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50 Absolutely Unmissable Events in Leeds This Month

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

Every month, we round up the best events taking place in the city, so you won’t miss a thing.

Millennium Square Summer Series

From art trails to gigs and comedy, make July one to remember with these amazing events.

July is here and there are loads of fantastic events to enjoy in Leeds this month. You’ve got unique outdoor clubnights, huge West End shows and the return of two Fantastic food and drink festivals. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – so go ahead and find out what’s on in Leeds this month.

Picks of the Month

Dirty Dancing

Credit: Alastair Muir

From an extraordinary clubnight to a huge tattoo expo, these are the events you won’t want to miss this month.

Leeds International Tattoo Expo

Leeds International Tattoo Expo is bigger and better than ever before this July. For their fifth event, they’re taking over First Direct Arena, with more than 150 tattoo artists on show across the weekend, including talent from all over the world. That’s not all though – they’ll have stalls selling everything from tattoo inks to taxidermy, as well as live music and performances from trapeze artists Steel Cats.

Leeds International Tattoo Expo is at First Direct Arena on Saturday 8th July 2017.


One of hip-hop’s biggest names is playing O2 Academy Leeds this July. Since 1994, Nas has had eight consecutive platinum or multi-platinum selling albums, shifting more than 25 million records in the process, but it’s his first album, ‘Illmatic’ that is recognised as one of the landmark records in the genre. He’ll be playing through that and more, in what’s a rare chance to see this rap legend in Leeds.

Nas is at O2 Academy Leeds on Wednesday 12th July 2017.

Kirkstall Art Trail

Go on an arty adventure this July with the Kirkstall Art Trail. This is an exhibition with a difference, as you set off from Kirkstall Abbey on a journey of discover. You’ll see paintings, sculptures, installations and more as you follow the trail map around a series of local venues. Bringing the kids? You’ll find free workshops and activities along the way.

Kirkstall Art Trail starts at Kirkstall Abbey on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th July 2017.

Dirty Dancing

One of the biggest shows of all time returns to Leeds Grand Theatre this July as Dirty Dancing comes to town. You’ll step into the world of Baby and Johnny, two young spirits from different worlds who share a memorable summer together. Featuring over 35 songs, including ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey Baby’ and ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, this is not to be missed.

Dirty Dancing is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th July 2017.

The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics

Back to Basics is turning 25 and they’re celebrating in style. They’ve joined forces the Orchestra of Opera North to reinvent a slew of dance anthems, all of which will be played live. They’ll be joined by a series of special guests performing some of their biggest hits, including artists from Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada, The Beloved and A Man Called Adam. It’s going to be the biggest night of the summer.

The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics is at Millennium Square on Friday 28th July 2017.

The Leeds Show

The Leeds Show is set to be one of the events of the summer. It’s a celebration of all the things that make Leeds great at Temple Newsam with a focus on fun for all the family. Expect a giant funfair with rides for both kids and adults, live entertainment all weekend and local traders selling everything from artwork to street food.

The Leeds Show is at Temple Newsam on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July 2017.

Food and Drink

From food and drink festivals to free wine tastings – check out this month’s top foodie events.

Mezcal Tasting and Food Pairing with Don Javier Mateo

Maestro Mezcalero Don Javier Mateo is coming to Leeds for just one night only for a very special Mezcal Tasting and Food Pairing at Chida Cantina. You’ll have the chance to try four different mezcals, two of which aren’t available in the UK. Each drink will be paired with a Mexican street plate as Mateo talks you through the history and culture of mezcal. Hurry, there are just 20 tickets to this event and we’re giving you an exclusive £5 discount – book now.

Mezcal Tasting and Food Pairing with Don Javier Mateo is at Chida Cantina on Thursday 6th July 2017.

