Leeds in 2023

Leeds 2023 is an inspiring cultural festival honing everyone’s creativity and unique cultural identity. This festival will highlight talent in every home and community across Leeds – from quiet skills to bright lights.

For the first time, local people will have an opportunity to participate in the show by submitting their artwork – from paint splatters and doodles to portraits crafted out of pasta and TikTok dance routines.

leeds 2023

1. The Awakening

The Awakening, the inaugural event of Leeds 2023’s year-long cultural celebrations, was an inspiring spectacle featuring local artists and community groups. People who won their tickets through a ballot using creative currency instead of cash gathered at Headingley Stadium to watch performances from Corinne Bailey Rae, Simon Armitage and LYR, as well as Chumbawamba’s Dunstan Bruce and rapper Graft, among others.

It was an inspiring and powerful show that left all who attended feeling uplifted. From Kaiser Chiefs’ opening song, I Predict a Riot to special poem by poet laureate Simon Armitage and an immense giant in the sky, it was truly awe-inspiring display for our city.

2. Playing

LEEDS 2023 will celebrate culture in all its forms – art, design, music, dance, sports, theatre, sculpture, food and community creativity.

The year-long celebration began with ‘The Awakening’, an unforgettable opening show at Headingley Stadium that brought together world-renowned artists and local creatives. Notable guests included Corinne Bailey Rae, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and LYR; The Orchestra of Opera North; dancers from Leeds West Indian Carnival; and DJ set by Gabby Logan that offered an eclectic blend of musical genres.

3. Dreaming

Dreaming is a mysterious and often surreal experience. It may contain elements from one’s current life or past experiences, as well as worries or waking thoughts.

Scientists have long held that dreams possess some purpose, from predicing the future to helping us cope with traumatic events. We know they rely on brain chemicals like acetylcholine and dopamine for their surreal quality.

4. Making a Stand

For LEEDS 2023, ‘letting culture loose’ means an expansive programme encompassing everything from visual arts to sport. As part of an ambitious reimagined festival, organizers are using culture as a catalyst for social and economic renewal and breaking down social barriers.

One key way this approach can be implemented is through co-created projects, where artists and researchers work alongside people in communities to produce results. This could take the form of a film, piece of public art or even an entirely new way of thinking about certain subjects.

5. The Magician

Leeds 2023 plans to host partnerships and events that promote culture in all forms. These initiatives aim to provide people with access to enjoyment, enhance engagement with culture especially among those facing barriers, and showcase cultural transformation.

Magic has never been more sought-after and Leeds offers a unique platform to experience live magic at large stadiums (Dynamo at Leeds First Direct Arena) and on stage at theatres. This provides Leeds magicians with ample opportunities to develop into great performers.

6. Women of the World

Leeds 2023 will host an expansive celebration of women. A series of groundbreaking new commissions from renowned artists will take place across the city, alongside an abundance of creative events open to everyone.

This program is inspired by the Wise Women manifesto. It strives to celebrate women’s accomplishments and give them a voice, particularly for older women or those classified as ‘early career researchers’.

7. The City Square and Transportation Regeneration Project

City Square and Transportation Regeneration Project has the potential to completely revamp Leeds’ central city area. It will improve traffic management to support pedestrians and cyclists, divert road traffic away from downtown, and create an iconic gateway that is truly world-class in quality of life.

The development will include a 32-story residential tower, Sky Gardens, which is set to become one of Yorkshire’s tallest buildings and feature the first all-year round rooftop sky garden with 360 degree views over York city centre.

8. 20 Minute Neighbourhoods

20 Minute Neighbourhoods is a planning concept that seeks to create neighbourhoods where most essential daily items can be reached within walking distance, biking distance or taking public transport time. This makes it simpler for people to get around and lead healthier lives.

This report suggests that planning policy, development management and public service delivery be tailored to support 20-minute neighborhoods. This includes providing a stronger policy steer and emphasizing design-led approaches in street design.