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Bank Holiday Weekend in Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

From festivals to family fun, don’t let the second May bank holiday go to waste.

The Garden Party, Leeds - jess Rowbottom

The final May bank holiday weekend is just around the corner – but just what will you do for the long weekend?

As ever, there’s a little something for everyone in Leeds this bank holiday, taking you from live music and huge shows to parties with some of the world’s best DJs. To make it that little bit easier for you to narrow down the options, we’ve rounded up the best events, all in one place – check it out, before you decide what to do with your long weekend.

Friday 26th May 2017

From gigs to theatre, start the bank holiday weekend as you mean to go on.

The Blockheads

The Blockheads

The Blockheads go all the way back to 1977 when they were formed to be the backing band for legendary punk icon Ian Dury and his record ‘New Boots and Panties’. Despite Dury’s death, The Blockheads carry on playing through their Dury-era classics as well as creating new material. Their forty year career still has plenty left to give.

The Blockheads play The Wardrobe on Friday 26th May 2017.

Gurdas Maan

One of the biggest events of the bank holiday in Leeds will be the arrival of iconic Punjabi singer and actor, Gurdus Maan. He’s set to play Elland Road in a special concert that will show why he’s one of the most influential figures in Punjabi music with songs like ‘Dil Da Mamla Hai’ and ‘Ki Banu Dunia Da’.

Gurdas Maan is at Elland Road on Friday 26th May 2017.

Carleen Anderson

Former lead singer of cult 1990s acid jazz group Young Disciples, Carleen Anderson will perform at Howard Assembly Room this May bank holiday weekend. She’s in town to show off her seventh solo record, ‘Cage Street Memorial’, which draws influence from over 100 years of her family’s involvement in music.

Carleen Anderson is at Howard Assembly Room on Friday 26th May 2017.

Hollie Haines

Leeds-based folk singer-songwriter Hollie Haines is making huge strides with her music career. Having developed her craft at Leeds College of Music, her Hyde Park Book Club show will mark the release of her brand new EP, ‘The Walls I Built’, which shows off one of the city’s brightest talents.

Hollie Haines is at Hyde Park Book Club on Friday 26th May 2017.

Back to Basics

Church, Leeds

In celebration of the bank holiday weekend, Back to Basics are moving their night to Friday for a very special event. They’ve managed to secure a set from one of electronic music’s most forward-thinking artists, Dubfire. He’ll be joined by German techno producer Oliver Huntemann for an unforgettable night.

Back to Basics is at Church on Friday 26th May 2017.

Regression Sessions: The Land of Nod

Regression Sessions’ bank holiday weekend special sees the return of The Land of Nod. Blending some of the biggest DJs from house and techno to dubstep and ambient, you’ll have a ball dancing away to tunes spun by Toyboy & Robin, Granite State, Linier, Crvvcks and DJ SD.

Regression Sessions: The Land of Nod is at Canal Mills on Friday 26th May 2017.

Julie Byrne

Julie Byrne

Quickly rising indie folk singer-songwriter Julie Byrne comes to Brudenell Social Club this May. The Buffalo, New York native released her second album back in January, ‘Not Even Happiness’ and it’s already being seen as Byrne’s breakthrough effort with tracks like “Natural Blue’, ‘Follow My Voice’ and ‘I Live Now as a Singer’ showing off her incredible voice.

Julie Byrne is at Brudenell Social Club on Friday 26th May 2017.

Speech Debelle

The name Speech Debelle may well ring a bell for some – the London rapper won the 2009 Mercury Prize with her debut album ‘Speech Therapy’. And although she has flown somewhat under the radar since, Debelle continues to mix sparse beats with powerful imagery, making her one of British hip-hop’s most important artists.

Speech Debelle is at The HiFi Club on Friday 26th May 2017.

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

Spend the beginning of your bank holiday at West Yorkshire Playhouse. They’ve got a performance of John Steinbeck’s famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, using Frank Galati’s Tony Award winning adaptation. Follow the Joads, a poor farming family in the Oklahoma Dustbowl who embark on a journey along Route 66 to California during the Great Depression.

