Culture in the Time of Covid

Hyde Park Book Club 

Book Club is a great spot for either a chilled pint with friends or a great opportunity to pick up a book from their selection of great non-fiction and fiction. Over lockdown they threw book launches on Zoom to celebrate new and exciting fiction, so keep an eye on their Instagram for more details of upcoming similar events. Alongside their reads, they also offer up a tasty selection of delicious cakes (some vegan) and coffee. The downstairs venue is great for live music, comedy, poetry, spoken word and Book Club also offers up free jazz nights – gigs can be heard from upstairs in the evenings. 

Hyde Park Picture House

Now this is a cinematic gem and a must-go in your first year if you get the chance to – socially distanced. Built in 1914 originally showing pictures to boost the war effort, Hyde Park Picture House is still standing on Brudenell Road in Leeds’s bustling student epicentre Hyde Park. Run by Picturehouse who have cinemas and comedy clubs across the country, this cinema boasts comfy seats situated in a single cinema room. You enter through a lovely old-fashioned foyer and can choose from the latest amazing arthouse, towering blockbusters and cult classics. Currently closed due to renovations, Picture House is ‘exploring the viability of resuming these later this year’: make sure you check it out when it reopens its doors! Picture House has previously linked up with LUU, showcasing a roster of exceptional indie films on campus prior to the end of last academic year, demonstrating how in touch it is with the student body. 

City Varieties

Nestled in a central town alleyway, Swan Street, City Varieties Music Hall is Leeds’s oldest theatre stretching back to its construction in 1865. It is one of the oldest known surviving British music halls, the kind of venues in which Charlie Chaplin and co. used to perform. City Varieties is definitely a hidden gem and well worth the visit not only for its mix of comedy, pre-recorded theatre shows and music, but also due to its golden old-world décor. A fancier night out, there’s something special for everyone at City Varieties. 

Leeds Playhouse: 

Waiting for Leeds Playhouse to reignite its electric line-up of plays was agonising. However, the theatre will now reopen its doors from Friday 2nd October. A registered charity, the Playhouse is also one of the UK’s most critically acclaimed theatres and exhibits some of the nation’s most celebrated plays during their runs. Playhouse presents a variety of productions from Hamlet to Jackie and the Beanstalk. Donations and various support opportunities via their website are also currently accepted to keep the theatre going during these strange times.

Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute 

Two lovely galleries with their collections partially now reopen including the Lower Galleries at Leeds Art Gallery and limited numbers at Henry Moore. Located on Leeds’s iconic Headrow, Leeds Art Gallery has been unveiling art to the masses since 1888. It contains plenty of twentieth century art as well as more modern installations and is both linked to Leeds Central Library and the Henry Moore Institute. Entrance to the permanent exhibitions is free! In December they are running free Youth Collective Sessions at the gallery where you can meet like-minded people while exploring your creative side, all while probing their usual collections! Henry Moore is also open after a closure of nearly five months and their sculptures, linked to the City Gallery by an archway, despite being a bit more highbrow, are well done. However, if you are quarantining, fear not: you can still conduct a virtual visit of exhibitions including Paloma Varga Veisz’s Bumped Body to fulfil your arty needs. 

Image credit (clockwise left to right): Henry Moore Foundation, Leeds Art Gallery, Visit Leeds, Leeds Playhouse,, The Gryphon