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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.

Cocktails in the City 2017

From cocktail festivals to gigs and comedy, make April one to remember with these amazing events.

It’s officially spring, but the weather isn’t the only reason to go out this April – there are loads of fantastic events to go to as well. You’ve got mammoth clubnights, huge West End shows and a brand new citywide event that’s going to put Leeds on the map, internationally. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, especially with a bank holiday weekend to make the most of, so go ahead and make the most of everything Leeds has to offer this month.

Picks of the Month

Hacienda Classical

Credit: Al De Perez

From landmark festivals to big West End shows, these are the events you can’t miss in Leeds this month.

Cocktails in the City 2017

For the past five years, Cocktails in the City have been serving up delectable concoctions all over the UK, and they’re not stopping now. They return to Leeds this April for two nights at the Town Hall, with 20 pop-up bars from some of the city’s favourite haunts. As well as oodles of original cocktails, you can play escape games, take cocktail masterclasses and join an exclusive G&T experience in the clock tower.

Cocktails in the City 2017 is at Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th April 2017.

Thriller Live

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson may be long gone, but his music still lives on, particularly in the form of West End hit show, Thriller Live. It’s coming to Leeds Grand Theatre this April as part of a huge UK tour. Get ready for two hours of back-to-back pop classics from Jackson’s back catalogue, from ‘ABC’ to ‘The Earth Song’, ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Billie Jean’, with the dance moves to match.

Thriller Live is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 11th to Saturday 15th April 2017.

Hacienda Classical

It might be an unlikely collaboration but the mixture of Hacienda’s rave culture with classical music has gone down a storm over the past year. It comes to First Direct Arena this month with legendary Hacienda DJs Graeme Park and Mike Pickering spinning 80s and 90s classics as the Manchester Camerata Orchestra play alongside them – it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

Hacienda Classical is at First Direct Arena on Friday 15th April 2017.

Leeds International Festival

There’s a brand new event taking place all across Leeds this April, and it’s one that’s going to put the city on the map internationally. There will be 35 different events taking place across nine days across music, moving image and tech. From Live at Leeds to tech conferences, film premieres and video game music concerts there’s something for everyone. There’s also a festival fringe which features film festivals, fashion shows and talks – oh and you can fdigita to a number of these events with us.

Leeds International Festival takes place across Leeds from Saturday 22nd to Sunday 30th April 2017.

Food and Drink

Northern Monk Hop City

From food and drink festivals to street food nights – don’t miss these foodie events this April.

North Leeds Charity Beer Festival

Now in its sixth year, the North Leeds Charity Beer Festival is the perfect opportunity to drink top notch ales while raising money for a great cause. This year’s theme is Round Britain Festival of Ale, focusing on the best homegrown beers, with more than 60 to try from England, Scotland and Wales. Proceeds go back into the local community, helping organisations like Gipton Together, St Gemma’s Hospice and Leeds Children Hospital, so you get a bit of feel good with your bevvy.

North Leeds Charity Beer Festival is at Leeds Cricket Club on Saturday 1st April 2017.

Trouble at Mill

Trouble at Mill is back. Kick off your April by heading to Sunny Bank Mills for an evening of food, booze and performance. Harry’s Curry Canteen will be serving up hearty bowls of food, and it’s the only place in the world where you can try their special TAM ale. While you’re sipping on the food and drink, watch The Waikiki Afrobeat Orchestra play some tunes, with a production of Am I Dead Yet? too.

Trouble at Mill is at Sunny Bank Mills on Saturday 1st April 2017.

The Good Friday Feast

Why not spend your Good Friday in church? Not like that – Left Bank Leeds will be the stunning setting for The Good Friday Feast. The Hyde Park church is gathering together some of Leeds’ finest street food vendors, so you can devour a host of tasty treats while enjoying a line up of quality live music. They’ve got rising folk star Cara Hammond playing a hometown show with support from 1960s throwbacks The Dead Beats.

The Good Friday Feast is at Left Bank Leeds on Friday 14th April 2017.

Hop City

Leeds is set to become the Hop City this April thanks to this brand new beer festival at Northern Monk. They’ve teamed up with US hop growing collective Yakima Chief, Leeds Beer Week and Little Leeds Beer House to curate a line up of beers that’s focussed on hop-led beer styles, like IPAs, dry hopped sours and dark hoppy beers. It’s not just UK beers either, as you’ll have a chance to try rare beers from around the world.

Hop City is at Northern Monk Brew Co. from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th April 2017.

Lotherton Hall Food and Drink Festival

If you’re looking to find the best local produce around, Lotherton Hall Food and Drink Festival is the only place to end April. The country estate will be taken over for the second year in a row by a slew of Yorkshire vendors. Tuck into street food while you’re walking around stalls selling jam, chutney, cakes, biscuits, beer and gin, which you can take home with you. There’ll be plenty of family entertainment and live music on across the weekend too.

Lotherton Hall Food and Drink Festival is at Lotherton Hall from Saturday 29th April to Monday 1st May 2017.

Live Music

Gigs in Leeds

Head to the city’s best music venues to see indie favourites, Irish rock legends and the new king of grime.

British Sea Power

One of the most enduring bands of 21st century indie, British Sea Power are coming back to Leeds for a very special show at Church. They have a brand new album to show off, ‘Let the Dancers Inherit the Party’, their first in four years and their sixth in total. Expect more of the same – inventive rock melodies sprinkled with a smattering of pop genius, making them one of the most consistent bands around.

British Sea Power play Church on Friday 7th April 2017.

Stormzy

We’re only a few months into 2017, but Stormzy has certainly staked his claim for some kind of Man of the Year award. After a breakthrough year in 2016, he flew right out of the traps with his debut album ‘Gang Signs and Prayer’. It’s a record that has garnered universal acclaim, not only for its originality, but also for its brashness and cleverness. You won’t want to miss a chance to see it live in Leeds this April.

Stormzy is at O2 Academy Leeds on Saturday 8th April 2017.

The Saw Doctors

After postponing their show at O2 Academy Leeds back in December, Irish rock heroes The Saw Doctors are finally returning this April. Ahead of their return to the studio to record their first album since 2010, they’re bringing out their 30 year back catalogue of anthems for this gig, which falls nicely on Easter Saturday. Expect everything from ‘N17’ to ‘Exhilarating Sadness’, ‘Green and Red of Mayo’ and ‘I Useta Lover’.

The Saw Doctors play O2 Academy Leeds on Saturday 15th April 2017.

Post War Glamour Girls

Leeds post punk favourites Post War Glamour Girls are back with a brand new record. ‘Swan Songs’ is their third effort, the follow up to ‘Pink Fur’ and ‘Feeling Strange’, and they’re putting together a very special release show for it at Brudenell Social Club, where you’ll get to hear it for the first time in full live. They’ve got some decent support too, from Blacklisters and Fawn Spots.

Post War Glamour Girls is at Brudenell Social Club on Friday 21st April 2017.

The Sundowners

The Sundowners’ second album ‘Cut the Master’ will have been unleashed by the time they arrive at Brudenell Social Club to show us what they’ve been working on since their self-titled debut release in 2015. First cut ‘Great Beauty’ suggest they’ve been working hard on refining their lush psychedelia and blissful harmonies, which means we’re in for quite a treat. They have Liverpool icon Edgar Jones & the Joneses and rising stars Cut Glass Kings with them too.

The Sundowners play Brudenell Social Club on Tuesday 25th April 2017.

Comedy

Russell Howard

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

Russell Howard

Russell Howard has cemented himself as one of the most famous names in comedy over the past decade. He’s heading out on his biggest ever UK tour, ‘Round the World’, to show us why, stopping in Leeds this April. Expect Howard to cheer you up amidst all the gloom of the real world, throwing in his trademark silliness here and there.

