Entertainment in Leeds

Things to do in Leeds | Entertainment

An intriguing mixture of world-class venues and traditional social clubs, you’ll find the entertainment scene is incredibly varied in Leeds. From global superstars to local heroes, we have all the best places to watch your favourite music, comedy, theatre or opera stars and there will be a Leeds hotel nearby to take in one of the city’s exciting events. With festivals dedicated to music, film and food, there’s something going on year-round. More of a sports lover? Take your pick from football, rugby and cricket to world-class cycling events.


Music

Not surprisingly for a city that brought us the Kaiser Chiefs and Soft Cell, Leeds has a buzzing music scene. Global superstars flock to the First Direct Arena, but if you prefer your gigs more intimate, the Belgrave and Brudenell are famous for showcasing gigs from artists just starting out.

Leeds became a major player on the UK entertainment scene when the First Direct Arena opened in 2013. With room for 13,500 music fans, the Arena has hosted a huge array of international music artists, from Dolly Parton to Drake, as well as big music-related events, such as The X Factor and the MOBO Awards. Our Leeds Arena hotel is just a walk away, too.

Formerly known as the Leeds Academy, the O2 Academy Leeds offers two music venues in one. The large room has seen gigs by everyone from the Stone Roses to Stormzy, while the basement is a great place to spot upcoming artists before they hit the big time.

Established in 1913 as a working man's club, the Brudenell Social Club has retro 1950s décor but hosts the latest and greatest up and coming acts. It’s famous for its secret gigs from big bands, like Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs. Who will you see on your visit?

Located in Leeds’ vibrant Northern Quarter, Belgrave Music Hall offers three floors of art, film, music, food and good vibes. If you’re visiting in the summer be sure to check out Leeds' most spectacular roof terrace which is perfect for late night cocktails.


Theatre

Musicals, Shakespeare and cutting-edge plays can all be found on-stage in Leeds. But where will you find the hottest tickets in town?

Leeds Grand Theatre
is the place to watch big touring productions hot off the West End, from The Phantom Of The Opera to Wicked. Built in 1878, it has an illustrious history - theatre greats such as Julie Andrews and Laurence Olivier both performed here. The building’s red brick columns and gothic turrets make it a grand landmark in the city centre - plus our hotel near the Leeds Grand Theatre is just a relaxing post-show stroll away.

Whereas the Grand Theatre is traditional, the West Yorkshire Playhouse is fiercely contemporary. It’s been producing huge shows and showcasing local talent in the heart of Leeds since 1970. With a mission to tell old stories in new ways and find voices that need to be heard, you’ll see everything from William Shakespeare to Carol Ann Duffy performed here.


Opera

If the soaring sounds of a live orchestra or the drama of an opera is your idea of entertainment heaven, you've arrived in the right place.

The best place for opera and ballet in Leeds? It can only be the Grand Theatre. A key venue for both Opera North and Northern Ballet, it regularly showcases world-class talent. Past operas shown here include The Magic Flute, The Merry Widow and Tosca.

Founded in 1965 as the Leeds Music Centre at the Leeds College of Music is a conservatoire offering short courses, as well as a programme of live classical, jazz and experimental music. Global stars and talented students can all be found performing in the 350 seat concert hall.

Built in 1858, Leeds Town Hall is still used by the city council for weddings and civil partnerships, as well as hosting concerts and events. Head to the Town Hall to see classical music competitions, film festivals and everything in between.


Sport

Leeds is a great city for sports-lovers, whether you’re a footie, rugby or cricket fan. It also hosts one stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, an exciting three-day road race that attracts millions of spectators each year.

One of the biggest clubs in UK football, Leeds United draws a massive crowd of passionate fans for their home games. Based at Elland Road, they currently show off their silky ball skills in the Championship. If you’re in town to watch them play, our hotels near Elland Road make a great base for your footie-mad Leeds visit. Couldn’t get tickets for a big match? There are still stadium tours to enjoy whenever United play at home.

With big prize money up for grabs, the Tour de Yorkshire is one of the most lucrative races in cycling and as such, it attracts some of the best teams from across the globe. Two million spectators line the route to cheer on the riders - and if you’re planning on being one of them, Leeds is a great place to use as your base.

A day spent watching a test match, or cheering on the local rugby team, really is something special. Home of both the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the Leeds Rhinos, Headingley Stadium is a big draw for tourists - and a must-see for sports lovers. And if no one is playing when you visit, soak up the history on a stadium tour. Our hotel near Headingley Stadium puts you right at the heart of all the sporting action.


Shows

Whether you’re majorly into music or fanatical about food, you’ll find your match with one of Leeds’ fantastic festivals.

Pulling in the crowds since 1999, Leeds Festival was started as the second leg to the long-standing Reading Festival. Whether you’re more of a rock fan or prefer hip hop, you’ll find it all at the Yorkshire Woodstock, from Kasabian and Korn to Eminem and Xzibit. You can camp all weekend, or ensure you get a decent shower by staying at the Premier Inn hotel near Leeds Festival instead.

Over two weeks a series of city wide events celebrate the independent food and drink Leeds has to offer. With a great range of artisan producers, as well as top talks and demonstrations, the Leeds Indie Food Festival has become a real favourite with foodies. 

Whether you want to spot an international star or catch the screening of the next big indie film, you’ll find it all at Leeds International Film Festival. With a fashion and food fringe running alongside the main festival, you’ll have a fun-packed week.

Head to Harewood House in August and you’ll find a bonanza of Beetles ready to welcome you. But the VW Festival isn’t just for fans of the vintage car. This is a full weekend of entertainment, music and food all wrapped up in a fancy dress theme. If you’re booked into the Premier Inn hotel near the VW Festival, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit by taking time to  explore the beautiful Harewood House itself.


Comedy

Vic Reeves, Ernie Wise, Keith Lemon... the city has produced its fair share of comedy greats. But where should you head if you’re looking for a laugh in Leeds? These venues all foot the bill.

The First Direct Arena really put Leeds on the stand-up map. It’s here you’ll catch gigs from comedy legends such as Peter Kay, Bill Bailey and Micky Flanagan. It’s huge, with a 13,500 capacity, but the views are great and the chairs are comfy.

The Leeds Grand Theatre may be best known for its West End musicals, ballets and operas, but it’s also fast becoming a great place for comedy. The likes of Michael McIntyre, Jimmy Carr, Dawn French, Alan Carr and Russell Howard have all played here to sell-out crowds.

Leeds Town Hall is proving to be a popular place to watch comedy in Leeds. This beautiful building provides a great backdrop to stars such as Ross Noble, Joe Lycett and Stewart Lee, all of whom have played to packed out audiences here over the years.


Looking for a hotel in Leeds?

From the city centre to its leafy suburbs and beautiful surrounding countryside, you'll find lots of great hotels in Leeds. If you need to be central, try the First Direct Arena Hotel and Trinity Leeds Hotel, or Leeds City West for Elland Road. For those jetting in, check out Leeds/Bradford Airport hotel.