From unmissable operas to festivals and gigs, make January one to remember with these amazing events.
It’s going to be a jam-packed month in Leeds. There are loads of events taking place across the city, from huge beer festivals to one-off supper clubs, must-see shows and loads of big-name concerts. But that only scratches the surface of what’s going on in Leeds in January, so clear your diary, call your mates and make big plans for what will be a busy old month.
Picks of the Month
Beer festivals, iconic operas and huge gigs – these are the events you won’t want to miss this January.
Brewdenell Beer Festival
Brewdenell Beer Festival is back this January and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. It’s taking over the entire venue with more than 50 beers on keg and cask at any one time. They’ll have brews from around the world, but this year their main focus is highlighting great breweries from around Yorkshire. Hungry? Tuck into Pieminister pies or grab a slice from The Pizza Van.
Brewdenell Beer Festival takes over the Brudenell Social Club from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th January 2020.
Snow Patrol are one of the most successful UK bands of the 21st-century and you can see why when they play an intimate O2 Academy Leeds 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, ‘Reworked’.
Snow Patrol play O2 Academy Leeds on Monday 13th January 2020.
Kurt Weill’s Street Scene is Opera North’s first production of the year. It’s set on a balmy summer’s day in New York City and you’ll follow a family at war with themselves. Frank is mad because the world around him is changing too fast, his daughter Rose is tired of the big dirty city and his wife Anna is cheating on him with the milkman. Full of soap-style drama and golden-age Broadway tunes, Street Scene is a must-see.
Street Scene comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 15th January to Friday 28th February 2020.
Leeds Fun Weekend
The Leeds Fun Weekend is designed to bring people together for three days of culture, activities, food and drink. You can take part in a crawl of the city’s museums, head out on the Owl Trail or have a go at craft activities. The events are all free, but they’re broken up by visits to popular food and drink spots, like Iberica, Foley’s Ale House and Fuji Hiro, so make sure you’ve got some cash in your pocket.
Leeds Fun Weekend comes to Leeds city centre from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th January 2020.
Strictly Come Dancing The Live Tour
You can see the stars of the 17th season of Strictly Come Dancing at First Direct Arena this month in a sequin-filled dance extravaganza. Series winner and Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher will be there dancing with Janette Manrara, as 2018 winner Stacey Dooley hosts this year’s tour. You can also look forward to performances from Mike Bushell, Catherine Tyldesley, Alex Scott and Emma Barton.
Strictly Come Dancing The Live Tour comes to First Direct Arena on Friday 24th January 2020.
Food and Drink
Check out January’s top foodie events, with one-off supper clubs, Scottish cheese tastings and Burns Night feasts.
Hair of the Dog
You can start the year as you mean to go on at BrewDog on New Year’s Day. Their Hair of the Dog special welcomes you for a day of bottomless fun. For £20 per person, you’ll get two hours of unlimited beer, so you can go to town on Dead Pony Club, Punk IPA and Elvis Juice. If you can’t stomach the real stuff, they’ll have alcohol-free beers and everyone will get a pizza to soak it all up.
Hair of the Dog comes to BrewDog North Street on Wednesday 1st January 2020.
Scottish Cheese Night with Homage2Fromage
The next tasting evening from Homage2Fromage celebrates a new generation of wonderful Scottish cheeses at The Adelphi. You can help yourself to a smorgasbord of cheese from their jam-packed table as their expert team talk you through each one. Try everything from soft cheeses to fragrant blues and unusual artisan creations, paired with the usual breads, fruits, chutneys and crackers.
Scottish Cheese Night with Homage2Fromage comes to The Adelphi on Thursday 9th January 2020.
If you’re a fan of Belgian beer, head to Friends of Ham this January. They’re hosting a special tasting event with Cantillon. This is your chance to try a range of rare Lambic and Geuze brews for £40 per person. There are 12 in total, with everything from Oude Gueuze to Lou Pepe Framboise. Their beer-savvy team will lead you through each one, giving you tasting information and a bit of history on the beer.
Cantillon Tasting comes to Friends of Ham on Wednesday 15th January 2020.
Holy Ramen x Friends of Ham
Holy Ramen will team up with Friends of Ham to serve a Japanese and Spanish fusion menu this January. Their 3-course menu puts an Iberian twist on classic dishes like ramen and gyozas. Head in from 5pm to try out any and all of the dishes, or book onto their tutored beer pairing from 7.30pm, where you can try all three courses with perfectly matched beers.