The Grapes of Wrath is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Wednesday 24th May until Saturday 10th June 2017.

The Graduate

The Graduate

Credit: Manuel Harlan

The bank holiday weekend is your last chance to catch a silver screen classic adapted for the theatre. The Graduate is at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Friday and Saturday, following Benjamin, a college graduate who’s disillusioned with his future. He finds solace in another lost soul, the famous Mrs Robinson, who also turns out to be the best friend of his parents. Their illicit affair is both hilarious and heartwarming, making it a must-see.

The Graduate is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Friday 28th April to Saturday 27th May 2017.

Dave Spikey

Dave Spikey

As Phoenix Nights sent Peter Kay to superstardom, it also brought another comic into the mainstream, Dave Spikey. He comes to City Varieties in Leeds this bank holiday with his new show ‘Juggling On a Motorbike’, which acts as a sort of career retrospective. It tells the story of how he went from working in the NHS to becoming a comedian and winner of Stairway to the Stars, with plenty of laughs in between.

Dave Spikey is at City Varieties on Friday 26th May 2017.

The Play That Goes Wrong

The Play That Goes Wrong

Roll back the years this bank holiday with the help of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. They’re putting on a 1920’s murder mystery show – or at least they’re trying to. Everything that can go wrong, does, leading to a hilarious show – you’ll wonder just how they manage to make it to curtain call. A sell out on the West End, make sure you’re there to see it.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th May 2017.

The Besnard Lakes

The Besnard Lakes

Credit: Chris Gergley

One of indie’s most underrated bands make their way to Leeds this May, as The Besnard Lakes return to Brudenell Social Club. Releasing five albums across the past 14 years, they’ve slowly grown into one of the most dependable acts around, with latest album, 2016’s ‘A Coliseum Complex Museum’ proving they get better with age.

The Besnard Lakes is at Brudenell Social Club on Friday 26th May 2017.



If you want to see a show that will blow your mind this bank holiday weekend, don’t miss Wiyaala’s debut Leeds show at Seven Arts. She’s a critically acclaimed afro-pop singer-songwriter from Ghana who’s making waves with her powerful tunes. For this show, she’ll team up with master drummer Claudio Kron and bassist Kenneth James Higgins – it’s gonna be a cracker.

Wiyaala is at Seven Arts on Friday 26th May 2017.

Jungle Jam Summer Carnival

It’s sad to think that this bank holiday sees the last Jungle Jam event of the summer – but it also their biggest party of the year, so we can’t complain too much. The Summer Carnival at Mint Warehouse is a 12 hour day and night festival featuring the finest dancehall, reggae, jungle and drum ’n’ bass tunes around. You can eat at The Notting Hill Carnival Carribbean BBQ and grab free horns and whistles as you enter.

Jungle Jam Summer Carnival is at Mint Warehouse on Friday 26th May 2017.

Leeds Flamenco Festival

Juan Martin

Spread across the first two days of the bank holiday weekend, Leeds Flamenco Festival is celebrating its fifth year in 2017. There’s loads to make the most of – headline performances from acclaimed flamenco guitarist Juan Martín and his dance trio on Friday night and flamenco duo Samuel Moore and Tenley Martin on Saturday night for starters. The shows are surrounded by a slew of workshops and community performances that encourage you to join in the fun.

Leeds Flamenco Festival is at Holy Trinity Church on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th May 2017.


Mixing up the best in bass, bassline and house, Reminisce are having a hell of a bank holiday party. They’ve got all their usual residents spinning tunes like Kristian James, Livsey, James Horne, Weapon-er and Declan Kerr, but the big draw is set to be Redlight, an eclectic DJ from Bristol regarded as one of the most influential out there.

Reminisce is at Mint Club on Friday 26th May 2017.

The House of Fun Comedy Club

Rob Rouse

Fancy a laugh this bank holiday weekend? The House of Fun Comedy Club is where it’s at with a stellar line-up of stand-up comics at The Original Oak in Headingley. Geography teacher-turned-comedian Rob Rouse leads the bill with John Hastings and Andre Vincent in support.

The House of Fun Comedy Club is at The Original Oak on Friday 26th May 2017.

This Really Is Too Much

This Really Is Too Much

Make Friday dance night with The Graceful Collective at Yorkshire Dance. They’ve got a captivating evening of performance prepared with This Really Is Too Much, which sees four dancers take to the stage. They’ll deal with themes like farcical stereotypes and power struggles as they aim to reveal what it is to be a woman today.

This Really Is Too Much is at Yorkshire Dance on Friday 26th May 2017.

Saturday 27th May 2017

Exhibitions, festivals or family friendly fun? You won’t be short of options on Saturday.

The Specials

The Specials

Ska legends The Specials are returning for a huge show in Millennium Square this bank holiday weekend. They’re set to run through their greatest hits, from ‘Ghost Town’ to ‘A Message to You Rudy’ as they prove why they’re considered one of the most important bands of the last 40 years. Joining them is another set of music icons, reggae pioneers Toots and the Maytals.

The Specials play Millennium Square on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Adam Ant

Adam Ant

Love your 80s pop tunes? First Direct Arena is the place to be this bank holiday weekend. On the back of his sell out Kings of the Wild Frontier tour last year, Adam Ant is back, this time with Anthems: The Singles Tour. The show will feature all of Ant’s biggest tunes as well as mixing in some rare b-sides and personal favourites.

Adam Ant plays First Direct Arena on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Brighton Beach

One of Leeds’ longest running clubnights makes its long-awaited return to The Wardrobe this bank holiday weekend, with a post-Specials party. Brighton Beach is only on one or two times a year now, so don’t miss your chance to get your boogy on to classic tunes from Britpop to soul, 60s and indie.

Brighton Beach is at The Wardrobe on Saturday 27th May 2017.

This Is Not This Heat

The UK’s DIY scene was burgeoning in the mid-70s and one of its finest proponents was This Heat. Now, founding members Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward have got back together to perform brand new interpretations of their classic post-punk tunes, that will go down a storm with fans of Gang of Four, John Cale and The Pop Group.

This Is Not This Heat play Howard Assembly Room on Saturday 27th May 2017.

The Abstract Orchestra

World Island is one of the big events of the weekend with a festival at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday, but they’re also taking over Belgrave on Saturday night with a little help from The Abstract Orchestra. They’re an instrumental hip-hop orchestra who know how to put on a party and this time around, they’re celebrating the ground-breaking collaboration between Madlib and MF Doom, ‘Madvillain’.

The Abstract Orchestra play Belgrave Music Hall on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Slam Dunk North Pre Party

Got tickets for Slam Dunk North on bank holiday Sunday? Well, there’s only way to get the festivities started – at Leeds Beckett Students’ Union’s massive pre party. Clubnights Fuel and Atlas are teaming up to put on two rooms of classic tunes. Expect The Fuel Alt-Party in the big room, with pop-punk, emo and alternative classics, and The Metal Room in the small room, with a mix of metal and hardcore bangers.

Slam Dunk North Pre Party is at Leeds Beckett Students Union on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Up Yer Ronson Day and Night Terrace Party

Not only is Up Yer Ronson’s first Leeds event since December a day and night terrace party, but it’s also an Ibiza Reunion shindig. They’re taking over Mint Warehouse from 3pm until 3am, bringing the vibes from their Space Ibiza takeover to Leeds once again, with a mix of house, retro house and club classics to get your feet moving.

Up Yer Ronson Day and Night Terrace Party is at Mint Club on Saturday 27th May 2017.

The Comedy Sessions

If you can’t get to Rob Rouse and Andre Vincent’s Original Oak show on Friday night, you have another chance on Saturday night. The Comedy Sessions, as ever, make Saturday nights their own with a hilarious evening of stand up for the bank holiday weekend. Joining Rouse and Vincent is Northern Irish comic Martin Mor, a former circus performer who’s found a new calling.

