated by ‘machines that restrict their movement’.
Ghisha Koenig: Machines Restrict their Movement is at Henry Moore Institute from Thursday 25th May until Sunday 13th August 2017.
Clubnights & DJs
Get ready for a late one because the city’s clubs aren’t pulling any punches this year.
Horse Meat Disco
One of the most renowned clubnights in the UK comes to Leeds for a special evening at The HiFi Club. Horse Meat Disco’s James HIllard and Severino will be bringing the party vibes as they mix up house, Italo disco, funk and classics for a truly great soundtrack to what’s bound to be a night to remember.
Horse Meat Disco is at The HiFi Club on Friday 5th May 2017.
Generation X: Constant Sound
See the next generation of Back to Basics favourites as they present a showcase evening at their smaller Chapel venue, which is connected to Church. It promises the best rising house DJ talent as the likes of Diego Krause, Burnski, Jon Woodall and Michael James get on the decks.
Generation X: Constant Sound is at Chapel on Saturday 13th May 2017.
Jungle Jam Summer Carnival
The final Jungle Jam of the summer is their biggest party of the year. The Summer Carnival at Mint Warehouse is a 12 hour day and night party. It brings together the best in dancehall, reggae, jungle and drum ’n’ bass with Aries and Randall spinning the tunes. The Notting Hill Carnival Caribbean BBQ will also be there and the venue will be decked out in carnival style with live art and free horns and whistles.
Jungle Jam Summer Carnival is at Mint Warehouse on Friday 26th May 2017.
The Garden Party Part Two
The second Garden Party of the year will take over Canal Mills for an all day house extravaganza. There’s a stellar line up of DJs, with The Martinez Brothers, Gerd Janson, Soldardo, Waze & Odyssey and Mele all playing. They’ll also have street food vendors, live art, a cocktail bar and plenty of outdoor areas.
The Garden Party is at Canal Mills on Sunday 28th May 2017.
System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party
Always a banker for bank holiday weekend, the System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party returns to Mint Warehouse with a blend of house and techno brilliance. Don’t miss Ricardo Villalobos playing back to back with Zip in a four hour terrace set, while the likes of Barac, Mandar and Annie Errez are also on the bill.
System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party is at Mint Warehouse on Sunday 28th May 2017.
Whether it’s a boy wizard or Gangsta Granny, there’s loads to do with the family this month.
Away from the telly, David Walliams has become a renowned children’s author and one of his most popular stories comes to the Leeds Grand Theatre this May. It follows a boy called Ben who spends his Friday nights with his Granny, although he finds them rather boring. That is, until one Friday night when he sees a different side to her and he goes on an incredible adventure with Gangsta Granna.
Gangsta Granny is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 3rd until Sunday 7th May 2017.
Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert
Go back to the very start of JK Rowling’s incredible Harry Potter series in this unique screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Watch the film on a giant HD screen and relive the magic of the young wizard as a full live orchestra perform John Williams’ incredible score, breathing new life into one of the most popular films of all time.
Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert is at First Direct Arena on Friday 19th May 2017.
Spring Into Action
The end of May brings another half term, and Royal Armouries are once again getting in on the fun. Spring Into Action is a week-long series of amazing events that the kids will love. From live combat demonstrations to assault courses, martial arts tasters and warrior workshops, there’s loads to do, as well as a full gallery of arms and armour to explore.
Spring Into Action is at Royal Armouries from Saturday 27th May until Sunday 4th June 2017.
The Scarecrows’ Wedding
Ideal for kids aged 3 and above, The Scarecrow’s Wedding is a great day out for the little ones. It’s an adaptation of the latest bestselling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the creators of The Gruffalo. Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay are scarecrows in love, but when they decide to go off and plan their wedding, Harry gets replaced on his patch by the smooth but dangerous Reginald Rake. Will their love survive?
The Scarecrows’ Wedding is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Tuesday 30th May until Saturday 3rd June 2017.
Don’t Dribble On The Dragon
Based on Steven Lee’s captivating new book, treat the kids to an afternoon with Don’t Dribble On The Dragon. Little Tom is a toddler who’s got a cool older brother, a secret dragon and a bit of a dribbling problem. Tom’s drooling gets on his brother’s nerves and their relationship gets rocky. So the dragon uses his crazy magic to try and make it better again, but will it work?
Don’t Dribble On The Dragon is at Carriageworks Theatre on Wednesday 31st May 2017.
May is jam-packed with amazing music festivals – which will you go to?
