Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

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.

Leeds International Beer Festival

From unmissable operas to gigs and comedy, make September one to remember with these amazing events.

September is here and there are loads of fantastic events to enjoy in Leeds. You’ve got immense pop-up restaurants, massive festivals and a pair of huge new operas. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – so go ahead and find out what’s on in Leeds this September.

Picks of the Month

Leeds Rum Festival

Credit: Anete Lusina Photography

Stand-up stars, powerful operas and the city’s biggest beer festival – these are the events you won’t want to miss this September.

Leeds International Beer Festival

Leeds International Beer Festival is back this month. Across 4 days, Leeds Town Hall will play host to 100s of beers from local breweries like Kirkstall, North Brewing Co. and Anthology alongside renowned UK and international breweries. You can get street food from Bundobust, Blue Caribou and Little Bao Boy while you enjoy live music from local favourites Mid Artistik and Cowtown.

Leeds International Beer Festival takes over Leeds Town Hall from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th September 2019.

Professor Brian Cox’s Universal

Professor Brian Cox is heading back to Leeds this September with his show Universal. It offers a fascinating insight into the workings of nature at the most basic level (in the most entertaining way). He’ll be joined on stage by Robin Ince, co-host of The Infinite Monkey Cage, to break down the cosmos bit-by-bit and host an audience Q&A.

Professor Brian Cox’s Universal comes to First Direct Arena on Wednesday 11th September 2019.

The Greek Passion

The Greek Passion is one of Bohuslav Martinů’s most rarely performed operas. Created for the Royal Opera House in 1957, it was turned away and completely rewritten. The original was eventually reconstructed from a collection of scattered manuscripts and that’s what you’ll see here. When a group of helpless refugees arrive in a distant village looking for sanctuary, they’re met with distrust – can Manolios persuade the other villagers to help or will it end in tragedy?

The Greek Passion comes to Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 14th, Saturday 21st and Friday 27th September and Saturday 19th October 2019.

Leeds Rum Festival

100s of different world-class rums await as Leeds Rum Festival makes its return to the Corn Exchange. From 100% Louisianan Bayou Rum to Panama’s Naud Rum, you can try as many as you like for the cost of your £20 ticket, but that’s just the start. Sup rum-based cocktails at The Rum Shack bar, learn a thing or two at the expert-led masterclasses and enjoy live music from the folks behind the Black Music Festival.

Leeds Rum Festival comes to Leeds Corn Exchange on Saturday 21st September 2019.

Russell Howard

Russell Howard is one of the UK’s most popular comedians and his 2017 tour ‘Round the World’ broke all kinds of records. Now, hot on the heels of hit Sky One show The Russell Howard Hour and his Netflix special Recalibrate, the Bristolian funnyman is heading back to Leeds on his brand new tour ‘Respite’. Expect belly laughs aplenty as he sets the world to rights in his typically charming way.

Russell Howard plays First Direct Arena on Friday 27th September 2019.

Food and Drink

Wine Gang Winter Festival

Check out September’s top foodie events, with pop-up vegan markets, gin festivals and a night dedicated to beer.

Trinity Leeds Gin Festival

If you love gin, make a beeline for Trinity Leeds this September. It’s hosting its very own Gin Festival across a whole weekend. You can sample over 50 gins from world renowned brands, as well as a selection of locally made vodkas and rums. There’s a cocktail bar, tasting sessions and masterclasses, but if you like what you taste, why not head to the festival shop to take your favourite gin home with you?

Trinity Leeds Gin Festival comes Trinity Kitchen from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September 2019.

Chew the Fat: Beer Fest

Chew the Fat is a series of informal panel-led discussions exploring big topics in bitesize chunks and the next event is all about beer. You can hear from food writer Peter Brears, Ilkley Brewery’s Alessandra Confessore, Women On Top CIC’s Rachel Auty and North Bar’s Christian Townsley as they talk about the past, present and the future of the industry. While you’re there, sample beers from North, Ilkley, Crooked and Darkland, enjoy food from Itza and Soul Shack and watch live music from Luna, Aletha and Andy Buchan.

