Music in a water mill, beer in a crypt, food in the grounds of a twelfth century abbey….and much more besides

It’s definitely summer. You can tell by the relentless rain and sense of anti-climax. But fear not: come rain or shine, festival season is in full swing, and that means plenty of opportunities to eat, drink and dance your cares away. Here are ten to take a look at…

LEEDS FOOD AND DRINK FESTIVAL | Millennium Square | 28-30 June

Now in its ninth year, Leeds Food & Drink festival adds more to its armoury every year. Last year saw bands, a festival marquee bar and more food than you can shake an impressive set of chins at. Expect all that and a bag of… halloumi fries this year.

Millennium Square, Calverley St, Leeds LS1 1UR (11am-8pm Fri-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun; free) 

MADE IN LEEDS FESTIVAL | Thwaite Mills | Saturday 29 June

You may not expect much from a festival in an historic industrial mill - but you’d be wrong. Made in Leeds Festival uses every inch of the mill and its fabulous ground and riverside location to put on a festival that boasts five separate areas including a big top tent, two riverside stages and a VIP secret garden area. Artists this year include Dale Castell, Rob Tissera and Tom Zanetti.

Thwaite Mills Water Museum, Thwaite Lane, Leeds LS10 1RP (1-11pm; last tickets from £36.25 at Skiddle)

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Made in Leeds takes over Thwaite Mills and its grounds


This is one of our favourite festivals. The Abbey serves excellent ale and puts on a range of sing- and dance-along music across the weekend; with over 100 guest beers and ciders and a lively, family-friendly crowd in its wonderful secluded canal-side spot.

The Abbey Inn, Pollard Lane LS13 1EQ (5-11pm Fri, 12-11pm Sat, 12-7pm Sun; free)

COCOON IN THE PARK | Temple Newsam | Saturday 13 July

The last ever Cocoon in the Park festival will take place at Temple Newsam, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to make their farewell one to remember (depending on how much you drink). Hosted by electronic legend Sven Vath, a full day of techno and electro is sure to leave revellers with sore feet as the likes of Carl Craig and Patrick Topping help wave goodbye to the crowds. 

Temple Newsam Park, LS15 0AD (10am-11pm; last tickets from £60.50 at Skiddle)

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It’s the last ever Cocoon in the Park this year

KIRKSTALL FESTIVAL | Kirkstall Abbey | Saturday 13 July

‘Kirkstall on t’ Farm’ could not take place in more stunning surroundings, with the twelfth century abbey the setting for the 38th annual festival. This is a massive event, providing something for everyone, including the little ones. Food and drink stalls, a fairground, a battle of the bands, live comedy, lots of stalls and a tea dance - what more could you want?

Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Rd, Leeds LS5 3EH (11am-5pm; free, programmes £2) 

LEEDS PRIDE | City centre | Sunday 4 August

Pride is not just a festival: it’s an important reminder that we should celebrate who we are, and that acceptance and togetherness is the way forward. The parade itself is a fantastic celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans life, spreading colour and an atmosphere like no other across the city centre. There will also be two stages for live music, and a dance arena to help keep the party going all day.

Citywide (various times; free) 

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Leeds Pride promises a rainbow of fun

LEEDS SKA AND MOD FESTIVAL | Millennium Square | Sunday 11 August

What could be more summery than a full day of skanking and vespas at the ska and mod festival? A mix of new and old bands will grace the stage, with highlights from Bad Manners and Bruce Foxton from The Jam. Hair, jackets and massive glasses optional.

Millennium Square, Calverley St, Leeds LS1 1UR (doors 3pm; tickets £34 at millsqleeds)

LEEDS OPERA FESTIVAL | Various venues | 23-27 August

Opera North’s festival has been renamed the Leeds Opera Festival this year, and the headline draw will be Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at Morley Town Hall. Also keep a look our for Feast of Falstaff in Headingley though - a celebration of one of Shakespeare’s best loved characters (and probably his most entertaining).

Various; check website

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Celebrate the Bard at Leeds Opera Festival

LEEDS WEST INDIAN CARNIVAL | Chapeltown | Sunday 25 August

The country’s largest West Indian carnival after Notting Hill, Leeds Carnival is now over 50 years old and still going from strength to strength. The carnival itself is an experience like no other, with incredible dance, costume and style parading the streets of Chapeltown for several hours. As usual, Potternewton Park will play host to a mouth-watering array of food and drink, with some of the best jerk chicken you’ll ever taste. Trust us. 

Parade starts Pottertown Park at 2pm; free


If you like beer, you have to go to this festival. No, really. It’s incredible. A simply enormous line-up takes over Leeds Town Hall and all the twists and turns of the underground crypt for a massive four-day extravaganza that showcases beers from all corners of the globe. Street food galore, hundreds of beer styles and the odd cocktail or two - this is, bar none, the biggest and best beer festival that Leeds has to offer (and probably the best we’ve been to in this country too). It’s the perfect way to round off the summer, although there’s real danger that your hangover will last until some time next May.

Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AD (various times; tickets from 5pm at leedsbeer)