7th January 2023

Looking for a vibrant, cultured city break in 2023 with plenty of fun things to do? Leeds is where it’s at this year.

And if you are wondering just what there is to do in Leeds 2023, then look no further. There’s so much going on in the city in 2023, from live music and world-class events to unique experiences, fun activities, interesting museums and exciting festivals. Not only that, but 2023 is the Year of Culture for Leeds, so a perfect time to visit our city during an amazing year of culture and celebration. Read on below to discover our picks of the top 23 fun things to do in Leeds in 2023.



1.   Experience culture across the city with LEEDS 2023

  • When: Year-long
  • Where: Citywide

We can’t possibly talk about the best things to do in 2023 without mentioning the Year of Culture. LEEDS 2023 is a year-long festival that celebrates Leeds’ culture and identity as a thriving, creative and inclusive city, and is packed to the brim with exciting events and displays of culture and community. What’s not to love?

Its opening ceremony, ‘The Awakening’ is sure to be a highlight for 2023. Taking place at Headingley Stadium, it’s an unmissable opening event to the whole year of culture, with music, poetry, dance, comedy and much more. Highlights of the year of culture include ‘Smeaton 300’ – a programme inspired by Leeds-born, world-renowned engineer and astronomer John Smeaton. Smeaton300 will include a magical mobile observatory, which will tour the city from June to December. A sound walk in music through the centre of Leeds, ‘As You Are’ is also happening in April. Composed by South African cellist Abel Selaocoe, for the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North and featuring guest musicians, this promises to be an unmissable experience. ‘All That Lives’ is a collaboration by Leeds artist Ellie Harrison and Mexican artists Zion Art Studio, and will reimagine Day of the Dead with the people of Yorkshire in November. It’s set to be a truly unique event like you’ve never seen before. For a year you won’t forget, come visit Leeds in 2023. It’s sure to put the city on the map.


2.   Experience all the drama at Opera North

  • When: January to March 2023 (Tosca) and throughout the year
  • Where: Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds City Centre

Leeds is a city with culture around every corner, and is proud to be home to Opera North – a leading UK arts organisation that pushes boundaries and challenges expectations. Opera North shows take traditional operas and throw them into entirely new settings  to really bring stories to life. Opera not for you? A trip to Leeds Grand Theatre to see one of Opera North’s productions will certainly change your mind!

A highlight this season at Leeds Grand Theatre includes Giacoma Puccinis’ ‘Tosca’. Following the story of a renowned prima donna and her troubles with a corrupt head of the secret police, ‘Tosca’ is a tale all about love, blackmail, revenge and murder. Promising audiences twists, shocks and pure entertainment, it’s just one of many productions Opera North will be putting on at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2023 from January to March. Tickets can be bought here, and keep an eye on Opera North’s website for more announcements.



3.   Enjoy the beauty at one of Leeds’ three historic houses

  • When: Open year-round
  • Where: Harewood House, Temple Newsam and Lotherton Hall

Leeds is home to not one, not two but three breath-taking historic houses all within easy distance of the city centre.

One of the treasure houses of England found in the beautiful Leeds countryside, a trip to Harewood House should be at the top of your list. It’s a luxurious 18th century house with over 100 acres of land and gardens surrounding it, including a bird garden complete with penguins and flamingos. Further afield you’ll find a deer park, an on-site farm and even some castle ruins.

Temple Newsam is one of the great houses of England and is just bursting with treasures and tales. With over 500 years of history, it has been home to many colourful characters. The house is architecturally unique in a tudor -Jacobean style, and has a working rare-breed farm on the grounds.

Lotherton Hall houses a museum and fashion galleries, as well as rooms restored to show what life was like for the landed gentry and their servants in the early 1900s. Exploring the grounds you can find a medieval chapel and even a zoo – Wildlife World.

These houses provide the backdrop for a perfect family day out. With plenty to explore, whether you walk around the grounds, learn about social history or explore the dazzling interiors to see how the other half used to live.


4.   Grab a ticket to see a world-class concert

  • When: Various times
  • Where: Various locations

The city of Leeds is home to world-class music venues, including the more well-known First Direct Arena and O2 Academy, and these stages attract some of the world’s finest talent. So, who can you expect to see performing in 2023? How’s Elton John, Shania Twain, Lewis Capaldi, The 1975, Pet Shop Boys and Olly Murs for you? Don’t miss out on grabbing your ticket; some of these acts will only be seen once in a lifetime. Fancy even more live music? Millennium Square is hosting an exciting Summer series and there’s festivals too, more information on these can be found below. You’ll be spoilt for choice!



