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Our Culture

With a diverse and eclectic network of communities and a thriving, vibrant arts scene, Leeds is a city with a cultural offering like no other.

Shaped by immigration, the accomplishments of those who came to Leeds forge a new life can be seen across the city’s cultural landscape, in everything from its world class performing arts institutions to its renowned food and festivals. Leeds is home to Europe’s oldest West Indian Carnival, which for more than half a century has transformed parts of the city into a thrilling spectacle of colour and music each summer. Every October, around 80,000 visitors flock to the city centre to see prominent buildings illuminated by a magnificent display of arts installations from around the world at the annual Light Night Leeds festival.

As an international centre for dance, our performers have the chance to hone their skills with companies including South Asian Arts UK, The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Northern Ballet. Yorkshire Dance also has its headquarters in Leeds, while community dance groups like DAZL offer opportunities for our young people to take to the stage. Performing arts are part of the heartbeat of Leeds, with the Leeds Playhouse being the largest regional producing theatre outside the capital.

Leeds is also a city with a rich heritage, with one of the largest local authority museums and galleries services in the UK, which welcomed more than 1.3m visitors last year and 17 museums in total alongside the prestigious Leeds Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute. Complemented by an exemplary library service, visitor can also access collections of rare books and periodicals, an Art Library with space for artists and creatives and the innovative Studio 12, a media initiative that invests in the creative talents of disadvantaged young people living in Leeds.

The city’s music scene is a showcase for both classical and contemporary, with the Leeds International Piano Competition set to host heats in Berlin, New York and Singapore and the 2016 and 2017 MOBO awards both taking place in Leeds.

This unique creative environment means the future is bright for culture in as together, we work towards the new Leeds 2023 international cultural festival, celebrating the city and its communities and bringing the best global arts to Leeds.

Leeds Art Gallery, Martin Brent for Visit Leeds
Phoenix Dance Theatre
credit Lizzie Coombes, Light Night 2017
ITU World Triathlon Leeds
Mia Spadafora - Leeds West Indian Carnival 2016

What's Happening

Cultural District
The Orchestra of Opera North will return to Millennium Square, Leeds for another long weekend this summer, joined by Jimmy Somerville, Nik Kershaw,...
Cultural District
SOYO and West Yorkshire Playhouse announce five year sponsorship that will see a pop-up theatre created during the Playhouse’s £14m redevelopment....