The Awakening
Sat 7 January 5:30pm - 7pm
Headingley Stadium
The first event in an unforgettable year, The Awakening kick-started our Year of Culture with a bang.
Carnival dancers in red shiny outfits and feathers coming off the shoulders perform on stage at The Awakening
A great showcase for a broad range of culture - and all artists respected for their craft. Everything and everyone's contribution was valued and celebrated. Beautifully judged tone - playful, passionate, proud.
Audience member
Audience Agency Survey

The story isn't over yet

The stadium show was just the start of The Awakening. See how the story continues.

    A red and white building with a dome roof, a yellow sunflower on the right, with a black and white face laid down to face the ceiling, with a man riding a horse on the forehead in blue
    What's on
    Waking the Artist

    For the ticket ballot for The Awakening we asked you to unleash your inner artist. Now, see your creativity in unexpected places around Leeds City Centre with Waking The Artist.

    Co-director Alan Lane, and LEEDS 2023 CEO and Creative Director Kully Thiarai stand on stage at Headingley Stadium
    It’s an age of story telling
    A time for story tellers

    Kully Thiarai & Alan Lane, Directors of The Awakening explain the importance of collective creativity and how culture can play a key role in making us feel seen and heard.


    A crowd of people dance in front of Leeds Civic Hall
    Leeds, time to wake up the world

    We commissioned Leeds based filmmakers Sodium Films to show the world what this city is made of. Head over to our YouTube channel to watch the film celebrating Leeds' cultural heritage.

    Dunstan Bruce jumps on stage with the Opera North choir and band Hope&Social behind him
    The Awakening mixtape
    All your favourite jams

    We put together a Spotify playlist of all our favourite tunes from The Awakening and the artists involved. Put on your headphones and enjoy!


A massive thank you to everyone involved in the design and delivery of The Awakening. It’s your event and it wouldn’t have been possible without you.  

Discover more behind the scenes stories

    Waking The Artist
    Jan - Apr

    As part of our ticket ballot for ‘The Awakening’, we activated the artist within. We asked you to tap into your creative side and the response was so overwhelming, we simply had to share it.

    Waking The Artist was a series of activations of ballot artworks that crescendoed in a beautiful exhibition.

    Two children look up at the screen
    Children's Day: Reimagined

    Children’s Day: Reimagined was a free, family-friendly event in Roundhay Park, celebrating the children of Leeds.  

    Inspired by the Children’s Day event of the past and boldly reimagined for the future, it imagined what the world would look like if children were in charge.

    illustration of a child skipping across some  stepping stones in the sky made of books
    The Gifting

    The team that created The Awakening as the opening show of our Year of Culture are working on something entirely different and surprising for our closing event. Drawing from the magic of the darkest winter nights and the dawning of a new year, look out for further details about our closing ceremony as we bring a year of waking, playing and dreaming to a close.

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...