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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.

Shrek the Musical

From unmissable operas to gigs and comedy, start the year as you mean to go on with these amazing events.

January is here and there are loads of fantastic events to enjoy in Leeds. You’ve got immense pop-up restaurants, massive festivals and a show-stopping opera by Mozart. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – so go ahead and find out what’s on in Leeds this January.

Picks of the Month

Brewdenell Beer Festival

Beer festivals, powerful operas and a feast of vegan deliciousness – these are the events you won’t want to miss this January.

Brewdenell Beer Festival 7

The Brewdenell Beer Festival is back in January and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. It’s taking over their entire venue, so you can try brews from local and national breweries on keg, cask and in bottles, as well as beers from across the world. Hungry? Tuck into Pieminister pies or grab a slice from The Pizza Van.

Brewdenell Beer Festival 7 comes to the Brudenell Social Club from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th January 2019.

Belgrave Vegan Feast

You can expect all the usual entertainment at Belgrave Feast this January, but all their street food vendors are going 100% vegan. That includes the burgers at Patty Smith’s, the pizzas at Dough Boys and all the special pop up traders. Prepare to tuck into kebabs from Döner Summer, Sicilian street food from Golden Balls and cakes from Black Day Bakes.

Belgrave Vegan Feast comes to Belgrave Music Hall on Saturday 12th January 2019.

The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute is a modern fairy tale with a few surprises in store. The princess has been kidnapped and Tamino has been sent to save her, but as he delves deeper into this fantastic world of magic, cults and huge octopuses, he’ll realise that the lines between good and evil have been blurred. Director James Brining has put his own unique spin on it, so in this modern reimagining, you can see fantasy and reality collide, as Mozart’s incredible score plays out before you.

The Magic Flute comes to Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 19th and Saturday 26th January 2019.

Strictly Come Dancing

See all the stars of the 16th season of Strictly Come Dancing at First Direct Arena this month in a sequin-filled dance extravaganza. Series winner Stacey Dooley will be there, dancing with Aljaž Skorjanec, alongside the likes of Ashley Roberts, Dr Ranj Singh, Lauren Steadman, Joe Sugg, Graeme Swann and Faye Tozer. 2017 winner Ore Oduba will host the tour for the second year in a row.

Strictly Come Dancing comes to First Direct Arena on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th January 2019.

Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol is one of the most successful UK bands of the 21st-century and they will show you why at their debut First Direct Arena show at the end of January. Expect to hear tunes from their five platinum-selling albums, including anthems like ‘Run’, ‘Chasing Cars’ and ‘Set the Fire to the Third Bar’, as well as cuts from their latest effort, ‘Wildness’.

Snow Patrol play First Direct Arena on Tuesday 29th January 2019.

Food and Drink

North Brewing Co. Tap Room

Credit: John Slemensek at Bokehgo

Check out January’s top foodie events, with vegan supper clubs, wine tastings and a night dedicated to blended whiskeys.

Chivas: The Blend Whiskey Tasting

Head to The Tetley for a special tutored whiskey tasting with Scottish distillery Chivas. It’s designed to show you the brilliance of whiskey blending and starts with a fun and informative guided tasting in their blending lab from their Master Whiskey Blender. You’ll then get to create your own 200ml bottle to take home.

Chivas: The Blend Whiskey Tasting takes over The Tetley on Thursday 10th January 2019.

Rawsome Vegan Supper Club

January will become Veganuary at The Bowery as they host the Rawsome Vegan Supper Club. The Happy Caterpillar will create a tasty but healthy three-course set menu for you to devour. It kicks off with an illuminating introduction from your hosts before you sit down to eat at 8pm. You can even bring your own booze to enjoy with your meal.

Rawsome Vegan Supper Club comes to The Bowery on Friday 18th January 2019.

Battle of the Bao: Grape vs Grain

North Brewing Co. will team up with Yorkshire Wine School for a food pairing dinner with a difference. Street food residents Little Bao Boy will be dishing up three different bao buns, and each one will be paired with a North beer and a wine. Will you prefer your bao with a brew or a glass of vino? It’s a competition so you give your scores for each one.

Battle of the Bao: Grape vs Grain takes over North Brewing Co. Tap Room on Monday 21st January 2019.

Burns Night Supper Club

Celebrate the life and work of iconic Scotsman Robert Burns this month at Ox Club’s Burns Night Supper Club. You will get an incredible feast for £40 per person. From Cedar Smoked Salmon to Homemade Haggis, served with butter roast potatoes, venison Scotch broth and pickled neeps, expect five courses of classic Burns Night eats, done with Ox Club’s typical flair.

