Howard Assembly Room
Time Out says
Grand venue known for its eclectic mix of entertainment, hosting lectures, jazz, opera and more. Nearby restaurants offer dining deals to show-goers.
Leeds has an abundance of great music venues, but the Howard Assembly Room is perhaps its most prestigious. Located within the same ornate building as the Leeds Grand Theatre, the large and beautiful hall is run by Opera North, and, on most evenings, it plays host to a diverse calendar of acts.
Howard is a contemporary performance space that has buzzed with inspiration and creativity since its careful restoration in 2009 (it started life as an adult cinema in the 70s). It is now an eclectic arts venue decked out with a Germanic, barrel-vaulted ceiling and striking stained glass windows. If you’re running late for a show, expect to be ushered in via the balcony, where you’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view of the majestic space and a chance to get a closer look at the ornate roof. Parking can be a problem, so if you want to avoid being one of the latecomers, it might be best to arrive by public transport.
The bar is a little underwhelming – expect a limited range of beer and wine served in plastic cups and at a hefty price. But if it’s food or drink you’re after, there are plenty of nearby bars and restaurants willing to offer deals on dining to that day’s ticket holders.
As well as showcasing an impressive range of opera acts each year, the Howard is a favoured venue for lectures, spoken word performances and contemporary jazz, classical, world, vocal and blues acts. A string quartet on one night can be followed by a talk by a famous author on the next, or an avant-garde jazz act, attesting to the versatility and open-mindedness of the space.