If the weekend has caught you by surprise and you still don’t have plans, fear not, because we’ve rounded up what’s going on this weekend in Leeds.
There’s always something to do in Leeds, so if you find yourself at a loose end this weekend, or any other for that matter, just whack Leeds-List in your search bar and find our guide to what’s on. From the latest shows to club nights and one-off events, we’ve got it covered.
Friday 16th February 2018
Kick off your weekend in Leeds with a pop-up opera on your lunch break. Opera North has taken over an empty unit in Trinity Leeds to bring you a quick-fire, 30-minute rendition of Mozart’s darkest, craziest opera – Don Giovanni. Mr. D’s Magnificent Pie Machine will be on hand to serve up a tasty feast of pie, mash and a cheeky beer, and the whole thing will cost just £12.50.
There’s plenty more theatre to see this weekend. Another Opera North production returns to Leeds Grand Theatre – Madama Butterfly features three of the original leads, so you’ll see it performed by singers who know Puccini’s moving story of love and betrayal better than anyone else. Elsewhere, catch High Rise’s new musical The Vikings at Seven Arts, Odd Doll’s trip to the coast in Seaside Terror at Chapel FM or Lexi Wolfe’s haunting horror The Witch in the Woods at HEART.
There are four new shows to check out at West Yorkshire Playhouse this weekend. The big one is Birdsong, an adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ acclaimed wartime love story, which comes to Leeds to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Or you can see Still Alice, a moving play that follows the tumultuous life of Alice Howland after she’s diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s at the age of just 50.
Elsewhere, you can see What If I Told You, a biographical dance piece from Pauline Mayers that looks at the assumptions made about her based on gender, background and skin colour. Want to go to the theatre with the kids? Penguins will take you to Central Park Zoo in New York – when the zookeeper catches Roy and Silo trying to hatch a rock, he hatches his own plan to give them a little surprise.
There are plenty of gigs to choose from if you fancy a spot of live music this weekend in Leeds. New York post-punks Public Access T.V. preview new material at Brudenell Social Club, which also hosts local stoner metallers Black Moth. Santiago welcomes York pop-punk band Safeguard with support from Pine, Temple of Boom gives us Leeds grunge brothers Numb Blood and London rapper Col3trane headlines Headrow House.
If you fancy a bit of tribute band brilliance, Leeds Irish Centre welcomes The Total Stone Roses with support from Oaysis and Leeds Town Hall is home to The Reach Out 50 Years of No. 1 Hits Tour by The Magic of Motown. Across town, Irish folk singer Cara Dillon shows off her latest record ‘Wanderer’ at Leeds College of Music and you can see British folk legend June Tabor as part of her new group Quercus at Howard Assembly Room.
Out for a late one? Go to the best club nights in Leeds. One of the biggest names in UK garage comes to O2 Academy Leeds as DJ Ex takes over Detonate. Elsewhere, Djrum takes to Headrow House with Youandewan and Debukas, Acetate #25 returns to Wire with Pearson Sound and The Friday Residency welcomes Justin Robertson and Pada to Sheaf Street Cafeteria. Church has a huge night planned too – go back to the 1920s with an immersive show featuring live bands and a carnival atmosphere in Party Like Gatsby’s The Mad Mansion.
Saturday 17th February 2018
On Saturday, there are loads of activities to help you bring Half Term to a fantastic end. Warrior Women delves into the past to reveal ancient female heroines at Royal Armouries, Junior Surgeon sees the little ones dissect a kidney and sew it back up at Thackray Medical Museum and Ice Cube promises a skating rink and fairground rides at Millennium Square. Sci-fi and anime fans can enjoy a day at Toshocon at Leeds Central Library – it’s a mini comic-con. Or you can the little ones to Drag Queen Storytime with The Witch Blair. And there’s family-friendly theatre too – try Christopher’s Caterpillars at Otley Courthouse and Moxie Brawl’s Windipops at The Riley Theatre.
There are three new exhibitions to check out this weekend in Leeds. Bodies & Copses is a joint exhibition at Inkwell from Beth Smith and Kevin Hickson – it explores human existence with beauty and wit. The Real Princesses of Yorkshire celebrates diversity and pokes fun at gender stereotypes at HEART and What is a Space of Line? sees artists from around the globe reimagine idioms ‘drop me a line’ and ‘answers on a postcard’ at University of Leeds’ School of Design.
