city of culture
Culture may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Leeds, but the city has a rich cultural pedigree that more than matches that of many a leading European City.
Creative Organisations making an impact on the global stage
We’re proud to have so much talent and creativity in the city, which is evident in the incredible performing arts organisations that have called Leeds their home, but are making an impact on the global stage. Organisations such as Opera North, Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre together have performed across Europe, the USA, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.
Every year Leeds’ many galleries and museums welcome thousands of international visitors, whether it be to see one of the most important collections of arms and armour in the world at the Royal Armouries, or world-class artists exhibiting at the Leeds Art Gallery or the Henry Moore Institute. And our magnificent venues such as the Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds Playhouse or the Town Hall welcome international touring musicians, actors, dancers and more throughout the year.
A calendar of international events
From film to music to sculpture, we’re lucky to host a range of internationally renowned events every year. 2021 will see the return of the 20th edition of the Leeds International Piano Competition, one of the world’s foremost music competitions. Since the competition began in 1963, The Leeds has attracted some of the world’s finest young pianists. The competition has now expanded to include rounds in London, Berlin, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul and New York.
Leeds West Indian Carnival is Europe’s longest running authentic Caribbean carnival parade and the first to feature all three essential elements of Caribbean Carnival, costumes, music and a masquerade procession. And closely linked to Carnival is the Black Music Festival, Europe’s biggest free open air concert.
A little known fact about Leeds is that the world’s first films were made in the city in 1888 by Louis le Prince. Building on this legacy, Leeds has become a leading centre for film culture, located in the wider region of Yorkshire, a major European filmmaking region. At the heart of this is the Leeds International Film Festival and the UK’s largest family film event, the Leeds Young Film Festival.
In recent years, a new eclectic mix of events and festivals, featuring artists from around the globe, have been added to the cultural calendar, including the Leeds International Festival and the Transform Festival.
With renowned sculptors, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Damien Hirst all having studied in the city, it’s not surprising that Leeds has a global reputation for sculpture. In 2019 Leeds’ Henry Moore Institute & the Leeds Art Gallery, working in partnership the Hepworth Wakefield and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, played host to the UK’s largest dedicated sculpture festival, Yorkshire Sculpture International. The partnership has ambitious plans to make Yorkshire the capital of sculpture in Europe.
The countdown to our international festival of culture has begun
Our dreams to become European Capital of Culture may be over but we still have exciting plans for our own international festival of culture, Leeds 2023. We're working with our partners in communities, businesses and in the cultural sector to welcome visitors from across the city and around the globe to experience the cultural diversity and vibrancy this city has to offer. Check out the case study below to find out more.