Burns Night Supper Club comes to Ox Club on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th January 2019.

The Decanter Wine Tasting

The Decanter’s first event of 2019 focuses on what they do best – wine! They use expert wine suppliers to source the finest labels from across the world, and they’ve handpicked six different bottles for you to try. But that’s not all, because they’re serving their meat and cheese sharing boards too, each made with locally-sourced produce.

The Decanter Wine Tasting takes place on Thursday 31st January 2019.

Live Music

Maximo Park

Credit: Steve Gullick

Head to the city’s best music venues to see indie favourites, rock legends and garage icons.

Maxïmo Park

Newcastle-based indie rockers Maxïmo Park are coming to Leeds Beckett University for a special one-off show at the start of January. It will be their final live performance with Batley-born founding member Lukas Wooller, who is moving to Australia later in the year. They’re wishing him well with a greatest hits extravaganza in his home county – and you can do the same.

Maxïmo Park play Leeds Beckett Students Union on Thursday 10th January 2019.

Lætitia Sadier

Stereolab legend Lætitia Sadier is returning to Brudenell Social Club this month with her new group Source Ensemble. They will be performing tracks from their 2017 record ‘Find Me Finding You’, a typically enchanting work that merges elements of motorik rock and pop-tinged psychedelia, alongside new songs from their forthcoming follow-up record.

Lætitia Sadier plays Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday 16th January 2019.

The Streets

After two sell-out comeback shows at O2 Academy Leeds last January, The Streets will once again tear off the roof this January. Watch as Mike Skinner and co. run through a litany of classic tunes, from ‘Has It Come to This?’ to ‘Dry Your Eyes’, as well as a series of new songs released over the past 12 months, like ‘Call Me in the Morning’.

The Streets play O2 Academy Leeds on Tuesday 22nd January 2019.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Winchester troubadour Frank Turner is heading out on his biggest UK tour to date backed by The Sleeping Souls. Make a beeline for First Direct Arena to see Turner play some of his most well-known anthems, like ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Recovery’. It’s also your first opportunity to hear his new songs from forthcoming seventh record ‘Recovery’, which sees Turner attempt to forge a new sound.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls play First Direct Arena on Sunday 27th January 2019.

Death Cab For Cutie

Indie emo icons Death Cab for Cutie are one of the most influential bands of the past 20 years and they continue to set the pace in the genre they’ve come to define. Head to O2 Academy Leeds to see them play through their ninth and latest record, ‘Thank You For Today’, as well as a host of greatest hits, like ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’, ‘You Are a Tourist’ and ‘Meet Me at the Equinox’.

Death Cab For Cutie play O2 Academy Leeds on Tuesday 29th January 2019.

Comedy

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

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club

First Direct Arena now has a monthly stand-up night. Head to the intimate surroundings of the First Direct Bar to check out the new Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club. You can see four top professional comedians every month, starting with Andy Askins, Stephen Bailey, Ben Norris and Damion Larkin.

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club comes to First Direct Arena on Friday 18th January 2019.

La Voix

Britain’s Got Talent and Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK star La Voix is coming to Leeds this month, so you can enjoy a night of variety entertainment. Backed by a full band, she’ll bewitch you with renditions of jazz, musical theatre and pop classics, as well as hilarious stories of her glamorous life and spot-on impressions of well-known personalities.

La Voix comes to City Varieties on Friday 18th January 2019.

Super Trooper Improv Comedy Show

Everyone’s short of money in January, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in, especially when Super Trooper Improv is hosting a night of free comedy at The Pit. The local group perform comedy sketches and games entirely based on suggestions given by the audience, much like classic 90s TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Super Trooper Improv Comedy Show comes to The Pit on Sunday 20th January 2019.

Sam Avery

Things have been all change in Sam Avery’s world of late – he’s entered parenthood and his new show ‘The Learner Parent’ tells you how he’s fared. He got his big break thanks to his blog of the same name, and he’s taking it on the road. It’s an honest, hilarious evening full of stories of endless nappies, constant Peppa Pig’s episodes and hair-raising toddler tantrums.

Sam Avery comes to City Varieties on Friday 25th January 2019.

The House of Fun Comedy Club

The first House of Fun Comedy Club of 2019 takes place at The Original Oak in Headingley and it will bring a trio of up and coming performers to the stage. You’ll get to see Britain’s Got Talent 2017 star Jonny Awsum, alongside The Comedy Store staple Henry Parker and St Helens favourite Dave Twentyman.

