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City’s cultural spectaculars join prestigious European collective


Three spectacular cultural showpieces in Leeds have officially joined the ranks of some of Europe’s most prestigious arts events.

Light Night Leeds, the Leeds International Film Festival (LIFF) and Compass Festival have this week become part of the EFFE festival community, which brings together top events from across the continent that have a significant international impact.

The trio of Leeds events will now work alongside the likes of Portugal’s Festival Terras Sem Sombra, Finland’s Naantali Music Festival and the Jonge Harten Theatre Festival in the Netherlands to help promote cultural spectacles across Europe and raise awareness of the vital role culture has in cities, counties and communities.

The high-profile new status will also be a huge boost for Leeds’s ambitious bid to be named European Capital of Culture in 2023.

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leeds 2023 independent steering group said: “This is brilliant news for Leeds, for our 2023 bid and for the profile of three of our city’s biggest, brightest and most popular events.

“Light Night, LIFF and Compass will now take their place alongside a wonderful array of culturally significant festivals across Europe, raising awareness of Leeds’s fantastic events programme and also helping us to forge new links internationally with those like us, who are working to put culture at the heart of cities and communities.”

Facilitated by the European Festivals Association, the EFFE consists of festivals which stand for artistic quality and have a significant impact on a local, national and international level.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council said:

“The people of Leeds have proudly watched these events grow exponentially in scope, scale and ambition over the years, creating some unforgettable memories for the city and becoming cornerstones of our cultural offering, which regularly attract crowds in their tens of thousands.

“Gaining such prestigious international status is testament to the imagination and artistic vision of those behind these events and also to the enthusiasm and passion that people in Leeds have for culture.

Light Night, which this year will take place on October 5 and 6, has been staged for the past 13 years and sees some of the city’s most well-known landmarks illuminated by a breath-taking programme of more than 50 light installations.

Last year’s event attracted more than 80,000 people to the city centre.

The EFFE judges said Light Night was “a great example of a local authority really understanding and investing in its culture and its European potential could be hugely beneficial for the city.”

The Leeds International Film Festival is the largest film festival in England outside London and was founded in 1987. Taking place from November 1-16 this year, the festival regularly sees more than 40,000 people attend to watch an eclectic line-up of films from around the world.

The Compass Festival is a biennial festival of imaginative, interactive live art projects .

The 2016 festival saw 18 events take place across the city over 10 days in venues including libraries, markets, museums and shopping centres.

Peter Reed, Compass Festival co-director said:

“We’re delighted to have been selected from amongst the hundreds of other applicants to receive this endorsement.

“The judging panel specifically noted the high quality of artists we commission and work with and our track record in engaging large numbers of people from Leeds who might not normally attend arts events.

“We’re proud to bear the EFFE logo and look forward to connecting with new colleagues across Europe as we plan the fourth Compass Festival ready for Autumn 2018.”

Earlier this year, Leeds officially called on local communities, organisations and individuals from across the city to submit their ideas for the 2023 bid.

A new website gave everyone in the city has the opportunity to share their thoughts on cultural and creative projects that could help the city win the title of European Capital of Culture 2023.

A final decision on the bid is made in 2018.

For more details about getting involved in the bid, please visit: