First Direct Arena: Leeds’ Major Entertainment Venue
Leeds is known as one of the great music hubs in the United Kingdom. Not only has it turned out talented musicians over past decades – Kaiser Chiefs, Pulled Apart by Horses, Soft Cell – but the city plays host to some of the biggest bands and solo artists in the world. Whenever musicians plan their world tours, Leeds is often a key stop-off due to its musical heritage and convenient location to reach from all parts of the UK. Leading the way as the biggest music venue in Leeds, is the First Direct Arena.
A Much Anticipated Venue
With a capacity of 13,500, the First Direct Arena is an integral part of what brings people to Leeds time and again for entertainment. Offering a diverse and action-packed annual schedule, it’s highly likely there’s something of interest on at the arena next time you visit. From concerts to comedy, sport to theatre, every visitor to the city is guaranteed a night to remember at this venue. The first fan-shaped arena in the country, it has excellent acoustics and sightlines, creating a unique overall experience for gig-goers.
Prior to construction of the arena, the lack of a major music venue in Leeds was acutely felt by local residents and businesses. Along with Bristol, it was seen as one of the only large cities in Britain not to have such a venue, so in 2011 the £80 million scheme finally went ahead. Since being built, its aesthetics have divide opinion – it has simultaneously been awarded an ‘Ugliest Building Award’ and named as one of England’s greatest landmarks!
Getting There and Pre-Performance Entertainment
Easy to reach, the arena was built in a perfect location for visitors from north, east, south and west to access. Built in the city centre, it is only a 10-minute drive from 42 The Calls Leeds and has over 7,500 parking spaces within a short walk of the arena. Leeds railway station and bus station are both within a 15-minute walk, making it handy for visitors coming from further afield too.
Once you arrive, guests may require refreshments before finding their seats. There are a range of tasty treats available from a number of eateries inside the arena complex including fast food and soft drinks. Alternatively, visitors may wish to have a more leisurely sit-down meal in the FD Bar for a bite to eat and alcoholic beverages. There are also plenty of merchandise stalls around the stands so you can buy that perfect souvenir to remember your exciting night.
Famous Faces So Far…
When the arena was first officially opened, it was Elton John who hosted the first concert…which was followed by another well-received gig by Bruce Springsteen. Since then, many famous names have graced the arena’s stage including Kaiser Chiefs, Rod Stewart, Dolly Parton, Prince and Ellie Goulding – amongst many others.
Additionally to famous musical guests, the arena has hosted comedians such as Miranda Hart, Russell Howard and Michael McIntyre, The shorter distance between seating and stage compared to other British arenas means a more intimate, personal atmosphere is created between performers and audiences, which is especially effective for comedy. Performances of Cirque du Soleil, Dancing on Ice, Strictly Come Dancing and Jesus Christ Superstar have also been held here.
The seats on the floor level are retractable, allowing the space to be used for sporting events. WWE is hosted live biannually at the First Direct Arena, as well as BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Premier League Darts and the Tour de France team presentation. The venue also played its part on the 2015 UK general election, when it was used as a counting station for the Leeds councils.
A truly versatile venue with hundreds of exciting events available, make sure you check out the online ticket office to see what’s on at the First Direct Arena during your next visit to Leeds.