The House of Fun Comedy Club comes to The Original Oak on Friday 25th January 2019.

Theatre

Kes

Credit: Anthony Robling

From huge musicals to Yorkshire dramas, there’s plenty on at the city’s theatres this month.

Shrek The Musical

West End smash hit Shrek The Musical continues at Leeds Grand Theatre at the start of January. Based on the hugely popular original DreamWorks film, Stefan Harri takes on the title role as he and Donkey try to save the beautiful Princess Fiona from a fire-breathing dragon and the evil Lord Farquard. Expect an all-singing and all-dancing family show.

Shrek The Musical takes over Leeds Grand Theatre until Sunday 6th January 2019.

A Christmas Carol

Why not stay in the festive spirit for longer with A Christmas Carol? The latest Leeds Playhouse production was written by Debbie McAndrew in association with Hull Truck Theatre and it sets the classic Christmas story in Victorian Leeds. The miserable Scrooge runs a warehouse on the Leeds docks, but when four ghostly spirits visit, he has a chance at redemption.

A Christmas Carol comes to Leeds Playhouse from Tuesday 20th November to Saturday 19th January 2019.

The Ingenious Ones III

Enjoy an exciting, original and thought-provoking night of eclectic drama as The Ingenious Ones returns to Wharf Chambers for their third show. It’s a new set of works by the Excessive Human Collective, which covers everything from music and dance to fine art, drag and film. The bar will be open and you can also tuck into an array of handmade cakes.

The Ingenious Ones III comes to Wharf Chambers on Saturday 19th January 2019.

National Theatre Live

National Theatre Live brings the latest West End productions to the big screen at Leeds City Varieties and there are three for you to check out this January. First up is Madness of George III, the multi-award-winning drama from Alan Bennett at Nottingham Playhouse. That’s followed by Antony & Cleopatra, starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo, live from the Olivier Theatre. The final show is David Hare’s explosive new political drama, I’m Not Running, at the Lyttleton Theatre.

National Theatre Live comes to City Varieties on Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 31st January 2019.

Kes

Kes is one of Yorkshire’s finest dramas and you can see it on the Leeds Playhouse stage for the first time since its premiere run in 2016. You’ll join young Billy, a lad growing up on a council estate in the 1960s. He’s bullied by his confident older brother Jud, but takes solace in befriending and training a kestrel he finds. After one fateful decision, his world changes and it puts everything he loves at risk.

Kes comes to Leeds Playhouse from Friday 25th January to Saturday 16th February 2019.

Exhibitions

The Craft Centre & Design Gallery

Another month, another batch of intriguing exhibitions for you to see in Leeds’ galleries.

Pleasure, Privilege, Privations

Pleasure, Privilege, Privations takes a look at the role of a local landmark during The Great War. Lofthouse Park became a camp for civilian internees and military prisoners, so this exhibition will reveal the secrets of a place that was home to 1,500 civilian ‘enemy aliens’ until October 1918 when it housed 1,000 captured German officers and orderlies until December 1919.

Pleasure, Privilege, Privations comes to Leeds Central Library from Saturday until Sunday 20th January 2019.

Kirstie Williams Exhibition

Head to Left Bank Leeds throughout January to see the bold and colourful designs of printmaker Kirstie Williams. She takes inspiration from 1950s surface patterns, colours, textures and geometric designs by using traditional techniques like screen and lino printing. The result is a series of eye-catching works that you can check out in The Porch Gallery into 2019.

Kirstie Williams Exhibition comes to Left Bank Leeds until Wednesday 30th January 2019.

SMOKE[screen]:>

You can see the moving image works of two up and coming local artists at Hyde Park Book Club for one night only at the end of January. Leeds arts organisation Pls/Please welcome Charlie Howard and Ben Sergent for an evening of innovative new film, sound and performance art as part of their latest show SMOKE[screen]:>.

SMOKE[screen]:> comes to Hyde Park Book Club on Tuesday 30th January 2019.

Anna Whitehouse Ceramic Showcase

The Ceramic Showcase is one of The Craft Centre and Design Gallery’s most popular shows of the year, and to kick off 2019, they’ll present the work of Anna Whitehouse. From 1st January 2018, she set out to make one bottle a day for 100 days, using a two-part press mould. She then used it as blank canvas for her art on that day, allowing her to push through different ideas quicker than before – and now you can see all the work she did in one place.

Anna Whitehouse Ceramic Showcase comes to The Craft Centre and Design Gallery from Tuesday 8th January to Saturday 20th April 2019.

