Leeds Armed Forces Day Festival


The annual Armed Forces Day event is becoming the Armed Forces Festival for 2024 with a month-long extravaganza of themed activities, shows, talks, and exhibitions, culminating in the traditional city centre-based Armed Forces Day event on Sunday, 30 June.

Highlights of the festival include talks and exhibitions hosted by Leeds Museums and Galleries; a special D-Day anniversary music and comedy show at City Varieties; an armed forces career event at Leeds and York Partnership NHS trust; and a special tour of the Thackray Museum of Medicine which served as a First World War military hospital.


D-Day Silhouette – Lest We Forget


To commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day visitors can contribute to a new interactive display – ‘Lest We Forget’ – featuring a statue silhouette of a soldier. Visitors are invited to spend a quiet moment reflecting on the impact of D-Day in this installation located at the entrance to the museum. Visitors will be welcome to share their thoughts and recollections, and join in honouring the sacrifices of those who gave so much for today’s freedoms.

1152 Club: Talks at Abbey House Museum

The 1152 Club is a history and heritage talks series for people aged 55 and over, held at Abbey House Museum. June’s talk will be: “Stories of Leeds citizens serving in the First World War” with Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds & Social History at Leeds Museums & Galleries.

D-Day: Victory Unleashed

This event will commemorate and celebrate the pivotal WWII Normandy Landings, also known as D-Day. Attendees will explore June 6th’s events, guided by military historian Guy Wilson, who will discuss its impact and modern perceptions, accompanied by a D-Day diorama from Leeds Wargames Club. An entry fee of £12.50 includes a light buffet, tea, coffee, and supports the Army Benevolent Fund, aiding soldiers, veterans, and their families. A cash bar will be available.

Book tickets via email or by telephone on 01748 900236.

Pixels to Paint


The Pixels to Paint competition invites participants to submit scanned photos and stories of relatives who served in the British Army. One entry will be turned into a bespoke picture by veteran artist Lee Buccilli. The competition runs from June 6 to November 11, 2024, with a £5 entry fee. Net profits support the Army Benevolent Fund.

D-Day 80 Weekend


The weekend will be filled with blank firing demonstrations, poignant performance pieces taken from first-hand accounts of those on the beaches of Normandy and technical talks surrounding the weapon development during the Second World War.

This is a free event but please pre-book your tickets online to guarantee entry.

D-Day 80th Anniversary Special


Join the City Varieties to commemorate the D-Day 80th Anniversary with “Spirit of the Blitz,” celebrating the resilient spirit of wartime Britain. Sing along to nostalgic hits like “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” and “We’ll Meet Again” performed by Andy Eastwood, Maggie O’Hara, and Pete Lindup. Experience a heart-warming journey through the melodies and comedy of the 1940s.

World War One and World War Two collection displays​

As part of the Leeds’ Story gallery at Leeds City Museum, displays from the city’s collections include World War One and World War Two, in particular the Home Front.

Veterans' Cafe

Calling all veterans! Don’t miss our special Veterans Café at Ghyll Royd Care Home on June 25, 2024. Connect with fellow veterans and residents over tea, cake, and friendly conversation. Wear your uniform, bring your medals, and share stories. Join us for an afternoon of camaraderie and new friendships!

NHS Webinar: Mental Health Careers & Armed Forces Support


Explore career opportunities in mental health and learning disability care with Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT). From Administration to Nursing, we offer over 350 roles to support your career. Hear expert advice on NHS job applications and interviews. Discover how LYPFT supports the Armed Forces Community with guaranteed interviews. Join us!

1940s Weekend


Join us for a 1940s weekend at Lotherton with vintage music and dancing. Enjoy family-friendly tribute shows featuring award-winning vocalist Miss Marina Mae, known for her 1940s passion and vintage wardrobe. The event includes outdoor garden games, craft activities, and a planned flypast for Armed Forces weekend. Held in the gardens with limited seating, please dress for the weather. Included in general admission; pre-book online and bring your ticket for entry.

Included in the price of the Lotherton Hall admission.

Lawnswood Cemetery Tour


Behind every name on a war grave or memorial at Lawnswood Cemetery is a human story waiting to be discovered! Join us for a free tour of some of the First and Second World War Graves at Lawnswood Cemetery where the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates over 300 casualties. Places are limited.