A Brief History of Gin

Arch Cafe is holding a one-off gin tasting this July. They’ve teamed up with Chris Hill from Latitude Wine and Liquor Merchants for A Brief History of Gin. Hill will talk you through four different gins, Boys Genever, Jensen Old Tom Gin, Tanqueray and Portobello Road, as well as two gin cocktails. It comes with added feel good, because all proceeds will go to Age UK.

A Brief History of Gin is at Arch Cafe on Thursday 13th July 2017.

Friends of Ham Turns 5!

Doesn’t time fly? It does when you’re having fun and that’s exactly what the past five years have been for both the owners and the patrons of Friends of Ham. To celebrate their half decade, they’re throwing a good old fashioned knees up this July. Expect live music, birthday cake and exclusive beers brewed specially by the Friends of Ham team.

Friends of Ham Turns 5! is at Friends of Ham on Monday 10th July 2017.

Horsforth Food and Drink Festival

Head to Hall Park this July for the return of the Horsforth Food and Drink Festival. You can enjoy street food and local produce, while supping everything from real ale to gin, prosecco and cocktails. But that’s not all – they also have live entertainment on all weekend, including an Ed Sheeran tribute act, children’s cooking classes and a fun fair. Eyes as big as your belly? Don’t miss the Man V Food challenges on Saturday and Sunday.

Horsforth Food and Drink Festival is at Horsforth Hall Park from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th July 2017.

The North Leeds Food Festival 2017

This year, The North Leeds Food Festival promises street food galore, with drinks to boot – visit The Soldier’s Ale House to taste the wares of local breweries, with prosecco, wine, cocktails, gin and cider on offer elsewhere. There’s also plenty of fun for the kids, from craft activities to a Super Food Fight, and you can enjoy live entertainment from the likes of Andre Vincent and Justin Moorhouse.

The North Leeds Food Festival 2017 is at Roundhay Park on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd July 2017.

Live Music


Head to the city’s best music venues to see pop punk icons, hip-hop pioneers and soul legends.


Legendary pop punk group Blink-182 will be one of the gigs of the month. They’re coming to First Direct Arena to show off their newest record, ‘California’. It’s their first without original member Tom DeLonge, who’s been ably replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. He, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker will tear the roof down as they throw classics like ‘What’s My Age Again?’, ‘The Rock Show’ and ‘All the Small Things’ into the mix too.

Blink-182 is at First Direct Arena on Wednesday 5th July 2017.

Lee Fields and the Expressions

Love classic soul? Don’t miss the return of Lee Fields and the Expressions this month. They’re coming across the Atlantic for an intimate show at Brudenell Social Club where you’ll see why Fields is considered the successor to James Brown, as they play through their latest album, ‘Special Night’.

Lee Fields and the Expressions is at Brudenell Social Club on Monday 10th July 2017.

Sunn O)))

Get heavy this month with the return of Sunn O))) to Leeds. The experimental metal icons are set for a headline date at Leeds University Union and their live shows are unmissable. Known for being incredibly loud and visually engrossing on stage, Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson will be unleashing 20 years of music in July, with cuts from debut album ‘ØØ Void’ to their most recent effort ‘Kannon’.

Sunn O))) is at Leeds University Union on Wednesday 19th July 2017.

A Night at the Opera

The second show from Opera North’s weekend in Millennium Square will see them host A Night at the Opera. The Orchestra of Opera North will be joined by two incredible soloists in Quirijn de Lang and Jeni Bern, who’ll perform an evening of opera and musical classics. Expect songs from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel in an unforgettable evening under the stars.

A Night at the Opera is at Millennium Square on Saturday 29th July 2017.


Jimmy Carr

Need a laugh? There’s a stellar line-up of stand-up comedians coming to Leeds this month.

Brennan Reece

Can’t make this year’s Edinburgh Fringe? Fear not, as you can see one of the most hotly-tipped comedians here in Leeds with a special warm-up show. Brennan Reece will be performing his brand new show ‘Everlong’, in which he deals with the stars in the sky, the memories in the mind and his Nanna going into a home.

