Category Archives: Festivals

A Little Slice of Light Night

The annual Light Night returned to Leeds last Friday, featuring late-night openings of galleries, museums, theatres, shopping centres and unusual spaces. Starting just as it went dark at 6pm, the race was on to experience as much of the five hours of jam-packed culture as possible.

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Recon Festival: the lowdown

This October sees Recon Festival return for another series of intriguing and inspiring musical and artistic performances across Leeds and Bradford.

The diverse line-up features performances from Warp Records electronica pioneers Plaid and Clark, Leeds locals Hookworms, legendary US street musician The Space Lady, and lots more.

Continue reading Recon Festival: the lowdown

Galaxians to play British Wildlife Festival on 4 March

My band, Galaxians, will be on the bill for the awesome British Wildlife Festival in Leeds this March.  Spanning three days, it’s the sixth annual weekend of exciting music from all over the world (and Leeds).

We’re going to be playing Oporto on Sunday 4 March.  Doors are at 3pm and it’s a donation entry.  My bandmate Matt Woodward will also be performing as part of Azores on the Saturday.

More info about Galaxians can be found here – and here’s a copy of the flyer.  Roll on March!


Culture Vulture: Leeds Music City

Published on Saturday 1 October on The Culture Vulture

There’s a swathe of excellent gigs happening this autumn in Leeds, and not without good reason.  Leeds is a fine musical city, and alongside household names such as the Kaiser Chiefs and Corrine Bailey Rae, there’s a thriving DIY music scene bubbling underneath the surface.

If you’re looking for something a little different from an overpriced bar and funky house, then don’t worry, you’re spoilt for choice!  Here’s a pick of the plethora of events coming up in October:

Raise The Roof Festival

7 October, Leeds West Indian Centre, Chapeltown

If you’ve never been, then you have to go.  Simple.  Held every year at the West Indian Centre, this year’s title is ‘The Twisted Ballroom’ – there’s a circus, theatre shows, visuals, healing areas…like a little Glastonbury under one roof.  And of course, there’s the music, with headliners this year including the legendary DJs Utah Saints and 7-piece Radio 1 favourites Dub Pistols.  ‘Dubious attire and fancy dress recommended’, they say.  Tickets and information available from

Brainwash Festival VI

14 – 16 October, The Brudenell Social Club / Royal Park Cellars, Hyde Park

What happens when you take a huge lineup of artists that you’ll never see on Jools Holland, some of the finest bands Leeds has to offer and sprinkle it with respected underground musicians from around the world?  The answer is probably Brainwash.  From grinding rock to electronic experimentation, the bill includes Glaswegians Dananananaykroyd, Chicagoan multi-instrumentalist Juffage, a side-project from someone in Pavement and much more.  It’s a great opportunity to discover music you’ve probably never heard of, and to buy a round of ludicrously cheap beers while you’re there.

Zun Zun Egui / Runners / Ex-Cissy Band

20 October, Wharf Chambers, Wharf Street, Central Leeds

Fomerly the Common Place, this old pie factory in Central Leeds has been saved from becoming another set of swanky apartments and is instead home to a new live music venue.  Literally centimetres away from the gaudy (and much more expensive) Call Lane area, it’s miles away in terms of music.  Bristolians Zun Zun Egui are, according to what I’ve read, ‘a multi faceted, all night kaleidoscopic party rock band that consume musical and cultural styles like they do hot meals’.  That’s reason enough to go, surely.  Also appearing are Leeds’ excellent synth quartet Runners, and a set from the remnants of local funk band Cissy.  Membership is required for entry, but it’s just a pound, and you get unrestricted access to a well-stocked Sam Smith’s bar.  More details at and here.

Jeramiah Ferrari / Cowtown / Tantz

21 October, The Packhorse, Woodhouse Lane

Raising funds for a good cause, in support of the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s mission to the UN climate change talks in Durban, South Africa this November.  And there’s an excellent coalition of music on offer: headliners Jeramiah Ferrari blend upbeat calypso and reggae with heavy, head-nodding rock, and tore the roof off Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival earlier this year.  Also appearing are Leeds’ favourite electro-synth rockers Cowtown (all with matching jumpers), and probably the only klezmer fusion band in the city, Tantz, laying down Eastern European grooves with some hip-hop thrown in.  Plus, there’s a raffle, the prizes up for grabs including two free tickets to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, a chocolate making workshop and much more.  Just a fiver, and all proceeds to the UKYCC.  More details here.

…and many more…

All the larger and more established gigs and clubnights are well publicised and can easily be found.  But there’s plenty more independent events not mentioned in detail above due to lack of space.  So,here’s a brief list:

14 October: Rainbow Road, Wharf Chambers, Wharf Street, Central Leeds

Excellent new clubnight at the former Common Place from the people who used to run ‘Let’s Be Friends’ there.  Membership or guest entry required.  More here:

22 October: Empire Strikes British Wildlife, Empire, Bridge End, Central Leeds

All-dayer at the new Empire live music bar, opposite the Adelphi pub in central Leeds.  It’s put together by those responsible for British Wildlife Festival, a multi-venue DIY festival in central Leeds each year.  Star Wars fancy dress recommended.  Check out the lineup at

29 October: Runners / Lazarus Clamp / Chips for the Poor, The Fox and Newt, Burley Road

Lovely little pub with its own brewery, just out of the city centre.  Excellent bands covering electro to Fall-esque rock.  More details here.

