Shortlist symbol Add to shortlist button.

19 Things to try in Leeds in 2019

Has the New Year left you inspired to try something new? Luckily, there are lots of experiences to enjoy in Leeds.

Why not try...


1. Feasting on food from a Leeds’ independents

Leeds saw the biggest rise of independent restaurant openings in the country last year, tying with Newcastle for the top spot, so there are plenty of places to sink your teeth into. You can eat your way through the day without needing to call into a chain. Try breakfast at Fettle or Olive & Rye, coffee and cake at Layne’s Espresso or North Star Coffee, lunch at LIVIN Italy , afternoon tea at Just Grand! Vintage Tea Room or Le Chalet and dinner at Vice & Virtue or The Oxford Place (which just happens to be entirely gluten free!).

Plus, with so many of them making the Michelin Guide (Bundobust, Ox Club, Stockdales of Yorkshire, Tharavadu & The Foundry Wine Bar) you’re guaranteed some of the best dishes around.

Leeds’ love of Independent is celebrated with a two week festival in May; Leeds Indie Food Fest!


Ox Club - Jessie Leong
Kiss Me Kate 2015 Opera North photo credit Richard Moran


2. A night at the Opera

Opera North are working hard to change people’s perceptions of opera by creating contemporary, comical productions and modernising the classics. New to opera? You can get a ticket for just £15! There’s no need to worry about dress-code, jeans are fine, and many of their operas are sung in English. ‘Opera’ is as broad a genre as ‘film’ — there are so many different styles, and the music of one composer sounds utterly different to that of another. So what’s to lose? You might just love it!



3. A Tri

The city is limbering up to once again host the pinnacle in triathlon competition; AJ Bell World Triathlon Series, 8-9 June 2019 – and you can have a go! This prestigious event provides more than 5,000 amateur triathletes with a unique opportunity to compete on the same course as the world’s best. If participating isn’t for you, then make sure you don’t miss out on joining thousands of spectators who will witness the world’s fastest triathletes race around the city centre of Leeds in a thrilling showcase of endurance and strategy.

Vitality World Triathlon London 2015 - credit - RB Create Ltd
Water Taxi


4. The water taxi

Arguably the cutest way to travel, hop on the little yellow boat Twee or brother boat Drie for just £1 each way at Granary Wharf near to the train station and chug along the River Aire to Leeds Dock where you’ll find the Royal Armouries Museum and cafes/restaurants. This 10 minute trip may be short but it will brighten your day!


5. A relaxing spa-retreat

Leeds is known for being a buzzing, exciting city but it’s also the perfect place to relax with wonderful spas on our doorstep and even some in the city.

Relax in the roof top spa and garden at Rudding Park, winner of Best Newcomer at the Good Spa Awards or soak up the luxury of Oulton Hall; they do a scrumptious afternoon tea too! Chevin Country Park Hotel & Spa is set in beautiful woodlands and close to the charming market town of Otley or wind down with a massage at Thorpe Park Hotel.

Stay in the city centre and enjoy a treatment at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Lush Spa, The Clarins Skin Spa in Victoria Gate or Liz Earle in Victoria Quarter.

Rudding Park - Hydrotherapy Infinity Pool
Cricket at Headingley - Vaughn Ridley - SWPIX.COM


6. Cricket World Cup Carnival

The Cricket World Cup carnival is coming to Leeds! The tournament takes place in England and Wales from 30 May to 14 July 2019 and four of the matches will be held in Leeds at Headingley.

What better introduction to cricket then watching a thrilling world cup match at Yorkshire Country Cricket Club’s home of Headingley Cricket Ground.



7. An outdoor concert in the heart of the city centre

Every summer Millennium Square becomes a hub of energy and excitement with a calendar of live music, screenings and festivals. One of the not to be missed events is the incredible Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics, which will return to the square on Friday 27 July 2018, featuring a unique collaboration between the Orchestra of Opera North, legendary Back to Basics DJ Dave Beer and a line-up of special guests!


A Night at the Opera - Summer Series
Two people walking on a summer's day through the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales - VisitBritain, Ma


8. Exploring the local countryside

Leeds is a thriving, lively city with so much to offer but did you know it's also the perfect base for exploring the beauty of the surrounding countryside? The beauty of the Yorkshire Dales is just on the doorstep of the city. Discover beautiful valleys, delightful towns and villages, attractions, festivals, events and more.


9. The local beer

Leeds is home to a number of wonderful independent breweries like Leeds Brewery, North Brew Co and Kirkstall Brewery and you can try their delicious creations in bars and pubs in the city. If you like to get up close and personal, the guys at Northern Monk Brewery will give you a tour and talk you through their process before you head upstairs to the Refectory to sample a few.

The city’s love of real ale and craft beer has led to the creation of the Leeds International Beer Festival taking place 6th-9th September and promises to the best yet with four days celebrating craft beer from around the world.

Be sure to call into the Little Leeds Beer House to pick up some bottles to take home.

Leeds Brewery
Abigail Prudames as Queen Victoria and Joseph Taylor as Prince Albert. Photo Guy Farrow


10. An awe-inspiring Ballet

Experience the breath-taking beauty of a performance from Northern Ballet. Northern Ballet have won a whole host of awards and take their productions all over the world but you can always catch one of their stunning ballets in their home of Leeds. Northern Ballet are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2019 and March will see the world premiere of their production of Victoria at Leeds Grand Theatre. 