Holy Ramen x Friends of Ham takes over Friends of Ham on Thursday 16th January 2020.
Burns Night 2020
You can celebrate the life and work of iconic Scotsman Robert Burns with a five-course Burns Night dinner at Crafthouse. This is your chance to tuck into dishes like smoked Scottish salmon, roasted halibut and Yorkshire rhubarb cranachan. Each course comes with a matching whisky, so you can enjoy wee drams of Laphroaig, Macallan, Highland Park, Bowmore and Auchentoshan while you eat.
Burns Night 2020 comes to Crafthouse on Friday 24th January 2020.
Head to the city’s best music venues to see indie favourites, hip-hop newcomers and dance icons.
You can kick off 2020 by watching one of the best new bands from Manchester. Fast-rising five-piece Juniper Sky create dream-like psychedelic indie pop. Their first three songs, ‘Magentise’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Waves’, have made them the ones to watch. This is your chance to see them before anyone else in their debut Leeds show at Double Denim’s first new music showcase of the year.
Juliper Sky play Verve on Saturday 4th January 2020.
He might be only 16, but Alfie Templeman is making big waves in the music world. His lo-fi, bedroom-made tunes bely his tender years, and the multi-instrumentalist has already released his first album ‘Don’t Go Wasting Time’. Tunes like ‘Who I Am’, ‘First Time’ and ‘Lean On My Shoulder’ are destined to become indie pop classics, so check him out before he hits the big time.
Alfie Templeman plays Headrow House on Friday 17th January 2020.
Badly Drawn Boy
One of the most popular singer-songwriters of the 21st century, Badly Drawn Boy, is returning to Leeds in January. The Bolton artist, otherwise known as Damon Gough, is playing an intimate set at The Warehouse. He’ll run through his greatest hits like ‘Once Around the Block’, ‘Something to Talk About’ and ‘You Were Right’, alongside new music from his forthcoming ninth album.
Badly Drawn Boy plays The Warehouse on Thursday 23rd January 2020.
Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band
Liverpool legend Michael Head returns to Leeds this month. After a long period out of the limelight, The Shack and Pale Fountains frontman has forged a hugely successful solo career. Expect all the old hits that encouraged NME to name him Britain’s greatest songwriter, like ‘Comedy’, ‘Streets of Kenny’ and ‘Natalie’s Party’, as well as cuts from his next album.
Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band play the Brudenell Social Club on Friday 24th January 2020.
Isobel Campbell is back with her first solo album in 14 years. The former Belle and Sebastian member hasn’t been completely quiet in that time. She’s collaborated with Mark Lanegan on three critically acclaimed albums, before taking a little break from music. Now she’s coming to the Brudenell Social Club to show off her new album, ‘There Is No Other’, alongside tunes from her back catalogue.
Isobel Campbell plays the Brudenell Social Club on Tuesday 28th January 2020.
Need a laugh? There’s a stellar line-up of stand-up comedians coming to Leeds this month.
You might’ve seen Paul Smith pop up on social media. His videos recorded at The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool have gone viral time and time again. Why? Because of his hilarious stories of everyday life. His chatty nature gets unwitting members of the audience to reveal more than they want to. This is your chance to see him live at his biggest show in Leeds to date.
Paul Smith comes to Leeds Grand Theatre on Sunday 5th January 2020.
Ed Byrne is one of the most recognisable comedians in the UK, a star of shows like Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week and The Pilgrimage, but this month he’s taking a long, hard look at himself. He’s coming to City Varieties on his new stand-up tour ‘If I’m Honest…’ to work out if he has any traits that are worth passing on to his children or whether he should he just keep them to himself.
Ed Byrne comes to City Varieties on Thursday 23rd January 2020.
You’ve seen his work on Phoenix Nights and it’s been immortalised on social media in meme-form. Now, Clinton Baptiste is going on tour and he’s bringing his paranormal powers to City Varieties. He’s the hapless and helpless clairvoyant who will predict your future, look into your past, and hopefully, cross over to the other side to find ‘The Answer’.
Clinton Baptiste comes to City Varieties on Saturday 25th January 2020.
Stephen K. Amos
In ‘Everyman’, Stephen K. Amos tries to find unity and joy amidst the madness of the officials who look to exploit divisive issues in our society. He’s trying to be the everyman who can bring us all together and make world peace happen for good. Through his hilarious anecdotes of everyday life, you can rise above the anger and let laughter make the world a better place.
