The Best Bank Holiday Weekend Events in Leeds

· Imagine Selby · Culture

Make the most of the late May bank holiday!

Slam Dunk

The next bank holiday is just round the corner – but what will you get up to on the long weekend in Leeds?

As ever, there’s a little something for everyone in Leeds this late May bank holiday. From live music and huge shows to art exhibitions and comedy nights, it’s going to be a great weekend. And 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 2023

Leeds Jazz Festival

Credit: Leeds Jazz Festival

Leeds Jazz Festival. Throughout the bank holiday weekend, the whole family can get stuck into a bit of jazz as Leeds Jazz Festival makes its return. Free activities are taking place across the city, including the Welcome to Leeds stage on Cookridge Street, a cinematic audio-visual dome in Leeds Train Station, DJ workshops, talks and performances.

Soft Machine. Soft Machine is one of the UK’s favourite jazz-rock bands and whilst the line-up has changed more than once since the late 1960s, the band’s sense of adventure through the genres is inexorable. Catch them at City Varieties on Friday as they put on a show that encompasses everything from progressive jazz to psychedelia.

NOFX. This weekend in Leeds, join NOFX in celebrating their final UK appearance on Friday at Temple Newsam. The LA-hailing punk rock bank will run you through their albums ‘Punk in Drublic’ and ‘Wolves in Wolves Clothing’ in full, plus even more hits from throughout their 40-year career. Shuttles will run to the event from the city centre.

World Island Presents. Having brought the likes of Loyle Carner, Badbadnotgood, Floating Points, Sampha, Madlib and many more to Leeds in the past, World Island returns to Belgrave Music Hall this bank holiday weekend with the one and only Gilles Peterson for a line-up curated and headlined by the man himself, including Rarelyalways and Allysha Joy.

The Chats. The Chats are an Australian punk rock band, formed in 2016 on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. The self-identified ‘shed-rock’ band are bringing all the Aussie vibes to Leeds Beckett Students Union this weekend, as they perform their viral hit ‘Smoko’ alongside sunny tunes like ‘Pub Feed’, ‘Drunk n Disorderly’ and ‘6L GTR’.

Niteworks. Childhood friends and long-term fellow musicians from the Isle of Skye, Niteworks offer a unique mix of Scottish traditional, folk and Gaelic music with contemporary electronica. Joined by a few guests, it’s your chance to hear songs like ‘Gura mise tha fo Èslein’ from their 2022 album ‘A’Ghrian’ plus a few familiar favourites.

Bongos Bingo Leeds

Civic. The five-piece came together in 2018 through the Melbourne music scene, and it wasn’t long before Civic put their music heads together to create their first EP, ‘New Vietnam’. With two more albums added to the roster since, you can hear them live in all their glory at Brudenell Social Club on Friday. Support comes from Self Immolation Music and CAD.

Bongo’s Bingo. You can head to O2 Academy Leeds on Friday night for Bongo’s Bingo. It’s bingo made cool again (was it ever?). Get ready for absolutely bonkers games of luck, complete with rave interludes, inexplicable prizes, confetti cannons and fancy dress galore. Just remember to call off early Saturday morning plans – they’re done for!

The Pearl Fishers. Conducted by Matthew Kofi Waldren, the spellbinding soundscape and soaring choruses of The Pearl Fishers expertly capture the extremes of beauty and darkness. Matthew Eberhardt’s atmospheric production brings a modern approach to this 160-year-old work exclusively at Leeds Grand Theatre on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday 27th May 2023

Live at Leeds in the Park

Credit: Jamie Macmillan Photos

Live At Leeds In The Park. Live At Leeds In The Park returns this Saturday, bringing some of the biggest artists to Temple Newsam for a day filled with music with a spot of craft beer and street food. This year’s line-up sees Two Door Cinema Club, DMA’s, The Hives, Cavetown and Kate Nash take to the outdoor stage.

The Great Exhibition of Prize Ales. Love beer? You’ll love this event at Kirkstall Brewery on bank holiday Saturday. A host of the UK’s finest breweries are coming to Leeds to pour specially-brewed beers that celebrate the history of brewing. We’re talking bitters and export pales, milds and barleywines, from the likes of Amity, The Kernal and Verdant Brewing Co, alongside Kirkstall.

Requiem. On Friday and Saturday, you can see Mozart’s iconic Requiem reimagined in a powerful double bill alongside a new commission by Neo Muyanga at Leeds Grand Theatre. Both works are choreographed by Dane Hurst for two contemporary dance ensembles in an emotional response to the grief experienced by so many during the pandemic.

Great British Food Festival Harewood

Credit: Stephanie Thornton

The Garden Party. This year’s Leeds bank holiday weekender is heading to Canvas Yard. The Garden Party will be spread across three stages and two days, with acts like Alan Fitzpatrick, Anish Kumar, Barry Can’t Swim and Bradley Zero. There’ll also be a number of bars across the new venue, as well as a range of street food vendors.

Leeds Queer Market. Head down to Hyde Park Book Club on Saturday and support your local queer, small businesses. You can expect stalls from entirely LGBTQ+ creators and makers selling everything from arts and crafts to plants and more. Better yet, all products sold at the event will be vegan.

The Great British Food Festival. Featuring live music, chef demonstrations and plenty of food vendors, the Great British Food Festival makes a fun day out for the whole family. Whether you’re a fan of traditional British dishes like fish and chips, or you’re looking to try something new, there’s plenty to see, taste, and enjoy this Saturday at Harewood.

