Leeds Grand Theatre is set to ‘sparkle and shine’ as NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL runs from Wednesday 20 December to Saturday 6 January 2018.

Based on the smash-hit films the show tells the tale of Mr Maddens and his crazy assistant Mr Poppy as they struggle with hilarious children, unruly animals and a whole lot of sparkle and shine to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true.



Featuring songs from the movies, including ‘Sparkle and Shine’, ‘Nazareth’ and ‘One Night One Moment’, NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL promises to be the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.



“I am absolutely delighted to be working with this incredibly talented and hilariously funny musical theatre cast”, said writer/director Debbie Isitt. “It truly will be an emotionally soaring, feel good experience with beautiful singing and amazing choreography.”



The NATIVITY! film series is one of the most popular UK Christmas film franchises of recent years. NATIVITY!, NATIVITY 2 DANGER IN THE MANGER! and NATIVITY 3 DUDE WHERE’S MY DONKEY?! have all reached top box office positions on theatrical release, sold nearly two million DVDs, and captured the hearts and minds of families all over the UK.



NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 20 December – Saturday 6 January 2018. Tickets (£20.50 (RV) – £46) available from 0844 848 2700 or online at

(prices include a £3 booking fee. Postage charge £1 where applicable)

Photos: The Other Richard

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The Christmas Dinner Project


The Christmas Dinner is an annual project founded by the poet Lemn Sissay MBE for communities to provide a Christmas Day for care leavers aged between 18 and 25.

One major aim of the The Christmas Dinner is collaboration – to build a community around the care leavers and create a caring, sharing ‘family’. Care leavers often have no one else to turn to after being in local authority care, detached from their family for various reasons.

The first Christmas Dinner started in Manchester in 2013. Next came London (Hackney) and then Leeds in 2015. There are now Christmas Dinner projects across the country –Islington, Southend, Oxford, Liverpool, Wirral, Sheffield, Richmond, and Cambridge too. It’s growing!

The team of volunteers is diverse and from mixed disciplines: care professionals, creatives, teachers, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, anybody, and they look after every element of the event from present wrapping, collecting food donations, dressing the venue, to helping cook and entertain on the big day itself.

Whether you’re creative or not, whether you can cook or not, there’s something you can donate; from skills to goods to dressing up items. You can also buy a gift, or two, from the Amazon wish-list to make a bag of presents for each guest:

It’s really a great day to be part of – to find out what they’ve done so far, have a look at the photos on their Facebook page:

Read founder Lemn Sissay’s blog:

To get involved or for more information email:

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‘Tis the Season to Don Your Festive Woolies for Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice


Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice is inviting people across Leeds to take part in its festive fundraiser by wearing their ‘Woolies for Wheatfields’ throughout December.

“From Christmas jumpers to novelty hats, socks and gloves, wear whatever woolly items you would like and join in this seasonal fundraiser any day during the month of December,” said senior fundraising manager Paula Guanaria. “Ask your friends, school, work, social club or organisation to join in the festive fun and raise some seasonal pounds for your local hospice. It’s a nice way to have some fun with your family, friends and colleagues while supporting hospice care in Leeds.”

To get your free ‘Woolies for Wheatfields’ fundraising pack full of festive fundraising ideas visit

All care services at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice are completely free of charge to patients and their loved ones. However it costs £4m to run the hospice and only part of these costs are covered by statutory funds. Every year the hospice needs to raise over £2.2m in donations to continue to provide its specialist care services.
If you would like to know about the work of Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice or how you can help, please contact the fundraising team on 0113 278 7249 or email

Follow @SRWHeatfields and like on Facebook Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice

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Second Dare Art Prize Announced



The pioneering DARE partnership between the University of Leeds and Opera North is seeking applications from creative practitioners in all media for the second DARE Art Prize.

Launched last year, the £15,000 prize is aimed at challenging artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to the creative process. Shortlisted proposals for the inaugural Prize included a whale choir and an exploration of cosmic bubbles, and the winning entry from Berlin-based composer Samuel Hertz: an electro-acoustic chamber piece incorporating sounds below the level of human hearing. Samuel is currently working on his commission, due to be unveiled in April next year, with performers from Opera North and academics from the University of Leeds.

The deadline for applications for the second DARE Arts Prize is 12 January 2018, and the winner – an innovative, ambitious, early-career artist who is motivated by the opportunity to work in partnership with leading scientific researchers at the University of Leeds – will be announced on 12 February.

The successful artist will be matched with a researcher who shares their vision and can bring knowledge, expertise and networks to support the creation of something new. There are no restrictions on the form of the outcome: depending on the interests of the collaborators and the direction that the work takes, it could be a piece of visual art, a dance performance, a poem, an interactive website or a cycle of new songs, but the project must be achievable within twelve months. It is expected that around £5,000 of the Award will be invested in the creation of new work.

