Get your tickets for year of culture opening event

New acts announced for LEEDS 2023’s unmissable opening event at Headingley Stadium, as the ticket ballot opens up for groups to enter

On 7 January 2023, household names and local legends from across the worlds of sport, music and carnival will join Corinne Bailey Rae, Simon Armitage and many more Leeds artists to let culture loose at the special opening event of the city’s Year of Culture.

Joining the line-up of hugely talented Leeds locals for ‘The Awakening’, the one-off free event at Headingley Stadium, are internationally-respected carnival costume designer Hughbon Condor; gold medal winning paralympic athlete and cyclist Kadeena Cox OBE; legendary live six-piece Hope & Social and possibly Britain’s youngest rock band, Solar Jets.

Free tickets for the event can only be secured by submitting something creative to a ballot. Since its launch on 23 September, photos, pictures, poems, videos and music from Leeds people has been flooding into the ballot, including from stars linked to Leeds Adjoa Andoh (Lady Danbury in ‘Bridgerton’); Stephen Waddington (‘Last of the Mohicans’); Parkour World Champion David Nelmes and Testament (world record holding beatboxer and awards nominated theatre maker).

Demand from local families and groups is high and entries to the ballot have been expanded to accommodate them. One entry will now be eligible for 4 tickets and organised groups may submit one piece of art on behalf of the whole group. Schools and community groups are now able to use a special entry ballot to submit multiple creations at once, enabling whole classes, scout troops, knitting clubs and church groups to take part with up to 50 tickets available for each group. The deadline for submissions is 25 November.

‘The Awakening’ is co-directed by Kully Thiarai, Creative Director and Chief Executive of LEEDS 2023 with Alan Lane, Artistic Director of Slung Low, Holbeck’s own theatre company. Kully said:

“As we edge closer to 2023 we are increasingly excited about sharing ‘The Awakening’ with everyone and to have Hughbon, Kadeena, Hope & Social and the Solar Jets joining the party! We’re delighted too that, following requests from schools, groups and families, we’ve been able to open the ballot up more widely, enabling more people to get creative and be part of what we hope will be a truly memorable occasion.”

Ticket Ballot

Anything goes in terms of the art that can be sent in to enter the ballot. Organisers are looking for a wide variety of submissions – it can be a doodle or dance, a cake or comic, a painting or poem – however anyone gets their creative kicks can be uploaded as photos, audio or videos to

‘Creation Stations’, special pop ups offering the chance to make something there and then with all materials provided can be found at:

  • White Rose Shopping Centre – Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November
  • Left Bank Leeds – Wednesday 16, 23 November
  • Trinity Leeds – Saturday 19 November

Submissions can be made online or in person by dropping them into 14 art collection boxes around the city. These boxes can only accept 2D artworks and can be found at:

  • Hamara Centre, Tempest Road, Beeston
  • Health for All, Acre Close, Middleton
  • Voluntary Action Leeds, Lupton Street, Hunslet
  • LEEDS 2023 HQ, Brewery Place
  • Armley Library
  • Bramley Baths
  • Burmantofts Community Hub and Library
  • Kirkgate Market
  • Leeds Beckett University, City Centre Campus
  • Leeds Beckett University, Headingley Campus
  • LS14 Trust
  • New Worley Community Centre
  • Reginald Centre
  • The Old Fire Station

‘The Awakening’ will mark the start of what will be a transformative Year of Culture for the city. Hosted by LEEDS 2023 Chair and broadcaster, podcaster, writer and former international gymnast Gabby Logan MBE with broadcaster Sanchez Payne, a Trustee of LEEDS 2023 and former Leeds United footballer, ‘The Awakening’ will also feature performances and appearances from global star, singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and band LYR, George Webster, TV presenter, actor, dancer and CBeebies presenter and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, rugby league coach and former Leeds Rhinos player.

‘The Awakening’ is supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and commercial property company Bruntwood.


This post is based on a press release issued by LEEDS 2023

Photo: Kully Thiarai and Alan Lane at Headingley Stadium for LEEDS 2023. Image credit Jemma Mickleburgh


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