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Explore Art and Culture

Art is an important part of the city’s identity. With renowned galleries like Leeds Art Gallery and The Henry Moore Institute showcasing work from around the world, independent galleries and Leeds Arts University, there’s plenty of opportunity to experience the unique culture of Leeds.

VISUAL ART

Take your time exploring Leeds’ visual art and head for the recently refurbished Leeds Art Gallery which has the best twentieth century collection outside London and a colourful new wall painting commission for the Victorian staircase by Lothar Götz. The Henry Moore Institute is dedicated to celebrating sculpture. In the iconic building they host a year-round changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions presenting sculpture from across the world.

Located in the stunning art deco headquarters of the former brewery, The Tetley is a centre for contemporary art, centred around creativity, innovation and experimentation. Leeds Gallery at Munro House is an independent art gallery exhibiting artists, illustrators, photographers and designers working in all types of media.

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery offers innovative art exhibitions from the University Art Collection and Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery displays the finest rare books, manuscripts, art and archives from our world renowned Special Collections.

Plus there are many more independent galleries in and around the city to explore, find out more here

Leeds Art Gallery - CA
Athena Rising - Carl Milner for VisitLeeds

PUBLIC ART

But the creativity of Leeds can’t just be seen in an art gallery. Based in the centre of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, there are numerous pieces that give Leeds a unique urban landscape, such as the Black Prince in City Square and the stunning Mandela Gardens in Millennium Square.

Leeds is now home to the UK’s tallest mural; ‘Athena Rising’. This public art, created by internationally-acclaimed street art muralist pair Nomad Clan, is a breath-taking addition to Leeds flourishing street art scene.

From the iconic ‘Cornucopia’ next to Corn Exchange to the colourful ‘George Street Mural’ at Kirkgate Market and more, plus numerous sculptures and statues, there’s an artistic gem around every corner.

PERFORMING ARTS

Leeds is the proud home to four major theatres and an arena and is one of the only UK cities outside London to boast both its own Opera House and Ballet Company.

Opera North is England’s national opera company in the North and one of Europe’s leading arts organisations.

Northern Ballet is an award-winning, Leeds based touring ballet company who have performed around the world.

Whether it’s a musical at Leeds Grand Theatre, opera at The Howard Assembly Room, ballet at West Yorkshire Playhouse, comedy at Carriageworks Theatre or the charming Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, dance at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre or an independent production at the HUB there’s a performance to suit all tastes and ages. Explore more here.

Martha Leebolt as Beauty with Kenneth Tindall as the Prince in Northern Ballet's Beauty & the Beast.
The Spark! drummers who will take part in this yea's Light Night parade. Credit Dan Brady

ART EVENTS

This love of the arts is also prevalent in the number of festivals and celebrations held in Leeds throughout the year. Light Night is a huge fixture on the calendar, turning the entire city into an art installation, with light shows, projections, exhibitions, installations, film, dance, music, theatre and street performances taking over Leeds City Centre – a fantastic event for all the family.

Thought Bubble is the UK’s largest annual event which celebrates sequential art in all its forms, including everything from superheroes to independent and small press comics.

There’s also a number of film festivals including Leeds International Film Festival, Banff Mountain Film Festival and Leeds Young Film Festival.

Browse the Arts and Culture festivals for inspiration.