Find out everything you need to know about Leeds 2023

Our bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023

Connecting a city through culture

Our journey started in 2014 when we first asked the people of Leeds if they wanted to see the city bid for the title of European Capital of Culture and they responded with a resounding YES LEEDS!

We’ve come a long a way since then, we’ve had our ups and downs but we are still here and still committed to celebrating the cultures that bring our city together and put Leeds firmly on the map, with a five-year cultural investment programme culminating in a year of cultural celebration in 2023.

Leeds will harness the energy, creative and momentum created by the bidding process to create its own celebration of the city’s cultural life which will continue to celebrate our international connections and heritage.

5 facts about Leeds 2023

The history of the bid process

June 2018
27th June 2018

Leeds City Council's Executive Board agreed to the set up of Leeds Culture Trust, the independent organisation that will take forward the year and manage Leeds 2023's artistic programme.

January 2018
31st January 2018

700 people gathered at Leeds Town Hall for a public meeting to hear the Council’s resolution to continue with Leeds 2023. The Leader of Council announced a commitment to invest fully in the plans for Leeds 2023 and invited Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group members, and its Chair Sharon Watson, to remain in place for an additional 12 months to oversee the implementation of revised plans for Leeds 2023.

November 2017
November 2017

We were shocked to hear the news that the UK were no longer able to bid to be part of the European Capital of Culture Competition.

October 2017
27th October 2017

On this date we will not only officially submit our bid for the title, but we will also host the gala of galas inviting everyone who made Leeds 2023 happen to celebrate together. Head over to our Celebrate page for more details.

July 2017
19th July 2017

100 Days to Go! This is the final countdown and we need your help to #MakeLeeds2023 - click on the Shout button to find out what you can do to make sure the city wins the bid.

February 2017
23rd February 2017

The team launched a public open call for ideas that would bring the bid to life across every street, estate and community in Leeds. The team received more than 300 ideas and suggestions for projects, events and festivals.

December 2016
16th December 2016

They had us worried for a while as the country tried to understand what happens when a nation chooses to leave the European Union, the Department for Culture Media and Sport gave us an early Christmas present by announcing the decision to proceed with competition for a UK city to host the title.

June 2016
23rd June 2017

We woke to the news that the UK had voted to leave the European Union, with Leeds narrowly voting to remain with a near 50/50 split, casting doubt over the competition.

September 2015
8th September 2015

The bid belongs to the people of the city and therefore should be steered by those people. An open recruitment process received more than 180 Expressions of Interest to join an Independent Steering Group, which was formed to guide and shape the bid and how it is developed.

March 2015
15th March 2015

Fast forward a year, following a conversation with the whole city, Leeds City Council’s Executive Board of Elected Members unanimously supported the recommendation to bid for European Capital of Culture.

January 2014
7th January 2014

Where it all began. The first public meeting was held at Leeds Town Hall and kickstarted a discussion with 300 stakeholders about whether or not the city should bid for the European Capital of Culture crown.

“It’s our intention to ensure that this is a bid that belongs to the people of Leeds and which properly communicates how vibrant and diverse our different communities and cultural institutions are.”

Sharon Watson, Chair, Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group