Stephen K. Amos comes to City Varieties on Sunday 26th January 2020.
Two years after Graham Fellowes hung up his mic as John Shuttleworth for the final time, he’s back – and this time, it’s his back that’s causing him problems. Years of strenuous DIY and playing an organ perched only on top of a multipack of Diet Sprite have taken their toll, so Shuttleworth’s going through the pain barrier to play his hilarious collection of songs, only briefly pausing to re-apply Deep Heat.
John Shuttleworth comes to City Varieties on Friday 31st January 2020.
From huge musicals to incredible ballets, there’s plenty on at the city’s theatres this month.
The Wizard of Oz
You can see an epic new production of The Wizard of Oz at Leeds Playhouse this month. You’ll join Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion for this gripping tale that features famous songs like ‘We’re Off To See The Wizard’ and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. Watch as puppets, projections and a few surprises turn this adventure on the Yellow Brick Road into a must-see.
The Wizard of Oz comes to Leeds Playhouse from Wednesday 20th November to Saturday 25th January 2020.
Northern Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala
You can help Northern Ballet celebrate half a century in the business at their 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala. Head to Leeds Grand Theatre to enjoy excerpts from their most famous performances, including Michael Pink’s Dracula and Massimo Moricone’s Romeo & Juliet. They’ll be performed with a host of internationally-renowned companies like The Royal Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and English National Ballet.
Northern Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala comes to Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 4th January 2020.
What are you sick to death of? Football maybe, Brexit almost certainly and the general monotony of everyday life without a doubt. Well, chances are Greg Jameson and Tom Bailey agree with you. In Splink!, they’ll have you rolling in the aisles as they go to town on everything we just don’t want to deal with anymore. From Instagram likes to the UK’s political chaos, we’ve all had enough, so why not laugh about it?
Splink! Comes to Seven Arts on Wednesday 18th January 2020.
Night of the Living Dead™ – Remix
Zombie epic Night of the Living Dead is one of George A. Romero’s best-loved films, but you’ve never seen it like this before. Leeds Playhouse will bring seven performers together to try and recreate the classic movie, shot-for-shot, using only cameras, props and a rail of costumes. They’ll bring scary ghouls and shellshocked humans back to life with an inventive interpretation of the big screen favourite.
Night of the Living Dead™ – Remix comes to Leeds Playhouse from Friday 24th January to Saturday 15th February 2020.
Dr Korczak’s Example
Dr Korczak’s Example is a true story. It will take you back to 1940s Warsaw and into the Jewish ghettos. Food is scarce and people are barely holding onto their lives. Enter Dr Korczak, a Polish teacher who tries to use his position and education to make a difference from his orphanage. But can he escape the clutches of the brutal Gestapo? This touching, harrowing drama coincides with this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Dr Korczak’s Example comes to Leeds Playhouse from Saturday 25th January to Saturday 15th February 2020.
Another month, another batch of intriguing exhibitions for you to see in the city’s galleries.
After Space is an exhibition of original paintings by two Leeds-based artists. Jenny Beard and Dan Harland create contemporary abstract works full of bold shapes and big colours. They’re both inspired by their everyday lives, and even though they have very different approaches, their work truly complements each – something that will be all too clear at their joint showcase.
After Space comes to The Gallery at 164 from Friday 3rd January to Saturday 29th February 2020.
Houses in Headingley: Jonathan Hooper
Jonathan Hooper has been painting the houses of Headingley for over 25 years and now he’s going to showcase his collection in a new exhibition. Expect realist depictions of the urban landscape, brought to life with bold colours and abstract techniques to showcase red brick terraces, semi-detached houses and street scenes in new ways. You can compare his modern paintings to etchings from 1994.
Houses in Headingley: Jonathan Hooper comes to HEART from Saturday 11th January to Thursday 20th February 2020.
We Were There: Holocaust Survivors in Leeds
The first exhibition of 2020 at Leeds Town Hall coincides with Holocaust Memorial Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. We Were There is a photographic exhibition that tells the story of the children and young people who came to Leeds as refugees and survivors of the Holocaust. You’ll learn about their new lives, but also what came before, so you can compare the realities of freedom to those of persecution.
We Were There: Holocaust Survivors in Leeds comes to Leeds Town Hall from Monday 13th January to Saturday 29th February 2020.