Russell Howard is at First Direct Arena on Sunday 9th April 2017.

Count Arthur Strong

Steve Delaney is Count Arthur Strong. The TV and radio favourite is heading to Leeds Grand Theatre this April for a very special show, ‘The Sound of Mucus’. Expect to see Strong pay tribute to one of the best musicals he can ever remember, using stories and other secret elements that will have you rolling in the aisles.

Count Arthur Strong is at Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday 9th April 2017.

Richard Herring

Renowned comedian and podcast king Richard Herring makes his annual return to Leeds this April at City Varieties. This tour, entitled ‘The Best’, gives you exactly that – a compilation of the man’s finest stand-up moments. He’s hand-picking his favourite routines from his 12 one-man shows, which have been a highlight of the Edinburgh Festival year after year, and packed it all into 90 minutes of rip-roaring fun.

Richard Herring is at City Varieties on Friday 14th April 2017.

Real Deal Comedy Jam

Pryzm has one heck of a comedy line-up for you to end April. The UK’s number one urban comedy tour, Real Deal, are celebrating 100 shows in impressive fashion. Headlining is former telly favourite Richard Blackwood and he’s joined by Kane Brown, Chrissy Charles, Junior Booker and Spudds.

Real Deal Comedy Jam is at Pryzm on Sunday 30th April 2017.

Joel Dommett

Joel Dommett has long been a favourite on the UK stand-up circuit, but his appearance on last year’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here has seen him step up to Leeds Grand Theatre on his latest UK tour. His high octane comedy goes down a storm in his live shows – you won’t want to miss one of the most popular comedians in the country right now.

Joel Dommett is at Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday 30th April 2017.

Theatre

Thoroughly Modern Millie

There’s plenty on in Leeds’ theatres this month – from Broadway and West End hits to local dance groups and an innovative theatre festival.

Shirley Valentine

One of the most popular British productions of all time returns to Leeds Grand Theatre this April. Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine stars Jodie Prenger for this 30th anniversary tour, and she’ll play the title character, a Liverpool housewife whose kids have left home. When she and her friend secretly fly off to Greece to get away from it all for a few weeks, her life very quickly changes in this funny and heart-warming play.

Shirley Valentine is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 3rd to Saturday 8th April 2017.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Leeds Grand Theatre also welcomes a Broadway smash hit to the city this April. Thoroughly Modern Millie is a classic musical the whole family will love. It’s a throwback to New York City’s Jazz Age, where flapper Millie and her pals challenged the social constructs of the time with their bobbed hair, raised hemlines and alternative attitudes to romance.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 17th to Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too

A gritty cult classic on the big screen, Rita, Sue and Bob Too is also a hit on the stage, as this adaptation from Diva Theatre proves. Rita and Sue live on a rundown council estate and are just about to finish school. To earn a bit of spare change, they babysit for married couple Bob and Michelle, but somehow, they both end up having an affair with Bob. Sparks fly, while the soundtrack of 1980s tunes plays on.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too is at Carriageworks from Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Northern Connections

See the unmissable work of three Northern-based choreographers at The Riley Theatre this April for Northern Connections. The night will show off diverse approaches to dance and has been curated by The Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Akeim Toussaint Buck presents ‘Windows in Displacement’, Keira Martin presents ‘Good Blood’ and Daniel Phung Dance presents ‘Depart.

Northern Connections is at The Riley Theatre on Thursday 27th April 2017.

Best of Be Festival

Be Festival takes place annually in Birmingham, but every year they take it out on the road to shine a light on some of their programme’s most intriguing and diverse theatre, dance and performance art from across Europe. See them at The HUB this April with three performances to catch – Situation with Outstretched Art, Vacuum and Overload.

Best of Be Festival is at The HUB on Saturday 29th April 2017.