Brennan Reece is at The HUB on Thursday 13th July 2017.

Jimmy Carr

One of the country’s most popular comedians, Jimmy Carr returns to Leeds Town Hall this month for a very special show. His ‘The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour’ sees the 8 Out of 10 Cats host bring together an assortment of his finest jokes from nine different tours, which have seen him perform more than 2,000 shows – and this is your chance to see the absolute best of him.

Jimmy Carr is at Leeds Town Hall on Friday 14th July 2017.

Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers

If you like comedy sprinkled with music, there’s one show you can’t miss this July – it’s Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers at Seven Arts. They’ve been thrilling audiences all across the country since 2006 and this time around, they’re showing off their latest record, ‘Dinosaurs Ate My Caravan’, which deals with a range of 21st century issues like soy milk and David Attenborough.

Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers is at Seven Arts on Saturday 15th July 2017.


Paul Richards is coming to Headingley this month with his brand new musical comedy, Will: The Bad Boy of Jazz Funk Fusion And The Complete History of Pop Music In An Hour. It sees Richards as Will, struggling to choose between a successful career as a musician or his love for a long-admired library assistant – along the way, he’ll tell the complete history of pop music, with tunes you’ll definitely know.

Will is at HEART on Monday 17th July 2017.

Kyle Kinane

You’ve got the perfect opportunity to see one of the US’ fastest rising comedy stars in an intimate show at Headrow House this month. Kyle Kinane is heading across the pond for his very first Leeds show. Find out why he’s been a must-have guest on late night telly shows from Jimmy Fallon, Conon and Nikki Glaser.

Kyle Kinane is at Headrow House on Sunday 23rd July 2017.


Dreamboats and Miniskirts at Leeds Grand Theatre

Credit: Darren Bell

There’s plenty on in Leeds’ theatres this month – from innovative productions to West End hits.

Man of La Mancha

Fancy a classic musical to get July going? Head to City Varieties for an evening with the Man of La Mancha, the stage adaptation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. You’ll be taken right back to the Spanish Inquisition, where you’ll follow the efforts of a mad knight backed by a stunning soundtrack which includes the Broadway standard, ‘The Impossible Dream’.

Man of La Mancha is at City Varieties from Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th July 2017.

A Masked Ball

Opera fans are well catered for this July, thanks to a new production from Leeds Youth Opera. They’ve put together a new take on Giuseppe Verdi’s classic A Masked Ball, which blends together political intrigue, forbidden love and even murder.

A Masked Ball is at Carriageworks Theatre from Wednesday 5th to Saturday 8th July 2017.

Dreamboats and Petticoats

The Dreamboats and Petticoats albums, showing off the greatest music of the Rock’n’Roll era, sold millions of copies – and now you can see them come to life on stage as the show comes to Leeds Grand Theatre. Go back to 1961 as Norman and Bobby compete to win not only a songwriting competition, but also the affection of Sue and Laura. Featuring songs from Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran and Billy Fury, it’s a raucous night out packed with romance and music.

Dreamboats and Petticoats is at Leeds Grand Theatre on Monday 10th to Saturday 15th July 2017.

Barber Shop Chronicles

There’s no show quite like Barber Shop Chronicles in Leeds this month. Head to West Yorkshire Playhouse where you’ll be transported to five African cities, Johannesburg, Harare, Lagos, Kampala and Accra, as well as London. Each place features a barbers, and you’ll soon see that these shops are more than just a place to get a haircut – they’re communities where you can talk about anything and everything.

Barber Shop Chronicles is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Wednesday 12th to Saturday 29th July 2017.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)

Blending storytelling, live music and sketch comedy, A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is a fun, silly and sometimes sad production from Jon Britain and Matthew Floyd Jones. It follows Sue, a woman who’s always happy and never lets anything get her down. But all is not as it seems, because she has an illness and she doesn’t want anyone to know.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is at The HUB on Sunday 30th July 2017.


