Leeds 2023 The Awakening: Live updates as spectacular Headingley stadium show kicks off city's year of culture

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A huge free show is taking place at Headingley Stadium this weekend to mark the start of the city’s year of culture.

The Leeds 2023 opening ceremony – hosted by Gabby Logan and Sanchez Payne – will feature Corinne Bailey Rae, Simon Armitage and LYR, The Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, Graft, Inder Goldfinger, Testament, Hope and Social, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Denmarc Creary, CBeebies presenter George Webster and many more.

Follow our live blog below for timings, travel information and coverage of the show itself. Don’t forget to refresh the page to see the latest updates.

Leeds 2023 hosts huge show at Headingley Stadium

Leeds 2023 programme highlights

Welcome to the Yorkshire Evening Post’s live blog as Leeds 2023 prepares to host its opening ceremony - The Awakening.

It marks the beginning of a year of culture that will feature everything from a bold new public artwork in central Leeds to a new mural by an internationally renowned artist.

The Awakening is the opening event for Leeds 2023’s year of culture and will feature performances from a diverse range of contributors, including singer songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, rapper Graft.

It’s been a long time in the planning, with rehearsals for many of the performances taking place here in Leeds in recent weeks.

We called in to Eiger Studios in Hunslet back in late November to catch up with Ntantu, who will be backed by a 20-piece Gospel choir as they perform a track entitled Tomorrow. Watch our video here.

What are the key timings?

  • 3.30pm - The stadium opens to ticket holders
  • 5pm - The Live Countdown with Rima Ahmed
  • 5.30pm - The main event begins
  • 7pm - The show finishes

What you need to know to plan your journey

For those lucky enough to have tickets, organisers have shared this travel advice.

By car

There will be no parking onsite at Headingley stadium. Blue badge spaces could be booked in advance by emailing [email protected]

There will be a shuttle bus service from Cinder Moor and Leeds City Station.

By bus

The bus routes to Headingley stadium bus stop are 19, 19A, 56 and 91. This bus stop is directly opposite the Stadium and from there volunteers will be on hand to offer directions.

Other nearby bus stops, such as St Michael’s Church can be accessed by services 1, 1B, 6 and 8.

Single journeys are capped at £2 thanks to the Mayor’s Fares scheme.

By shuttle bus

A free shuttle bus service from Cinder Moor (Woodhouse Lane, Woodhouse, Leeds LS6 2UZ) will be operating as a park and ride to Headingley Stadium between 3.10pm and 5.12pm. Buses will take you to Headingley Stadium from Hyde Park Corner bus stop, right next to the moor.

Buses from Leeds City Station (Leeds Train Station, New Station Street, Leeds LS1 4DY) to Headingley Stadium will run between 3.10pm and 5.20pm.

Head to the event website for shuttle bus bookings.

By train

The nearest train station is Burley Park. It’s roughly 10 minutes walk to the Stadium and will bring you to outside gates F & E. There are very few rail services running anywhere in the country today due to ongoing strikes, so anyone considering this option is urged to check with National Rail for the latest updates.

Bus passengers warned about possible delays

What's the weather going to be like?

The weather is going to be cold so people in the audience are advised to wrap up warm.

Depending on which forecast you read, there might be some rain so it’s best to bring something waterproof with you.

For those with standing tickets on the pitch itself, the advice is to wear flat, warm footwear as the ground underfoot is likely to be wet.

Lights in the sky spark speculation

Aside from sharing the names of key acts, organisers have given away very little about what to expect during the show.

People living near the stadium appear to have had a sneak preview though when these lights appeared in the sky on Thursday. The picture - shared by Jayne Westerman - and an accompanying video sparked plenty of speculation online.

Jayne Westerman

Do you have any questions about your tickets?

Organisers are on hand to answer any of your questions and offer help and support

The stage is set for Leeds 2023

The gates are now open and all eyes will be fixed towards the stage for the festivities, with the main event to begin at around 5.30pm.

The picture has been shared by the official Twitter page, @LEEDS_2023

Leeds 2023

The city’s artwork is leading the way

Work from artists across Leeds has been put on display around the stadium.

Crowds are starting to gather for the main event. Our reporter Abi Whistance will be on hand to provide updates from the opening ceremony.

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