Leeds West Indian Carnival Performers - credit Maria Spadafora


Celebrate Culture in Leeds

20th May 2021

With over 169 different nationalities calling Leeds home, it’s no secret that the city is one of the most diverse cities in the UK[1]. As the host of a variety of events ranging from delicious food festivals to colourful carnivals, Leeds has plenty to offer.

There is a wonderful variety of things to do in Leeds when visiting, food & drink, music and dance, all of which play an integral part in celebrating Leeds’ diverse communities. So, while you’re here, immerse yourself in the rich culture that the city has to offer.

Here are the top cultural attractions in Leeds that showcase our delightfully diverse city:

Phoenix Dance Theatre's Troy Game Photo Brian Slater


(Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Troy Game Photo Brian Slater)

The Arts in Leeds

Phoenix Dance Theatre continue to embody the spirit of a multicultural Britain through dance. Although Leeds is very much their home, the company was founded in 1981 by three black British men from Harehills, they have grown to be internationally respected and the longest-standing contemporary dance company outside London! We eagerly await their return to the stage this autumn.

Northern Ballet has been making an impact on the global stage while touring their breathtaking performances internationally pre-pandemic, with their dancers coming from all across the globe. They will be returning to the stage at the Leeds Grand Theatre with Swan Lake this June.The beautiful Chinese Drawing Room at Temple Newsam 4- Leeds Museums and Galleries

(Chinese Drawing Room, Temple Newsam – Leeds Museums and Galleries)

Leeds is also proud to be home to South Asian Arts, an innovative and cutting organisation that incorporates traditional and contemporary music and dance of South Asia.

Our dancers aren’t the only ones who will be travelling internationally, as objects from Leeds’ Museums and Galleries are regularly sent on wonderful trips all over the world. The international influence is evident in many of the collections you can discover here too. Explore Asian culture and Leeds’ links with the world’s largest continent at Leeds City Museum. Take a look inside one of Leeds’ most lavishly decorated rooms, the exotic Chinese Drawing Room at Temple Newsam, to see hand painted wallpaper.


A Taste of the World On Our Doorstep

Not only is Leeds packed with the familiar favourite restaurants, but it’s also home to many internationally inspired independents that you won’t find anywhere else. Loved by locals and visitors alike, the Leeds independent food scene is what makes it one of the country’s best.

We have cuisines from all over the world including the best Indian food at Tharavadu or Bundobust, or for a taste of Thai, there’s Chaophraya, My Thai and Sukhothai, so you can taste the world right on our doorstep.

The latest addition to the Leeds palate is Jamaican inspired Jamrock bringing classics like Jerk Chicken and Plantain to Call Lane. Experience the smells and flavours of Brazil at Fazenda or Estabulo or, for a more Mediterranean medley, try Greek at Tavassoli or Santorini Bar and Grill.

Where street food meets markets, Kirkgate Market is a foodies paradise, offering dishes from across the continents. From traditional Vietnamese at Banh and Mee, to tasty Turkish dishes at Mr Mackerel, and a Columbian kick at Kanassa, Leeds’ infamous market has it all under one roof.

Bundobust - credit Tom Joy

(Bundobust – Tom Joy Photography)

A Celebration of Culture

It’s of no surprise that with such a diverse city and its vibrant offering, that there’s always a host of exciting events celebrating the culture within.

As Europe’s longest running authentic Caribbean carnival, The Leeds West Indian Carnival is historically the first to include all three essential elements including music, costumes and a masquerade procession. Held annually in August, this carnival makes its way through the streets of Leeds and is one of the city’s most adored events. Leeds also hosts the annual Black Music Festival formerly known as the Leeds Reggae concert, and is Europe’s largest free open-air reggae concert.

Hosted by Heritage corner, Leeds Black History Walk began in 2009 and addresses the unseen narratives that provoke questions and positivity. Looking for things to do in Leeds? This walk is the perfect way to learn and celebrate the thriving African presence in Yorkshire.

Leeds International Piano Competition ‘The Leeds’ is known to be one of the world’s foremost music competitions, attracting only the finest pianists from across the world. Taking place once every three years in September, including this year, you’ll need to plan your visit accordingly if you don’t want to miss this one!

Last, but certainly not least, Leeds plays host to activities and festivities across the city to celebrate Chinese New Year, including workshops, exhibitions and even an annual gala at Leeds Town Hall.

Leeds West Indian Carnival - credit Maria Spadafora

(Leeds West Indian Carnival Performers – credit Maria Spadafora)

Offering everything from vibrant carnivals and festivals to delicious eateries and museums, the city of Leeds is brimming with culture. So why not delight your senses and experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes, as you immerse yourself in the rich, cultural diversity of Leeds.

Find out more on what the city has to offer by visiting here.


[1] https://www.coe.int/en/web/interculturalcities/wd-cddd-21-leeds