Hilke Macintyre

From paintings to sculpture, there’s an eclectic array of new exhibitions to check out this month.


There’s a brand new exhibition to see at Sunny Bank Mills this month as Abstraction brings together three artists. Alison Britton-Paterson, Jill Campbell and Julia Burns all work with paint to create abstract works using shape, form, colour and line – they each have their own unique style, which makes this exhibition very interesting indeed.

Abstraction is at Sunny Bank Mills from Saturday 8th July until Sunday 27th August 2017.

Is This OK? A Pop-up Exhibition

The art industry is notoriously hard to break into, so 10 young, Yorkshire-based artists are putting on a self-funded and curated exhibition at Wharf Chambers this July to show off their work. See the emerging talents of Rachel Sedman, Diane Shillito, Niki Lee, Anneliese Krueger, Jake Krueger, Russell Hughes, Bobbi Rae, William Norman, David Crossland and Hana Lait, as they ask, ‘Is This OK?’

Is This OK? A Pop-up Exhibition is at Wharf Chambers on Thursday 6th July 2017.

Movement: Summer Group Show

This new exhibition at Left Bank Leeds brings together 20 different artists. They’re all at different stages in their careers, and use different mediums to tackle the concept of time. You’ll see kinetic pieces that move by themselves, paintings that respond to the movement of refugees and sculptures that represent political movements, but that only just scratches the surface of what Movement has to offer.

Movement: Summer Group Show is at Left Bank Leeds from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th July 2017.

Hilke MacIntyre Print Exhibition

Scottish artist Hilke Macintyre is one of the country’s foremost print artists and you can see a collection of her work at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery this July. A large portion of her work is linocuts, but there’ll also be paintings and ceramic reliefs, all of which celebrate the world around us, using nature, animals and people as inspiration.

Hilke MacIntyre Print Exhibition is at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery from Saturday 1st July until Saturday 28th October 2017.

Time: Arrivals & Departures

Leeds Print Workshop’s latest exhibition is a collaboration they’ve put together with the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas. They’ve set up a print exchange, which has seen our artists send a batch of prints to the States and their artists return the favour. The theme of the exhibition is ‘Arrivals and Departures’ and it’ll go on show this July.

Time: Arrivals & Departures is at Leeds Print Workshop from Friday 7th until Friday 21st Just 2017.

Clubnights & DJs

Get ready for a late one because the city’s clubs aren’t pulling any punches this month.

All Night Long: The Ultimate 80s Party

Brutus Gold is back and he’s gone all 80s on us. All Night Long is the ‘Ultimate 80s Party’, so get yourself down to The Warehouse this July. Expect to boogie around the room to anthems by the likes of The Human League, Bananarama and Pet Shop Boys. Don’t forget your fancy dress – this is a night to go all out.

All Night Long: The Ultimate 80s Party is at The Warehouse on Saturday 8th July 2017.

Sub:terranea 4th Birthday

Sub:terranea’s fourth birthday party sees them breaking out of their comfort zone for one night only. Their packed out nights are known for their amazing resident DJs who keep the party going, but this time they’ve drafted in a little bit of help from mysterious techno producer, A Sagittariun for his Leeds debut.

Sub:terranea 4th Birthday is at Wire on Friday 14th July 2017.

Dimensions Festival International Series

Dimensions Festival is one of the biggest of its kind, bringing the party to Croatia every summer. As part of this warm-up series for this year’s bash, they’re bringing electro wizard and BBC Radio 1 DJ Helena Hauff to Wire for a special evening of banging tunes.

Dimensions Festival International Series is at Wire on Saturday 15th July 2017.

Alan Braxe

One of the pioneers of house music, Alan Braxe, is back in Leeds this July. He’s playing a rare, intimate set at Studio 24 showing off his unique sound across two hit-filled hours. In support, local collective Sonic Saraha will be spinning tunes alongside Leeds DJs Neil Kemp and Nathan Loynes. All proceeds will be going to local charity Music and Arts Production and the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Foundation.