Support your local music scene!






Culture Vulture: I Love West Leeds Arts Festival

Originally published on Weds 29 June 2011 at

Seven years in the running, I Love West Leeds Arts Festival (1-24 July) is a staple in the arts calendar of the city.  Hosted in dozens of quirky places across Leeds’ western edge, this year’s events span a wide range of activities for all the family, taking in airstream caravans, converted garden sheds and even a swimming pool!

I asked director Jane Earnshaw about some the things we can expect to find at what promises to be the biggest and most exciting festival yet.


“A big part of our programme is the Festival Day, which moves around the area every year.  For 2011 it’s going to be at Bramley Falls Park, on 3 July.  We’ve got a load of sheds – regular, garden sheds – but we’ve crammed them full of artists instead.  They’re going to be filled with all sorts of things – there’s a pedal-powered shed full of music and gadgets, some potting sheds, and there’s a festival tattoo parlour!  Don’t worry, it’s temporary – but you can’t leave without one!

“We’ve got Chol Theatre coming over from Huddersfield, who’ll be bringing a bright orange dome, complete with a series of plastic arms poking out the top, to stage a quirky theatre show.  There’s also a 1950s Airstream caravan! It’s going to have an old-fashioned sweet shop inside, and all the sweets will be free.  But – there’s a catch.  In order to get free sweets, you have to exchange knowledge.  I won’t say anything else – you’ll have to find out more on the day!  Plus, some fantastic singers from Bramley Elderly Action will be transformed into The Viking Grandmas – all kitted out in Viking gear, horned helmets and all!  Plus, much, much more, with tipis, tents and arts and crafts for all the family.

“There’s so many new things in the festival this year, but one of my favourites – and it makes me laugh every time I think about it – is Dog Art, an exhibition we’re doing for dogs.  Not of dogs, but for dogs!  Rather than things all being in one place, we try and do things out in the community, and there’s often lots of dog walkers, and lots of lampposts!  So we’ve been collecting photos of things we think dogs might like to see – bones, toys, dog food – and of course, other dogs’ bottoms!  We’ve been sticking these on lampposts around Bramley Falls Park and on Rodley Town Street.  It just makes me laugh every time I think about it.

“Also new this year is a roving cinema.  We’ve done film screenings before, with drive-ins and bike-ins, but this year we’ve got a huge inflatable screen that’s going to be popping up all over West Leeds.  It’s about 20 feet tall!  There’ll be four films screening over four nights, all of which will be free.  But we’re not content with just having the screen, so a team of us handmade about 25 beautiful camping chairs to go with it.  We’re a bit nuts, really.

“The Wild West Music Trail is two fantastic musicians called Harry and Sam.  They’ve been travelling around West Leeds performing music in outdoor spaces – woods, fields, tunnels and so on – then recording it to see how the spaces makes the music sound different.  After that they put their music on the web, and devised a little trail around West Leeds consisting of QR codes on lampposts and walls.  These are things that look like funny little squares, but you can scan them with your smartphone – just point your phone at it, and experience lots of lovely music.  It’ll keep you fit too – the trail’s about 10 miles long!

“Four cafes in Armley will be taken over by four artists for a whole week as they make some takeaway art for customers.  It’s called The Full Artist’s Breakfast, and they’ll be drawing art on windows, tablecloths, and there’ll be a set of badges to collect from each cafe that’ll make up a Full English breakfast – get your sausages from one place, your eggs from another, and so on.  I’m so excited by that, I’ll be eating my own body weight in breakfasts around Armley!

“Finally – but this isn’t all – we like Bramley Baths.  It’s a fantastic old Edwardian swimming pool, which has quaint little changing cubicles around the sides, and a beautiful balcony curving round the wall above it.  We’ve teamed up with the West Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra,a fantastic group of people who love taking classical music to the public.  But we’ve gone one further – we’ve decided to build a stage, slap bang in the middle of the swimming pool, in the water!  The orchestra will be on the stage, performing Handel’s Water Music, and the audience will be in there with them.  For those who don’t fancy donning the speedos, there’ll be seats up on the balcony, and some cake too.  It’s been quite a mammoth task to set up – we have a wonderful team of people working with us.  We’re really honoured that all the staff at Bramley Baths, the orchestra and the crew have offered to do this for the love of Bramley Baths alone – I’m truly grateful to all of them”.