Chew the Fat: Beer Fest comes to Sheaf Street Cafeteria on Friday 20th September 2019.

The Gin to My Tonic Festival

The Gin to My Tonic Festival is coming to Aspire this month for two sessions of G&T goodness. You can try over 100 established and emerging craft gins – each 35ml serve comes with a Fever-Tree tonic and garnish for just £5. Experts from each distillery will be on hand throughout to talk you through your drinks and host sampling sessions. You’ll even get a free Copa gin glass, stainless steel straw and tasting notes.

The Gin to My Tonic Festival comes to Aspire on Saturday 21st September 2019.

The Wine Gang Autumn Festival

The Wine Gang are back after a few years away from the city to host the Autumn Festival. It will bring together hundreds of wines hand-picked from vineyards in every corner of the world. Alpine Wines and Bon Couer have already been confirmed, alongside local favourites like Yorkshire Wine School, Black Mouse and Ibérica. There will be plenty of cheese and crackers to go with your vino and loads of wine-related activities throughout the day.

The Wine Gang Autumn Festival takes over Aspire on Saturday 28th September 2019.

Leeds Kirkgate Vegan Market

The Kirkgate Outdoor Market will be taken over by the Leeds Vegan Market for the first time ever at the end of September. You can browse over 50 stalls filled with all kinds of goodies. From vegan fast food to handmade cosmetics, ethical clothing and lifestyle brands, it’s all here, so whether you’re doing your weekly shop or experimenting with a new diet, you’ll find everything you need all in one place.

Leeds Vegan Market takes over Leeds Kirkgate Market on Sunday 29th September 2019 and and every month after.

Live Music

PIxies, Leeds

Head to the city’s best music venues to see psych favourites, hip-hop legends and rock icons.

Föllakzoid

Chilean psych-rockers Föllakzoid make their return to the Brudenell Social Club this month. Their gigs are more akin to spiritual experiences as their trance-like grooves take you to another world for a few hours. You can expect cuts from their first three records as well as tunes from their recently released fourth album ‘I’, their first full-length effort in four years.

Föllakzoid play Brudenell Social Club on Friday 6th September 2019.

Pixies

Rock icons Pixies will headline O2 Academy Leeds in September. From ‘Bone Machine’ to ‘Where Is My Mind?’, ‘Debaser’ and ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’, Frank Black and co are responsible for some of the biggest alternative rock tunes of the past 35 years. Their greatest hits will be out in full force, as well as songs from the three albums since their reunion, ‘Indie Cindy’, ‘Head Carrier’ and 2019’s ‘Beneath the Eyrie’.

Pixies play O2 Academy Leeds on Tuesday 17th September 2019.

Jay Electronica

One of the most enigmatic and influential hip-hop artists of his generation, Jay Electronica will play an intimate show at Headrow House this month. Despite first coming to attention in 2007 with ‘Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)’ and two incredible singles ‘Exhibit A (Transformations)’ and ‘Exhibit C’, he’s still yet to release a full album, but you can hear as-yet-unreleased tunes when he comes to Leeds.

Jay Electronica plays Headrow House on Thursday 19th September 2019.

Marika Hackman

Marika Hackman is fast-becoming one of the most important alternative musicians in the UK. Her first album, 2015’s ‘We Slept at Last’ was a heart-warming introduction of youthful folk compositions that she took to new levels on rowdy 2017 follow-up ‘I’m Not Your Man’. Fast forward to this year and her third album, ‘Any Human Friend’ brings a full-band sound to her blunt, bold lyrics.

Marika Hackman comes to Brudenell Social Club on Tuesday 24th September 2019.

Orlando Weeks

The Maccabees are no longer, but former lead singer Orlando Weeks is back and with brand new music. After the seminal indie group’s split in 2017, he’s taken time to work on the festive music and literary project The Gritterman, but this is his first foray with solo material. None of it has been released yet, so this low-key show at the Brudenell Social Club will be your first chance to check it out.

Orlando Weeks plays Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday 25th September 2019.

Comedy

James Acaster

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

John Robins

As well as receiving huge acclaim for his radio show with fellow comedian Elis James, John Robins is a hugely popular stand-up comic in his own right. His first major tour ‘The Darkness of Robins’ was a huge success and now he’s back on the road again, coming to City Varieties with new show ‘Hot Shame’. Expect a night of soul-bearing, self-lacerating, piping-hot shame as he finds humour in our bleakest moments.

John Robins comes to City Varieties on Wednesday 11th September 2019.

Tape Face

Tape Face became an overnight sensation thanks to his show-stealing appearance on America’s Got Talent in 2016. His audition has clocked over 51 million views online as his unique prop comedy wowed people across the world. And you can see him live in Leeds this month as he brings his new show to City Varieties. Expect new jokes, new props and the same old tape as he blows your mind without ever opening his mouth.

Tape Face comes to City Varieties on Thursday 12th September 2019.

James Acaster

After a sell-out show at Leeds Grand Theatre in July, James Acaster is back in Leeds at City Varieties this month. His ‘Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999’ tour starts with a story about a lasagne he heated up and didn’t like, but ended up eating later when it went cold. Filled with self-hatred, it led him back to 1999, at a time when he wasn’t so disgusted with himself – expect madcap tales told in a fashion only Acaster can.

James Acaster comes to City Varieties on Sunday 15th September 2019.

Fern Brady

Fern Brady is hotly tipped to became the next big star in UK comedy. The Scottish stand-up has sold out gigs at the Edinburgh Fringe and won fans on shows like Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central, Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience and Viceland’s Brexit Stage Left. You can check her out before she hits the big time as she comes to Leeds to perform her ‘Power and Chaos’ show.

Fern Brady comes to Duke Studios on Thursday 19th September 2019.

All Killa No Filla

All Killa No Filla is one of the most popular podcasts in the UK and you can experience it live on its first ever tour. Head to City Varieties this month to join Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean for a murderous night of bloody fun. They’ll spend the evening talking about their shared passion, serial killers, and have you rolling in the aisles while they do it.

All Killa No Filla comes to City Varieties on Sunday 29th September 2019.

Theatre

Giulio Cesare

Credit: Tristram Kenton

From huge operas to incredible ballets, there’s plenty on at the city’s theatres.

Three Short Ballets

You can see three sensational short ballets that show off the power and skill of one of the world’s leading ballet companies. Northern Ballet will present an evening of flair and technique as they put on Morgann Runacre-Temple’s The Kingdom of Back, David Nixon’s Powerhouse Rhumba and Amaury Lebrun’s For An Instant.

Three Short Ballets comes to The Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September 2019.

The Parting Glass

Leeds-based writer Chris O’Connor and local favourites Red Ladder Theatre Company have joined forces to bring The Parting Glass to life. The show explores mental health, masculinity and human connection in a social-media obsessed world. Jim is a Leeds lad and a bit of character. He meets his perfect match, local lass Sara, but while they should be having the time of their lives, there’s a dark, lingering feeling within Jim that he needs to talk about.

The Parting Glass comes to Hawksworth Wood Village Hall on Thursday 12th September 2019 and Gipton WMC on Tuesday 17th September 2019.

Police Cops in Space

After sell-out shows in Leeds, the multi-award winning Police Cops in Space is back at the Carriageworks Theatre this month. It’s an 80s-style comedy epic set in the most dangerous place in the universe – space! Sammy Johnson is the last police cop in the universe and when his father is killed by a robot, he teams up with alien fighter pilot Ranger and his trusty Cyborg C9 to try and avenge his father.

Police Cops in Space comes to Carriageworks Theatre on Friday 13th September 2019.

Honey’s Happening

It’s time to go back to 1969 for a retro drama full of heart-warming fun. You’ll join suburban housewife Honey Childs and her daughter Barbara in their living room. She’ll welcome you with cheese and pineapple, get you to play party games and dance to her favourite easy listening LPs, all while she tries to achieve her ultimate life goal – world peace. Will she be able to make a difference? You’ll have a great time finding out in this interactive show.

