Hidden Stories
Across Leeds
Hidden Stories shines a spotlight on the real stories that Leeds is built on. It’s our opportunity to shout about the stories and people that make our city
Hidden stories in a circle with different dark shapes
About the Project
Group of people sitting outside

Heritage is part of us all. It’s in the stories we tell, the food we make, and the songs we sing. It’s what makes our city so special. Hidden Stories is a year-long programme of events, exhibitions, workshops and performances that celebrate Leeds’ diverse heritage.

With a population of around 800,000 people, Leeds is an enormous tapestry of untold tales just waiting to be discovered. Artists, researchers, communities and heritage organisations across Leeds have teamed up to bring these stories to life.

These are the stories that have been overlooked and under-celebrated for far too long. It’s a chance for Leeds to beat the drum – loudly and proudly – for its vibrant and unique history. To explore where we come from through awe-inspiring installations, thought-provoking exhibitions and fun events. To honour our diversity, our backgrounds, our roots.

Learn more about the real stories we’re shining a spotlight on below.

Hidden Stories programme

    a woman touching the old textile machinery at the leeds industrial museum in armley
    Any Work that Wanted Doing

    Disabled artists are making new artworks that will be exhibited among the collection of textile machinery at Leeds Industrial Museum. The artworks explore the hidden histories of Disabled textile mill workers and the echoes of these stories today.

    Two people sitting on a white sheet
    City Stories: Common Ground

    Lens Lab Project have spent the last year working closely with Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, and Sikh communities in Leeds to create an exhibition of portraits, telling the story of people, place and faith.

    Child and adult interacting looking at something on a phone
    Culture Club

    This co-created weekly club for people aged 16-21 from East Leeds explores healthcare and medical histories through creative, digital media. Keep an eye out for the Culture Club late events throughout 2023.

    person looking in glass box at museum
    Forgotten Battles: Gender in the Armouries

    Discover hidden stories of gender at the Royal Armouries Museum through a project designed and produced by local LGBTQ+ people.

    3 People performing on stage
    Meet Me at Cantors

    Milim has been working with members of the Jewish community in Leeds to produce Meet Me at Cantors, a new theatre production exploring the joy and social lives of Leeds' Jewish teenagers in the 1950s.

    In an old library child and person looking at posters
    Heritage Open Days

    Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival of history and culture, involving thousands of local volunteers and organisations. As part of this year’s festival, we’ve partnered with Leeds Civic Trust to create ways to bring people together to celebrate their heritage, community and history.

    Join us at our Heritage Open Days Hub at the Corn Exchange this September to explore stories and find out more about what is happening across Leeds.

    People in a room with a long table of food and decorations eating
    Eating the Corn Exchange

    Eating The Corn Exchange is the latest immersive, multi-sensory experience from Edible Archives. This accessible experience explores the heritage of the Corn Exchange as a meeting place for subcultures in this city and as an iconic building that holds many precious memories for the greebos, punks, skaters, moshers, and goths of Leeds.

    Share Your Story

    Did you hang out on the steps of The Corn Exchange or have you been part of Leeds’s alternative music scenes through time? We’d love to hear your story!

    Find out how here

    people eating at long table enjoying a banquet
    70 x 7: The Meal, Act XLV

    In July this year, Lucy + Jorge Orta created a large-scale participatory artwork at Harewood House, where communities came together to discuss food, culture, sustainability and social justice.


Hidden Stories is all about the people of Leeds past, present, and future. Everyone is welcome at these events and exhibition. We encourage you to find out new stories and explore new venues.  

Detailed access information for each of the Hidden Stories events and exhibitions can be found in the individual Events above. If you require further access information please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 511 2023. 


Hidden Stories is made possible with thanks to funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional funding from Historic England to support Eating the Corn Exchange.

This project has been created in partnership with Edible Archives, Gill Crawshaw, Harewood House, Leeds Civic Trust, Lens Lab Leeds, Milim, Royal Armouries Museum, and Thackray Museum of Medicine.

Discover more behind the scenes stories

    group of children sit on floor in park watching performance
    My LEEDS 2023
    All year

    Who better to shine a light on the amazing communities of Leeds and tell their stories than the people themselves? For My LEEDS 2023 our Neighbourhood Hosts representing every ward in Leeds have come together to organise city-wide celebrations all summer long.

    Making a stand exhibition shot from above
    Making A Stand
    Until 2024

    Inspired by the ancient forests of Leeds.

    This new public artwork in City Square reawakens history and captures the magic of the Forest of Leodis. Inspired by Leeds' roots as an ancient woodland, visual artist Michael Pinsky and environmental architects Studio Bark put sustainability at the heart of this epic piece for LEEDS 2023.

    A bus and mobile observatory decorated in a celestial pattern in a field in front of a block of flats.
    Summer onwards

    Celebrating the Leeds-born trailblazer of civil engineering, John Smeaton, Smeaton300 is a series of STEAM events and activities taking place across the city.

    Get playful with talks, exhibitions, workshops and even jump aboard our mobile observatory, Moon Palace to view the moon and stars.

A shot of Leeds Culture Map

Leeds Culture Map

Explore our Culture Map

Can't make it to the city? You can still explore the area using our Culture Map. A fun and interactive way to see everything going on during LEEDS 2023 and beyond...

Sign up to our newsletter

For latest announcements and get involved opportunities, sign-up to the LEEDS 2023 Email Newsletter.