The Comedy Sessions is at The HiFi Club on Saturday 27th May 2017

Spring Fling

Spring Fling

Credit: David Lindsay

This one is a little bit different as it’s for over 55s only. Organised by Yorkshire Dance, head to Live Art Bistro for Spring Fling where Young at Arts participants are putting on a series of surprising activities and performances for older folk. There’ll be mini-workshops, where you can learn about everything from gardening to art, as well as cabaret, Chapel FM Open Voices choir, live dancing and Ukulele Henry.

Spring Fling is at Live Art Bistro on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Animal Island

Thwaite Mills

Credit: Leeds Museums & Galleries

Bank holiday weekend also signals the start of the last half-term of the school year, and Thwaite Mills are getting right into the spirit of it all. Animal Island will see you and the little ones exploring animal and insect life, with activities suitable for all ages, and even dogs. There’ll also be nature packs and art kits which will teach you to make a butterfly or dragonfly.

Animal Island is at Thwaite Mills from Saturday 27th May until Sunday 4th June 2017.

Weekend Introduction to Jewellery Making

Jewellery making

Want to get your creative juices flowing this bank holiday? East Street Arts’ Barkston House is the place to go for a two day course that will teach you everything you need to know to make your own jewellery. You’ll get a thorough grounding in the essential processes and methods you need as well as learning to use of hand tools in a weekend that’s the equivalent of taking a six week course.

Weekend Introduction to Jewellery Making is at Barkston House on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May 2017.

Velvet Curtain Cabaret

Leeds Burlesque have been putting on their memorable events for a decade this year and to celebrate they have a new show, Velvet Curtain Cabaret, at City Varieties. On the bill is Carrie Ann, the world’s only Dita Von Teese tribute act, Coco Malone, a stunning jazz and soul songbird, and Fulcrum Circus, an incredible double act with all kinds of stunning circus skills. That only just scratches the surface of what’s on, so check it out.

Velvet Curtain Cabaret is at City Varieties on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen

Afsaneh's Persian Kitchen

One of the highlights of bank holiday weekend, Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen is taking over the ground floor of Leeds Corn Exchange for an incredible supper club evening as part of Leeds Indie Food. They specialise in authentic Persian cooking, with Mezzo platters, slow cooked meat dishes and vegetarian plates followed by traditional dessert and mint tea.

Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen is at Leeds Corn Exchange on Saturday 27th May 2017.


Balcombe & Smith

The first #FindTheForest evening on the Friday night has sold out, but another has been added on Saturday, so don’t hang around. Pop-up promoters Balcombe & Smith and Fiction are teaming up with outdoor learning and events company Forest Found for an utterly unique night of outdoor dining in a secret arboreous setting just 10 minutes outside of Leeds featuring a seasonal feasting menu.

#FindTheForest is at a secret location on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Sunday 28th 2017

From huge clubnights to foodie fun, bank holiday Sunday could be the highlight of your weekend – after all, you don’t have to get up for work on Monday.

World Island

Submotion Orchestra

Credit: Dan Medhurst

Music fans won’t want to miss World Island at Leeds Town Hall. It’s a whole day dedicated to music that pushes genre boundaries. It’s headlined by electronic producer Floating Points with a solo set, as well as offering performances from soul star NAO and hip-hop stars BadBadNotGood. Leeds’ own dub jazz crew The Submotion Orchestra are worth getting there early for.

World Island is at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 28th May 2017

Karma Fest Part V


If you fancy getting your head melted with psychedelic music at its finest, Karma Fest are taking over Eiger Studios for their fifth festival. There are two stages to flit between with bands and DJs on all day. The line-up is impressive with Elephant Stone, Telegram and The Cosmic Dead. Baba Naga is on earlier with a live show that is not to be missed. They’re going all out with psych light shows and visuals. Have a gander at the live art and grab a bite at one of the outdoor food stalls too.

Karma Fest Part V is at Eiger Studios on Sunday 28th May 2017.

The Garden Party Part 2

The bank holiday weekend wouldn’t be the same without The Garden Party. This time around, they’re heading down to Canal Mills for an all-day house shindig. They’ve got a line-up of stellar DJs including The Martinez Brothers, Gerd Jansen, Soldardo, Waze & Odyssey and Mele all on the decks, with street food vendors, live art, a cocktail bar and loads of outdoor space too.

The Garden Party Part 2 is at Canal Mills on Sunday 28th May 2017.

System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party

System and Set One Twenty Terrace Party

Another bank holiday weekend banker, the System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party takes to Mint Warehouse for a 12 hour all-dayer you won’t want to miss. They’ve got a great bill of house and techno DJs that’ll get you moving – Zip’s playing a four hour terrace set, with the likes of Barac, Mandar and Annie Errez in support.

System & Set One Twenty Terrace Party is at Mint Warehouse on Sunday 28th May 2017.



Don’t miss Peaches’ gig at Belgrave this bank holiday. The controversial electroclash artist turns her gigs into a spectacle, taking inspiration from Peaches’ own explicit lyrics. She’s touring her 2015 record ‘Rub’, her first since 2009’s ‘I Feel Cream’, and it’s a rare Leeds show for the Canadian innovator.

Peaches is at Belgrave Music Hall on Sunday 28th May 2017.



One of the rising stars of American r&b, They. are duo Dante Jones and Drew Love. This Headrow House show is an intimate show for the pair who have made waves with their debut album Nü Religion: Hyena, which effectively blends traditional r&b with rock and pop influences.

They. play Headrow House on Sunday 28th May 2017.


The Ukrainians

The second annual Labourfest will help raise money for the Headingley and Weetwood Labour Party and there’s a stellar line-up of music to enjoy while you help their cause. Leeds legends The Ukrainians are headlining with their post-punk take on Ukrainian folk music, and they’re supported by Nervous Twitch and Noah Brown.

Labourfest#2 is at Brudenell Social Club on Sunday 28th May 2017.



Brothers Michael and David Chapman earned rave reviews for their first Champs album, ‘Down Like Gold’, featuring their brilliant spiritual indie folk tunes like ‘St. Peters’, ‘Savannah’ and ‘My Spirit Is Broken’. That’s been followed up since with ‘Vamala’ in 2015 and this year sees the release of their as-yet-untitled third effort, which they’ll preview at their show at The Library.

Champs play The Library on Sunday 28th May 2017.

Cafe Del Mar Launch Party

Catching Flies
From this bank holiday forward, Angelica will be channelling Cafe Del Mar. It’s become one of the ultimate Ibiza bars, with its sun-kissed ambient tunes spawning popular compilation albums over the years. They’re launching their summer takeover of Angelica, which will feature a host of live bands and DJs – the first Sunday sees Catching Flies and Gelka play live, with Synkro, Mash and Sara Garvey on the decks.

Cafe Del Mar Launch Party is at Angelica on Sunday 28th May 2017.

A Place Called Happiness

How about some pay-as-you-feel theatre on Sunday evening? The HUB is welcoming Debs Gatenby to Leeds to perform her acclaimed new show. ‘A Place Called Happiness’ was more than a year in the works, as Debs looked at society’s obsession with happiness. She tried to find the secrets of ‘being happy’ but quickly found herself drowning in self-help. Instead, she started to say ‘yes’ to things to get her off the sofa, and this show is all about how she did it.

A Place Called Happiness is at The HUB on Sunday 28th May 2017.

I’m Carnival Happy

Leeds West Indian Carnival

Credit: Guy Farrar

Want to be part of an exhibition? Well, if you head to White Rose Centre on bank holiday Sunday you can be. In celebration of Leeds West Indian Carnival’s 50th year, they’re asking 500 people to visit their travelling portrait studio to get their picture professionally taken wearing one of their specially commissioned headpieces and the result will be part of an exhibition later in the year.

I’m Carnival Happy is at White Rose Centre on Sunday 28th May 2017.

Meet the Merchants Wine Fair

Sales shopping in Leeds

Wine lovers rejoice! The Meet the Merchants Wine Fair sees some of the region’s finest independent traders take over Leeds Corn Exchange for a whole day. Visit stalls from the likes of Latitude Wine, Ham & Friends, Wino, Alpine Wines and Martinez who’ll have all the information you’ll need to find your next favourite tipple, with no limit on how many wines you try. You can even grab some treats from Joseph Bullion Chocolate and cheeseboards from George and Joseph.

