Things to do in Leeds

Creative Tourist

There’s plenty of things to do in Leeds, a hub of northern creativity, the metropolis of Yorkshire and one of the greenest cities in the UK. With a population of over 750,000 and ambitious regeneration plans, the city is one of the largest and most rapidly developing in the country.

Tech companies are formed, record labels created and arts organisations promote social change. No wonder then, that this climate produces countless celebrations of the city’s cuisine, culture and history. Leeds has a packed calendar of events meaning that the city centre has a constant buzz of activity. Priding itself on its rich cultural diversity and history, Leeds plays host to the decades-old West Indian carnival every August.

Leeds Grand Theatre houses resident companies Opera North and Northern Ballet; both admired for their innovative and risk-taking approach, and their ability to reach diverse audiences through bold performance and fully inclusive participation projects. The city is also home to Phoenix Dance, one of the UK’s leading contemporary dance companies, radical touring theatre company, Red Ladder and the influential Leeds Playhouse, which has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Part of the prestigious Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, head to Leeds Art Gallery to discover one of the best collections of 20th-century art before hopping across to the Henry Moore Institute next door. Leeds Dock is home to the Royal Armouries Museum and its six themed galleries holding the national collection of arms and armour.

If you look past the shiny facade of the Trinity and Victoria Gate shopping centres, you’ll find plenty of independent shops and eateries, coffee roasters and pop-up food places across Kirkgate Market, the Corn Exchange and the Victorian arcades. And the nightlife has an unmistakably northern vibe; whether you choose to have a chilled one in a boutique bar owned by the local brewery, or dance till the AM at one of the DIY club nights showcasing the city’s vibrant live music scene.

Discover our top picks

Exhibitions Until 11 May 2023, from £8.95

Private Parts at the Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine brings talk of private parts to the fore in a new exhibition that challenges taboos and social expectations.

Lemn Sissay at Leeds Lit Fest
Literature 3 March 2023 8:00 pm, from £22.00

Lemn Sissay at Leeds Lit Fest

Poet, playwright, memoirist, performer and broadcaster (and until recently the Chancellor of the University of Manchester) Lemn Sissay OBE presents his life story My Name Is Why, at Carriageworks Theatre.

Gwendoline Riley. Photo by Adrian Lourie
Literature 16 March 2023 6:00 pm, FREE

Gwendoline Riley at Leeds Central Library

Prize-winning author Gwendoline Riley is on our list of favourites, with the likes of early novels Cold Water and Sick Notes featuring Manchester as a backdrop, and here she’s talking about highly acclaimed and toe-curlingly tense tome My Phantoms.

Literature 25 February 2023 7:30 pm, from £8

Catriona Ward at Leeds Lit Fest

As part of Leeds Lit Fest 2023, running from 25 February to 5 March, internationally bestselling author Catriona Ward talks to Dan Coxon about being the only woman to have won the British Fantasy Awards’ August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel three times.

Ian Duhig at Nowt But Verse Leeds Lit Fest special
Literature 3 March 2023 1:00 pm, FREE

Ian Duhig at Nowt But Verse Leeds Lit Fest special

Poet, editor, and curator of literary events Hannah Stone talks to Ian Duhig in this special Leeds Lit Fest edition of Nowt But Verse.

Sarah Autumn
Literature 22 February–1 November 2023, FREE

Radical Reading Book Group at Left Bank Leeds

Join the Radical Reading Book Group every six weeks to discuss a book from The Reading Room Library – which you can find at Left Bank Leeds in collaboration with London-based independent radical publishers Pluto Press.

Activity Until 23 February 2023, from £59.99

Write Like A Grrrl: Ignite

Start the new year with a creative project with Write Like A Grrrl, a warm and encouraging writing course for womxn in Leeds.

Samra Mayanja: The Living and the Stale at The Tetley
Exhibitions 10 February–4 June 2023, FREE

Samra Mayanja: The Living and the Stale at The Tetley

The Tetley presents artist and poet Samra Mayanja’s first institutional exhibition ‘The Living and the Stale’.

Activity Until 24 March 2023, FREE

Code Clubs at Leeds Libraries

Give your child the confidence to create robots, animations and websites in these easy and accessible code clubs at Leeds libraries.

Music Until 25 February 2024, FREE

Interactive Music Tours at Old Chapel Music CIC

Old Chapel Music studio in Holdback, Leeds is offering an interactive historical music tour that opens its doors and ears to the public.

Things to do right now

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Activity Until 24 March 2023, FREE

Code Clubs at Leeds Libraries

Activity Until 23 February 2023, from £59.99

Write Like A Grrrl: Ignite

Activity Until 1 August 2023, from £45.00

Manchester Food Tour From Canals to Canapés