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

30 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.

Chicago, Leeds Grand Theatre

From unmissable shows to gigs and comedy, make May 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 shows to food festivals, record fairs and loads of must-see concerts. But that only scratches the surface of what’s going on in Leeds in May, so clear your diary, call your mates and make big plans for what will be a busy old month.

the book of mormon

Credit: Paul Coltas

The Book of Mormon. After two years of delays, one of the most popular new musicals of the 21st century continues its Leeds Grand Theatre run this month. Until Saturday 7th May 2022, The Book of Mormon follows the hilarious misadventures of a pair of mismatched Mormon missionaries who find themselves a long, long way from home.

I Wanna Be Yours. To start the month with a night at the theatre, check out I Wanna Be Yours at Leeds Playhouse until Saturday 14th May 2022. This is a funny, touching love story from award-winning slam poet Zia Ahmed, who tells the story of Ella and Haseeb, two normal lovebirds, with charming, little differences, until the elephant in the room looms larger and larger.

Blondie. One of the most influential bands of a generation, Blondie will be putting on one of the must-see events in Leeds this month. Get down to First Direct Arena on Wednesday 4th May 2022 to see Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and co run through hit after hit, from ‘Rapture’ to ‘Call Me’, ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘The Tide Is High’. Support comes from Smiths legend Johnny Marr.

Bonobo

Credit: Grant Spanier

Bonobo. Blurring the lines between electronica, nu jazz, trip hop and world beats, Bonobo is cemented as one of the most important producers of his generation. Albums like ‘Black Sands’, ‘The North Borders’ and ‘Migration’ have become popular and influential in equal measure, and he’s showing off his epic new album, ‘Fragments’, at O2 Academy Leeds on Saturday 7th May 2022.

Leeds Vintage Furniture & Home Fair. If you want to breathe new life into your home decor, pay a visit to Sunny Bank Mills on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May 2022. The Leeds Vintage Furniture & Home Fair returns with 25 stalls jam-packed with incredible throwback finds. From Art Deco to mid-century, artworks to ceramics, you’re bound to find a gem to treasure.

Maggie May. One of the most affecting shows in Leeds this month, head to Leeds Playhouse from Saturday 7th to Saturday 21st May 2022 to see Maggie May. It’s a hopeful play about an everyday Leeds family who have to balance daily life with the challenges of dementia. When Maggie’s memory slips, her husband Gordon and family use Rod Stewart’s music to help them through.

Michael Kiwanuka, O2 Academy Leeds

Independent Label Market. One of the biggest events in Leeds for music lovers, the Independent Label Market is coming on Sunday 8th May 2022. The Brudenell will be the destination for a host of Northern record labels like Daptone, Come Play With Me and Zen F.C. to set up shop and sell everything from limited editions to vinyl varieties, test pressings and band merchandise.

Michael Kiwanuka. Since the release of his Mercury Prize-winning third album, ‘Kiwanuka’, in 2019, this Muswell Hill singer-songwriter has been one of the biggest live draws in the UK. His long-awaited O2 Academy Leeds show on Sunday 8th May 2022 will show an artist at the top of their game, offering proof of past genius and glimpses of what’s to come.

Mattiel. They may be from Atlanta, Georgia, but indie duo Mattiel are right at home in the UK. This is where they broke through in 2017 with the release of their self-titled debut LP and Grace Slick-esque single ‘Count Your Blessings’ – five years on, they’re better than ever, with their darkly beautiful third record, ’Georgia Gothic’ the main feature at the Brudenell on Monday 9th May 2022.

North Leeds Food Festival

Chicago. It’s one of the sexiest Broadway shows ever and Chicago returns to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th May 2022. It stars Faye Brookes as Roxie Hart and Djalenga Scott as Velma Kelly in a sass-filled show full of seduction and ‘Razzle Dazzle’. Expect a mind-blowing show soundtracked by iconic tunes like ‘All That Jazz’.

Chris Rock. It’s been a quiet few weeks for Oscars’ host Chris Rock, but Will Smith’s human punching bag makes his way to First Direct Arena for his first-ever show in Leeds on Saturday 14th May 2022. His ‘Ego Death’ show will see Rock give his no-nonsense, insightful take on a range of topics, from family to politics, celebrity to race relations.

The North Leeds Food Festival. Pile into paella, chow on charcuterie and snaffle all the sweet treats as The North Leeds Food Festival returns to Roundhay Park for one of the biggest events of the month on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th May 2022. There’s street food stalls aplenty and amazing produce in the artisan market. You can take your pick of eight bars, including one from North Brewing Co.

The Charlatans

Jeff Dunham. Who says ventriloquy is dead? Let Jeff Dunham prove them wrong! The Texan comedian-cum-puppet master brings his wonderfully irreverent new show to Leeds at First Direct Arena on Sunday 15th May 2022. With the help of Peanut, Walter, Jose Jalapeño, Bubba J and the Dead Terrorist, as well as new member, Larry, they will put the world well and truly to rights.

The Charlatans. Rescheduled from December 2021 due to COVID, indie legends The Charlatans finally bring their 30th anniversary tour to O2 Academy Leeds on Sunday 15th May 2022. After 13 Top 40 albums, including three number ones, and 22 hit singles, Tim Burgess and co will be showing why they’re still one of the best bands around.