11. An afternoon exploring art

Leeds Art Gallery has recently reopened its doors following an extensive refurb and it was worth the wait! Find out for yourself why this is a flagship venue for visual art in Leeds. Then call into the Henry Moore Institute next door; a gallery dedicated to sculpture. If you prefer your art more contemporary, The Tetley and Leeds Gallery at Munro House are the place for you. 

Tony Cragg, Postcard Flag (Union Jack), 1981 - Leeds Art Gallery
Trinity Kitchen - Credit Hannah Webster


12. Street food from around the world

Try food from around the world without leaving the city. Kirkgate Market’s new street food dining offers some of the tastiest dishes around. Try Asian bakery Zm Zm, a taste of Istanbul at Mr Mackerel, Bánh & Mee Vietnamese Street Kitchen and, for a local twist, a Yorkshire Pudding wrap from the Yorkshire Wrap Company!

Trinity Kitchen boasts a changing line up of street food vendors, alongside some permanent residents, in its cool and colourful location at the top of Trinity Leeds, so there’s always something new to try.

There’s authentic American at Chicago Rib Shack, Duck n Roll is a duck lover’s dream, fresh and delicious indian street food at Rola Wala plus plenty more to tempt your tastebuds.


13. A festival with a difference

You may have heard of Leeds Festival, one of the UK’s most popular music festivals (a well-deserved accolade) but did you know there are over 80 festivals that take place every year in Leeds?!

There are festivals for arts, celebration, food and drink, family, outdoor, culture….the list keeps going!

Leeds Waterfront Festival brings the waterways to life and Leeds West Indian Carnival is an explosion of colour and celebration you’ll never forget. Light Night transforms the city into a stunning collection of installations while Thought Bubble is all about comic art.

Grab a festival wristband for Live at Leeds and head to one of the city centre venues for the best upcoming local bands and established artists or visit a more intimate venue for opera and jazz.


The Spark! drummers who will take part in this yea's Light Night parade. Credit Dan Brady
Leeds Grand Theatre - Opera North - Bartered Bride Schools Performance - credit Tom Arber


14. A Theatre Show

Don’t think a night watching a show is for you? Think again! With such a variety of performances to choose from across Leeds’ many great venues you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love! Laugh out loud with a comedian at City Varieties, take the whole family to a play at Carriageworks theatre or be entertained with a touring West End Show at the beautiful Leeds Grand Theatre. Catch the world’s best artists at the first direct arena, enjoy an original performance at West Yorkshire Playhouse and soak up the atmosphere of a concert in the spectacular setting of Leeds Town Hall.

Check out some of the city’s smaller venues too for something a little difference. Experience cutting edge theatre at The HUB, stunning dance performances at Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre and everyone from global stars to up-and-coming talent at The Venue.


15. Going to a gig

For music lovers, Leeds has one of the most vibrant live music scenes in the UK. The first direct arena hosts the big names on UK tours, but old favourites include O2 Academy, Belgrave Music Hall and the Brudenell Social Club. Brudenell has been a centrepiece of the Leeds music scene for a number of years, and hosts gigs most nights of the week.

Swimming In Trumpet - Belgrave Music Hall
Leeds Pride Family, winner - Mark Douglas


16. Leeds LGBT* Pride

If you’ve never been to Leeds Pride you are missing out! Leeds Pride is Yorkshire's Biggest celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* life. The famous Leeds Pride Parade takes over the city centre with a rainbow procession complete with over 60 floats and 5 hours of entertainment! You’re guaranteed an incredible weekend at the UK’s friendliest pride!


17. A Night Out with a Difference 

The nightlife in Leeds is arguably some of the best in the country so it’s time to pencil in a visit! Relax with a cocktail at one of Leeds’ rooftop venues for a delectable drink and views over the city then shake your thing on the dancefloor and keep the party going all night at the city’s many great bars and clubs.

Fancy something a little different? Try burlesque and cabaret show The Wet Spot, the wildest bingo game you’ll ever play at Bongo’s Bingo or the hugely popular Saturday cabaret at the Viaduct. Budding popstars will love a night at Mix Karaoke. Or for those with a competitive streak there’s bowling at Roxy Laynes, Retro Games Night (amongst lots of other events) at Belgrave Music Hall and even beer pong at Roxy Ball Room.

Plus, Leeds has been awarded the Purple Flag accreditation meaning you can have an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night!


Bar - Roxy Lanes - Paula Brown @ Ollievision
Corn Exchange - Credit Simon Dewhurst


18. Admiring the Architecture

Leeds is famous for its stunning Victorian arcades - Queens Arcade, Thornton's Arcade, Grand Arcade and the magnificent Victoria Quarter, all awash with history but each with their own unique atmosphere and identity. To see more Victorian gems, take a tour of Leeds Grand Theatre and City Varieties as well as Europe’s largest indoor market, Kirkgate Market, and the magnificent Corn Exchange.


19. Leeds Christmas

Leeds is a truly enchanting place in Winter and a visit here is sure to get even the sternest of Scrooges into the festive spirit! Enjoy magical and historical markets along with a great food and drink scene, plus plenty of festive fun for all the family. The city’s historic stately homes, beautiful parks, public spaces and magnificent Victorian shopping arcades come together to host an array of exciting seasonal activities. Be astounded by the beauty of ballet, cosy up next to the fire with your favourite drink, wonder at the magical lanterns and enjoy a weekend you’ll never forget! This is Christmas with a difference #LeedsChristmas 

THOR'S Tipi credit Ben Hale Photography