City Varieties – A true Leeds treasure

By September 25, 2016

Art & Photography. Leeds.

Images credited to Tony O’Connell

Images credited to Tony O’Connell

If you’re interested in comedy, music, and everything in between, chances are you will have heard of Leeds City Varieties. A beautiful venue in the heart of Leeds, it’s likely that if you’ve been there you will certainly remember it. Its striking interior and vintage style is simply stunning and the acts it showcases are even more impressive. Situated on Swan Street, City Varieties has been around for an impressive 151 years and shows no sign of slowing down.

city-varieties-circa-1911-credit-postcard-donated-by-maurice-friedman-british-music-hall-societyFirst opened in 1855 as a room above The Swan pub, the venue aimed to give awesome entertainment to the working classes with a variety of acts (theatres such as Leeds Grand were pretty much dedicated to the upper classes in the late 1800s). After so many years of running, back in 2009 the venue was given a £9m restoration and reopened its doors in 2011. Those of you who have visited since then will know how absolutely breath-taking the venue is.

If you want to know about incredible stars who’ve graced the Leeds City Varieties stage then hold on to your hats. BBC TV Series The Good Old Days was filmed at City Varieties, and over its 30 year run featured stars such as Les Dawson, Barbara Windsor, Bruce Forsyth and Eartha Kitt.

Well-recognised stars set to come through City Varieties’ doors in 2016 include Tiff Stevenson (5th October), Seann Walsh (12th October), James Acaster (21st October), Pete Firman (27th October), Jason Byrne (28th October), Jimeoin (3rd November), Horne Section (11th November) and Matt Forde (13th November).

There are some other incredible acts on this year, too, such as The Westenders (2nd October), Lee Mead (6th October), Bucks Fizz’s Cheryl, Mike and Jay (20th October), Tony Christie (30th October) and Chas and Dave (10th November). city-varieties-swan-street-today

As well as comedians and singers, City Varieties is branching out to include talks with Graeme Swann and Henry Blofeld (10th October) , political YouTuber Jonathan Pie (14th October), Michael Portillo (4th November), hypnotist Andrew Newton (12th November) and off course the annual Pantomime, Sleeping Beauty The Rock ‘N’ Roll Panto (26th November to 8th January)!

Acts coming up in 2017 include Paul Foot, Henning Wehn, Camille O’Sullivan, Lee Nelson and Showaddywaddy. For a full list of all upcoming performances, please take a look at the City Varieties website.

The venue is also host to City Varieties Youth Theatre, which provides weekly workshops with a variety of arts professionals, giving young people the opportunity to learn from the best and find their feet in the world of show business. For budding young stars, this is the place to go!

City Varieties’ also hosts ‘learning’ events through key holidays. Grand Futures Leeds Learning Programme provides young people with fantastic and life changing training opportunities and gives them a chance to learn new skills. Can the venue get any better?

Ahead of big festivals or arena tours, huge comedy stars often use City Varieties as a sort of trial for their material. Some of these stars include Michael McIntyre, John Bishop and Boy George! We’re sure every one falls in love with the venue and its intimate beauty and hear that Al Murray is a huge fan of the Leeds venue.

Did you know that Leeds City Varieties holds the Guinness Book of Records title as the longest running music hall in the country? How marvellous it’s right here in Leeds for us to still enjoy amazing performances!

Check out the full line up and see what takes your fancy in 2016/17.