Jack Dee. He’s not known for being a beacon of optimism, but Jack Dee’s looking to change that when he comes to Leeds Grand on Sunday 15th May 2022. Well, maybe. ‘Off the Telly!’ sees Dee attempt to be a ray of sunshine in these difficult times, as he leads you on an aisle-rolling journey through his long, storied TV career, as well as his other sidelines, like ‘motivational speaking’.

As You Like It, Leeds Playhouse

Credit: Andrew Billington

As You Like It. It’s Northern Broadsides’ 30th anniversary this year and to celebrate, they’re performing Shakespeare’s most musical production, As You Like It, from Tuesday 17th to Saturday 21st May 2022. 12 northern actors will take on iconic roles like Rosalind, Celia and Orlando in this much-loved comedy that shows the transformative power of love and nature.

The Goa Express. You can see one of the bright young hopes of British indie music on Wednesday 18th May 2022 as The Goa Express take over Hyde Park Book Club. Rising out of the fertile Calder Valley music scene around Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, contagious earworms like ‘Second Time’ and ‘Be My Friend’ will soon be circling around your head.

Rhythm of the 90s. One of the best events in Leeds this month will take you back in time. Get down to the Brudenell Social Club on Friday 20th May 2022 to see this incredible live band play the biggest dance anthems of a legendary decade. From ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’ to ‘Everybody’s Free’, they’re a unique musical time capsule designed to get you grooving to iconic tunes.

Yard Act

Credit: Phoebe Fox

Yard Act. 2022 has undoubtedly been Yard Act’s year, so why not raise a glass or two to the success of a truly great Leeds band as they make a triumphant return to the city at the Irish Centre on Friday 20th May 2022? They’ve spent the past few months shilling debut album ‘The Overload’ in the US, including sets at Coachella, so you can bet they’re desperate for a big ol’ homecoming.

Marina. One of our most individual pop stars, Marina has shed her diamonds and found her own place in the modern music landscape. She’s a creator of vividly catchy, effortlessly fun dance pop tunes that mirror her own personality. Her fifth album, ‘Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land’, is her most accomplished yet – see her at Leeds University Union on Saturday 21st May 2022.

Madison Cunningham. What’s on in Leeds this month for folk rock lovers? You can see one of the best new American artists at the Brudenell on Saturday 21st May 2022 as Madison Cunningham crosses the Atlantic. Inspired by Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, having fans like Harry Styles and Andrew Bird, Cunningham’s sun-kissed twist on classic folk rock will take her to big things.

Brian Fallon and the Crowes

Brian Fallon & The Howling Weather. Ahead of reuniting with The Gaslight Anthem later this summer, Brian Fallon is heading out on a long-delayed tour with his band, The Howling Weather, to belatedly celebrate the release of his latest solo effort, 2020’s ‘Local Honey’. Get tickets for his show at O2 Academy Leeds on Sunday 22nd May 2022.

Black Country New Road. It’s a new era for avant-garde indie heavyweights Black Country New Road. They’ve just released their acclaimed second album ‘Ants From Up There’, but this show at the Brudenell Social Club on Sunday 22nd May 2022 will see them play entirely new music, created after the departure of frontman Isaac Wood. New sounds for new beginnings.

Strictly Come Dancing The Professionals Tour 2022. The annual Strictly Come Dancing tour is always one of the highlights of First Direct Arena’s calendar, but this year, it’s a little different. The show on Tuesday 24th May 2022 will be a celebration of The Professionals, a 10-strong troupe including Katya Jones, Kai Widdrington and Gorka Marquez.

Nights out in london

The White Card. The UK and European premier of Claudia Rankine’s first published play, The White Card, comes to Leeds Playhouse from Tuesday 24th May to Saturday 4th June 2022. It poses serious questions about whiteness, allyship and open conversation when a wealthy, privileged white couple invite a talented black artist for dinner and tensions run high as uncomfortable truths are told.

The Flaming Lips. One of the best live bands in the world make their way to Leeds on Wednesday 25th May 2022. Oklahoma City indie psych legends The Flaming Lips are headlining Leeds University Union in support of their latest album, ‘American Head’, which they’ll showcase in between era-defining hits like ‘Do You Realize??’, ‘Fight Test’ and ‘Race for the Prize’.

Lorde. She’s a Grammy and Brit Award winner, she’s gone platinum multiple times and she’s headlined the world’s biggest festivals. But you have a chance to see Lorde in the relatively intimate surroundings of O2 Academy Leeds on Wednesday 25th May 2022. The songwriter will be showing off her third album, ‘Solar Power’.

Abstract Orchestra Play Dilla. This is your chance to see a special tribute to one of hip-hop’s greatest from The Abstract Orchestra on Friday 27th May 2022. J Dilla’s untimely passing in 2006 saw an outpouring of respect which showed the huge influence he had and this is your chance to see the 16-piece band give remarkable renditions of his finest works.

Emeli Sande. She was one of the biggest popstars of the 2010s and now you have the chance to see the award-winning singer-songwriter in the ornately intimate setting of the City Varieties on Saturday 28th May 2022. In this solo piano show, she’ll show off her new album ‘Let’s Say For Instance’, as well as the songs that helped her sell 5.4 million albums and 19 million singles.

Stratagem with Alan Partridge. What’s on in Leeds for comedy fans in May? Norwich’s prodigal son and broadcasting heavyweight Alan Partridge comes to First Direct Arena on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May 2022. Much like ‘This Week…’, ‘Stratagem’ sees Partridge looking to inform, educate and entertain like few others can, at a time when the world has gone to the dogs.