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

Widescreen Weekend
Cinema 13–16 October 2022, from £30

Widescreen Weekend at The National Science and Media Museum

Widescreen Weekend returns with a programme of cinematic classics and exciting modern films.

Poet and performer Sophie Sparham.
Literature 29 September 2022 8:00 pm, from £10.00

Tubthumping at The Constitutional

A rip-roaring evening featuring some of the UK’s most dynamic spoken word poets: Nymphs & Thugs present Tubthumping at The Constitutional, this time round featuring TS Eliot Prize-winning Joelle Taylor and trans poet Jonathan Kinsman.

Literature 30 October 2022 12:30 pm, from £5.00

The World of Independent Publishing at The Constitutional

Part of Ink Slingers: Farsley Literature Festival, Truman Books presents a panel with five highly respected Northern indie publishers to dive beneath the surface of what can be an opaque industry. 

Jimmy Andrex. Photo Margutte.
Literature 30 September 2022 7:15 pm, FREE

Chemistry at Chemic Tavern

Leeds’ newest live literature night Chemistry promises an exciting mixture of headline guests and open mic acts, all introduced by Leeds-based poet Joe Williams.

Festivals Until 25 September 2022, from £15

Leeds International Festival of Ideas 2022

Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back in 2022, with a focus on tackling some of the most crucial questions of our time.

light night leeds
Families 13–14 October 2022, FREE

Light Night Leeds at Leeds Town Hall

Light Night Leeds is a chance to see the city’s most loved locations in a brand new light. The UK’s largest annual art and light festival, it has brought cutting-edge installations to Leeds for the past 17 years.

Music 30 October 2022 7:30 pm, from £13.50

Porridge Radio at Leeds Irish Centre

Porridge Radio are one of the most vital new voices in alternative music, having gone from being darlings of the DIY underground to one of the UK’s most thrilling bands in the space of less than a year.

Installation view of 'Tending to the harvest of dreams' by Lungiswa Gqunta, displaying barbed wire wrapped in green fabric alongside metal tables in a purple room.
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Lungiswa Gqunta: Sleep in Witness at The Henry Moore Institute

Don’t miss the work of multimedia artist Lungiswa Gqunta at The Henry Moore Institute, in ‘Sleep in Witness’, her largest show to date. Using an established set of powerful, personal motifs, Gqunta’s work focuses on colonialism, its violence and legacy, while also leaning into themes of resistance and collective healing.

Exhibitions Until 16 October 2022, FREE

Jill McKnight: Desire Lines at Leeds Art Gallery

Leeds-based artist Jill McKnight presents a new body of work, exploring the lives and histories of Leeds residents across generations.

Activity 19–20 November 2022, from £40.00

Ghost Hunting at the Former Leeds Union Workhouse

Visage paranormal take those brave enough Ghost Hunting in the former Leeds Union Workhouse, as they try to make contact with the other side.