Exhibitions

There’s an eclectic array of new exhibitions to check out this month, from architectural photography to drawings of Leeds.

Paul Digby: Cityscapes

For an exhibition with a local feel, head to Basement Arts Project this April. Paul Digby’s work shows off a landscape that may seem familiar as all of his work is of places within Leeds. But it’s not just buildings and streets – through his work, he creates a sense of life in the 21st century, particularly its loneliness and alienation.

Paul Digby: Cityscapes is at Basement Arts Project from Saturday 22nd to Sunday 20th April 2017.

Pete Ellis: Entraptions

Entraptions isn’t an actual word. It’s been created to describe Pete Ellis’ intriguing works, which are on display this month at &Model. Ellis creates sculptures by bringing together found and salvaged objects with traditional techniques like bronze casting – they’re then animated with mechanisms and electric motors. With inspiration rooted in conceptualism, dadaism and surrealism, it makes for quite the exhibition.

Pete Ellis: Entraptions is at &Model from Thursday 6th to Thursday 13th April 2017.

AniMotion

This is an exhibition unlike any other. It’s part ofLeeds Young Film Festival and will display a range of works inspired by different animation techniques. There’s plenty to see, and there’s also lots to play with – you can make your own short films, try on an Oculus Rift headset and play around with a Day of the Dead inflatable skull. They’ll also have an original set from Aardman Animations featuring Morph.

AniMotion is at Carriageworks from Friday 14th to Monday 17th April 2017.

Knit:Design:Research

Knitting is more than just a hobby, as Knit:Design:Research will show at University of Leeds this April. The exhibition presents a range of knitted pieces that are to be viewed as pieces of art. It’s designed to make you to rethink how you view knitting, shifting from techniques and products to a way of thinking.

Knit:Design:Research is at University of Leeds until Friday 5th May 2017.

Architecture

Architecture and photography go together perfectly. In fact, since photography became a popular pastime and profession, the two have entwined seamlessly over the years and this exhibition at Sovereign House will show that off. There’ll be a slew of striking images on display, depicting all aspects of architecture, and you’ll be able to see the beauty of buildings as they play with light, shadows, textures, reflections and perspective.

Architecture is at Sovereign House from Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th April 2017.

Clubnights & DJs

System and Set One Twenty Terrace Party

Spring means that some of the Leeds clubland favourites are taking the party outside.

Homework presents Skream

Kick off April by partying all night at Homework. The three night tour, also stopping in London and Glasgow, has come about thanks to Jasper James’ move to Amsterdam to work with fellow DJ Tom Trago and the pair are putting on the night before James’ move. To make it extra special, they’ve gone and got one of the biggest names in the dance music world, Skream, to join them.

Homework presents Skream is at Mint Warehouse on Saturday 1st April 2017.

The Easter Sunday Terrace Party

Mint Warehouse is renowned for its Terrace Party events and this April will see their return. Celebrate Easter Sunday at their first of the year, with one of the world’s biggest house DJs on the decks, Kerri Chandler. He’s got an impressive supporting cast backing him up too, with Voyeur, Darius Syrossian and Route 94 all set to play.

The Easter Sunday Terrace Party is at Mint Warehouse on Sunday 16th April 2017.

The Garden Party Part 1

The Garden Party is a bank holiday weekend staple in Leeds and they’ve once again knocked it out of the park with their first one of 2017. Renowned house DJ Eats Everything leads the line-up, joined by an incredible supporting cast. Check out the likes of Fort Romeau, PBR Streetgang and Pleasure Connection, before heading to the afterparty at Wire where special guests will take to the decks.

The Garden Party Part 1 is at The Faversham on Sunday 30th April 2017.

System and Set One Twenty Terrace Party

For Mint Warehouse’s second Terrace Party of the month, they’ve enlisted the help of two of the biggest names in Leeds’ dance music scene. System and Set One Twenty have curated an incredible line-up – Ricardo Villalobos will be playing back to back with Zip as part of a four hour terrace set, after Barac, Mandar and Annie Erred hit the decks.