Handmade with Love 2020
Handmade with Love is the annual showcase celebrating the excellence of British crafters at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery. You can see the work of an eclectic mix of makers, with everything from handmade jewellery to ceramics, ornaments and prints. Everything on display is for sale, so you can bring a little handmade charm to your own home.
Handmade with Love 2020 comes to The Craft Centre and Design Gallery from Saturday 18th January to Saturday 7th March 2020.
Points of View
Points of View puts the landscape front and centre at Sunny Bank Mills. Twelve artists and makers, including the likes of Jill Campbell, Pat Harvey and Des Pattison, will explore the theme through their eclectic works. From traditional painting to abstract ceramics, you can see how each artist perceives and interprets the landscape in their own way.
Points of View comes to Sunny Bank Mills from Saturday 18th January to Saturday 14th March 2020.
Clubnights & DJs
From drum & bass parties to hardcore raves, it’s time to party in the city’s clubs.
Central Beatz is one of the biggest drum and bass nights in Leeds. They’re kicking off their 2020 season at Wire with a special charity fundraiser that will support Simon on the Streets, a local homeless action charity. Shogun Audio’s Joe Ford leads the line-up alongside the debut Leeds appearance from Sustance. They’ll be joined by Isolate, LD50 and Archa.
Central Beatz takes over Wire on Friday 10th January 2020.
After the huge success of the first 23 Degrees night at Wire last year, they’re returning for a massive drum and bass party in January. They’ve bagged two of the genre’s leading lights for a special midweek event. Voltage comes to Leeds on the back of headlining massive nights like A.W.O.L, Warning & Sunbeatz. He’ll be joined by Inja, a leading MC and poet signed to Hospital Records.
23 Degrees comes to Wire on Wednesday 22nd January 2020.
Bass6ix 1st Birthday
Bass6ix turns one in January and they’re throwing a massive shindig at Freedom Mills to celebrate. It’s their biggest party to date as over 500 people jam to the latest bassline and jungle beats. The Future Formation sound system will pump out the tunes spun by Simula with MC Phantom, Tsuki, Zero, Subsonic and Livsey. This is going to be one hell of a night.
Bass6ix 1st Birthday comes to Freedom Mills on Saturday 25th January 2020.
One Big Bash Ancient Worlds
One Big Bash are heading back to Leeds for their third birthday party. Ancient Worlds is the theme, so come dressed in your finest Inca, Egyptian and Roman gear as they transform Beaver Works into a historical wonderland. You’ll be grooving to a blend of hard house and hardcore – Outforce is headlining, with support from the likes of Serious Soundz, Cheeky Charlie and Little Miss Bliss.
One Big Bash Ancient Worlds takes over Beaver Works on Saturday 25th January 2020.
Wah are kicking off 2020 with one of their biggest line-ups to date at O2 Academy Leeds. You can expect a mix of the best jungle, baseline and drum & bass talent on the decks for an all-out party. Chase and Status are headlining with a DJ set that will see them joined by MC Rage. Before they hit the stage, get down to beats spun by High Contrast, Bou and North Base.
Wah comes to O2 Academy Leeds on Friday 31st January 2020.
Families have plenty to look forward to this January, with theatre, concerts and inflatable obstacle courses.
Red Riding Hood Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto
This year’s highly anticipated Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto at City Varieties is a brand new take on Red Riding Hood. You’ll join Little Red on her journey through the deep, dark woods as she tackles grizzly beasts and escapes boulder battles. You can expect all the usual corny gags, infused with a jukebox of classic rock anthems that will get you up and dancing in the aisles, whether you’re young or old.
Red Riding Hood Rock ’n’ Roll Panto comes to Leeds City Varieties from Friday 29th November 2019 to Sunday 12th January 2020.
Anything Could Happen
Stories aren’t just told in books and Anything Could Happen proves it. Head to Seven Arts and watch as these young storytellers create a unique show that will bring your little one’s imagination to life in front of them. It’s a completely interactive show and the kids will put it together as they direct where the story goes from the start. This is the perfect introduction to the theatre for the little ones.
Anything Could Happen takes place at Seven Arts on Sunday 5th January 2020.
Wacky World has finally come to Leeds! This is an inflatable obstacle course like no other. Their Total Wipeout game is a must-do. You can play extreme hungry, hungry hippos, clamber over an assault course and take on your mates in gladiator duels. It’s not just for kids, this is something the whole family can do, so don your sports gear and get ready to beat the competition.
