It’s as though Christmas has come early in Leeds this Bank Holiday weekend, with a festive feast of fun and games awaiting anyone staying at home or welcoming friends and family from afar.
It’s me, Mark O’Brien (@mw_obrien), in the hot-seat today for the first time, in what has to be one of the virtual highlights of my #challengemark fun and games this month for The Culture Vulture blog. So if I get it all wrong, shout at me. (Loudly, mind, as I’m taking in Leeds Fest and the Chapeltown Carnival this weekend.)
The first piece of good news for anyone heading out on the railways this weekend is that the planned industrial action by FirstTransPennine Express staff, which had been scheduled for today, has been suspended. Normal service will be resuming. RMT and Aslef had voted to walk out after rejecting a 2.2% pay increase. Talks between unions and management will continue, and as yet no settlement has been reached.
Showers through the early hours of Thursday morning heralded a less than promising start for revellers young and old on their way to Bramham Park for Leeds Festival this weekend. Despite a sunny day on Thursday, the forecasters are hedging their bets and suggesting the heavens will be opening through Friday and into Saturday.
But festival-goers certainly won’t be letting the weather stop their fun. This year’s is set to be the biggest yet, with the festival capacity increased to 75,000. With Muse, My Chemical Romance, and The Strokes headlining at Leeds this year, it’s going to be a huge one.
As well as putting on a great show, Leeds has another stake in the success of its annual festival. Scores of students from Leeds Met are already at Bramham Park to join the team as volunteers. As part of the university’s partnership with Festival Republic, over two hundred students, staff and alumni visit Leeds Fest among others, working and gaining experience in stage management, filming, performing arts, playwork, and much more. I’ll be joining them on Saturday, so stay tuned for more…
Of course, you don’t need me to tell you to take care and plan ahead if you’re intending to drive along the A64 this weekend. Traffic disruption is inevitable, so check the local radio and TV for regular updates. This is especially important after an AA forecast has suggested up to 16 million vehicles will be on our roads across the country this weekend – just as a poll by road safety charity Brake in association with Direct Line showed 71% of motorists have lost concentration at the wheel within the last year. So wherever you’re headed, take care.
If you’re staying in Leeds but don’t fancy rocking away into the small hours, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Top of the highlights has to be this year’s West Indian Carnival. The longest-running West Indian Carnival in Europe, it is still going strong in this, its 44th year. Festivities throughout the weekend reach their climax on Bank Holiday Monday, with a street procession setting out from Potternewton Park at 2pm. I’ve been looking forward to it all summer! Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed…
Meanwhile, the future of the children’s heart surgery unit at the Leeds General Infirmary is even bleaker now as it was revealed yesterday that only 10% of health professionals consulted across the country want to keep it, with the vast majority instead favouring development of new centres in Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and London. This comes despite a petition to save the Leeds centre which gathered 600,000 signatures.
Looking for a little Bank Holiday project to try your hand at, but fed up with DIY and tending the garden? Why not take inspiration from Richard Williams, who has turned his canal barge into a replica of a submarine – and is now sailing it along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Head out to the waterside this weekend and you might well see him – apparently he lets people have a look-around too!
Or you might hit the road for a cycle? Try following the lead of Lee Richards who has just completed a 970-mile ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, as he continues to try and raise £4,000 for Wakefield Hospice in memory of his best friend’s mother.
Meanwhile next month, The Hunslet Club have announced they’ll be hosting the inaugural LSxJunior, a technology festival for children and families, coming on September 25th.
The Bank Holiday weekend is a time when many of us simply put our feet up, glad for an extra day’s respite. But the Headingley barmy army will be making their way to Wembley ahead of tomorrow’s Challenge Cup final which pits Leeds Rhinos against Wigan. Wigan are clear favourites, but after a late surge against Castleford secured the Rhinos their place in the final, the Leeds lads will be doing all they can to bring the trophy home for the first time since 1999.
This however is as good as it gets for sports fans across West Yorkshire this morning. Peter Jackson resigned as Bradford City manager yesterday after his team collected just one point from their first four games in this season’s npower League Two – not to mention suffering a defeat in a spirited match against Leeds United in the Carling Cup. Meanwhile back at Headingley, Warwickshire secured a victory against Yorkshire in the county cricket championship yesterday, plunging the Tykes even closer to relegation.
That’s all from me. Due to Monday being a day off, Beyond GDN Leeds will be here again on Tuesday (still filled with rum from the Carnival?). I’ll be back next Friday, looking forward to another weekend across Leeds. Until then, have a great Bank Holiday, stay happy, tell someone close how much you love them, and take care! Much love from me.