Alan Braxe is at Studio 24 on Friday 21st July 2017.

Summer Mass

This July, Summer Mass are hosting their first outdoor party. In the Yarden and Main Room, Cezar will play a four hour set, following Jack Wickham, Jordan Magee, Kepler and Wheatley, while the Sheaf Street Bar welcomes Ethan McNamara, Ryan Ingleby, Ludovico, Luke Paul and Reeshy. Don’t want the party to stop? They’ve got an exclusive afterparty at Wire with Melliflow.

Summer Mass is at Duke Studios on Saturday 22nd July 2017.


The Gruffalo's Child

Credit: Tall Stories

Whether it’s art exhibitions or theatre trips, there’s loads to do with the family this month.

Kirkstall Festival

One of the largest community festivals in Leeds takes place this July. Kirkstall Festival sees thousands descend on the historic ruins of Kirkstall Abbey for a day of family fun. Have a go on the fairground, take part in the tea dance and wander around more than 160 stalls, selling everything from art to street food. They also have live entertainment, spanning everything from comedy to rock, jazz and classical across eight performance areas.

Kirkstall Festival is at Kirkstall Abbey on Saturday 9th July 2017.


Fancy introducing the kids to some art this July? Playful! is just the ticket. It’s an interactive exhibit for all ages, featuring the work of trans-disciplinary artist and designer Bobbi Rae. It aims to show off the power of perspective through individual thought in a pressure-free and creative environment for kids and grown ups. There are also refreshments, confetti and games on offer, with a gift shop to browse too.

Playful! is at Aire Place Studios from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th July 2017

The Summer Adventure

The end of July brings the summer holidays, so why not take a trip to The Summer Adventure at Stockeld Park with the kids? They can wander through the Enchanted Forest, revel in the Adventure Playground and bounce around in the Inflatable Zone. Want more? No problem. They can also sail on a Buccaneer Boat, try their hand at roller skating and take a ride on electric scooters and go karts – it’s absolutely jam-packed.

The Summer Adventure is at Stockeld Park from Saturday 22nd July 2017.

Disease Detectives

Another summer holiday treat, budding scientists should get down to Thackray Medical Museum. Disease Detectives will see the kids explore the work of scientific pioneers like Louis Pasteur, Alexander Fleming and Edward Jenner, before going on a virtual reality journey inside the human body and using an ultrasound machine – don’t forget the giant game of Operation! too.

Disease Detectives is at Thackray Medical Museum from Monday 24th July 2017.

The Gruffalo

A stone cold classic of modern children’s literature, The Gruffalo is the perfect way to spend some quality time with the little ones this July. Delve into the deep, dark wood with the daring mouse as it searches for hazelnuts. Along the way, you’ll encounter the cunning fox, eccentric owl and slightly mad snake, but will the story of the scary Gruffalo help save the mouse’s life?

The Gruffalo is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Tuesday 25th until Sunday 30th July 2017.


Cocoon In The Park 2015

July is jam-packed with amazing festivals – which will you go to?

Cocoon in the Park

Cocoon in the Park is one of the best dance music events of the year for club goers. Curated by legendary house DJ Sven Vath, he’s taking over Temple Newsam once again with an incredible line-up of DJs. Adam Beyer, Joseph Capriati, Richy Ahmed, Alex & Digby, Annie Errez and Bobby O’Donnell are all there, before Vath himself tops the bill.

Cocoon in the Park is at Temple Newsam on Saturday 8th July 2017.

Temple of Boom All Dayer

Fancy a mosh? Get down to Temple of Boom for a very special all-dayer this July. Across its two rooms you can witness the likes of Full of Hell, Unyielding Love, Famine Gets Worse, Lugubrious Children, Groak, Led By the Throat and Hex Hoof, with some very special guests still to be announced to tear up the Meatlocker Room.

Temple of Boom All Dayer is at Temple of Boom on Saturday 15th July 2017.

Leeds Health and Healing Festival

If you want to nourish the mind, body and soul this month, get down to the Leeds Health and Healing Festivals at The Grammar School at Leeds. They have a range of speakers offering tips and advice to help improve your mindfulness, including Richard McCann. There will also be stalls and treatments to take part in.

Leeds Health and Healing Festivals is at The Grammar School at Leeds on Saturday 15th to Sunday 16th July 2017.

All Dayer for Walking With Wounded

A slew of punk and rockabilly legends will come to Brudenell Social Club to raise money for Walking With Wounded, a charity raising money for wounded troops. Heading up the bill is a pair of iconic groups – The Meteors and The Legendary Raw Deal. They’re going to be joined by Slaughterhouse Cats, The Teenage Zombies, Mad Jack and the Hatters and Howlin Bones.

All Dayer for Walking With Wounded is at Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 22nd July 2017.

Yorkshire Festival of Porsche

Taking place at Lotherton Hall, the Yorkshire Festival of Porsche will have more than 300 different Porsches on show, from classic vintage to the latest models. There’ll also be live music, a hog roast and an aircraft simulator, with proceeds being donated to children’s cancer charity, Candlelighters.

Yorkshire Festival of Porsche is at Lotherton Hall on Sunday 23rd July 2017.

Best of the Rest

Motorcycle Social

Motorbikes, ancient buildings and Back to the Future – it’s the best of the rest.

The Memory Store

Head to The HUB for a day of collective remembering this July. The Memory Store is a free event that comes as a result of Slung Low’s membership of the Dementia Action Alliance. It’s will welcome people living with dementia, as well as their families, friends and the wider HUB audience. You’ll help create jars full of memories over afternoon tea – and they’ll all go into The Memory Store, before you sit back and enjoy a screening from the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival.

The Memory Store is at The HUB on Thursday 27th July 2017.

Motorcycle Social

Bit of a petrolhead? Canal Mills is the place to be at the end of July as the Motorcycle Social rolls into town. They’ve got a slew of incredible bikes from UK manufacturers like Down and Out, Old Empire and Oil, Sweat and Gears on show, as well as rare bikes from Triumph and Harley-Davidson. You can really make a day of it with live music, motorcycle and accessory stalls, street food, craft beer bar and art displays.

Motorcycle Social is at Canal MIlls on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July 2017.

Stank Hall Barn Open Day

You’ve got a chance to see one of the oldest buildings in Leeds this month at the Stank Hall Barn Open Day. This is a rare chance to experience a unique part of Leeds’ history as you wander around the Medieval building which dates back to the mid-15th century. Find out what the Friends of Stank Hall Barn have planned for its future as they look to maintain it for future generations.

Stank Hall Barn Open Day is at Stank Hall Barn on Saturday 22nd July 2017.

Back to the Future in Concert with the Orchestra of Opera North

Love Back to the Future? You’ve never seen it like this before. The Orchestra of Opera North are performing Alan Silvestri’s iconic film score live as you watch Marty McFly go back in time on a huge high definition screen. He’s on a mission to change the destiny of his parents, find one of his friends and save the world from a plutonium crisis, all while trying to make sure he can return to the year he came from.

Back to the Future in Concert with the Orchestra of Opera North is at Millennium Square on Sunday 30th July 2017.

The Film House on the Square

How about ending the month with a flick in the outdoor cinema at Millennium Square? They’ve got two days of films to look forward to with something for all ages. The Monday sees The Lion King and Hairspray on, while Tuesday sees Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Top Gun on the big screen. Expect face painting, crafts and more to keep the kids entertained.

The Film House on the Square is at Millennium Square from Monday 31st July to Tuesday 1st August 2017.

Feature image copyright Danny Payne.