Honey’s Happening comes to The Holbeck on Sunday 15th September 2019.

Giulio Cesare

Opera North is bringing the bloody, twisted Giulio Cesare back to the stage at the end of September. This is a story everyone knows, as Cleopatra battles to take the throne from her brother Tolomeo. She deceives Julius Caesar to make it happen, but when they fall in love, chaos ensues. Get ready for passion, vengeance and deception set to Handel’s heartbreaking arias and big orchestral numbers.

Giulio Cesare comes to Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 28th September 2019, followed by Saturday 5th, Friday 11th, Tuesday 15th and Thursday 17th October 2019.

Exhibitions

Michael Shaw Exhibition, Left Bank

Credit: Hamish Irvine

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

Rosemary Chalmers: Creature Design: ex femina

Rosemary Chalmers is the Course Leader in Comic and Concept Art at Leeds Arts University. Her research explores speculative biology, world-building and believability in creature design. This exhibition brings together work from Chalmers based on her research-practice and studies on the visibility of women in the field. Alongside her work, it will also feature pieces by internationally renowned concept artists Terryl Whitlatch, Brynn Metheney, Kate Pfeilschiefter and Iris Compiet.

Rosemary Chalmers: Creature Design: ex femina comes to Leeds Arts University from Thursday 29th August to Thursday 10th October 2019.

INF23

INF23 is a unique exhibition created by Michael Shaw. It takes the form of a site-specific inflatable sculpture that weaves its way through Left Bank Leeds to highlight its unusual features. It’s 4 metres high at its peak and the bright neon design encourages you to explore the Grade-II listed building in a new, playful way. You can also hunt out a series of brass sculptures around the space, which mimic elements of the building’s architecture.

INF23 comes to Left Bank Leeds from Monday 2nd to Saturday 28th September 2019.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries

Bloomberg New Contemporaries is a touring exhibition that’s celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019. This annual showcase of 45 acclaimed young artists comes to Leeds Art Gallery throughout autumn and it will showcase the next generation of artistic talent. The work on display has been hand-picked by a panel of industry experts including Rana Begum, Sonia Boyce and Ben Rivers to show off the next generation of artistic talent.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries comes to Leeds Art Gallery from Saturday 14th September to Sunday 17th November 2019.

Kuroko

Kuroko is a transcontinental exhibition that brings together artists from the UK and Japan as part of the Yorkshire-wide Index Festival. Jon Kipps, Julia McKinley, Lauren Wilson, Hiroko Nakajima and Eiko Soga have created a series of works that explore the power of objects to create narratives and evoke experiences. You can check it out at the temporary art space at 223 North Street.

Kuroko comes to 223 North Street from Saturday 14th to Saturday 28th September 2019.

James N Hutchinson: Untitled

Untitled is an exhibition at The Tetley that challenges the traditional form of a solo show. Artist and curator James N Hutchinson has made drawings that directly respond to the work of other artists like John Atkinson Grimshaw, Marguerite Carson and Harry Thubron. The aim? To suggest that an artist’s practice is best examined as a complex set of entanglements with art history and contemporary peer networks.

James N Hutchinson: Untitled comes to The Tetley from Friday 27th September 2019 to Sunday 19th January 2020.

Clubnights & DJs

Gilles Peterson

From superstar DJs to drum & bass shindigs, get yourself down to Leeds’ clubs this September.

Hush Hush Presents Sasha

Hush Hush are continuing their incredible form for bringing world-renowned DJs to Leeds as they welcome Sasha to Mint Warehouse for the start of their new season. He’ll play some of the biggest tunes in prog house and techno, including hits from his huge back catalogue like ‘Be As One’, with support from Cassy, Jonny Burg and itms76.

Hush Hush Presents Sasha comes to Mint Warehouse on Saturday 14th September 2019.

Wah

Wah is back after its summer break this September and they’re kicking things off with a huge party at Mint Warehouse. Expect a set of bassline, UKG and drum & bass anthems to take you into the early hours. Darkzy and Window Kid headline with tunes like ‘Hide the Ting’ following support from Sammy Virji and Bou.

