Why Leeds should be on your bucket list
Leeds is a city with culture around every corner and it's definitely living its best moment, but just in case you're still undecided, here are a few reasons why you should consider Leeds for your next city break:
It's a buzzing city and many leisure businesses are choosing it to open their doors here.
Known as the foodie capital of the north, there are an incredible amount of appetising options on offer, from Michelin Star restaurants and food festivals to street food markets to name a few. What's more, it's amazing how many new openings the city has been hosting in recent years, like Tada and Blue Pavilion that promise to bring the best of Japanese and Chinese culture and gastronomy respectively; Golf Fang, a tremendous venue with an 18-hole mini golf course where you can also enjoy the best street food, cocktails and craft beer, all accompanied by a great DJ line up. The acclaimed wine shop Martinez Wines has chosen Leeds to continue its expansion, offering its carefully selected wines and its coveted tasting and pairing sessions. These are just a few examples, which are accompanied by major hotel chains as well as other developments that aim to make Leeds one of the best cities to visit in the UK.
It offers one of the best shopping experiences in the country.
Leeds is a shopper's paradise with the perfect mix of high street fashion, high-end boutiques, independent labels and quirky shops. Fashionistas should head to Trinity Leeds and then on to the Merrion Centre to check out the big brands. For something more eclectic, the historic Corn Exchange is full of independent retailers and creative shops. Then there's the famous Kirkgate Market, one of the largest covered markets in Europe, offering everything from vintage fashion to Asian bazaars and farmers' markets. To put the icing on the cake, a visit to the Victorian Quarter is a must, where luxury brands such as Harvey Nicholls and Vivienne Westwood are housed inside exquisite Victorian arcades filled with original mosaics and stunning stained glass ceilings.
The city's love of green and natural spaces is evident in every neighbourhood.
Leeds is a city that respects and protects its outdoor spaces. The most famous is Roundhay Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe, with over 700 acres of gardens and woodland. Within the park you'll find lakes, adventure playgrounds, bird-watching trails, tropical animal houses, sports fields and Roundhay Castle. Elsewhere in the city, you'll find Park Square, a popular spot for lunching office workers, and Woodhouse Moor, which will be offering an extreme circus event in the park this summer.
It's the gateway to charming countryside, stately homes and places of great history.
Leeds is the perfect starting point to explore some of the most charming parts of the country, such as Yorkshire and its charming villages, the famous Yorkshire Dales. Visit Harrogate, a small town full of award-winning flower gardens, or even take a boat trip on the famous Liverpool and Leeds Canal, the longest stretch of single-track canal in the UK. It is also home to majestic stately homes that are well worth a visit, such as Temple Newsam, where there is a working farm surrounded by parkland; or Harewood House is a luxurious 18th century house with over 100 acres of grounds and gardens, bird garden and deer park! Its majesty has made it the setting for major film and TV premieres such as Downton Abbey, to name a few.
It's known for its great festivals.
You've heard of the Leeds Festival, right? It's one of the most famous music festivals in Europe, which brings together the most important rock, indie and metal headliners? Well, it's held every August bank holiday in Bramham Park, and it's, frankly, epic! But it's not the only festival in town. Leeds has a fantastic calendar of events throughout the year just waiting for you to enjoy. Since 1967, Leeds has celebrated Europe's oldest West Indian Carnival, with parades, masquerades, music, food and dancing. Leeds Pride attracts more than 50,000 people each year, and the International Film Festival is the biggest of its kind outside London. And no one should miss Light Night, the UK's biggest festival of art and light. For two nights in October, the city lights up with giant light projections and art installations, and the streets are filled with performers. And the best part? Most of the events and attractions are free.
Its nightlife is one of the most acclaimed in the UK.
Leeds has a stellar reputation for music, with a number of international artists born there. This reputation continues with some incredible live music venues. From the huge O2 Academy to the cult venue Brudenell Social Club, the Belgrave Music Hall, which promises all the fun of a festival, and the many independent venues that host up-and-coming local bands. But if there's one recommended area for a night out, it's Call Lane, where you can party until dawn on the city's most famous nightlife strip. Here you'll find everything from laid-back venues to nightclubs. Rock n roll dive bars, lgbtq+ parties, secret cocktail bars, burlesque shows, student nights, rooftop lounges... whatever your nightlife vibe, you'll find a venue to suit it in Leeds, a city that definitely knows how to party.
It's got some noteworthy architecture.
Leeds has more listed buildings than any other city outside of London. The building heritage here is a marvel to enjoy as you stroll through the city centre; you'll come across the iconic Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Corn Exchange with its impressive vaulted roof, Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds Central Library, a Gothic masterpiece with spectacular staircases and arches and mosaic tiles. Kirkgate Market is undoubtedly one of the city's most recognisable and beloved landmarks. The majestic Grade I listed building dates back to 1857 and is home to the home of one of Britain's biggest global brands, Marks & Spencer, which is still present today. As soon as you enter this impressive Victorian masterpiece, you feel alive! There is nowhere else like it in the UK. Leeds is famous for its spectacular Victorian arcades: Queens Arcade, Thornton's Arcade, Grand Arcade and the magnificent Victorian Quarter, all steeped in history, but each with its own atmosphere and identity.
It doesn't get more accessible than this.
You don't have to walk for miles between attractions, or hop on and off trams, trains and shuttles to get around the city centre. Leeds is a truly walkable city, where you can go from a big gig at the First Direct Arena in the north to the cocktail bars by the river Aire in the south in less than 12 minutes on foot. This makes it the perfect place to explore as part of a walking tour.
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