Gold Sounds is back again this May with a stellar line-up of up and coming musical talent. The bill is headed up by Manchester indie band Cabbage who will be playing through their latest album ‘Young, Dumb and Full Of…’ They’re joined by the likes of Dune Rats, Shame, Kagoule, Goat Girl, The Coathangers, Swimming Girls and Narcs.
Gold Sounds Festival is at Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 20th May 2017.
Labourfest #2 with The Ukrainians
Kick off your bank holiday weekend at the second annual Labourfest. Raising money for the Headingley and Weetwood Labour Party, they’ve got a top drawer line-up of live music. Leeds legends The Ukrainians will be playing their post-punk infused Ukrainian folk tunes, and supported by the likes of Nervous Twitch and Noah Brown.
Labourfest #2 with The Ukrainians is at Brudenell Social Club on Friday 26th May 2017.
Slam Dunk Festival
One of the highlights of the music calendar returns this May. Slam Dunk Festival features some of the biggest names in emo, pop punk and metal music and they’ve got a impressive line-up for this year’s edition. Enter Shikari are headlining, playing ‘Take to the Skies’ in full for its tenth anniversary. Also playing are Don Broco, Bowling For Soup, Neck Deep, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and Deaf Havana.
Slam Dunk Festival is at various Leeds venues on Sunday 28th May 2017.
World Island promises a whole day of experimental music to devour at Leeds Town Hall brought to us by the folk behind Headrow House and Belgrave. Renowned electronic producer Floating Points is headlining with a solo set with soul singer-songwriter NAO and hip-hop interpreters BadBadNotGood in support. There are two others to keep an eye out for – Leeds’ own dub jazz band Submotion Orchestra and jazz improviser Yussef Kamaal.
World Island is at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 28th May 2017.
Karma Fest Part V
Looking for a day of psychedelic brilliance? Eiger Studios is the place to end your musical May with Karma Fest Part V. They have two stages of bands and DJs including the likes of Elephant Stone, Telegram, The Cosmic Dead, Riptides and Baba Naga, complete with psych light shows and visuals. There’ll also be live art and outdoor food stalls.
Karma Fest Part V is at Eiger Studios on Sunday 28th May 2017.
Best of the Rest
Wrestling, boxing and having your mind blown by science – it’s the best of the rest going in Leeds this month.
With so much to be angry about in the world today, a bit of light relief is always welcome. And that’s exactly what The Unfair is offers. Taking over Kirkstall Abbey for five days, it’s a fairground filled with chances to blow off a bit of steam, from playing Angry Jenga to writing away your thoughts in Bottle It Up. It will get you thinking about how we deal with anger and whether change is possible, while you stuff your face with popcorn and let it all out in Angry Karaoke.
The Unfair is at Kirkstall Abbey from Tuesday 9th Sunday 14th May 2017.
Championship Boxing with Josh Warrington and Nicola Adams
There’s an absolutely massive night of boxing at First Direct Arena this May. Not one, but two Leeds heroes will be taking to the ring as Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams takes her second professional bout against an as-yet-unnamed opponent. The main event of the evening sees WBC International Featherweight champion Josh Warrington against Kiko Martinez before he eyes up a world championship showdown with Lee Selby this summer.
Championship Boxing with Josh Warrington and Nicola Adams is at First Direct Arena on Saturday 13th May 2017.
Leeds Underground Arts Fair
If you’re yet to pay a visit to Leeds Underground Arts Fair, now’s your chance. After hugely successful events in December and February, it’s back again with a slew of local artists, makers and producers selling their wares. They’ll also have street food, craft beer and live entertainment all day long, and they’re raising money for Medecins Sans Frontiers.
Leeds Underground Arts Fair is at Freedom Mills on Saturday 13th May 2017.
Professor Brian Cox Live
Ever been addicted to shows like Wonders of the Universe, Forces of Nature and Stargazing Live? You can learn all of that live as Professor Brian Cox brings his endless array of scientific knowledge to the stage in a brand new show. He comes to First Direct Arena this May, with help from The Infinite Monkey Cage co-host Robin Ince, to take you on another mind-blowing journey through time and space.
Professor Brian Cox Live is at First Direct Arena on Sunday 14th May 2017.
RISE Underground Live Wrestling
Fancy a bit of grapple action this May? Head out to Eiger Studios on the outskirts of the city centre for RISE Live Wrestling. Top of the bill is WWE UK Championship competitor Saxon Huxley defending his RISE Championship belt against arch nemesis Big Joe. The rest of the card features the likes of ‘The Class Apart’ Alex Henry, ‘Pastor’ William Eaver and ‘The Lazarus Kid’ Liam Slater.
Rise Live Wrestling is at Eiger Studios on Saturday 20th May 2017.