ENTERTAINMENT and CULTURE in Leeds
Leeds invented cinema.
Yep, Leeds invented cinema.
In 1888 Frenchman Louis Le Prince shot the world’s first moving pictures. Using single lens camera and paper film the sequences were filmed right here; of Roundhay Gardens and Leeds Bridge. After mysteriously and suspiciously disappearing two years later on route to patent his invention and then Thomas Edison stealing the idea as his own, it has taken years for Le Prince’s story to be accepted: the first ever moving pictures were exhibited in Leeds’ suburbs Hunslet and Roundhay. See a blue plaque celebrating Louis’ achievement on the south east of Leeds Bridge.
In keeping with Leeds’ oldfashioned part in the story of this world-changing phenomenon, the city maintains its most famous and the country’s most charming original picture house, The Hyde Park. Opening in 1914, to this day the beautiful cinema attracts all-comers, not just for its history and features but for its faultless listings, mixing the best of independent film, world cinema, new blockbusters, art-house movies and cult classics.
The Hyde Park and other city venues host the annual Leeds International Film Festival. England’s largest festival outside of London is held every November in the comfortable if characterless multiplexes but also in pop-ups around the city. Various bars, spaces and Leeds Town Hall screen an exceptional array of often excellent, always interesting
releases from around the world to delight and bewilder audiences.
Using art spaces for pop-up events has flourished in Leeds over recent years. Other independent film festivals No Gloss and Sneaky Experience have successfully taken over venues and weekends. Grand and scenic outdoor settings are used for popular theatre performances by the likes of Nexus.
Exciting art exhibitions appear
on empty walls thanks to groups like
Love Arts , East Street & Woolgather .
Street performance, poetry and dance are displayed by new-talentspotters such as Big On Road and Leeds Young Authors. Disused mills have been renovated into buzzing all-nighters, most notably Canal Mills hosting raves, gigs, live art and markets. Amazing buildings including Left Bank’s church are turned into inspiring creative spaces. And more permanent places such as Seven Arts and The Faversham invite poetry, theatre, film, music, art, dance and creativity every evening.
In a city with big-name theatres (Playhouse, Grand, City Varieties), cinemas (Vue, Everyman), dance studios (Northern Ballet, Phoenix) and galleries (Henry Moore, Leeds Art) already setting such a high standard, it is laudable that the independents have not only bothered to try but have succeeded in both using existing facilities to their advantage and creating exciting new opportunities of their own. Take part or take in at the great venues in our Entertainment & Culture section.