System and Set One Twenty Terrace Party is at Mint Warehouse on Sunday 30th April 2017.

The Yarden Party

With summer approaching, Duke Studios are making the most of the warmer weather with the return of The Yarden Party to finish April. Ninety Nine DJs are back on the decks, with a slew of special guests, including Mark E, Michael Upson and Reeshy. The adjoining Sheaf Street Cafeteria will be food and drink all night long.

The Yarden Party is at Duke Studios on Sunday 30th April 2017.

Family

Running Wild

Credit: Dan Tsantilis

The Easter holidays are in the middle of April, so this month is jam-packed with fun things to do for all the family.

The First Hippo on the Moon

David Walliams (yes, him off the telly) is also a children’s author, and number one bestseller, The First Hippo on the Moon has now been adapted for the stage by Les Petits Theatre Company. They will make the most of puppetry, music and plenty of funny stories to take you on an adventure with two huge hippos, who share the same dream – to be the first one to get to the moon. Will they make it?

The First Hippo on the Moon is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Wednesday 5th to Saturday 8th April 2017.

Medieval Easter

Without a doubt one of the highlights of April is the return of Medieval Easter at Royal Armouries. Timed for the school holidays, it’s fun no matter what age you are. The star of the show is the live combat displays, which promise knights and fencer in action. They also have a slew of craft activities, storytelling sessions, archery demos and falconry displays to go alongside the exhibits. It’s a great family day out.

Medieval Easter is at Royal Armouries from Saturday 8th to Sunday 23rd April 2017.

Running Wild

Michael Morpurgo is one of the best loved children’s writers around, and one of his most popular stories, Running Wild, has been adapted for the stage. It comes to West Yorkshire Playhouse this month and the kids will love finding out about Lilly and her adventures. She goes to Indonesia on holiday with her mum and gets to ride an elephant, but after a tsunami wreaks havoc, Oona the Elephant takes Lilly into the jungle – how will she survive in the rainforest without her mum?

Running Wild is at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th April 2017.

Leeds Young Film Festival

For 11 days this April, the city will be invaded by the Leeds Young Film Festival. Leeds Town Hall will be transformed into a Dr Seuss themed world by Sneaky Experience, while Animation Central gets the kids creative with cartoons at Carriageworks. There’s also an exhibition from Wallace & Gromit creators Aardman Animation, the UK’s first virtual reality experience for families and Reel Kids family film week at Hyde Park Picture House. Take your pick.

Leeds Young Film Festival is at various Leeds venues from Monday 10th to Thursday 20th April 2017.

Radical Run

There are plenty of testing runs and obstacle courses that take place in Leeds throughout the year, but few are solely designed for kids – which is why Radical Run is so exciting. This 3 kilometre obstacle course has been specially made for 5 to 14 year olds, with the emphasis on having fun. There are two different sessions, split between 5 to 11 year olds and 11 to 14 year olds.

Radical Run is at Temple Newsam on Saturday 29th April 2017.

Festivals

Glug Event Leeds Digital Festival

Credit: Glug

From music and theatre to the return of the renowned Leeds Digital Festival, don’t miss these big celebrations this April.

Leeds Digital Festival

After the success of the first Leeds Digital Festival in 2016, it’s back for another week-long takeover of the city. With 80 events, headed up by some of the most innovative and exciting businesses in the sector, it promises to educate and entertain in equal measure. Highlights for 2017 include FinTech North conference, Code in the Dark coding competition and Algorave, a tech-music mashup.

Leeds Digital Festival is at various Leeds venues Saturday 22nd to Sunday 30th April 2017.

