Voted the best cultural city in the UK, Leeds is rich in art and history and is home to one of the biggest football teams in the world. With a burgeoning nightlife, great eateries and plenty of green spaces, Leeds offers a fantastic lifestyle with plenty to keep its residents entertained.
Shopping in Leeds
Leeds is a mecca for shopaholics of all budgets. Victoria Gate and Victoria Quarter, especially, are architectural masterpieces offering a wide range of luxury and high street brands.
Built in 1867 and famous for its independent craft stores, Grand Arcade is full of surprises, which include a hidden entrance to Domino Club. The Leeds Kirkgate Market is a paradise for eco-conscious shoppers, with more than 800 stalls selling local produce, jewellery, clothing and hardware.
Eating out in Leeds
The multiculturalism of Leeds has been a big driver behind the city’s evolution into the undisputed foodie capital of Northern England, and it now offers a delicious diversity of cuisines catering to all budgets and tastes.
The thriving indie street food scene in Leeds is vibrant and wide ranging, with plenty of outdoor and indoor markets of all persuasions. Trinity Kitchen and the centuries-old Kirkgate Market are great spots to try everything from authentic Thai and Lebanese street food to American and Indian cuisine, with stall rotations every eight weeks at Trinity Kitchen.
New arrivals looking for a gourmet experience should look no further than Leeds’ only Michelin-starred restaurant, The Man Behind The Curtain, headed up by world-famous chef Michael O’Hare. Newcomers looking to enjoy traditional British afternoon tea can head to The Grand Arcade.
Nightlife in Leeds
The nightlife in Leeds is one of the city's best assets, with an array of live music venues, clubs, rooftop bars and pubs (some dating back to the 17th century). New arrivals looking for a night out on the town should be sure to start in the city centre in Call Lane, which boasts a variety of establishments suitable for every budget and preference.
Newcomers looking for cosy and intimate spots can check out one of the many underground venues, wine clubs and jazz bars sprinkled across the city centre.
Outdoor activities in Leeds
Fondly known as 'God’s own county', Leeds has sprawling and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Residents looking for a breath of fresh air are spoilt for choice thanks to The Yorkshire Dales, which are a quick drive away, and the 700-acre Roundhay Park right in their backyard. Locals enjoy hiking, swimming and exploring the countryside villages and the Yorkshire coast.
See and do in Leeds
Founded in the 17th century, Leeds is a city steeped in history and culture, and new arrivals will find plenty to see and do in the city. Below are some of our favourites.
Royal Armouries Museum
The Royal Armouries Museum is a must-see for history enthusiasts. The museum hosts regular exhibits on five floors featuring relics and treasures from the National Collection of Arms and Armour. It’s a great day out for the whole family and entry is free.
Leeds Art Gallery
Art lovers won’t be able to take their eyes off the exhibits at the Leeds Art Gallery. With 20th-century British paintings, photography, sculptures and multimedia pieces by artists such as Alison Wilding and Francis Bacon, there is something to engage everyone.
With 1,500 acres of parkland and a 500-year-old Tudor-Jacobean house, Temple Newsam is guaranteed fun for the whole family. Visitors can explore the luxury house and learn about its secrets, while the children can run around the landscaped gardens or meet the animals at the farm.
Leeds Playhouse and Leeds Grand Theatre
The iconic Leeds Grand Theatre and the charming Leeds Playhouse are a must-visit for theatre buffs. The Grand Theatre stages big West End musicals on tour, while the Playhouse is the place to go for thought-provoking performances.
Founded more than 800 years ago, Kristall Abbey is one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in the UK. Visitors can take a guided tour of the ruins, take a stroll through Abbey Park, or get their dose of retail therapy at the Kristall Abbey Market.
What's on in Leeds
The Leeds annual calendar is chock-full of festivals, parties and other celebrations. Here are a few of the city’s unmissable events.
Brew-Dunell Beer Festival (January)
The Brew-Dunell Beer and Ale Festival is the brainchild of the popular Leeds pub and music venue, Brudenell Social Club. The festival celebrates the city's finest ales, craft beers and bitters and encourages knowledge sharing. Beer connoisseurs should be sure not to miss this one.
Slam Dunk Festival (May)
Leeds’ annual pop punk and alternative music festival is unlike any other. The festival is held at the picturesque Temple Newsam with past headliners including world-renowned acts such as Paramore and Fall Out Boy.
Leeds West Indian Festival (August)
Enjoy the August bank holiday with the whole family in Chapeltown or Harehills at the Leeds West Indian carnival, celebrating Caribbean culture and history.
Leeds Light Night (October)
Art aficionados should be sure to check out Leeds Light Night. Over two nights in October, there are free art events across the city, including interactive installations, light projects and street performances.
Leeds International Film Festival (November)
Film and television buffs can celebrate Leeds’ screen culture and enjoy the latest indie films at the Leeds International Film Festival, recognised as the largest film festival in England outside of London.
► To find out about public transport in the city, read Getting Around in Leeds
Are you an expat living in Leeds?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Leeds. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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