Leeds2023: New acts announced for opening ceremony The Awakening at Headingley Stadium including Kadeena Cox

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Household names and local legends will join Corinne Bailey Rae, Simon Armitage and many more Leeds artists 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 free event at Headingley Stadium, are carnival costume designer Hughbon Condor, paralympic athlete Kadeena Cox OBE, live six-piece Hope & Social and rock band Solar Jets.

Free tickets for the event can only be secured by submitting something creative to the Leeds2023 ballot.

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Since its launch on 23 September, photos, pictures, poems, videos and music have been entered into the ballot, including from stars linked to Leeds Adjoa Andoh, Stephen Waddington, David Nelmes and Testament.

Corinne Bailey Rae (left), Kadeena Cox OBE and  Hughbon Condor.Corinne Bailey Rae (left), Kadeena Cox OBE and  Hughbon Condor.
Corinne Bailey Rae (left), Kadeena Cox OBE and Hughbon Condor.

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 four tickets and organized 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 of LEEDS 2023, and Alan Lane, artistic director of Slung Low. It is supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and commercial property company Bruntwood.

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.”

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The Awakening will mark the start of the Year of Culture for the city. Hosted by broadcasters Gabby Logan MBE and Sanchez Payne, the ceremony will also feature performances and appearances from global star Corinne Bailey Rae, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and TV presenter George Webster.

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 the Leeds2023 website.

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

Left Bank Leeds – Wednesday 16, 23 November

White Rose Shopping Centre – Saturday 19, Sunday 20 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:

Armley Library

Bramley Baths

Burmantofts Community Hub and Library


Kirkgate Market

LEEDS 2023 HQ, Brewery Place

Leeds Beckett University, City Centre Campus

Leeds Beckett University, Headingley Campus

LS14 Trust

Middleton Health for All

New Worley Community Centre

Reginald Centre

The Old Fire Station

Voluntary Action Leeds