Royal Armouries Old West

Credit: Charlotte Graham

Tales from the Old West. Discover their fascinating stories and gasp in amazement as Tales from the Old West lands at the Royal Armouries on Saturday. The highlight of the event is the horse shows – led by a crack team of daredevil riders and their highly-trained horses, they feature sharp-shooting, trick-riding, liberty displays and more.

The Comedy Store. With nearly 40 years of experience in the business, The Comedy Store is renowned as a breeding ground for new comedy talent and remains the place to see the stars of tomorrow today. Heck, the likes of Eddie Izzard, John Bishop, Jimmy Carr, Rhod Gilbert and Sarah Millican all performed here in their early comedy days!

The Tiger Lillies. The Grammy-nominated godfathers of alternative cabaret return with a concert showcasing their career in music this weekend at the City Varieties. Expect dark and deviant theatrics as they delve into their back catalogue, presenting their most famous songs, alongside a few new surprises.

Sunday 28th May 2023

Slam Dunk. Punk rock fans rejoice! The iconic all-ages Slam Dunk Festival is back this weekend, with Slam Dunk Festival South being held at Hatfield Park while Slam Dunk Festival North will be held at Temple Newsam. The line-up is a good one, with the likes of Enter Shikari and The Offspring headlining.

Swift! at the Disco. Planning a night out in Leeds this bank holiday weekend? Join The HiFi Club on Sunday night as they bring together your all-time favourite emo anthems with hits from pop princess Taylor Swift. Oh yes, you can boogie down to songs from My Chemical Romance, Paramore and Fall Out Boy all the while singing along to T.Swift’s best.

Better Days Festival Chapter 5. It’s another bank holiday weekend in Leeds, which means the Better Days Festival is back for its fifth rendition of the year. Beaver Works will be transformed into multiple stages for an all-day summer festival with over 50 guest DJs and brands. You can expect funfair rides, street food stalls, lighting shows and live musicians too.

Siv Jakobsen. Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen quickly became rose to fame in the indie-folk world with her first EP ‘The Lingering’. Since then she’s gone on to support the likes of The Lumineers and release two further albums – ‘A Temporary Soothing’ and ‘Gardening’. See her in all her glory at Brudenell Social Club on Sunday.

Sofar Sounds Secret Concert. You can discover the magic of live music in a secret Leeds venue this weekend with Sofar Sounds’ Secret Concert. There’ll be three diverse independent acts taking to the stage for an evening of nothing but good music. The location won’t be released until the day before, but it’s one of the best things to do in Leeds for gig goers.

Hyde Park Folk Club with Jon Wilks. Love your folk? You can head down to the basement of Hyde Park Book Club on Sunday to catch Jon Wilks – an acclaimed fingerpicking guitarist and singer of traditional folk songs and broadside ballads – as he mixes folk song performance with amusing storytelling. Support comes from Stiofán Ó Treabhair and Katy Ryder.

Sunday Joint. Want to jazz up your Sunday? You can sway the night away to the captivating melodies of jazz at The HiFi Club as the Leeds Jazz Festival presents an unforgettable evening of music, featuring the talented rising star Grifton Forbes-Amos and Leeds’ very own Afrodesia. Hosted by DJ Lubi Jovanovic, this Sunday Joint is going to be a good one indeed.

Monday 29th May 2023

Andy Shauf. With songs ‘Sunset Canyon’, ‘The Magician’ and ‘Quite Like You’ gaining swathes of streams, Canadian indie singer-songwriter Andy Shauf proves himself a master of story-telling. He comes to Brudenell Social Club this bank holiday Monday, with support from indie-folk musician Marina Allen.

Monday Night Comedy. It’s another week, another round of Monday Night Comedy over at Headrow House! And you’re invited to get cosy in this lovely venue and watch some of the city’s emerging comics from the Leeds Comedy Project as they attempt to get a few laughs out of you for the evening. It is a bank hol after all!

Moreish Idols. Cornwall-formed, London-based band Moreish Idols are making the trip up North to Leeds this bank holiday weekend to showcase their recently released EP ‘Lock Eyes and Collide’, which features the single ‘Chum’. Could this be their big break? Join them at Oporto on Monday, with support from Dim Imagery and Mince.

Interpol. This bank holiday Monday, New York rockers Interpol return to the stage at the O2 Academy Leeds in support of their seventh critically acclaimed 2022 album, ‘The Other Side of Make-Believe’. And with a quarter of a century of music-making behind them, you’ll also get to hear numbers like ‘Evil’, ‘Rest My Chemistry’ and ‘Obstacle 1’.

Story of Leeds Jazz. The ‘Story of Leeds Jazz through the lens of Denis Dalby’ photography exhibition delves into the musical history of the city’s jazz scene. Run in conjunction with Leeds Jazz Festival 2023, the exhibition is completely free to attend and will be in situ in the porch area of Left Bank all bank holiday weekend.

Toddler Takeover. Looking for things to do with little ones in Leeds this bank holiday Monday? Join the folk at Left Bank for their Toddler Takeover, open to anyone with babies and toddlers. There’s tons of fun to be had in their dedicated space for grown-ups and young uns to hang out, have a cuppa and play. Expect toys and books aplenty, arts & crafts, and even a colourful soft play.