Leeds provides a cracking night out for students and young professionals alike, and if you’re a keen gig-goer, you won’t be disappointed by the live music venues on offer in this musical northern city — whether you like singing along with the latest chart-toppers, discovering a selection of up-and-coming indie bands, or seeking out an amazing jazz performance. Leeds has it all, brought to you in some of the top venues in the country.
Take a look at our list of venues below and see where you should be heading for your music fix this weekend — and the next, and the next…
The First Direct Arena boasts an impressive 13,500-person capacity, and won the ‘Best New Venue in the World’ award in 2014, not long after it opened in late 2013. You can’t miss it at night thanks to the fun lighting on the outside of the building! Due to its size, the arena attracts all the big acts to the city (and large shows, too) — from Elton John to Rita Ora, from Kylie Minogue to Craig David. As with most arenas, First Direct Arena has both seated and standing space, catering for your needs whether you like to chill out, sit back and relax, or be right in front of the stage at the heart of the action.
Housed in a lovely old building which was built in 1885, this city centre venue has a 2,300-person capacity and provides a more intimate gig experience than the arena. A popular choice for old favourites (think Suede, Papa Roach, and Garbage) and current favourites, too. This venue is partially seated but mostly standing, and alongside its live music offering, the O2 Academy Leeds hosts regular themed club nights over its two floors.
With a capacity of just 300 people, Belgrave Music Hall offers an exciting, lively and intimate venue for up-and-coming artists, and those who prefer a smaller crowd. There’s a canteen downstairs so gig-goers can enjoy a pre-gig meal or snack, too — choose from a burger at Patty Smiths or a Dough Boys pizza. Both options are delicious!
A former textile mill, hidden away in the city centre (you could walk past it and not realise!), Headrow House is a sleek four-floor venue that is home to a purpose-built 150-capacity live music space. In the same building you’ll find a beer hall, a grill restaurant, and two roof terraces with a bar — you could easily while away many happy hours here.
Located in the Leeds Art Quarter, The Wardrobe is home to a fantastic basement gig space which hosts all manner of music evenings, as well as comedy and burlesque nights, plus plenty more. Another multi-purpose venue in the city centre, The Wardrobe features a bar and restaurant, too.
This ex-working man’s club featuring retro décor is now one of the city’s favourite small live music venues, which plays host to all manner of up-and-coming acts, as well as some surprisingly big ones — the Brudenell Social Club has been the location of secret Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand gigs in the past, for example. The concert area of the venue has a 400-person capacity, and there’s also a bar and games room to relax in.
Not a year-round venue, but the absolute best place to catch live music in West Yorkshire is at Leeds Festival every August bank holiday. Originally a rock festival, this event now features rock, dance, indie, electronic, and so much more — there’s something for everyone. It’s a camping festival so get your tent out and immerse yourself in the full experience. If living under canvas isn’t your thing, day tickets are available, or you can even go home each day if you’re a local with a weekend ticket!
Which is your favourite Leeds live music venue? Have we missed out one of your go-to places? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for other things to do in the area? Discover loads of fun, free things to see and do in Leeds in this Pickard blog post.