Made With Love 2019

There’s romance to be found within British craft as the Made With Love 2019 exhibition comes to The Craft Centre and Design Gallery. A huge array of British artists, designers and makers will come together to present everything from jewellery to ceramics and mixed media works. You never know, you might just find the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

Made With Love 2019 comes to The Craft Centre and Design Gallery from Saturday 12th January to Saturday 9th March 2019.

Club nights & DJs

Canal Mills

Credit: Justin Gardner

From hard style heroes to drum & bass legends, get yourself down to Leeds’ clubs this month.

Joe Ford and Friends

Get your New Year moving to the sound of drum & bass as acclaimed DJ Joe Ford curates a special evening at Wire this month. He’s teamed up with local promoters Central Beatz to present a feast of top class underground talent. As well as a one-off set from Ford himself, you can check out Cruk and Shyun on the decks, as their unique sound plays through the chest-rattling Salt & Pepper Sound System.

Joe Ford and Friends comes to Wire on Friday 11th January 2019.

The Untold Rave

Untold Sound are back at Wire for their first show in Leeds of 2019. The Untold Rave brings together the best underground house DJs from around the UK. Get down to tunes from RKSwitch, Mark Johnson, James Lancer and Tom Newstead at what is sure to be another sell-out party.

The Untold Rave comes to Wire on Friday 18th January 2019.

One Big Bash

Revel in a night celebrating the very best of hard house and hard-style music at One Big Bash. Beaver Works will be turned into a magical world full of unicorns, fairies and wizards, complete with face-painting and lasers. Don your finest fancy dress and enjoy tunes from DJs like Rob Tissera, Andy Whitby and Mark Breeze.

One Big Bash comes to Beaver Works on Saturday 19th January 2019.

Wah

Wah are hosting the last ever drum & bass show at the legendary Mint Club before it closes in April and they’ve got some huge names coming to Leeds. Sub Focus is one of the genre’s pioneering acts and he’ll be doing an exclusive, extended DJ set, with support from Drumsound, Bassline Smith and North Base.

Wah takes over Mint Club on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Dimension Takeover

Dimension’s final ever takeover of Mint Club takes place at the end of January. They’ve lined up a stellar set of techno and minimal DJs for a huge 6-hour shindig under the iconic rainbow roof. The headliners are James Howard and Kurt Bennett playing back-to-back and they will be joined by Ashton Barnes, James Lancer, Tabs & Swift and This & That.

Dimension Takeover comes to Mint Club on Thursday 31st January 2019.

Family

Glowing Ghosts at Thwaite Mills

Credit: Leeds Museums & Galleries

Families have plenty to look forward to this January, with film, theatre and a chance to enjoy family-friendly live music.

Indoor Make and Play

The time between Christmas and going back to school can drag a little, but Thwaite Mills has got the perfect solution to keep the little ones occupied. Indoor Make and Play will have a slew of toys and games for you to play with, as well as a picnic area and craft activities that you can enjoy whatever the weather.

Indoor Make and Play comes to Thwaite Mills until Sunday 6th January 2019.

Song of the Sea

Take the little ones to a special film screening at Leeds Central Library this January. Song of the Sea is an acclaimed animation in both English and Irish that tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse. They go on a fantastical journey across a world of fading ancient legends and magic to get back to their home by the sea.

Song of the Sea will be shown at Leeds Central Library on Tuesday 15th January 2019.

Playground

Playground is a multi-sensory event designed for kids under the age of 5. It’s inspired by a different artwork on display each month and their sessions will help youngsters gain confidence in learning, exploring, imagining and creating. Be warned, dress in old gear as the classes can get messy.

Playground takes over Leeds Art Gallery on Friday 18th January 2019.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Christmas may be over, but pantomime season is not, as Carriageworks Theatre gives us Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Join LIDOS for this classic, magical tale and meet Snow White, a lonely princess who lives with her wicked stepmother, Queen Malevolent. When Snow White is named the ‘fairest in the land’ by the magic mirror, the Queen orders her huntsmen to have her killed but she flees to the forest where she finds the cottage owned by the seven dwarfs. Will good triumph over evil? There’s only one way to find out.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs comes to Carriageworks Theatre from Friday 18th to Saturday 26th January 2019.

Made with Music Mini-Gig

Live music isn’t just for grown-ups as Made with Music has shown. They host regular afternoon gigs at the Brudenell Social Club, designed to be open and accessible to people of all ages. Their next one takes place this January with a trio of artists on stage, plenty of room to dance and a wonderful family-friendly atmosphere.

Made with Music Mini-Gig comes to Brudenell Social Club on Sunday 20th January 2019.

