The UK’s Weirdest, Funniest, Most Boundary-Breaking and Most Pioneering Festival is about to Begin

30th April 2019

Leeds’ annual festival of innovation, diversity and discovery begins this week.
Leeds International Festival launches this week with over 45 diverse events taking place across various venues in Leeds, including the festival hub at The Tetley, The L19 Discovery Zone on Briggate, the Corn Exchange, Victoria Gate, art hubs Leeds Arts University, Hyde Park Picture House, and more. There really is something for everyone.
The festival has some high-profile partnerships including Vastint, The Tetley and the LEP (Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership) as well as being funded by LeedsBID (Business Improvement District).

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11 said:

“Leeds International Festival continues to celebrate all that is innovative about our region. This distinctive festival has grown from strength to strength, and this year’s diverse programme is sure to attract new local, national and international audiences.

We share ambitions to be bold, collaborative and distinctive both as a region and LEP, and I am delighted that we are supporting the festival for the first time this year.”

What to Expect…

L19 events not only allow the audience to get up-close and personal with some big stars, they allow the opportunity for ground-breaking discussion, deep thought, celebration, provocation and revelation.
L19’s speakers represent professionals who are the industry leaders at the top of their respective games; those pushing the envelope on received wisdom and questioning the status-quo. L19’s CORE and OFF programme split will host myriad, varied events across Leeds, and in the festival’s The Village hub, at The Tetley.
With a brand-spanking new L19 Discovery Zone sited on Briggate, shoppers, office workers on their lunch-breaks and tourists to the city alike can tumble into the spectacular warren of wonderful L19 events, through Discovery Zone tasters, teasers, workshops, and more.

L19 Discovery Zone

Partnering with inews, the Discovery Zone will host unique (and mostly free) events in a bespoke shipping container for the 10 days of the festival. Events include Leeds Indie Food teasers from Laynes x Echelon, Bloody Big Brunch’s Period Poverty talk, and a sneak preview of the sell-out Doughnuts & Beer event – as well as VR experiences, workshops, and talks.

Other free Discovery Zone events include a Sculpture Making Workshop with Yorkshire Sculpture International (4th May, 12:00-14:00), and a talk from Professor Mark Johnson in the What Does it Mean to be Human? series, entitled Is Pain Real? The Discovery Zone will also house festival information and a ticket office, 10:30-18:00 throughout the festival (2-12th May).

Most events are free; participants can secure a seat with a small donation to Big Change, a not-for-profit organisation that helps those in need on the streets of Leeds city centre:


Leeds International Festival 2019


This year’s L19 CORE programme

The CORE programme features a line-up of stars in big events and talks, such as Gold-winning Olympic Skeleton Bobsledder Amy Williams MBE and most decorated Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, in Sport 2.0 (10th May, 10:00-16:00), and Frank Bruno, MOBO winner Graft, soundsystem Iration Steppas and celebrated performer Khadija Ibrahiim in an amazing celebration of Black British music and culture called BlaqueXplosion (3rd May, 12:00-23:00).

A run of events collectively subtitled What Does it Mean to be Human? (9th May, various times) brings together TV presenter and professor Alice Roberts, boundary-breaking thinker Simon Anholt, best-selling author Matt Haig and Tibetan Monk and Mindfulness expert Gelong Thubten, to discuss topics as varied as ‘How Good Should a Country Be?’ and ‘Staying Human in a Busy World’.

Pushing on into scientific discovery, as well as ethical stumbling blocks and today’s moral foundations, Facing Brave (7th May, 20:00-21:30) presents a panel made up of the women who are reclaiming power from acid throwers through affirmative action.

The above are just some of the CORE events. To see details on these, and the rest of the CORE programme, visit:

This year’s L19 OFF programme

In the OFF programme, expert the subversive, the refreshing, and the pioneering. With surrealist Estonian rapper-come-cult icon Tommy Cash headlining JUICEBOX (11th May, 19:00-23:00) alongside the mysterious and enigmatic gothic soundscape artist Yves Tumor and Grime’s boundary-breaking Karnage Kills, this arts-party night of cult-queer is set to astound.

Leeds Needs Help: A Council in Session (9th May, 19:30-22:30) is an OFF programme event which promises a hilarious take on self-help, delivered through comedy cabaret, lip-syncs, stand-up and town planning.

For a refreshingly open and honest take on the joys of sex, head to Sex Tapes (11th May, 20:00-23:00), which will be giving a refreshingly honest and open take on the joys of sex, open to anyone prepared to be wholly sex-positive for the night, over the age of 16. Eight performers will set out their sexual experiences baldly (no downstairs reference), in an evening of inclusivity. Expect blush-inducing, life-affirming and mega-saucy erotic moments.

Conductor: A Virtual Reality Experience (8-9th May, 13:00-19:00) is a synaesthetic marvel on the OFF programme, which allows you unprecedented control over your surroundings through your senses. Enter the world of the conductor alone, and spend the 10 minute experience shaping the virtual forest groves around you. Bring the trees to life in Virtual Reality, through your own creativity, movement and interaction with the beautifully-composed music and visuals.

For more details on these and other OFF programme events, visit: