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Leeds International Festival 2019 programme announced

The full Leeds International Festival 2019 (L19) programme has been revealed, with a broad, diverse and fascinating line-up.

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This year’s festival sees new CORE and OFF programmes, dividing the line-up between CORE’s internationally-renowned speakers and OFF’s up-and-coming, diverse acts and events - many featuring home-grown talent.

Leeds Beckett University is proud to be a festival partner, curating the CORE event, ‘What does it mean to be human?’

This CORE event was developed and curated by Chris Hudson, Head of Subject in the School of Health & Community Studies at Leeds Beckett University, and asks what does it mean to be human? Have we forgotten? Did we ever know?

A series of talks featuring evolutionary biologist Professor Alice Roberts, award-winning novelist Matt Haig, inspirational Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten and economist and founder of The Good Country, Simon Anholt will look at biology and our past, how to maximise our humanity in today’s world and contemplate how to aspire to be better in the future.

The university is also staging a wrap-around programme of fringe events on related topics presented by Leeds Beckett University academics, Dr Steve Taylor, Dr Divine Charura, Professor Mark Johnson, Professor Anna Abraham, Dr Sue Miller and Teresa Brayshaw. The Unconference, organised by Leeds Beckett University's Sam Nicholls, is also part of Leeds International Festival, having been founded with Leeds Beckett in 2010.

New L19 events announced include Sport 2.0: Every Second Counts, in which sporting legend and Olympic star Amy Williams MBE will discuss the technological innovations in sport, which deliver that much sought-after edge, in an event hosted by Professor Greg Whyte OBE (Former Olympian, author and TV presenter).

Dr Almas Ahmed will speak at Facing Brave: Women take on the acid-throwers, an event focussing on the professional women taking on the vicious rise in acid attacks in the UK. Hosted by the Thackray Museum, Dr Ahmed (the inventor of the world’s first acid-proof makeup), will speak alongside Danielle Cornish, an International Women’s Rights expert, and Dr Julie Thornton, a Skin Scientist, in a discussion set to put power back into the victims’ hands.

A bespoke commission for L19, Falling Light is a piece of architecture that comes alive. This immersive art installation, created by design studio Flat-e and with original music by electronic musician Daniel Avery, will be hosted by Leeds’ iconic Corn Exchange.

Events announced previously include the punk poet John Cooper Clarke himself in performance with brand new material, Frank Bruno MBE chatting music and mental health in the Black British community for BlaqueXplosion, and queer iconists Tommy Cash and Yves Tumor fronting anarchic art party JUICEBOX.  L19’s massive range of events means there is something exciting for everyone.

The full line-up announcement reveals cutting-edge stars and established names from across the worlds of art, science, technology and beyond, predominantly with a shared focus - presenting and discussing new, innovative ideas. An emergent L19 theme, many events look at what the future could bring, how we can cope with it, and how we can make the future better for all those living in it, not to mention showcasing the sort of diversity which is sure to be standard in years to come, across sexualities, race, gender, and social background.

2019 also sees a new location for The Village hub at The Tetley, and a new area called The Discovery Zone (hosting free-to-attend events for all the family) on Briggate. Full details to be revealed soon.

Leeds International Festival 2019 takes place from 2 May to 12 May


  • What Does it Mean to be Human? Events featuring Gelong Thubten, Professor Alice Roberts, Matt Haig and Simon Anholt, + FRINGE events
  • Sport 2.0: Every Second Counts featuring Amy Williams MBE
  • BlaqueXplosion featuring Frank Bruno MBE, Capital’s JoJo and The Voice’s Jermain Jackman talking Black British culture through music
  • Facing Brave: Women take on the Acid-Throwers featuring Dr Almas Ahmed
  • Rewire Leeds: an interactive, real-life gaming-theatre event
  • All Day Hey! Designers & Front End Developers’ Conference
  • Flat-e + Daniel Avery Falling Light installation
  • What the F*ture?! An Elmwood event
  • The Northernlands Data & Start-Up Summit
  • Automation & Me
  • What’s Eating Reality? Food Justice & Digital Arts Forum
  • The Changing Face of the UK Film & TV Industry


  • Crazy P (live) + friends
  • JUICEBOX featuring Yves Tumor, Tommy Cash, Karnage Kills and Nik Nak
  • John Cooper Clarke: The Luckiest Man Alive
  • Sex Tapes: Sex-positive spoken word performances
  • Get Into Gaming
  • Tender Balance dance performance and installation
  • Page 127: movement installation
  • All That Lives, Feasts presented by The Grief Series
  • Talkin’ ‘bout my generation intergenerational performance
  • Leeds Needs Help self-help comedy council meeting
  • The Sunday Practise - Festival Edition - spoken word performances, writing workshops and films
  • The Mountain and Other Tales of She Transformed performance installation
  • For Oluwale II: writers/artists interpret the exhibition using spoken word and BSL
  • Story #1 by Rachel Mars & Greg Wohead
  • Family Day
  • Unconference music conference
  • Charanga del Norte performance, + Guillermo Davis
  • Conductor - a Virtual Reality Experience

Tickets are available from the Leeds International Festival website - www.leedsinternationalfestival.com

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