Individual, independent artists working in all disciplines are invited to apply by submitting a CV and a 500-word proposition that summarises the area of scientific interest – from astrophysics to climate change, microbiology to nutrition; an ambition to create something new and the germ of an idea of what this might be; and a genuine wish to engage with academic researchers, expertise and resources at the University of Leeds. Access to musicians, studio space and resources from Opera North may also be available.

Applications will be judged by a panel comprising Opera North’s Dominic Gray, Professor John Ladbury, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences and Professor of Mechanistic Biology, School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Leeds, and Lisa Jamieson, former Head of Engaging Science at Wellcome, and now an independent advisor, consultant and assessor working in arts and culture.

Applications should be sent in the form of a pdf or Word document to Lesley Patrick, Partnerships Director at DARE:, before the deadline of 12 January 2018. Shortlist interviews will take place in the week commencing 5 February 2018, and the recipient will be announced on 12 February.

For more information on the DARE Prize and the partnership, visit


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A Winter Union: A Folky Festive Treat

Festive folk supergroup, A Winter Union are spreading Christmas cheer with their seasonal tour which lands at Otley Courthouse on December 22.

Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts (BBC Folk Award nominees Gilmore & Roberts, Emily Askew Band) Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, and Jade Rhiannon (The Willows) present a unique festive show with folk songs from across the Yuletide traditions. You’ll hear glorious wassails and carols of course, but also a smattering of country classics and covers, and brand new original songs hailing the joys of the season.

The songs are stirred together with such beautiful 5-part harmonies that you won’t be able to resist but join your voice with theirs.  There’ll be dobro and fiddle, mandolin and dulcimer, guitars a-plenty and a shruti box thrown in for good measure.

A Winter Union are touring throughout December 2017 following the release of their new single The King, available from, with all proceeds going to Missing People (reg. charity 1020419).


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NSPCC Chosen Charity for Sunrise Radio Winter Asian Ball

Shin of DCS


Sunrise Radio, the number one Asian Hit Music Station for Yorkshire, Manchester and Glasgow will be celebrating 28 years of broadcasting with a special Winter Asian Ball and have named the NSPCC as the chosen charity for the night.

The Winter Asian Ball on the 9th December at the newly launched Regency Hall in Bradford will include a delicious three course meal, a disco and star performances from the Supreme Dream Djs,  Trishool Bollywood Dancers, Sher Yar Khan, Kadam Verma and the one and only Shin from the legendary band DCS.

“I would like to thank Sunrise Radio for choosing the NSPCC as their charity for this wonderful event,” said Elaine Kaye, Community Fundraising Manager for the NSPCC. “As well as being an exciting and glamorous event, the funds raised will play a vital role in making sure we’re able to reach even more vulnerable children when they need us the most – whether it’s through Childline, our Helpline, in schools or one of our therapeutic service centres.”

There will be a raffle on the night with some great prizes including a meal for two at Jinnah Restaurant and a party makeup session with Sultan Bridal.

Tickets are £25.00 for the black tie/traditional dress dinner dance and can be purchased from Sunrise Radio, Regency Hall or online via Eventbrite. For further information call 0800 678 5418

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Yorkshire Pottery Exhibition Highlights Democratisation of Art, Design & Culture


When a group of student curators at Leeds University started work on their new ceramics display, they were surprised to find a strong vein of democracy running through the clay. So they have called the exhibition Designing Yorkshire Pottery:  For the Many, Not the Few.

Yorkshire Pottery was for use and ornament, for people who could afford to have nice things but wanted them to be serviceable as well.

“You pick up these pieces from the nineteenth century, with their willow pattern designs and their romantic English landscapes done in Chinese style, and you’re handling mass market exoticism”, says Beth Arscott, one of the team from the MA course in art gallery and museum studies. “Yorkshire pottery is a real economic indicator of this period, when the middle classes were expanding.”

The small exhibition of just 22 pieces ranges from pierced creamware, such as an oil and vinegar cruet for the well-to-do of the eighteenth century, to a Chinese-inspired transferware plate of the next century. Using transfers instead of hand-painting techniques enabled mass-production and put orientalism on the tables of Headingley, Harrogate and Hull.

Handed down from generation to generation there are blue and white teacups and saucers, creamware jugs and willow pattern plates in corners and cupboards, on sills and sideboards across the county.

Creamware was first produced in Yorkshire in the mid-18th century and was bought by the upper and middle classes. But by the 19th century, it had become affordable for the general population too. As well as the transfer techniques for the Chinoiserie, machine piercing helped to speed up creamware production.

Potteries were mostly grouped in areas with good natural resources and waterways, so that the raw materials were close at hand. By 1835, Hunslet was home to at least eight potteries, all close to the River Aire.

The majority of pieces manufactured at this time were not marked. This makes it hard to attribute pieces to specific individuals and potteries. By the 20th century, the demand for Yorkshire pottery had declined. Other nations had caught up. Foreign competition and instability in the British economy caused many potteries to close.

In this exhibition of pieces from the university’s art collection, there are  piercings, twisted rope handles, braidings and flutings on bowls, baskets and dishes. There are signs too of how habits have changed – knife rests to protect tables and cloths, a jelly mould and a tiny floral teapot from the early nineteenth century when tea was expensive and drunk in small quantities.

Perhaps the quirkiest piece is a blue and white plate complete with oriental figures, bridge and sailing junk. And there, in the foreground, is a surprising pair of zebras, a little bit of Africa dropped into China and packaged for a Yorkshire tea table.

The displays are open to the public from 7th December 2017 to 3rd March 2018 in the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

Open Mondays, 1pm – 5pm; Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

The student curators are Hedea Amiri, Han Yi Jin, Kate Stevens, Helena Perkis, Amarjit Singh Bath and Beth Arscott






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Doggy Cafe Launches In Time For Christmas


A Doggy Cafe will take over Hessian Café in Oakwood, LS8, on Saturday 16th/ Sunday 17th December.

Leeds’ first Doggy Café will feature Santa, who will be on hand to cuddle and take pictures with dogs and their owners. The aim is to connect people through their dogs, and dogs through their people by hosting events that dogs and owners can enjoy together.

There will be a Festive High Tea prepared by Hessian Cafe with a special festive treat for the pampered pooches of course, and Woof Dog Beer will provide a festive non-alcoholic health elixir. Festive attire is encouraged and prizes will be handed out over the weekend for exceptionally dapper dogs!

Doggy Cafe aims to bring happiness into dog owners and dog lovers lives, by creating a platform of connectivity and giving dogs and their owners an opportunity to socialise in a variety of settings – from dining through to Doggy Mediation!

The Doggy Cafe will be hosting events nationwide in 2018 and looks forward to connecting as many dogs and their owners possible.

Advance booking is advised. For tickets (£15 for dog & owner, including afternoon tea & dog treat) contact Hessian Café on 0113 2498777. For more information visit


Dog Lovers without dogs welcome (£15).

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£10,000 Grants Available to Boost Walking and Cycling


Not-for-profit groups across West Yorkshire can bid to win up to £10,000 of grant funding to assist and encourage residents from their local community to cycle and walk to access work, school or training

The grants, which are funded by the Cycling and walking to Work Fund and delivered through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, are to allow groups to deliver projects offering grass-roots support for people living and working within their individual communities.

The total amount of grant funding available is £150,000, this is split into a nominal amount of £30,000 per West Yorkshire district. Grants will be allocated via a competitive process whereby groups and organisations apply to receive funding and are awarded based on their alignment with fund objectives.

“Having received funding through an earlier CityConnect community club grant scheme I would strongly encourage groups to apply,” said Satwant Singh, founder of Bolton Road Community Cycle Club. “The funding we received helped us develop a group, based at Ramgarhia Gurdwara in Undercliffe, which provides the opportunity for local people to get on bikes and discover the benefits of cycling in an informal and fun way. From my own experience, people enjoying cycling for leisure then find a natural pathway into cycling for transport purposes, which opens up all kind of employment and training opportunities which otherwise may have been inaccessible.”

Applications  for the CityConnect Community Grants scheme close on Sunday 31st December. Delivery of successful projects will commence at the end of January 2018 and delivery must be complete by 31st July 2018.

For more information and guidance on applying for CityConnect Community Grant funding please visit or email


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Keeping You Entertained


Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House have Christmas wrapped up! Throughout December and January there’s plenty of entertainment spread seasonal good cheer around.

On Sunday 4th December, the swinging sixties come to Leeds Grand in Sixties Gold. The sing-a-long show features a stellar line-up of 60s bands, including Gerry and The Pacemakers and The Searchers.

From Monday 5th to Sunday 17th December Northern Ballet presents The Little Mermaid. Choreographed by artistic director David Nixon, this beautiful new ballet reimagines the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.

From Wednesday 20th December to Saturday 6th January join Mr Maddens, Mr Poppy and a heavenly host of hilarious children and unruly animals in Nativity! The Musical. This new show features all your favourite songs, including ‘Sparkle and Shine’, ‘Nazareth’ and ‘One Night One Moment’. It promises to be the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

At City Varieties Music Hall the Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto gives Aladdin the rock ‘n’ roll treatment. The soundtrack, played live on stage by the cast, is crammed with hit songs by well known bands and artists.  Expect familiar characters, corny jokes and the legendary ‘boulder fight’ – from Friday 24th November to Sunday 7th January.

A traditional treat at Hyde Park Picture House is the classic Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life. Join George, Clarence and the townsfolk of Bedford Falls for another telling of this wonderful, heart-warming story from 19th to 24th December. / 0844 848 2700 / 0113 243 0808 / 0113 275 2045

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