Year of Culture
LEEDS 2023 is a year-long celebration of culture in our extraordinary city and everybody can be a part of it.
2023 will be a transformational year like no other. This year experience the city of Leeds like never before with an exciting programme of curated events designed to let culture loose.
Leeds is a city of contrasts, where the biggest names take to the stage alongside undiscovered talent. Where you’re just as likely to find the joy of dance pounding the pavements in carnival dress as you are to find it sweeping across a stage in ballet flats.
The whole city is a stage, emerging and exciting, vibrant, and energetic with a vibe you won’t experience anywhere else.
Leeds is a city with culture around every corner and this is our time to shout about it. Leeds 2023 is working with local, national and international artists and communities to create a celebration that’s for Leeds, with Leeds and inspired by Leeds.
LEEDS 2023 kicked off on Saturday 7 January with an opening show at Headingley Stadium featuring music, poetry, dance, comedy and much more, from artists including Corinne Bailey Rae, The Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North and Jamie Jones-Buchanan and LYR (a band which includes author and current British poet laureate Simon Armitage, singer-songwriter Richard Walters, and multi-instrumentalist & producer Patrick Pearson).
From brand new shows, bringing to life over 1000 stories from people across the city, to sound walks through the streets of Leeds and a magical moving observatory. From re-imagined Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations to Finnish Saunas. This year promises to be an explosion of creativity through music, exhibitions, performance and discussion that will bring to life hidden stories in the city.
Part Two: Playing
May to August 2023
This Summer audiences are invited to explore the city in creative and bold ways – a chance to free ourselves from the known and play with new ideas. Inspired by our city’s roots as an ancient woodland, ‘Making a Stand’ (Summer 2023) is a bold public art installation in City Square by world famous artist Michael Pinsky in collaboration with award-winning environmental architects Studio Bark. ‘Smeaton 300’ is 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.
Part Three: Dreaming
September to December 2023
The third and final programme for Leeds’ Year of Culture 2023 is all about celebrating the dreamers. And Leeds is a city of dreamers… It kicks off in September with ‘Nest’ an epic outdoor theatre production with the National Youth Theatre. ‘Nest’ is set in 2050 and explores themes of Climate Change with the stunning natural backdrop of St. Aidan’s Nature Park. September also sees ‘Ancient Futures’ – where acrobatics meets afro-futurism in an immersive event on Millennium Square plus the BBC’s festival of poetry and performance ‘Contains Strong Language’ comes to Leeds at the end of the month.
In October Leeds Light Night – the UK’s longest running and biggest light festival – returns bigger than ever for the Year of Culture. ‘This is a Forest’ a citywide programme of installations, interventions and workshops by Invisible Flock also takes place. In November the internationally renowned artist collective Art Angel will create a site-specific project for Leeds, and towards the end of the month British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare will unveil his sculpture ‘Hibiscus Rising’ in the newly opened Aire Park. This sculpture – standing at 9.5 metres high – is a memorial to David Olulwale and will be a permanent installation in the park.
For more events, exhibitions, performances and more download the full programme on the links below or visit the Leeds 2023 website.
Why else should I visit Leeds?
LEEDS 2023 is all about letting culture loose in the city and Visit Leeds is here to let you know that Leeds really does have culture around every corner too and there’s plenty for visitors to enjoy alongside this celebration of culture.
The visual arts are well served by Leeds Art Gallery, with a remarkable collection of twentieth century works. Contemporary art finds a home in The Tetley, a hangover from the city’s brewing heritage. And Leeds takes centre stage in Yorkshire’s sculpture triangle, stretching from the inner-city Henry Moore Institute, to the rolling landscape of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
On the stage, you’ll find sights and sounds to savour. Our city is the only outside London to boast both a resident opera and ballet company Opera North and Northern Ballet alongside four major theatres, a world-class arena, and countless independent venues. A feast for the eyes, and ears. And it doesn’t stop there, with country house estates and a jam-packed events programme and live music in outdoor spaces and unique venues.
From the events of LEEDS 2023 to the culture that’s around every corner, there’s many ways to Love Leeds for Longer. To find out more about how to fill your time in the city, whether that’s for 24 or 48 hours, please visit: https://www.visitleeds.co.uk/inspire-me/