Boosting brand Leeds: how a series of unique events has helped our city centre – plus what’s next

From a festival of ideas to a UK-first animatronic dinosaur trail, the LeedsBID team has been going the extra mile to put our city on the map.
From giant animatronic dinosaurs roaming the streets to free circus skills… plus there’s more in store. Picture – supplied.From giant animatronic dinosaurs roaming the streets to free circus skills… plus there’s more in store. Picture – supplied.
From giant animatronic dinosaurs roaming the streets to free circus skills… plus there’s more in store. Picture – supplied.

The aim of LeedsBID is quite simple: to make things better for people who live, work and visit Leeds city centre.

Through unique and innovative projects, from giant animatronic dinosaurs roaming the streets to free holiday activities, the team are also boosting the economic benefits for local businesses by encouraging visitors and promoting what the centre has to offer.

Since its inception in 2015, LeedsBID has helped tell the story of Leeds in a way that has never been done before, says Director of Brand and Innovation Martin Dickson.

The Pop-Up Circus. Credit - Tom MartinThe Pop-Up Circus. Credit - Tom Martin
The Pop-Up Circus. Credit - Tom Martin

“Part of the place-making role of a Business Improvement District is to put its town or city well and truly on the map and to bring new audiences into the city centre, helping to support the business community and all the staff who work in them,” he explains.

“It is also essential to provide the public with great memories and experiences in the city centre which may not always be a familiar destination for everyone, for example people with young families.”

The BID aims to increase footfall and, as a consequence, boost spend for city centre businesses, securing a vibrant and successful city centre and safeguarding jobs for thousands of Leeds residents.

“And doing this in a creative, energetic and innovative way, which brings a power to placemaking that resonates beyond the city limits, bringing attention and positive attraction to brand Leeds.”

Unique and inspiring events

Leeds International Festival of Ideas (LIFI), a unique UK metropolitan festival brought to the city by LeedsBID, is just one of the events that has made other regions sit up and take notice.

It’s been running for three years, bringing world-leading thinkers and speakers from Steven Bartlett, Davina McCall and Ruby Wax to Bimini, Prue Leith and Christopher Eccleston; this year’s festival in September saw 39 speakers over four days joined by an audience of 5,500 people at Leeds Playhouse.

The Leeds Jurassic Trail in 2022 saw another UK first, creating an adventurous, free trail around the city centre for families to enjoy with 12 giant animatronic dinosaurs delighting the crowds during the summer holidays. The team estimate some 500,000 people visited the trail and spent a total of £3.1m over five weeks.

LeedsBID has also run free pottery classes in the school half-term break as well as free family circus skills on Briggate at Easter – all activities that hadn’t been done before that enhanced the atmosphere and experience for the people of Leeds and beyond, raising the brand profile of the city and offering affordable fun.

Telling our story online

Welcome to Leeds reveals the hugely informative and interesting story of the city centre across all social platforms.

It’s a great place to find out the breadth and diversity of what is on offer across food and drink, sport, retail, family attractions, music and art, in a way that reflects the vibrancy and excitement that’s there.

What’s next?

LeedsBID will be bringing some incredible seasonal light and joy to the city this Christmas.

For the 2024 Easter holidays, there will be a space and sci-fi animation for all to enjoy, while next summer LeedsBID will launch a first-of-its-kind city-wide version of Monopoly, with a nod to our links to the iconic board game with the former Waddingtons factory on Wakefield Road.

To find out more about what’s on, visit

For more information on LeedsBID, head to