Theatre options in Leeds: how to watch or get involved

Your Leeds Theatre Guide

From musicals and dance to plays and panto, our Leeds Theatre Guide will show you what's on all year round and where to find performing arts classes.

The Leeds theatre scene is rich in variety. Whether you want to discover a new art form or just fancy a night out in the form of dinner and a show,  you're guaranteed to be entertained in our cultural city.

Leeds Theatres

We have four large theatres in Leeds, each with their own unique programme:

Leeds Playhouse - awarded Theatre Building of The Year 2020 by The Stage, this recently redeveloped arts centre is an impressive addition to the Leeds landscape. The Playhouse pride themselves on telling stories and regularly receive rave reviews for doing so. Expect drama, plays, musicals, poetry and contemporary performances.

Leeds Grand Theatre - built in 1878, this beautiful Victorian theatre is well known for being home to Northern Ballet, Opera North and touring musicals. Full-time students and opera fans under 30 can join Opera North's Under 30s scheme for discounted tickets and offers from local bars and restaurants so you can make a night of it.

City Varieties - a Victorian music hall tucked away in a Leeds arcade, City Varieties has seen some of the world's greatest entertainers take to the stage; Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Ken Dodd and The Chuckle Brothers to name a few. Expect live music, variety and comedy shows.

The Carriageworks - situated close to our Rose Bowl building in Millennium Square, the Carriageworks is an advocate for regional artists and companies, with many local theatre-makers performing on the stage. Keep an eye on their website for opportunities to join local theatre companies.

New Playhouse sign, on the top of the newly constructed building in 2020
Student taking photograph at First Direct Arena
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City of Dance

Home to a wealth of internationally acclaimed dance institutions, if you love to see a story told through movement, or even if dance is new to you, here's where you should start:

Phoenix Dance Theatre - founded by three young black men from Leeds in the 1980s, this pioneering contemporary dance company has represented British dance all over the world. In the past 38 years, Phoenix have told important stories, regularly exploring themes from black history, to critical acclaim. Phoenix share a home with Northern Ballet on Quarry Hill where you'll find student-friendly prices and £5 tickets for under 26s at performances in the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre.

Northern Ballet - this company have brought ballet into the modern world with contemporary retellings of classic stories such as Dracula, The Great Gatsby, 1984 and Wuthering Heights. If you fancy trying ballet for yourself, they offer classes to suit all levels of experience at their Academy.

Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) - the only professional dance conservatoire in the north of England, here you'll find talented young performers and touring contemporary dance companies taking to the stage. Now led by Sharon Watson, previously Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, the School continues to put Leeds on the map as an international destination for dance. NSCD run a programme of contemporary dance classes if you'd like to join in.

 

Four dancers holding a fifth aloft whilst performing in dance studio
Leeds Town Hall at night with moving light from traffic
Image of a female student performing on stage with a piece of paper in her hand
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Comedy

If you're looking for big names like Michael McIntyre, Sarah Millican or Ricky Gervais, then First Direct Arena or Leeds Town Hall are your best bet. If it's local artists you want to support, then head over to The Wardrobe or Seven Arts where you'll find Yorkshire-based comedians trying out their material. You'll also find your favourite stand-ups on tour across the city at the theatres mentioned above. Yorkshire folk do love a good laugh!

Musicals

We've all had that uni housemate screeching Hamilton from the bathroom or Phantom from the kitchen. If you'd rather watch the professionals then Leeds Playhouse produces musicals with their in-house company that in recent years has included Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Wizard of Oz and Strictly Ballroom. Leeds Grand Theatre regularly hosts touring musicals with Les Miserables, Mamma Mia and School of Rock on the agenda!

With so much variety, whether you want to try something new or stick with something you love, the theatre scene across Leeds and West Yorkshire is diverse enough for you to discover something you'll enjoy at student-friendly prices too. A great night out!

 

Explore Leeds

We've put together a handy (not-so) little map with all the things that we think are amazing in Leeds. From food and drink, to health, beauty, outdoor spots and more! Head over and see for yourself.
A quiet morning Corn Exchange in Leeds City Centre, showing the dome ceiling and circular interior
Golden owl sculpture and clock on the left Leeds Civic Hall against a blue sky