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.

Currently bidding to become 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.

Discover our top picks

Activity 26 September–17 October 2021, from £150

Pattern drafting (The Stitch Society at Salts Mill)

Consolidate your sewing skills this Autumn, with a pattern matching workshop from the Stitch Society at the textiles heritage site Salts Mill.

Bradford District Guides

Things to do in Ilkley

Our guide to the best things to do in Ilkley, including places to eat and drink, shopping and cultural attractions.

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.

Walks in Ilkley

Walks in Ilkley

Our top picks of walks in Ilkley, be it a tame stroll in-and-out of the cultural hot-spots or a well-performed hike.

Salts Mill

Things to do in Saltaire

There are plenty of things to do in the village of Saltaire, so we’ve rounded up some of our favourites in this guide.

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.