5.   Bring history to life at Royal Armouries and grab a ticket to one of their jousting days

  • When: Open year-round
  • Where: Royal Armouries, Leeds Dock, LS10 1LT

One of Leeds’ many museums, the UK’s largest national collection of arms and armour is preserved at the Royal Armouries, located on the popular waterfront development at Leeds Dock. The Royal Armouries has five floors of galleries, with over 4,500 objects on display for all to enjoy. And amazingly it is free to enter! And it doesn’t stop there! The museum puts on exciting events year round for all the family, including jousting days, sword-fighting experiences, live reenactments and even an escape room experience! Book your tickets and become a knight for the day, here.


6. Immerse yourself in contemporary art at The Tetley

  • When: Year-round
  • Where: The Tetley, Hunslet Road, LS10 1JQ

Another of Leeds’ galleries, The Tetley is a pioneering centre for contemporary art located in the stunning art deco headquarters of the former Tetley Brewery in Leeds’ South Bank area. Not only is the Tetley home to some incredible art and exhibitions, but it’s a popular venue for live music, performances, workshops, community and fitness classes and is a popular spot for food and drink too. You can happily spend an afternoon here in this unique environment that encapsulates culture in the city, and is easily one of the top things to do in Leeds.

7. Celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month

  • When: February
  • Where: Citywide

Every year in the UK, February marks LGBTQ+ History Month, a period for celebrating equality and diversity. Leeds supports and celebrates its LGBTQ+ community and its history in the city. Leeds’ Freedom Quarter is a hive of activity with plenty of LGBTQ+ venues to choose from. Queens Court, the biggest gay district in Leeds, has DJs and themed nights throughout the week across two floors. The New Penny is Leeds’ oldest gay bar and one of the UK’s longest running LGBTQ+ venues,. The award-winning Viaduct Showbar will entertain you seven days a week with cabaret, live shows and DJs while Fibre will have you dancing until the small hours. Leeds is also home to a very special LGBTQ+ bookshop, The Bookish Type, so you can brush up on your history and literature during your visit.


8.   Visit the Leeds Artists Show at Leeds Art Gallery

  • When: Opens 15th February 2023
  • Where: Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, LS1 3AA

If you’re looking for one of the top things to do in Leeds, then take a trip to Leeds Art Gallery. Leeds Art Gallery is home to one of the best collections of 20th-century British art outside of London and showcases a wealth of modern and contemporary British art, including paintings and sculptures, special exhibitions and new media installations that make Leeds Art Gallery the flagship for visual art. This year for the first time in over a decade Leeds Art Gallery will showcase the best in new and emerging artistic talent from across the city with ‘The Leeds Artists Show’. Opening in February 2023 as part of the LEEDS 2023 year of culture, this show promises to be a vibrant celebration of art representing a full spectrum of art forms, artists and communities from across the city.  Hundreds of submissions have been entered, and the show will debut on the 15th of February. Take a trip down here to see the very best of what the city has to offer in the arts and culture space.


9. Experience Lord of the Flies on stage at Leeds Playhouse

  • When: 18th March to 8th April
  • Where: Leeds Playhouse, Quarry Hill, LS2 7UP

Think you know Lord of the Flies? Think again! The classic novel (and school class-room favourite) ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding will be brought to life on stage in a powerful new production at Leeds Playhouse. Directed by Amy Leach, who’s previously worked her magic on ‘Macbeth’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Romeo & Juliet’, this must-see production will be a modern staging of the book and promises to be an unforgettable event that will stay with you long after the curtains close.


10. Experience the roaring 1920s with Northern Ballet’s The Great Gatsby

  • When: 8th – 18th March
  • Where: Leeds Grand Theatre, New Briggate, LS1 6NU

What could be more glamorous than an evening at the ballet? How about a raucous 1920’s themed ballet based on the effervescent ‘The Great Gatsby’? Leeds’ based Northern Ballet is one of the most prestigious dance companies in the UK, and is unique in breaking down the barriers between dance and theatre, delivering spellbinding performances which are accessible and enjoyable for all audiences. In 2023, visitors will have the chance to experience a magical reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel at Leeds Grand Theatre. Be transported to the glitz and the glam of the 1920s while watching some of the country’s most impressive talent performing in one of the UK’s most spectacular theatres – why wouldn’t you book your ticket?


