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Leeds hosts ‘The Big Send Off’ after submitting Capital of Culture bid.

Residents and businesses show their support for Leeds 2023.               Credit: Leeds 2023

By Alex Worrall

LEEDS MARKED the official submission of its 2023 European Capital of Culture bid by throwing a free all-day party in the city centre on Friday.

The party, called The Big Send Off, took place in the Quarry Hill area of Leeds and featured live music and performances.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds on Friday morning, Karen Sewell, business spokesperson for the Leeds 2023 steering group, said: “For the young people of Leeds to see world class culture happening in their streets, in their parks, in their city in 2023…you really can’t put a price on that.”

Cultural venues such as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet, Phoenix Dance and Leeds College of Music opened up to the public and offered activities for people of all ages.

Northern Ballet performed Ugly Duckling and West Yorkshire Playhouse acted out Sarah and Duck’s Big Top Birthday.

Leeds College of Music were giving visitors a chance to try out a new instrument and Yorkshire Dance offered rhythm, tap, and street dance classes for the whole family.

Performances from Leeds West Indian Carnival, Leeds Young Authors and a range of DJs and poets filled the two stages throughout the day and into the night.

The event was hosted by Sanchez Payne, an ex-Leeds player who won the Leeds Black Award for his charity work.

Speaking just before the start of the event, Mr Payne said: “I’m honoured to be able to be a part of this event and humbled to be given the opportunity to host.

“I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to keeping the crown buzzing throughout the day and into the night.”

After 8pm, the official After Party took place with the help of North Brewing Co, Leeds Indie Food, and nightclub pioneer group Back to Basics.

The Food and Drink Arena ran from 8pm-10pm, with Back to Basics taking over the main stage

In an interview with the BBC, Back to Basics founder Dave Beale said: “I think if anybody’s got a chance of winning then it’s Leeds.

“Leeds is a cultural city and has got something for everybody. I’m really proud to be heading this bid for culture, I think we’ve got a good chance.”


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