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City Varieties Music Hall

City Varieties Music Hall tours




The City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds offers three different tour options depending on visitor’s needs. 



Public heritage theatre tours


Following the recent restoration, City Varieties Music Hall is now offering backstage tours which explore the theatre's intriguing, and often colourful, history.  From a music room above a pub, to the world-famous home of The Good Old Days, the City Varieties has welcomed the best comedians, musicians and performers for more than 140 years. Come and hear how the music hall, one of only four surviving in the U.K., has been restored to its former Victorian glory and learn about the improvements that have been made to ensure the City Varieties continues to entertain audiences for many more years to come. The tour will transport you to the magical backstage world to see behind the scenes and ‘tread the boards’ of this much loved venue.

Duration: 60 minutes
How to book: Public Heritage Theatre Tours should be booked online or by telephone on +44 (0)113 297 7043 or +44 (0)113 243 0808
Cost: £5 (adult), £3 (child)


Family tours


The Family Tour is designed especially for children and their families. Join the City Varieties as they step back in time to 1865 when the music hall first opened its doors. Explore behind the scenes, hear stories of the weird and wonderful acts that have performed on our stage, dress up in period costume, and join in with games and activities whilst discovering the hidden secrets of this beautiful Victorian building. Suitable for all the family. Please note there is a minimum of one adult and one child per booking.

Duration: 60 minutes

How to book: Family Tours should be booked online or by contacting by telephone on +44 (0)113 297 7043 or +44 (0)113 243 0808

Cost: £5 (adult), £3 (child)


School tours, historical societies and specialist interest groups


Duration: 60 minutes

How to book: Specialist Tours should be booked directly by telephone on +44 (0)113 297 7043 or +44 (0)113 243 0808

Cost: £5 (adult), £3 (child)



How to get there


City Varieties Music Hall is situated in the heart of Leeds City Centre on Swan Street which links Briggate with Lands Lane, close to the Victoria Quarter. They are located within a pedestrianised area with heavily restricted vehicle access and the closest  drop-off point would be on The Headrow.

The theatre is easily accessible by public transport. It is approximately 10 minutes walk from the main bus station and 15 minutes walk from the train station with many buses stopping in the immediate vicinity. For the most up to date information on local bus and train times, please check WYMetro.

For further information please see the theatre’s website



  • Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House seats 1,550 at full capacity and Opera North and Northern Ballet Theatre have their residencies here.
  • West Yorkshire Play House opened in Leeds in 1990 and has since earned the reputation both nationally and internationally as one of the UK’s most exciting producing theatres.
  • Leeds Town Hall offers an annual music programme under the banner of Leeds International Concert Season in this Grade I listed building.
  • The Carriageworks in Leeds offers a more intimate performance space for the works of local artists and performers.
  • Alhambra Theatre in the heart of Bradford is a stunning Edwardian style music hall with regular performances from touring companies.
  • Royal Hall in Harrogate is a stunning Edwardian theatre dating from 1903 and has been recently restored.
  • Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds is a new arts hub for the north - a special place where special things happen. With a diverse and far reaching programme, it is curated by award winning Opera North.
  • Theatre Royal Wakefield is famous for giving its visitors some of the best nights out in town.
  • York Theatre Royal is a unique mixture of historic and new theatre in the heart of York

Picture of images/theatres/Leeds_City_Varieties_Music_Hall/header_logo.png

City Varieties Music Hall

Swan Street
West Yorkshire
Great Britain

Tel: +44 (0) 113 243 08 08




City Varieties Music Hall has been one of the longest running music halls in the United Kingdom, running continuously since 1865. In 1762 the White Swan Inn opened on the current site of City Varieties and just five years later a small music room was added above the pub. In 1865, Charles Thornton bought the White Swan, rebuilt the pub and music room and rebranded the venue as ‘Thornton’s New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge’ before later becoming the City Palace of Varieties with famous names such as Marie Lloyd, Lily Langtry, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini and Harry Lauder, Frankie Vaughn, Ken Dodd and Barry are among the artists who performed here.

The interior of City Varieties Music Hall is a long rectangle, with boxes separated by cast-iron columns along the sides at circle level. Today most of the Music Hall remains intact as it would have looked in 1865. Between 1953 and 1983, the theatre achieved national fame as the venue for the BBC television programme The Good Old Days. The venue still presents live "Good Old Days" music hall events in the spring and autumn, as well as pantomime and a regular programme of stand-up comedy and music concerts.

The City Varieties was granted Heritage Lottery funds to help with major refurbishment and restoration. The theatre closed for refurbishment in January 2009 and re-opened in September 2011 re-establishing the physical link between the Swan Inn and the theatre was re-established. The theatre now has 467 seats and hosts music, comedy and entertainment as well as the ever popular annual pantomime.

See The Theatres Trust Theatres Database ID 1840 City Varieties


See also: Arthur Lloyd Music Hall and History website

European Historic Theatres Day