Thanks to a city initiative aimed at relaxing licensing restrictions and increasing late-night entertainment options, it's safe to say that Leeds now rocks 'round the clock. And it was already humming with classical concerts, opera, jazz, dance, theater, cinema, rock and dance clubs, cafes, and pubs.
The Club & Music Scene
Leeds has a thriving rock scene, with recent bands, such as Sisters of Mercy and the Mission, rising out of the music scene. Today's up-and-coming music scene, not surprisingly, is very influenced by the Manchester scene, but innovative bands such as Black Star Liner, Bedlam A Go Go, and Embrace show that Leeds still has a musical voice all its own.
The Cockpit, Bridge House, Swinegate (tel. 01132/441573; www.thecockpit.co.uk), can host about 600 fans, who turn out to hear the latest indie bands in a converted railway arch setting. It's usually open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night, with a cover ranging from £3 to £5.
You'll find the jazz you're looking for at Arts Café, 42 Call Lane (tel. 01132/438243; www.artscafebar.co.uk), a European-style cafe-bar that offers tapas, bottled beers, and coffees.
Considering its size, there is a substantial gay scene in Leeds. The most popular club at the moment is Queens Court, Lower Briggate (tel. 01132/459449; www.queens-court.co.uk). Downstairs is a restaurant and bar. Queens Court is open Monday to Wednesday noon to 2am, Thursday noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday noon to 3am, and Sunday noon to 11pm. The cover charge ranges from £2 to £5. Another current hot spot for gay men is the Bridge Inn, 1-5 Bridge Inn (tel. 01132/444734), which has a friendly-local-pub atmosphere and becomes increasingly clubby as the night progresses (no cover).
Stop by Whitelocks, Turks Head Yard (tel. 01132/453950), in the alley of Briggate, next to Marks & Spencer. There's a copper-topped bar with a handmade ceramic-tile front, a marble sandwich bar, old advertising mirrors, and stained-glass windows. Locals keep the conversation flowing in a thick, northern accent. If you get hungry, there's cheap traditional pub grub. Tap selections are varied and quite good, including McEwan's 80, Younger's IPA, and Theakston's Old Peculiar.
Hearkening back to Leeds's glory days, Victoria, Great George Street (tel. 01132/451386), is every bit as Victorian as its name suggests, with ornate globe lamps, etched mirrors, and a well-adorned bar. Politicians and lawyers frequent the place. Join in the conversation or sit back and listen while you enjoy a pint of Tetley's Mild and maybe a bar snack or two.
The Performing Arts
Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow (tel. 01132/477989), hosts orchestras from around the globe as part of the city's annual International Concert Season and is also home to the world-famous Leeds International Pianoforte Competition, held every 3 years. Opera North offers three to four productions during its season from October to April at the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House, 46 New Briggate (tel. 01132/226222; www.leedsgrandtheatre.com), featuring a well-renovated 1,500-seat auditorium behind its original 1878 Victorian facade.
Theatergoers are much impressed by the facilities at the £12-million West Yorkshire Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Quarry Hill (tel. 01132/137700; www.wyplayhouse.com), home to the "national theatre of the north." Playhouse artistic director Jude Kelly started out strong in the early inaugural seasons, with 17 productions, including eight British or world premieres. There has been no slowing down since then, and you can find a dramatic offering at most any time in either the Playhouse's Quarry Auditorium, which seats 750, or the Courtyard, which seats 350. The Playhouse, which is the cornerstone of a proposed £70-million Quarry Hill arts complex, also hosts other events throughout the year, including the annual Jazz at the Playhouse series.
The Yorkshire Dance Centre, St. Peters Building, York Street (tel. 01132/438765; www.yorkshiredance.com), houses the internationally renowned Phoenix Dance Troupe.