International Relations

Leeds City Council International Relations has a vibrant history of partnerships with cities across the world. These activities have been diverse and developed Leeds’ position as an international city.

The work of International Relations now focuses on exchange of best practice, maintaining good links with its partner cities and coordinating events which celebrate years of partnership.

To learn more, select one of our partner cities below to read a summary of our history and activities.

For regular updates visit the International Relations blog.



Dortmund, GermanyDortmund, Germany<div class="ExternalClass94752CBAE722429A8CF0F9AF70AE1DB1"><p>Leeds and Dortmund have been twinned since 1969.  <br>The partnership began due to similarities between the cities’ geographical and population size, landscape and economic structure. </p> <p>Projects between the two cities focus on five central strands: </p> <ul><li>School and youth engagements</li> <li>Community involvement</li> <li>Arts</li> <li>Culture and sporting exchanges</li> <li>Exchanges of best practice. </li></ul> <p>Dortmund is the eighth largest city in Germany and is known for being exceptionally green, as nearly half of the municipal territory consists of waterways, woodland, agriculture, parks and green spaces. Dortmund is now famous as home to one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and former European football Champions, Borussia Dortmund.</p></div>
Durban, South AfricaDurban, South Africa<div class="ExternalClass731510A11FF5459CAD693B5FC8013F56"><p>Leeds and Durban have been partner cities since 1998. Durban was chosen as a partner city to show political solidarity after the free elections in 1994. </p> <p>The partnership has produced a rich history of activities in areas of economic development and social upliftment, environment and arts and culture, amongst other committed areas listed in The Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 1998. </p> <p>The partnership work between the two cities focuses on co-operating in the interests of young people, local businesses, educational and technological advancement and the increased prosperity of all citizens. </p> <p>Thanks to the strong relationship with Durban and a strong anti- apartheid movement, Leeds welcomed Nelson Mandela in April 2001, honouring him as Freeman of the City. </p> <p>Durban is a coastal city in South Africa, famous for its busy port and rich ethical diversity. Durban is popular with tourists thanks to its warm climate and long beaches.​<span id="ms-rterangecursor-start" style="display:none;"></span><span id="ms-rterangecursor-end" style="display:none;"></span></p></div>
Brno, Czech RepublicBrno, Czech Republic<div class="ExternalClass636BDCA0FF934524876870E62D49CCAD"><p>​Leeds and Brno have been partner cities since 1991.Brno is the largest Moravian city in the Czech Republic and the Leeds City Region is home to a Moravian settlement dating back to 1744. </p> <p>Leeds and Brno have shared good practice in a number of areas such as:</p> <ul><li>Finance</li> <li>Scrutiny</li> <li>Education Communication</li> <li>Waste management</li> <li>Fair trade</li> <li>Human Resources </li></ul> <p>Children’s Services are continuing to further develop new and existing links, particularly with reference to the integration of ethnic minorities and Roma Gypsy population and have recently finished a Comenius Regio Project (RICE).</p> <p>Brno is a city in the south east of the Czech Republic and the second largest in the country. It has a beautiful, historic city centre and a skyline dominated by the beautiful Baroque Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. Brno is also home to pioneer of Modern architecture, Villa Tugendhat, where the political leaders of Czechoslovakia met to sign the document that divided the country into Czech Republic and Slovakia.</p></div>
Hangzhou, ChinaHangzhou, China<div class="ExternalClassEA4EF7950DE14A1CBA916EFC49DB8AFB"><p>Leeds has been partnered with Hangzhou since 1988. </p> <p>Our cities are connected through a shared history of manufacturing and service industries. </p> <p>Links were re-established in 1996, after the relationship was put on ice after incidents in Tiananmen Square. </p> <p>In 2000 the relationship was strengthened by the signing of memorandum of understanding. </p> <p>Leeds and Hangzhou have excellent University links, schools partnerships and engage in regular visits by delegations. Leeds City Council supported Leeds and Partners in a successful trade mission in 2014, which developed trade and investment opportunities for our cities.</p> <p>Leeds hosted the Chinese Olympic team in 2012, a great honour bestowed upon us thanks to this strong relationship!</p> <p>Hangzhou is a large metropolitan city famously known for its natural beautiful and abundant cultural heritages, which make it popular for tourists. The most popular things in the city for tourists are the West Lake and Hangzhou’s varied local cuisine. </p></div>
Lille, FranceLille, France<div class="ExternalClassF39B7F771BF3452987AB3FDEB236F673"><p>Lille and Leeds have been twinned since 1968, following links between the universities dating back to before WW2. </p> <p>Lille shares a similar manufacturing industry as Leeds, primarily producing textiles, food and mechanical industries. Since 1968, the number and nature of links between organisations and individuals in both cities has multiplied and there is on-going contact between young people, businesses and academics in both cities. </p> <p>LCC International Relations is currently coordinating an EU-funded Comenius Regio project with primary schools in Lille and Leeds. Teachers from our cities exchange best practice in the area of children’s voice and influence, sharing videos made by the students and taking part in training to increase pupil involvement and voice. </p> <p>Lille was the European Capital of Culture in 2014 and is home to the beautiful Palais des Beaux Arts museum, hosting paintings from Picasso, Goya and Brueghel. The most famous cultural event in Lille is the “Braderie de Lille,” the largest flea market in Europe with over ten thousand vendors. Lille is also famous for its food and hosts the ‘Golden Ladle’ Soup Festival, produces beer and Maroilles cheese.</p></div>
Siegen, GermanySiegen, Germany<div class="ExternalClassE4B86412D4D4452E964D0D94EE4CED86"><p>Siegen and the former county borough of Morley signed a Twinning Charter in 1966. In 1974, following local government re-organisation, this agreement continued to be honoured by Leeds City Council. </p> <p>Over the years, many community–based exchanges and visits have taken place between Morley and Siegen. The Youth Exchange has been running for over fifty years. The continuing links have been in large part due to the enthusiasm and efforts of individuals from the two towns. </p> <p>Siegen is in West Germany and is surrounded by scenic countryside ideal for hiking. The town has a mining history and now best known for beer production. It has a popular museum of modern art and is home to the smallest public museum in the world, dedicated to the Beatles.</p></div>