Leeds Festival is one of a mirrored pair of British alternative and rock music festivals (the other being Reading Festival) that runs over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend. The two festivals share the same bill, just on different days, and Leeds Festival is held in the grounds of Bramham Park in Wetherby.
Reading Festival is the older of the pair of events, but the Leeds version was introduced in 1955 to cater for the same audience based in the North of England. Reading remains the world’s oldest popular music festival!
Both festivals are run by Festival Republic, an event organisation and management company. The company previously sold sponsorship rights on the festivals to beer brand Carling, who named it temporarily ‘The Carling Weekender’, but this deal has since ended and the names have returned to simply their geographical locations. Leeds Festival has expanded in recent years and now boasts a capacity of 75,000 people.
Leeds Festival began as a jazz festival but throughout the 70s and 80s focused more on popular music. Line-ups throughout the 1990s saw big names including Public Enemy, The Beastie Boys, The Prodigy and Ice Cube taking to the stage, broadening the musical horizons of the festival and earning it a positive reputation. However, in the early 2000s, Leeds Festival suffered from an increase of crime and violent behaviour and for a while, its licence was called into question as a result. Additional security was called in and Festival Republic focused instead on removing some of the festival’s focus on alcohol and instead introducing more music acts and bigger stages. This saw the likes of non-alternative musicians including 50 Cent, Eminem, Dizzee Rascal and The Streets take to the stage.
Leeds Festival isn’t a cheap excursion, but tickets are available for both the full weekend, extended camping stays and day trips. Unlike its counterpart, it rarely sells out right away and so decisions can often be made on ticket purchase after the announcement of the musical line-up; which for many, is a luxury compared to other music festivals.