The festival begins this Friday 1 July at Armley Mills, with Active Crossover, a sound installation at Armley Mills Industrial Museum.  Discover much, much more about I Love West Leeds Arts Festival, and download the complete programme, at

Kids’ Spring Half Term Round-up

Originally published on Weds 18 May 2011 at

The Flying Scotsman at the National Railway Museum, York
Saturday 28 – Monday 30 May

Take the chance to see for yourself the iconic and legendary steam locomotive as it returns to the National Railway Museum in York this half term. There’ll be talks from train experts, who’ll be on hand to tell you more about the train’s history, recent restoration and how it was once the fastest train on Earth! Plus, don’t miss a live bagpipe performance in celebration of the Flying Scotsman’s appearance.

Ryedale Folk Weekend, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole
Friday 27 – Monday 30 May

Fun for all the family at Ryedale Folk Weekend – with live music, workshops, sing-alongs and more in the 16th century manor house that’s home to the Ryedale Folk Museum. It’s all happening in the picturesque setting of Hetton-le-Hole, and promises to be a fantastic festival featuring great entertainment for everyone. Tickets are £40 for adults, children (4-16) £15.

Dream Bigger Dreams, All Saints’ Square, Rotherham
Tueday 31 May – Friday 3 June

A roadshow with a twist! The University of Sheffield will be holding a series of performances and interactive sessions in Rotherham town centre. It’s a chance for kids to find out what the university does, meet students, and try out a range of activities ranging from archaeology to electronics to medicine! Activities will be running from 10.30am – 2.30pm each day, and are completely free.

Half Term Fun Days in the Energy House, Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
Wednesday 1 – Thursday 2 June

Come along to South Yorkshire Energy Centre to have fun discovering more about recycling and saving energy! Based at Heeley City Farm, there’s pigs, goats and other animals for kids to meet. Suitable for all the family. Free entry – open 11am to 5pm.

Wetwang Scarecrow Festival
Saturday 28 May – Sunday 5 June

To many people, Wetwang is famous for appearing in Look North’s weather map, whenever its honorary mayor Paul Hudson presents the forecast. However, it’s also home to a scarecrow festival – previous entrants have included Noel Edmonds in his ‘Deal or no Deal’ guise, a representation of the ‘Dancing on Ice’ cast and – wait for it – ‘Status Crow’, last year’s winner, depicted in performance of ‘Rocking All Over The Wolds’. Who will be ‘crow’-ned the winner this year? Head to the village hall, Wetwang, between 10am – 4pm during the festival, and pick up a festival guide.

Bridlington Arts Festival Finale, The Spa Bridlington
Saturday 28 – Monday 30 May

Bridlington Arts Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so head over to the newly refurbished Spa and take in its impressive sea views. The Spa Gardens will feature street entertainers, a colourful array of continental market stalls and a host of free entertainment (weather permitting). The fun kicks off at 11am, and is free.

Zoolab Animal Roadshow, Dewsbury Museum
Friday 3 June

Meet snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies and creatures at the Zoolab Animal Roadshow! A team of rangers will deliver hands-on workshops which use animals as a way to encourage kids to explore the natural world. There’s four one-hour animal handling sessions during the day, with a charge of £2.50 per child.

Kaleidoscope Mask Making, The Hepworth Wakefield
Monday 30 May

Come and make a kaleidoscope mask at the brand new Hepworth Wakefield gallery! The Hepworth is Britain’s newest major art gallery, the largest purpose-built gallery space outside London, and will undoubtedly become one of the country’s most important galleries – housing hundreds of works from the late legendary sculptor Barbara Hepworth and other major artists. Drop in from 11am – 4pm. Free entry.

York’s Mini May Food and Drink Festival

Originally published on Weds 18 May 2011 at

York’s Food and Drink Festival takes place every September, but this year sees the first mini May festival, with a taste of what’s in store for later in the year.

There’s a big market of real Yorkshire food and drink, covering a range of meat, fruit, vegetables, cheese and beer. It’s a chance to explore some of Yorkshire’s finest produce from some of the region’s smaller producers.

A demonstration area will be set up in Parliament Street, where Yorkshire’s celebrity chefs including Ashley McCarthy of Ye Old Sun Inn, Colton, will demonstrate how to create succulent recipes easily. There’ll also be a licensed café, where you can enjoy a drink, and maybe taste a local speciality for the first time.

The festival coincides with English Wine Week, and there’ll be an excellent introduction to the wines of England from Heart Vineyard, located just outside the city of York.

The evening of the 28th features an informal dinner with the Lord Mayor of York, Susan Galloway, at the Mansion House on St. Helen’s Square. The specially prepared meal will consist of succulent regional seasonal food, prepared by Michael Hjort of Melton’s Restaurant of York.

Local chocolate makers Little Pretty Things will be sharing the secrets of their craft with a hands-on chocolate making workshop for kids (and maybe adults, if you ask nicely!) You’ll be able to try some of their more unusual creations – why not try Yorkshire Brewery’s ‘Ghost Ale’ or Yorkshire Blue Cheese-centred chocolates?

York Mini May Food and Drink Festival is free entry, with some ticketed exceptions including the Lord Mayor’s dinner. For more information, visit