Transform Festival

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s biennial Transform Festival is back this April with four days of innovative theatre. It will show off Leeds’ best creative minds, as well as opening up the stage to talent from further afield. Don’t miss The Missy Elliot Project at West Indian Centre, Eurotopia at Studio 24 and Lessons of Leaking at the Playhouse itself.

Transform Festival is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd April 2017.

DRILL Festival

Kicking off the music strand of this year’s Leeds International Festival is the city’s first DRILL Festival. The event has taken place all over Europe and USA since 2013 and this year Leeds sits alongside Los Angeles, Berlin and Brussels as festival hosts. Curated by post-punk pioneers Wire, it’s got an impressive and eclectic line-up, from Wire themselves to Bilge Pump, Azores and Shobaleader 1. They’ll all takeover Brudenell Social Club for a one-off, unmissable event this April.

DRILL Festival is at Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 22nd April 2017.

StrangeForms

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 Gallops, Axes and Lost in the Riots all on the line-up. Also on the bill are Poly-Math, Body Hound and Fall of Messiah, amongst many others.

StrangeForms is at Wharf Chambers on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April 2017.

Live at Leeds 2017

One of the biggest events in Leeds’ music calendar, Live at Leeds is back for its 11th year in April. It kicks off with Future Islands at Leeds University Union on the Friday night and ends with Maximo Park’s closing party at O2 Academy on Sunday in separately ticketed events. The main event is on the Saturday, and the city’s music venues will be taken over by more than 100 bands playing from 12pm until 12am, with the likes of White Lies, DMAs and Rag ’n’ Bone Man all on the bill.

Live at Leeds 2017 is at various Leeds venues from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th April 2017.

Best of the Rest

Hey!

Hey!

From basketball legends to incredible dance troupes, here’s the best of the rest going on in Leeds this April.

The Harlem Globetrotters

Keep your LA Lakers and your Boston Celtics – the most famous basketball team in the world is coming to Leeds this month. That’s right, the Harlem Globetrotters, the magicians of the court, are making their way to First Direct Arena. They’ve been the ultimate in basketball showmanship since 1926 – it’s not just basketball though, the Globetrotters put on a hell of a show that blends athleticism, theatre and comedy.

The Harlem Globetrotters are at First Direct Arena on Saturday 8th April 2017.

Diversity

Diversity are coming back to Leeds this April with a brand new show on their huge UK arena tour. Genesis is the latest inventive production by the former winners of Britain’s Got Talent, the latest in a series of super hero fantasy tours. It’s bound to amaze, after all, they’re renowned for their impressive moves and flips.

Diversity is at First Direct Arena on Saturday 15th April 2017.

Play Expo

There have been plenty of gaming festivals in Leeds in recent years, but the biggest arrives in April. Play Expo is the largest of its kind in the UK and it’s set to take over Elland Road for a whole day at the end of the month. They have something for everyone, with retro consoles to play on and buy, as well as old school games. There’s also plenty of room for more modern games alongside, classic arcade machines, cosplay contests and gaming tournaments.

Play Expo is at Elland Road on Sunday 16th April 2017.

Northern Craft Fair

Feeling crafty? Head to Northern Monk this April to see and buy the wares of some of the North’s finest creators. It’s put together by independent collective Northern Craft who showcase and support the local craft scene. They’ll have a host of local sellers on hand, with plenty of craft activities too. You can even bring the kids and dogs, if you so please.

Northern Craft Fair is at Northern Monk on Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Leeds Digital Job Fair

Leeds Digital Job Fair returns to First Direct Arena this April for the third time, and it’s bigger and better than ever before. Organised by tech job board Herd, 50 of the city’s most innovative tech businesses will set up stalls at the event, with two stages to hosts talks from the sharpest minds in the industry. Thousands of graduates and career jumpers will pay a visit on the day to see what opportunities are available within Leeds’ thriving digital and tech scene. If you’re a start up looking for new talent, you could WIN a stall worth £200.

Leeds Digital Job Fair is at First Direct Arena on Friday 28th April 2017.