Wacky World comes to the Royal Armouries on Saturday 4th January 2020.
Delve into otherworldly realms at the Royal Armouries this month as Fantasy Heroes takes over. Their expert staff will teach the kids how to be the ultimate fantasy warrior, so be prepared to take on everything from orcs to dragons and demons. Complete with crafts, games and a chance to explore the whole museum, it’s a fun-filled weekend for the whole family.
Fantasy Heroes comes to the Royal Armouries on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th January 2020.
The Made with Music Mini-Gig
Live music isn’t just for grown-ups, something that Made with Music have proved time and time again with their afternoon gigs at the Brudenell Social Club. They’re designed to be open and accessible to people of all ages. Their next one takes place in 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 26th January 2020.
There are loads of festivals to make the most of this January, whether you want rock, folk or classical music.
Hair of the Dog 2020
Hair of the Dog is the annual fundraiser for Cloth Cat, a music-based charity in Leeds city centre. It’s back at the Brudenell Social Club to blow away those January blues with a line-up of top quality local talent. Latin American folk group Mestisa are headlining and they’ll be joined by the likes of Klezmer specialists From East to East, Latin metallers Chinchilla Death Cult and African drum & bass band Tshok.
Hair of the Dog 2020 takes over the Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 4th January 2020.
Nicky’s New Year Musical Menagerie
Get down to Wharf Chambers for Nicky’s New Year Musical Menagerie. It was a rip-roaring success in 2019, and this year, they’re planning another all-day fundraiser for the Linden Brook Respite Centre. The fun kicks off at 2pm for a family-friendly afternoon that will bring the likes of Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers to the stage. From 7.45pm, it will transform into an adults-only evening session as Where’s Brian?, Tom Astley and Nithered take you through the night.
Nicky’s New Year Musical Menagerie takes over Wharf Chambers on Saturday 11th January 2020.
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 12th January 2020.
Martinfest takes place every January to start the year with a big fundraiser for Leeds Music Trust, a local charity that uses music to help the lives of local people. This year, it’s taking over The Fox & Newt for a day of rock and roll tunes. Punk legends Expelaires are headlining, with support from rock groups like La Costa Rasa and Xlerators. Check it out.
Martinfest 2020 comes to The Fox & Newt on Saturday 18th January 2020.
Wonderful local punk group Brooders are once again bringing together the finest and heaviest rock and roll talent from Yorkshire, Humber and Lancashire for a day of riff-heavy tunes. They have, of course, taken a spot on the bill, but they’ll be joined by the likes of Crows, Strange Bones, Calva Louise, Dead Naked Hippies, Dense and 99% Cobra.
Rifffest 2020 comes to Belgrave Music Hall on Saturday 25th January 2020.
Best of the Rest
From a wacky wrestling show to a night of horror stories, 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 that will see last year’s Rumble winner, Big Joe, 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 comes to the Brudenell Social Club on Saturday 4th January 2020.
The No Sleep Podcast Live
If you’re not afraid of things that go bump in the night, The No Sleep Podcast is a must. It’s an anthology series of original horror stories that uses voice actors, atmospheric music and sound effects to send a chill down your spine. It’s heading out on its first UK tour in January, so you can experience these spooky stories in person, but be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart.
The No Sleep Podcast Live comes to The Wardrobe on Friday 10th January 2020.
You can get the inside track on the latest artistic innovations over a dinner at Open Source Arts this month. You’ll hear from four artists at Art Soup – each one will pitch a project or concept they’re developing before the audience chooses which one deserves funding. The night’s collection will be given to the winning artist. As you watch, you can tuck into a dinner of soup and salad.
Art Soup takes over Open Source Arts on Thursday 16th January 2020.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes Living Dangerously
Sir Ranulph Fiennes is the world’s greatest living explorer and his new show Living Dangerously will take you through his extraordinary life. He was the first man to reach both Poles, the first to cross the Antarctic and Arctic Oceans and the first to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis. This is your chance to find out how he started his life of exploration, how he reached the top (literally) and what he wants to do next.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes Living Dangerously comes to Leeds Town Hall on Thursday 16th January 2020.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2020
Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance for the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and millions of other people killed under German Nazi persecution. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, so this year’s memorial at Leeds Town Hall has extra significance. It will feature a keynote speech by Dr James Smith, co-founder of the UK National Holocaust Centre, and performances from the Opera North Youth Chorus.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 comes to Victoria Hall, Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 26th January 2020.