You can also get creative yourself on Saturday. Fabrication hosts the Beginners Sewing 2: Make a Skirt Using Your Own Machine Workshop and The Bowery is home to Play With Paints Workshops – Oils. There’s also the chance to pick up a few bits at the Design@HEART Craft Destash, or if you fancy doing something a little bit different on your big day, visit The Alternative Wedding Fair at White Rose.
You have loads of gigs to choose from on Saturday night too. Join Girl Gang to celebrate their 1st Birthday at Chunk with a live music all-dayer from Breakfast Muff, Bloom, Kermes, Smother and Esper Scout. There’s a full day of tunes at Temple of Boom for metal fans with Palm Reader, Canvas, Wars and Hinges and at Wharf Chambers for the Indie Banquet with Treeboy & Arc, Hotel Lux and Melt Dunes. You can also see Leeds punks Higher Power headline Brudenell Social Club where psychobilly rockers King Kurt also play through over 35 years of tunes.
O2 Academy Leeds has a huge show on as Bedford alt-rockers Don Broco show off new album ‘Technology’. Across town, Michigan alt-metallers King 810 play The Key Club, local punk rockers The X-Ray Eyes headline Santiago with Blue Jinns and Pleasant Boys and country-bluegrass singer Lewis Burner plays an early-afternoon in-store show at SingleShot Records.
If you’re looking for classical music, Leeds Town Hall is the place to go. You can see the European Union Chamber Orchestra with renowned cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason play the works of Handel, Haydn, Delius and Mozart. For something a bit different, check out A Country Night in Nashville at City Varieties or join the gypsy carnival with Mewl Music at Seven Arts.
Prefer a night in the city’s clubs? British electronic producer Iglooghost comes to Headrow House while Pleasure Connection welcomes Suzanna Kraft and Interstellar Funk to Wire. You can enjoy hours of funk, soul and hip-hop classics at Huey Morgan’s NYC Block Party at The Wardrobe, or join the legendary Back to Basics at Church with special guests Waff and Melé. Mint Club presents Do Not Sleep with Darius Syrossian and Tommy Vicari Jnr, while Sonororus welcomes Tea Time With Two to Blueberry Hill Studios.
Sunday 18th February 2018
There’s one place to begin Sunday – St Edmund’s Church Hall for the Leeds Food and Flavours Festival. It celebrates the best traditional vegetarian and fish dishes from all corners of the globe. Expect free tastings, cookery demonstrations, live performances and family fun.
Looking for more things to do with the kids? The Arium is hosting its February Fun Fair, Hyde Park Book Club is home to a Board Games Afternoon and New Craven Hall welcomes Boomchikkaboom for another of their family raves, this time with a Valentine’s Disney Mess theme. You can also take the little ones to Leeds United v Bristol City down at Elland Road or join in the Chinese New Year Festival at Leeds Town Hall with dancing, music, kung fu, crafts and food & drink.
Sunday is your last chance to catch two must-see exhibitions in Leeds. The Humans of Leeds Photography Exhibition: ‘Now Then’ looks at issues of loneliness in older people at Holy Trinity Church, while Protest looks back at Leeds’ rich history of protest movements at Abbey House Museum. Want to get creative yourself? There’s Marbling & Book Binding and Rag Rug Brooches Workshops at Aire Place Studios, the Exploring Collage with Natalie Ward Workshop at Inkwell and the Family Weaving: Weave A Snood Collar Workshop at Spinning Mill Studios.
Fancy a laugh on Sunday? The Discount Comedy Checkout are back at The Fenton and need your help to put together their Improvised Soap Opera, or you can see American stand-up Reginald D. Hunter bring his acclaimed UK tour ‘Some People vs Reginald D. Hunter’ to City Varieties. Elsewhere, you can take a light-hearted look at dying in The Death Show at The Hub as Lucy Nicholls and Antonia Beck join forces to prove that death doesn’t have to be gloomy.
Why not end your weekend in Leeds with a spot of live music? There are two big shows to choose from at Brudenell Social Club – Dutch alt-rock trio Paceshifters or Bradford indie rockers Glass Mountain. Headrow House welcomes Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé collaborator Bilal or you can see fast-rising Sheffield group RedFaces at Oporto. Settle in for an evening of blues with Ben Blue Waters at Smokestack, enjoy an evening of jazz with the Jordan Dinsdale Group at Inkwell or groove to a night of reggae with The Hempolics at The HiFi Club.Cover image copyright Richard H Smith.