Remember Together: A forgotten chapter in our history


More than 70 years after the UK’s nuclear weapon testing programme started, the veterans involved are being awarded medals. To mark this, Remember Together invites you to a 45 minute digital event online for Leeds Armed Forces Festival. Discover their stories through intergenerational films and write your messages for our nuclear test veterans.

The Front Line: Medical Museum or War Hospital?


Discover the Thackray Museum, formerly the East Leeds War Hospital in WWI. Join their guided tour, led by a military history enthusiast, exploring soldiers’ experiences. Learn about their journey, care, and outcomes through photos, poetry, and artifacts. The tour lasts 35-40 mins, followed by 20 mins for questions and viewing WWI-related objects. Armed Forces members enjoy 20% off annual tickets with valid ID.

Sociable History Club

Sociable History Club is a series of free, monthly talks for adults, with guest speakers and a different theme each time held at Leeds City Museum. July’s talk will be: “Stories of Leeds citizens serving in the Second World War” with Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds & Social History at Leeds Museums & Galleries.

Library events

Library Digital Drop In Sessions


Drop-in sessions where people are invited to attend with memories of the Armed Forces – these could be their own, or family members. Library staff will be on hand to show people how to add those memories to our Leodis website. You can also find out more information about how to trace your military family history using library resources.

Armed Forces Day Display

A selection of unique and rare treasures related to the armed forces and housed in the Central Library

Leodis Curated Gallery

A curated gallery on Leeds Libraries photographic archive (www.leodis.net), of images related to the armed forces in Leeds. Expect buildings, parades and events.

Barnbow exhibition


Set up during WWI by the Leeds Munitions Committee, Barnbow was a 200 acre site answering the need for shells vital to the war effort. This exhibition looks the history of Barnbow including the details of the explosion that caused the deaths of 35 women and the greatest loss of life in Leeds.

For King, Country and Home exhibition


For King, Country & Home explores the lives and times of Jamaican WW2 veterans of Leeds who volunteered as teenagers and young men to answer Britain’s call to defend ‘the Mother Country’.

For King, Country & Home also pays tribute to Caribbean veterans who are unidentified or little-known. Through a collection of moving portraits exchanged between the RAF men on demob after the war as mementos of their brotherhood, friendship and time serving shoulder-to-shoulder – we will remember them.

Reflections of War exhibition


Reflect on Leeds’ contribution to WWI in this touring display inspired by collections held at Leeds Central Library.

Gascoigne Talk


Stephanie Davies, Community Curator at Lotherton Hall, will talk about Douglas Gascoigne, Operation Blue Coat in Normandy July 1944 and why this event was pivotal to Sir Alvary Gascoigne gifting Lotherton Hall to Leeds City Council.

Armed Forces Open Afternoon


Drop-in session where the public can explore treasures from the Central Library collections, with a specific focus on military and armed forces-related material. This will include newscuttings, ephemera, photographs, memoirs, letters, and much more.

Yorkshire Battles Talk


Local history talk by librarian Josh Flint, looking at the history of battles and warfare in the Yorkshire area, and based largely on collections and treasures held at Leeds Central Library.


Yorkshire has been the battleground for some of the bloodiest, treacherous and most vicious battels ever fought. The talk will discuss the importance of Yorkshire Battles from the 7th to the 20th-centuries and how they are represented in the Leeds Libraries collection.

Tracing Your Military Family History & Armed Forces Memories Session


Would you like to find out more about your ancestors who served in the Armed Forces?  This free workshop will introduce you to some of the resources available in the Local & Family History Library and online to help you in your research.

This is also an opportunity to share Armed Forces memories and learn how to add these to the Leodis photographic archive.

Women at War - The Barnbow Story


Join Bob and Jacki Lawrence from East Leeds History and Archaeology Society, for this illustrated talk as part of Armed Forces Day.

They will look at the building and operation of the Number 1 shell filling factory at Barnbow in WW1 and examine the tragedies which took place there resulting in the loss of 40 employees, mainly women. Bob and Jacki also take a look at the lives of some of the victims and survivors of the three explosions. 

There will also be a selection of relevant items from the collections at Leeds Central Library.