11. Kickstart a love of reading at Leeds Lit Fest

  • When: 25th Feb – 5th March
  • Where: City-wide

Is 2023 your year to read more? If so, add the award-winning Leeds Lit Fest to your calendar. Set across different venues in the city, including the quaint Hyde Park Book Club, Carriageworks Theatre and the beautiful ‘hidden gem’ Leeds Library, writers, performers and artists will showcase their talents and provide advice to guests as part of an exciting schedule of author readings, workshops, and panels. Tickets are on sale now for events including workshops for budding writers such as ‘The Uncanny in Short Fiction’ with Lucie McKnight Hardy and ‘Weirding Your Fiction’ with Dan Coxon. Other headlining authors offering talks and workshops include renowned author Alison Littlewood and award-winning modern horror author Catriona Ward.


12. Take in 1001 stories from the generation who brought you punk

  • When: 27th April to 6th May
  • Where: Leeds Playhouse, Quarry Hill, LS2 7UP

A standout on the LEEDS 2023 billing sheet, ‘1001 stories’ has been developed by one of the UK’s leading repertory theatres, Leeds Playhouse and leading theatre group’s – The Performance Ensemble. This original one-of-a-kind production will put the voices of older people centre-stage, creating artistic work from their stories about love, loss, heartbreak, community, and chance meetings. An important and poignant production, 1001 stories is something all ages should see and one of the top things to do in Leeds in 2023.


13. Get your groove on at Leeds’ iconic music festivals

  • When: Live at Leeds, 27th May; Let’s Rock Leeds, 17th June; Leeds Fest, August Bank Holiday Weekend
  • Where: Live at Leeds and Let’s Rock Leeds, Temple Newsam; Leeds Fest, Bramham Park

If there’s one thing Leeds knows what to do, it’s party. Undoubtedly some of the most fun things to do in Leeds, the city plays host to some incredible live music festivals each year; with Leeds Fest, Let’s Rock Leeds and Live at Leeds just some of the very best. Leeds Fest begins on the 25th August in Bramham Park, with this year’s huge headliners being Billie Eilish, The Killers and Sam Fender. Live at Leeds and Let’s Rock Leeds both will be taking place in the beautiful grounds of the Tudor-Jacobean estate of Temple Newsam. Two Door Cinema Club, Tom Walker and The Lathums are among the acts playing at Live at Leeds, while the UK’s biggest retro festival, Let’s Rock Leeds, will see Soft Cell, Tony Hadley and Midge Ure and take the stage. Make sure you grab your tickets!

14. Sing and dance your way through a Summer of world-class musicals

  • When: March – June
  • Where: Leeds Grand Theatre, New Briggate, LS1 6NU

Fancy a night at the theatre? Who doesn’t! This year, Leeds Grand Theatre is hosting a special Summer of musicals series with shows fresh from the world’s stage. Enjoy the ultimate feel-good musical, ‘Mamma Mia!as it returns to Leeds Grand Theatre for two weeks only, running from 4th to 15th April, while the ever-popular,Kinky Boots’, will strut its way into Leeds Grand Theatre from 18th to 22nd April.

The eagerly anticipated production of the Broadway and UK smash-hit musical ‘Sister Act’ comes direct from London to Leeds, singing from the heavens from 21st March to 1st April. The international, award-winningThe Bodyguard’ is back in June, featuring a whole host of Whitney Houston classics including Queen of the Night, One Moment in Time, and I Will Always Love You. Following a successful run in the West End,The Commitments’ is a feel-good celebration of soul and plays from 19th to 24th June, while the legendary musical, ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, is once again coming to Leeds to thrill theatregoers from 27th June to 1st July.  And that’s not all – discover all of the top-notch entertainment descending on Leeds here.



15.  Enjoy live performances of your favourite bands at Millennium Square Summer Series

  • When: July
  • Where: Millennium Square, LS2 3AD

Live music from some of the world’s leading artists while basking in the evening summer glow? Sign us up! An iconic space in the city centre – Millennium Square is the perfect spot to enjoy a live concert  and their Sounds of the City event is back in 2023. Artists already lined up to perform at the venue including McFly, Kasabian, Blossoms, Bastille and Nile Rogers featuring CHIC. The Summer Series also includes full orchestra performances of Club Anthems and 80s classics. Previous events were a runaway success and tickets for the 2023 iteration are already on sale, so don’t miss out on your ticket to one of the top things to do in Leeds this summer. Go, go, go!


16. Enjoy major international cricket as The Ashes come to Headingley Stadium

When: 10 – 13 July 2022

Where: Headingley Stadium

The 2023 Ashes series is an unmissable international sports event, whether you’re a die-hard cricket fan or not, everyone will be tuned in this Summer as this series of test cricket matches is played out between England and Australia. Headingley Stadium will play host to the crucial third match of this series and it’s set to be epic! Tickets are on sale now.