Meet the Merchants Wine Fair is at Leeds Corn Exchange on Sunday 28th May 2017.

Whitelock’s Victorian Banquet

Victorian Banquet at Whitelock's

Credit: Martyn Butler

As one of Leeds’ oldest pubs, it makes sense to be delve into the past for Whitelock’s big Leeds Indie Food event. The Victorian Banquet went down so well last year that it’s back again, and you can head back to the 19th century for a very special meal. The menu has been concocted using recipes from the pub’s Victorian golden years. It’s a great chance to try out food that hasn’t been seen for generations.

Whitelock’s Victorian Banquet is at Whitelock’s on Sunday 28th May 2017.

Monday 29th 2017

End bank holiday with a bang with these super cool gigs.

Acquisition and Loss

Sunny Bank MillsWhy not end the bank holiday with a trip to a brand new exhibition? Lorna Jewitt is presenting a solo body of work at Sunny Bank Mills that makes use of the complex’s own archive. In the process of preserving the history of the Mills, looking at everything from old guard books to samples of cloth, Jewitt has collected bits that would have otherwise been discarded and the exhibition explores their worth, both in the past and today.

Acquisition and Loss is at Sunny Bank Mills from Monday 29th May until Saturday 10th June 2017.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Credit: Shervin Lainez

New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have been keeping the good ship shoegaze sailing for over a decade now and there is no finer setting to witness their glass-shattering sounds than at Church. Now led solely by founding member Kip Berman, he’ll be playing through their three albums, from the self-titled debut to ‘Belong’ and ‘Days of Abandon’.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart play Church on Monday 29th May 2017.

A Taste of Carnival Family Workshop

Leeds West Indian Carnival

Credit: Ali Turner

With the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival this year, there are a slew of cool events to get the family involved in the run up to main event in August. A Taste of Carnival Family Workshop is designed for kids under 16, and will give them a chance to make their own costume headpiece, carnival-ise a t-shirt and even learn to soca dance.

A Taste of Carnival Family Workshop is at Leeds West Indian Centre on Monday 29th May 2017.

Molly Burch

Molly Burch

Credit: Dailey Toliver

Coming all the way from Texas to Brudenell Social Club, Molly Burch is well worth leaving the comfort of your couch on bank holiday Monday for. The singer-songwriter possesses one hell of a voice, finely tuned in her days as a jazz vocal performance student. Her music is much more than that though, blending soul, jazz, Americana and country for a truly original sound.

Molly Burch plays Brudenell Social Club on Monday 29th May 2017.

Revolting Body Lab

The end of the bank holiday is the start of the May half term, and the kids will love spending it at Thackray Medical Museum. Head to The Revolting Body Lab, where they’ll learn the purpose of everything from poo to snot, scabs and wee, before donning lab coats for a hands-on workshop where they’ll mix ingredients to make their own fake versions of bodily fluids.

Revolting Body Lab is at Thackray Medical Museum on Monday 29th May 2017 until Friday 2nd June 2017.

12 Hour Open Mic for Charity

Hyde Park Book Club

Give a little something back on bank holiday Monday at Hyde Park Book Club. They’re home to a 12 Hour Open Mic for Charity, featuring musicians, poets, comedians and other performers from 11am until 11pm, to raise money for two good causes, Kirkwood Hospice and Don’t Drink and Drown. It’s free entry, but donations are welcomed and you can even have a go yourself if you fancy it, but you have to book a slot in advance.

12 Hour Open Mic for Charity is at Hyde Park Book Club on Monday 29th May 2017.


There aren’t many bands in Leeds making music quite like OtherPeoplesLives. The four-piece are a collective of musicians and producers who create captivating sonic landscapes, rooted in post-rock, but they’ve now grown into something more. There’s nothing better to shake off the bank holiday cobwebs than a blast of OPL at Oporto.

OtherPeoplesLives play Oporto on Monday 29th May 2017.