Leeds International Festival 2020 News: Dates, Open Call, and our new Theme! - Leeds International Festival
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Leeds International Festival 2020 News: Dates, Open Call, and our new Theme!

Calling all creators and innovators! Our doors are open for event submissions for L20.

We are happy to confirm that Leeds International Festival 2020 (L20) will be held  30th April – 9th May 2020.

Just over two months since Leeds International Festival wrapped up for 2019, we’re back!

We’ve got some key headline announcements for 2020, now you’ve got the dates for your diaries. The overarching theme for L20 will be – Generation Future.

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley

L20 Theme: Generation Future

What does ‘Generation Future’ mean to you? We’re looking for individual and unique explorations on the theme which will promote thought, discussion and artistic interpretation during next year’s festival.


We live in an era of extraordinary complexity. From politics and economics to the environment, technology, and society itself, the world we live in is more interconnected than ever before. This interconnectivity brings many positives, yet it is only now that the challenges are truly being understood. Actions we take on a daily basis have effects that ripple through the world in ways none of us can predict, and the unintended consequences are mounting up. 

In this time of great global uncertainty, there comes a need for a sea-change in the way we think, behave and interact. We sit in a uniquely challenging yet exciting position in the history of humanity. Infinite possibilities stretch out ahead of us, but what we choose to do now could define the future of our species and planet for millennia to come. There is no turning back; no shifting the blame. This is our time, and our trial. We are Generation Future.

How will the world of tomorrow differ from that of today? Will we shape the future, or will we let it shape us? How do we ensure that there is a future to shape at all? 

Leeds International Festival 2020 will provide a platform for exploring new ideas and innovation around the complexity of modern human interconnections. Join us in looking at how the people of today can affect the world of tomorrow.

The best way to predict your future is to create it.
Abraham Lincoln

Open Call

The Open Call will be open for submissions from 2nd July until 5pm on 6th September.

Proposals are encouraged from any and everybody who feels inclined to add their interpretation to the melee – from artists to comedians, speakers to musicians and performers. The festival provides a platform to showcase the creative DNA of our city, as well as promoting local, national and international talent.

Leeds International Festival encourages proposals which embody the diversity of Leeds and the people who live and work here, particularly commending submissions where thought has been given to accessibility, and engaging with new audiences.

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley

Interested? We’re holding drop-in sessions to tell you more about the festival, and how to apply:

Wednesday 17th July, 10am – 3pm – The Tetley, Hunslet Road, LS10 1JQ

Wednesday 7th August, 10am till 3pm – The Tetley, Hunslet Road, LS10 1JQ

And to find out more online, and submit your event, take a look here:


CORE and OFF - “The pillars of our event programme”

L20 will continue having two strands – a CORE programme and OFF programme of events. Both will interpret the Generation Future theme.

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley


The CORE theme invites world-leading innovators, creators, and thought-leaders to gather in Leeds, disseminating new ideas and discussing the world of the future. Pioneers from across multiple industries are welcomed into the spotlight to put their expertise behind this theme, asking new questions and teasing out new answers to the questions that will shape our collective future.

Budgets are higher in the thought strand of events to enable large-scale and ambitious interpretations, and they would typically be presented in The Cube.


The OFF programme explores the cracks and seams of the CORE programme, allowing the eclectic, the noisy and the unpredictable to take centre-stage. A whirlwind of live music, performance, food, after-parties, exhibitions, discussions, comedy, and experimental events, there is room in OFF for the weird and the wonderful, the underground and the experimental. OFF in particular shines a light on Leeds and the city’s rich cultural diversity and unshakeable creativity.

OFF offers smaller budgets, for more fringe-style, experimental events. Anything goes. If there’s a strong case for larger audiences and it feels right OFF events can still be showcased in The Cube, but the OFF programme also makes great use of the diverse venues across the city, finding something appropriate for the individual event in question.

Looking on from L19…

Leeds International Festival 2019 (L19) ran from 2nd-12th May and delivered an extraordinary ten days of innovation, diversity, education and celebration, with a monumental 62 events taking place across the city, pulling in 15,000 visitors across 19 venues , whilst cementing key central venues as The Cube at The Tetley and the new Discovery Zone on Briggate.

It showcased the talent settled in and around Leeds, and pulled both speakers and audiences from across the nation, and across the world, to come and enjoy the astounding output on offer in the city.

L19 saw amazing events and speakers, such as John Cooper Clarke performing Punk poetry old and new, tech exploration and innovation, family fun, art compositions, and a roster of spectacular musical performances from a huge list of musicians including Tommy Cash, Crazy P, Iration Steppas, Daniel Avery, Yves Tumor, Charanga del Norte and many, many more.

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley

Our Leeds International Festival Executive Gemma Holsgrove said:

“For 10 days in May 2019, Leeds city centre buzzed with Leeds International Festival. It was incredible to be able to showcase the works of artists, speakers and organisations from the city, the UK and beyond. 

So many events provoked a dialogue, forged new connections between both artists and audiences, and sparked a desire for knowledge. Overall, L19 reminded us that we must be inquisitive, and ask those unasked questions, and for L20 we want to continue to build on that.

As an international festival with a huge reach across different generations, I think it is our responsibility to promote thought and discussion.

With humanity coming to terms with the fact that we are causing unprecedented global change, there’s one certainty and that is that the world of tomorrow will be very different and future generations will inhabit a very different world to that which we do today. 

There’s the opportunity to explore what we as a generation do to shape the future, rather than have it shape us. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Credit: Ben Bentley
Ben Bentley

Deadline for applications via the Open Call is Friday 6th September and applicants will be notified of decisions by 30th September 2019.