Saturday, 1 August 2015

Things To Do In Leeds, Yorkshire (UK)

So apparently, the 1st August is known as "Yorkshire Day" – I’m not sure how serious people are at observing this as it’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I thought I’d take a moment to appreciate my own city; a city which I’ve found myself acting like a tourist in since I moved back.

Kirkgate Market, Leeds
A lot of people travel around the world (even I’ve been to a fair few places abroad) without having explored their own backyard or having made the most of places that are on their own doorstop.

A city like Leeds is perfect to do some local exploring, especially if you’re anything like me - someone who’s grown a little wary of travelling abroad.

Leeds isn’t so big where going to local events and meeting new people is too daunting, but it’s still big enough where you can meet a wide range of people.

It's changed a lot since I last lived here - the people are generally a lot more open-minded and friendly, and looking to expand their social circle.

Which has worked out great for me in terms of meeting new people. There are also enough events going on with different things to do, or cool new places to check out which are easily accessible.

Leeds City Centre

At first glance, Leeds may seem a little underwhelming. However, as the third largest UK city, it has a reputation for being an up-and-coming metropolitan city, especially with continual redevelopment projects going on.

If you look a little closer, you start to appreciate Leeds and its modern vibe. However, the Victorian-style architecture still remains in parts, which reminds you of the history of the place.

The shopping, bars and restaurants are particularly popular here and again, I think people like the fact that it’s not too big, but not too small. It’s the perfectly sized modern city.

Briggate, Leeds
My only complaint is the public transport: not only is it expensive, but in the evenings and weekends you get a reduced service which makes you feel like you’re living in the outback. When you’ve been a London girl for years, with trains and buses running frequently until the early hours, it’s a bit of a transition. This is why most people in Leeds drive.

Bars and Eateries

Leeds is one of those places that has a lot of hidden gems. It’s easy to walk past the various different venues, missing them entirely and to just go for the standard chain restaurants that you’re familiar with.

So, as well as the typical Nandos, Pizza Expresses, GBKs, Wetherspoons, Costas etc, you have places like The Cuthbert Brodrick (which is like a much nicer Wetherspoons and a cheaper Slug & Lettuce, both of which can also be found in Leeds) and Belgrave Music Hall (which has a nice view of the city plus does a good pizza deal). Recently, a lot of pop-up restaurants have sprung up, with the same kind of rustic, hipster vibe at the Belgrave.

Around this Merrion St/Belgrave St area, you have quite a nice selection of oriental eateries, as well as some classy bars (Manhatta) or some more hipster/indie music joints (Mojo bar). This part of Leeds reminds me a little of Soho in Central London, with it’s various venues nestled away in hidden backstreets. The Brotherhood is close by too, a classy bar which has a nice, chilled-out vibe to it in the evenings.

Other places to eat in Leeds include Trinity Kitchen which is quite cool and funky, although the food isn’t great. 
The Calls - a pretty, night-time view in the City Centre

Now for bars and clubs, you have your standard Revolution and favourites like Backroom, Norman Bar and Chilliwhites in Leeds, which are around the Call Lane/Corn Exchange area. Tiger Tiger by The Light is also a favourite, as is Jake’s Bar.

However, some nice up-market bars I’ve been to include: Toast Bar & Bistro. Located on Wellington Street, it definitely attracts, and is marketed towards, a posh or business-minded clientele and gives off a very cosmopolitan vibe. The Botanist on Boar Lane was also quite nice, although the drinks unusually pricey.

For R&B lovers it’s hard to find a place in town that has decent urban music, as most places play commercial/chart music to keep the masses happy. However, Maluko Bar, HiFi and distrikt are good options.

Generally though, I think Leeds is better for bar-hopping. Clubs rarely last longer than a few years around here; Baracoa, Rehab, Gatecrasher, Halo, Bar Risa have all closed down, but were pretty decent back in my day…although even if they were still around I doubt I would still go, as something about going to the same clubs you went to when you were 19, which haven’t changed much and are still playing the same music (that seems to have been the era of nightclub music), can be quite depressing. Plus it tends to be a younger crowd too.

If you’re a student in Leeds though, I imagine there are lots of places that are student hotspots around the Headingley and Chapel Allerton area…but I’m sure your student union bar can advise you better.
History & Culture

The biggest hint of the history of Leeds lies within the architecture: once you notice it, you start to notice other buildings which have the same Victorian design, which are a direct contrast to the modern skyscrapers that make up the Leeds skyline. However, it’s nice to get a sense of the history of a place.

To learn about more of the history of Leeds, you can visit the Royal Armouries museum. There is also the Leeds City Museum and the Leeds Art Gallery, located in the town centre.

If you’re looking to experience more of Leeds’s historical buildings, you can visit Kirkstall Abbey,
Temple Newsam 
and Harewood House.

Kirkstall Abbey

Not strictly cultural or historical, but also worth a mention is Tropical World at Roundhay Park.

So, there you have a quick guide to Leeds through the eyes of a local. If you know of any other cool places or hidden gems that are worth checking out in Leeds, or its surrounding Yorkshire area, do comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment