Get dressed up Leeds, we're going out - Ruth Pitt, Leeds 2023

In her latest Hello Leeds column celebrating the best of culture in our city, Leeds 2023 chairperson Ruth Pitt welcomes the re-opening of public venues.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 11:45 am

There’s a touch of dare-we-hope in the air, writes Ruth Pitt. If anything could be a marker of some kind of return to normality, surely it’s the thought that our public museums, galleries and theatres might start slowly re-opening for visitors soon.

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That day is upon us. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel apprehensive about this long-awaited return to normality on many levels, but could there be a more comforting place to start than your local library?

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Leeds Playhouse is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Across Leeds 29 libraries have now re-opened with a mix of in-person and virtual services and you can renew or reserve a book, learn from home, improve your digital skills, do stuff with the kids, get stuck into researching your family’s history or plan your next career move.

We all need time for reflection right now and where better to head than to a museum or a peaceful park – even if they’re only partially open, it’s like finding a favourite coat in the back of the wardrobe and putting it back on again.

Race over to Temple Newsam grounds and gardens but don’t forget to book for Home Farm. Lotherton’s grounds, gardens and Wildlife World await you too if you pre-book.

And you can get into museum-training at the Abbey House Shop and Gatehouse café, the Leeds Industrial Museum shop and the Kirkstall Abbey grounds too. Toilets seem to be open by and large (big relief in more ways than one).

Art lovers will be pleased to know that although the main Leeds Art Gallery remains closed for now, their shop is open and you can hear some great exhibition talks or arrange virtual tours.

It was a particularly painful blow to the city’s culture sector when the pandemic forced Leeds Playhouse to go dark only four months after it had re-opened following a major refurbishment that was ironically designed to make the whole space more accessible to all.

It’s fitting then that on May 19 the theatre will throw open its doors once again to celebrate its 50th anniversary with Decades: Stories From The City. You can watch online or in person if you stick by the usual strict social distancing rules and a great anniversary exhibition will be waiting for you in the foyer.

If you’re not already too heady with the excitement of attending an actual performance in an actual theatre, you might want to book a ticket at the City Varieties, where just a day later from May 20 you can see Judy and Liza, aka Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli, the turbulent tale of two of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Music (almost) abounds again. At Opera North they’ve already started the Whitehall Road live-streamed chamber concerts from the rehearsal studio and from June 19-29 you can book to see Fidelio, the company’s first in-person production.

Leeds Town Hall’s first live in-person event will be comedian Daniel Sloss on May 28-29 – let’s face it, we all need a good laugh right now – and online music recitals are available from May 8, just days away.

Will you dust off that sequinned jacket or stick to the casual elasticated trousers? The choice, at last, is yours.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has teamed up with Leeds 2023 for Hello Leeds, a campaign celebrating the cultural and community organisations that help to make Leeds so special.

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