Festivals

Brooders

There are loads of festivals to make the most of in January, whether you want rock, pop or pianos.

Easyfest 3

Kick off the year with a whole day of live music at The Grove Inn as Easyfest returns for the third year. It’s an eclectic festival where kids are welcome until 8pm. You can see eight bands for a fiver, including Holiday, The Lentil Institute, Surface Waves, YOI and The Reacharounds. All proceeds will go to Papyrus UK, a suicide prevention charity, in memory of Rob Soare.

Easyfest 3 takes over The Grove Inn on Saturday 5th January 2019.

Nicky’s New Year Musical Menagerie

Get down to Wharf Chambers for Nicky’s New Year Musical Menagerie. It’s the first to take place since 2017 and promises an all-day family-friendly fundraiser for the Linden Brook Respite Centre. The fun kicks off at 2pm when you can see a diverse array of talent, like The Palps, Emily Mercer and The Post Pop Service, as well as headliners Nicky Bray’s Musical Menagerie.

Nicky’s New Year Musical Menagerie takes over Wharf Chambers on Saturday 12th January 2019.

Leeds International Organ Festival Launch

The launch event for this year’s Leeds International Organ Festival will give you a chance to see the festivals’ Artistic Director, David Pipe live for a special performance. He’ll take to Leeds Cathedral’s iconic Klais organ to perform his version of Messiaen’s ‘La Nativité du Seigneur’, as they reveal the programme for this year’s event, which takes place between May and July.

Leeds International Organ Festival Launch comes to Leeds Cathedral on Sunday 13th January 2019.

Brudenell Piano Sessions

Following on from a trio of hugely successful events in the second half of 2018, the Brudenell Piano Sessions are back this January for another set of intimate performances based around the piano. This time, you can see two local acts in singer-songwriter Henry Bateman and classical pop duo Muriel & Blazquez, who will be joined by London-based composer Matt Emery and renowned pianist Simeon Walker.

Brudenell Piano Sessions takes over Brudenell Social Club on Sunday 20th January 2019.

Rifffest

Wonderful local punk group Brooders are bringing together the finest and heaviest rock and roll talent from Yorkshire, Humber and Lancashire for a day of riff-heavy tunes. They’re on the bill at Rifffest, alongside the likes of False Advertising, Hands Off Gretel, Faux Pas, Household Dogs, Adore//Repel and Bloodhound.

Rifffest takes over The Lending Room at The Library on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Best of the Rest

From wrestling extravaganzas to nights with drag queens, this is the best of the rest this January.

The RISE Rumble

Who needs WWE’s Royal Rumble, when you’ve got Leeds’ own RISE Rumble? It’s a 30-man over-the-top-rope wrestling battle royal, which will see last year’s Rumble winner, James Drake, attempt to beat the entire roster once again. It proclaims to be England’s maddest wrestling show, so this is the perfect chance to see if they’re right.

The RISE Rumble takes over Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 5th January 2019.

Making a Murderer: A Conversation with Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin

Making a Murderer is one of the most talked about TV shows of all time. It looks at the murder of Teresa Halbach and the subsequent convictions of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. In this tour, Dassey’s post-conviction attorneys Laura Nirider and Steven Drizen will be at Brudenell Social Club talking about the case and what’s next for the man who was 16-years-old when was indicted for being party to Halbach’s murder.

Making a Murderer: A Conversation with Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin comes to Brudenell Social Club on Sunday 6th January 2019.

A Creative Day

Want to start 2019 on a positive note alongside like-minded women? Get down to Lambert’s Yard for A Creative Day. It’s the perfect chance to think about the goals you want to achieve over the next 12 months in a creative, playful environment. You’ll get a group coaching session from Holly June Smith, a craft workshop of your choice and tasty eats throughout the day.

A Creative Day takes over Lambert’s Yard on Saturday 12th January 2019.

The Big LEGO

You don’t have to be a little one to enjoy playing with building blocks as The Big LEGO will prove this January. If you’re 16 and above, you can head down to Thackray Medical Museum after it closes to get to grips with their massive LEGO sets and take part in a series of challenges and competitions.

The Big Lego comes to Thackray Medical Museum on Thursday 17th January 2019.

Miz Cracker

You can see one of the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Show live at O2 Academy Leeds this month as Miz Cracker brings her new show ‘It’s Time’ to the UK after rave reviews across the US. Expect her trademark mix of comedy, dance and performance dressed up in some of the most incredible drag costumes you’ve ever seen.

Miz Cracker comes to O2 Academy Leeds on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Cover image copyright Helen Maybanks