Wah comes to Mint Warehouse on Saturday 21st September 2019.

David Rodigan OBE

David Rodigan is one of the most important DJs of the past 50 years. He’s a pioneer in reggae, dancehall and soundclash club nights, sourcing an incredibly eclectic assortment of tracks from all over the globe. After a memorable night at Mint Warehouse in 2018, he’s back in Leeds for an intimate set at Belgrave Music Hall.

David Rodigan OBE plays Belgrave Music Hall on Friday 27th September 2019.

Gilles Peterson

Gilles Peterson is not just a DJ, he’s a tastemaker, a man whose knowledge of electronic, jazz, hip-hop, soul and world music knows no bounds. And you can see him live in Leeds this month, as the BBC 6 Music stalwart runs through some of this favourite tunes, past and present, at The Wardrobe. This is the club night to watch this month.

Gilles Peterson plays The Wardrobe on Saturday 28th September 2019.

Boombox Circus Festival Rewind

Festival season may be gone, but that’s not stopping Boombox Circus getting into the spirit of it all. Their Festival Rewind will take over Beaver Works at the end of September, so you can relive the balmy nights of the summer with an eclectic night of electronic music, complete with performers, street art and fire breathers.

Boombox Circus Festival Rewind comes to Beaver Works on Saturday 28th September 2019.

Family

Anything Could Happen

Families have plenty to look forward to this September, with theatre, concerts and a chance to see combat demonstrations.

SNAPS Superhero Zoom

Every child deserves to feel like a superhero for a day and that’s exactly what SNAPS Superhero Zoom aims to do. It’s an accessible event that gives kids of all abilities the chance to run, wheel, walk or zoom around the athletics track at John Charles Centre for Sport. There are no limits on who can take part and every child that does will get their very own superhero cape to wear on the day.

SNAPS Superhero Zoom takes place at John Charles Centre for Sport on Sunday 15th September 2019.

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 unique shows that will bring your little one’s imagination to life in front of them. It’s a completely interactive show that the kids will help put together as they direct which way the story goes from the start.

Anything Could Happen takes place at Seven Arts on Sunday 15th September 2019.

Skelton Grange Open Day

You can introduce the little ones to the wonders of the natural world as Skelton Grange throws open its doors for its annual Open Day. Wander around the reclaimed woodland, ponds and meadows before you take part in a series of games and activities for all ages. The cafe will be open throughout, but you can also head to the Pizza Oven to make your own pizza.

Skelton Grange Open Day takes place at Skelton Grange on Saturday 21st September 2019.

Little Listeners: Carnival of the Animals

What sound does an elephant make? How about a kangaroo? If you don’t know now, you will by the end of September thanks to Little Listeners. The players of the Orchestra of Opera North will head to Leeds Central Library to put on a relaxed concert for babies and young children. You’re encouraged to move around and respond naturally to the music as they play Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with a few tweaks for the audience.

Little Listeners: Carnival of the Animals comes to Leeds Central Library on Saturday 28th September 2019.

Monarchs: Ranjit Singh

The latest event in the Royal Armouries’ Monarchs series will focus on Ranjit Singh. He established a Sikh kingdom in India while defending it from invasion back in the 1800s. You’ll be taken back to 1831 when the Maharaja, who has kept the British at bay for over 30 years, is asked to allow the Army to march across the Punjab to reach Afghanistan. What will he do? You’ll find out through costumed characters, live combat demonstrations and workshops.

Monarchs: Ranjit Singh comes to the Royal Armouries on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September 2019.

Festivals

There are loads of festivals to make the most of in September, whether you want film, folk music or family-friendly fun.

Scalarama Film Festival

Scalarama is an annual festival of cinema put together by film fans for film fans. This year’s programme is as eclectic as ever – you can see a B-Movie Double Bill of Detour and Gun Crazy at the Hyde Park Picture House, a screening of the acclaimed rockumentary The Punk Singer at Boot & Rally or a night of Contemporary Palestinian Shorts at Belgrave Music Hall.

Scalarama Film Festival takes over various Leeds venues from Sunday 1st to Monday 30th September 2019.

Hyde Park Folk Festival

If you love folk music, get down to Hyde Park Book Club this month. They’re hosting the first ever Hyde Park Folk Festival and it promises a whole day of the best up and coming musicians in the region. Spread across two spaces, The Basement and The Snug, you can check out the likes of the Redwood River Band, The Moorlanders and Owen Spafford & Lewis Campbell.

Hyde Park Folk Festival comes to Hyde Park Book Club on Sunday 15th September 2019.

Ocean Film Festival

The Ocean Film Festival World Tour comes to Leeds Town Hall this month. From the team behind Banff Film Festival, it promises a carefully curated line-up of short films that show off incredible footage from above and below the water’s surface. Their films celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who help bring the ocean to the big screen.

Ocean Film Festival comes to Leeds Town Hall on Friday 27th September 2019.

Reb’Elle Festival 2019

Reb’Elle Festival is a day of live music and art in support of marginalised communities and identities. You can look forward to a stellar line-up that includes Honeyblood and Adult Mom. They’re backed up by the likes of The Tuts, Porridge Radio and The Spook School. There will be an art, zine and awareness market, as well as vegan food and drink served throughout.

Reb’Elle Festival 2019 comes to Temple of Boom on Saturday 28th September 2019.

Swithens Farm Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival is one of the biggest events of the year at Swithens Farm. They will be celebrating with plenty of fun activities for everyone to take part in. You can follow the harvest trail to find the painted pebbles or get arty in their workshops to hide one you’ve designed across the farm. If you want, you can even make your own scarecrow before the event, bring it with you and win prizes.

Swithens Farm Harvest Festival comes to Swithens Farm on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September 2019.

Best of the Rest

15 Minutes Live

Credit: Radio Plays

From blockbusters with a live orchestra to a visit by Tibetan monks, this is the best of the rest this September.

The Luna Cinema

The Luna Cinema is back at Harewood House this September for three nights of must-see films under the stars. Friday night is fun for all the family as they show Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The next evening, you can see the Lady Gaga masterpiece A Star Is Born, before they finish the weekend on this year’s Oscar-winning hit, Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Luna Cinema comes to Harewood House from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September 2019.

15 Minutes Live

If you want to enjoy an afternoon of innovative drama this month, head to The Holbeck for 15 Minutes Live. Slung Low has teamed up with Unicorn Theatre to commission a team of emerging writers to create a series of 15-minute plays that respond to the theme of ‘The Future’. They’ll be performed like a radio play complete with on-stage sound effects and live music.

15 Minutes Live comes to The Holbeck on Saturday 7th September 2019.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery Visit to Harewood

Eight Tibetan monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery will come to Harewood House for a week of events as they celebrate the 30th Birthday of their spiritual leader HH the Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima. They will build a sand mandala in the courtyard, perform a scared dance and music routine and host a series of arts and culture workshops before the residency ends with the destruction of the sand mandala.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery Visit to Harewood comes to Harewood House from Tuesday 10th to Sunday 15th September 2019.

Star Wars in Concert: The Empire Strikes Back

You can see one of the greatest films ever made like never before this month, as Star Wars in Concert brings The Empire Strikes Back to First Direct Arena. The movie will be screened on a giant HD screen so you can see the Rebel Alliance battle against the Imperial Forces as a symphony orchestra plays John Williams’ epic score live to the film.

Star Wars in Concert: The Empire Strikes Back comes to First Direct Arena on Saturday 28th September 2019.

Fleabag Delayed Screening

Fleabag is one of the most popular TV shows of the year and now you can see the award-winning, one-woman show that inspired the series on the big screen. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is taking it back to the West End, but since tickets flew out, she’s streaming it to City Varieties, so you can see this incredibly hilarious show about everyday life on the big screen.

Fleabag Delayed Screening takes place at City Varieties on Monday 30th September 2019.