Introducing – Leeds International Festival 2019

It felt somewhat appropriate that the organisers, Leeds BID, chose Valentine’s Day to make the first announcement for the 2019 Leeds International Festival (L19).

There’s now a lot of love in the City for this relative newcomer to the festival scene and although they got off to a somewhat shaky start, there’ve been some welcome changes to the leadership this year which are clearly starting to bear fruit. The signs of a Festival packed with diversity, innovation and collaboration, are indeed good.

With more experience and focus comes a chance to improve and enhance the enjoyment:  This year we’ll see CORE and OFF programmes, so that upcoming acts and events will be seen distinctly from those led by international speakers.  There’s a fresh location for The Village Hub and free-to-attend family events will take place in The Discovery Zone.

We’ll see more collaboration with existing organisations in Leeds this year. In the past there’s been some criticism of the International Festival and whether or not it detracted, even sapped some of the energy from the other established events, but for 2019 that now looks likely to change. Already, we have a confirmed partnership with Transform and even talk of a collaboration with one of the City’s great success stories, the Leeds Digital Festival – a pairing that makes a lot of sense, not only because the two fall back to back the in the calendar, but also the inclusion of some exciting tech and digital events in L19.

So – who and what so far?

Professor Alice Roberts (evolutionary biologist), Matt Haig (novelist), Gelong Thubten (Buddhist monk) and Simon Anholt (economist) have partnered with Leeds Beckett University for What does it mean to be Human?  Four events look at our past, present and future: biology, humanity and aspiration.

John Cooper Clarke’s legendary punk people’s poetry will be joined by acclaimed guest poets Toria Garbutt and Mike Garry.

Frank Bruno

Boxing legend Frank Bruno MBE will discuss music and mental health as part of Blaque Xplosion. Jo-Jo co-hosts, with Jermain Jackman performing live and the iconic dub sound system Iration Steppas taking over for the evening’s entertainment.

90’s underground disco poppers Crazy P will be joined by a host of the City’s finest, rising talent and established dance music masters, including the long-serving Back To Basics resident and arguably one of the most respected old-school Dj’s still operating, Ralph Lawson.

Ralph Lawson

Juicebox presents the LA-based enigmatic gothic soundscape auteur, Yves Tumor, Estonian conceptual artist and rapper, Tommy Cash, Grime music’s queer pioneer Karnage Kills and Leeds’ very own eclectic DJ, NikNak.

Rewire – whilst you’re watching out for Leeds, who’s watching you?  An interactive game experience with Machina eX in collaboration with Transform Festival.

On the back of previous success, All Day Hey will make a welcome return to the Festival with a promising a lineup of some of the leading minds in the tech industry.

All Day Hey

This is only the beginning, though, and a mere taster of what’s to come. We expect another announcement in the coming weeks and there’s still an opportunity to help shape the Festival. In partnership with Music:Leeds’ Launchpad program, L19 is offering a unique opportunity by commissioning a new piece for performance/installation during the event.

Proposals must be new, original and previously unperformed but if you’re interested then don’t hang around, the deadline for submission is Thursday 28th February. Find out more and apply here.

Gemma Holsgrove

Next week we’ll be speaking to the new girl in town, Gemma Holsgrove who has recently joined the Leeds BID team as Festival Executive and charged with the responsibility of bringing all these wonderful events together. We’ll be finding out more about her plans and where she’s looking to take the Festival in the future.

The Leeds International Festival runs from 2 – 12 May 2019 and tickets are already on sale. You can pick them up here but they are likely to shift quickly so don’t be caught napping.

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs provided by Chapter 81.

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