Things to do in Bradford

Carmel Smickersgill, Tours & Activities Editor

The city of Bradford is the civic dark horse of West Yorkshire. It is often forced to compete with Leeds, its larger neighbour to the east, but there is a feeling to this city and a cultural fingerprint that makes it totally unique. Whether you experience the grand scale and extravagance of the Alhambra Theatre, catch an eye-opening exhibition at Impressions Gallery or spend an afternoon perusing the quirky independent shops of Oastler Market, Bradford has a certain rawness and warmth which can’t be replicated.

As a cultural centre, Bradford and its surrounding area are a UNESCO triple bill. Brontë country and Haworth are just a short drive away, as are Saltaire and Salts Mill. Bradford itself was named a UNESCO City of Film in 2009. This comes as no surprise when you visit the National Science and Media Museum where you can see how Bradfordians have encouraged pioneering approaches to film, television, radio and gaming. Also nearby is the town of Ilkley, with its prestigious literature festival, Grade II listed lido and double Michelin starred restaurant The Box Tree.

Set to be the UK City of Culture in 2025, Bradford is home to Mind the Gap, one of the largest learning disability theatre companies in Europe. Alongside venues Theatre in the Mill and Kala Sangam, events like Bradford Literature Festival and The Bradford Festival all add to the city’s diverse and flourishing arts scene. Equally, everyone in Yorkshire knows that Bradford is THE place to go for a curry. It’s the birthplace of household names such as Mumtaz and Akbar’s and is also particularly well catered for in terms of beer, with Saltaire, Leeds and Ilkley Breweries situated conveniently close by.

Scroll down to find out more, and discover our suggestions for the best things to do in Bradford, Ilkley and Saltaire.

Where to go in Bradford

Salts Mill
Hockney 1853 Gallery

For a David Hockney fan, this is the place to be. Visit this lesser known gem for access to the beautiful collections of legendary David Hockney.

Tinker Gallery

Ilkley’s contemporary art gallery, set up by artist Joanne Tinker, is a studio space in combination with a gallery.

Ilkley Playhouse

The Playhouse has a well established season of productions, also used as a venue for events, including the popular Ilkley Literature Festival.

Tourist Attraction
Victoria Hall

Saltaire’s Victoria Hall is a beautiful 15th century Italian inspired building first opened to the public in 1871.

Bar or Pub
SALT Beer Factory

SALT Beer Factory, named after the village of Saltaire where they first began, pride themselves making delicious craft beer for those who love it.

Tapestry Arts

Tapestry Arts is a live-music venue and bar, arts complex and theatre all rolled into one.

Paratha Box

The flaky, buttery flatbread of Partha Box has opened in Bradford – to the joy of all those local.


Japanese sushi meets Brazilian Grill in a fantastic melding of cuisine. This gem in Bradford is not only quirky in concept but delicious in execution.

Bagshaw Museum

‘Eclectic’ is the name of the game at the Bagshaw Museum in Batley. Their collections are varied but not lacking in quality.

Bolling Hall

Tucked away in a quiet, leafy garden, Bolling Hall Museum is full-to-the-brim with the history of its residing families.

Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

Cartwright Hall is Bradford’s civic art gallery and offers an exciting programme of contemporary exhibitions, with four permanent galleries.

Bradford Visitor Guides

Art Galleries in Bradford

Bradford has given us giants of the visual art world such as David Hockney and Ian Beesley, check out our guide of art galleries to find the best places to experience art in the city.

Science and Media Museum
Museums in Bradford

As a northern city with a culturally rich past, Take some time to explore the weird, wonderful and wacky variety of museums in Bradford.

The Alhambra
Theatres in Bradford

As the birthplace of J.B. Priestly and the home of the Alhambra, the city's longstanding thespian tradition ensures there are no lack of theatres in Bradford.

Music Venues in Bradford

Bradford has a reputation for intimate gigs and rowdy rock nights, we've rounded up the best places to see both in our guide of music venues in Bradford.

Bradford Cathedral
Walks in Bradford

A round-up of the best walks in Bradford, including the city centre, its parks, and around key attractions by Creative Tourist.

Pillock at Contact
Spotlight on

Fringe Theatre in Manchester and the North

Check out our top picks of shows previewing in the North West before heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival later in the summer.

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