17. Celebrate Leeds Pride

  • When: August, specific dates TBC
  • Where: City-wide

The largest free LGBTQ+ celebration in Yorkshire, Leeds Pride is a colourful and friendly celebration of love, inclusivity and equality. Thousands of people gather to celebrate and march in the parade that starts outside Millennium Square, with performers taking to the stage to further bring the fun and good vibes, followed by events across the city. The first pride event was held in Leeds in 2006 and the event just gets bigger and better each year. So, make sure you’re among the troops celebrating pride this summer!



18. Celebrate at Leeds West Indian Carnival

  • When: Sunday 27th and Monday 28th August
  • Where: Potternewton Park, Chapeltown, Leeds

Europe’s longest running authentic Caribbean Carnival, Leeds West Indian Carnival is held annually on the last Monday in August and celebrates Caribbean culture, food and entertainment for all to enjoy – and is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Leeds! The festival has been running since 1967, after founders Arthur France and Ian Charles came to Leeds from the Caribbean and found themselves missing the vibrant culture, art and music of their homeland. The Leeds West Indian Carnival brings the tastes, sounds and sights of West Indian culture to the streets of Leeds, bringing joy, sunshine and warmth to the city. Details for the 2023 festival are yet to be announced, but make sure you’re there to celebrate for a truly joyful celebration.



19. Take on new adventures at the Waterfront Festival

  • When: August Bank Holiday Weekend
  • Where: Granary Wharf, LS1 4BR

It’s back for another year! After success from the past couple of years, Leeds Waterfront Festival is once again bringing the waterways alive by hosting a fantastic mix of music, performance, arts and fun for all the family. Highlights from 2022 included kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, rock climbing and African drumming workshops. If you’re making a trip to Leeds for the Bank Holiday weekend, or live here and are looking for something fun to do, make sure to keep updated with all the events of the Waterfront festival here and come along. Grab your canoe and we’ll see you there!


20. Be inspired at Leeds International Festival of Ideas

  • When: September
  • Where: City-wide

The UK’s greatest metropolitan festival of creative thinking, the Leeds International Festival of Ideas (LIFI) once again descends on the city in 2023. Offering a programme of creative engagement and curiosity addressing some of the most important issues of our time, last year’s event included insightful talks from keynote speakers Kevin McCloud, Aisling Bea, Gail Porter and Mary Beard – and this year’s line-up is sure to be just as fantastic. We promise that you’ll leave feeling inspired and full of ideas, so why not book your ticket?


21. Experience the city in new ways at Leeds Light Night

  • When: October
  • Where: Citywide

One of the most popular Leeds activities, Light Night, returns for its 18th year in 2023. The UK’s largest annual arts and light festival takes place for two nights every October, transforming some of Leeds’ most recognisable indoor and outdoor spaces by spectacular light art. Each year has a different theme, and it’s a truly magical experience to wander through the streets and see the buildings you walk past each day illuminated and transformed. Keep your eyes peeled on the website for more information for the 2023 event.



22. The reopening of Hyde Park Picture House

  • When: TBC, expected end of the year
  • Where: Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Road, LS6 1JD

Great News – one of Leeds’ most popular independent cinemas, Hyde Park Picture House, is reopening after a multi-million pound refurbishment. Originally opened in 1914, the exciting ‘Picture House Project’ will preserve and restore the cinema’s historically significant features, including its Burmantofts-tiled front, original terrazzo flooring and Grade II-listed lighting, whilst bringing in modern updates such as a new 52-seat basement screen, a cafe area, and new accessible features. Opening date to be announced, so keep your eyes peeled to enjoy a trip to Leeds’ cosiest and quirkiest cinema in 2023 and never be stuck wondering what to do in Leeds again!


23. Be the first to see new films at International Film Festival

  • When: November
  • Where: Various locations

Founded in 1987 and one of the UK’s leading annual film events, the Academy Award and BAFTA-qualifying Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) celebrates the work of new filmmakers from the UK and worldwide. The international film festival allows visitors to explore an epic selection of unique films from creators around the world, held at some of the city’s very best venues, from juggernaut Vue, to smaller favourites Everyman and Cottage Road Cinema, to Leeds School of Arts Cinema at Leeds Beckett University. Although the programme is yet to be announced, 2023’s event will take place in November, and if past years are anything to go by then it promises to be an exciting celebration of talent and diversity. And if film is your thing, then do not miss the European Union National Institutes for Culture film festival taking place in Leeds in April, the first city outside of London to ever host the film festival, plus Leeds Young People’s Film Festival that takes place in the Spring. Ready, set, action!

With all this and more on the city’s doorstep, there are many ways to Love Leeds for Longer.  For a year filled with culture, fun and plenty to do it’s certainly worth a trip to Leeds in 2023.