Literary places in Leeds

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

There’s plenty to spout about when it comes to literature in Leeds, including a number of regular nights and a thriving festival scene – including the North’s only dedicated short story weekend, the grassroots Leeds Poetry Festival in July and the famous Ilkley Literature Festival, just a short and picturesque train trip away. Head to Farsley for spoken word performances at the Old Woollen, courtesy Tubthumping, and Bradford City of Culture 2025 for monthly showcase of innovative northern writing More Song, at The Record Café. Headingley hosts the monthly Soundbites open mic with guest poet at the Enterprise & Arts Centre, or stay more city centre Leeds for Chemistry each month at The Chemic Tavern, with headliners and an open mic, and the Radical Reading Book Group at Left Bank. Bookshops include The Bookish Type, moving from the Merrion Centre very soon, and continuing its outdoor queer book club, Bookish Stroll. Further afield, in Sheffield, La Biblioteka is the place for book-buying, while, for events, check out Resonance, Nine Lives Poetry and May’s Sheaf Poetry Festival, and in Huddersfield, try Ink Spill (now at The Head Of Steam) and monthly Attic Stories at Lawrence Batley Theatre, hosted by the talented Rose Condo. There’s even a dedicated poetry library on the cards, courtesy the University of Leeds’ first-ever Professor of Poetry, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Our top picks

The Leeds Library

The Leeds Library, 18 Commercial Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AL - Visit now

The Leeds Library has plenty of performances and literary shindigs worth jotting down in your Moleskine, including issue launch events by good-looking Leeds-based poetry and short fiction magazine Strix and regular reading series Chelping, which has welcomed the likes of Helen Mort and Clare Shaw in the past.

Courtesy of Visit Leeds

Leeds Central Library

Leeds Central Library, Calverley Street, Leeds, LS1 3AB - Visit now

Leeds’ main lending library offers all the amenities we’ve come to expect – from an architecturally stunning backdrop to free computer and internet access – plus a rolling programme of events well worth attending, such as book launches, reading groups, kids clubs and poetry workshops.

Leeds Central Library Literary Places in Leeds.
By Michael D Beckwith [CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Hyde Park Book Club

Hyde Park Book Club, 27-29 Headingley Lane, Leeds, LS6 1BL - Visit now

As the name might suggest, Hyde Park Book Club has a regular offer of bookish activity alongside its music and visual arts programme – and if there’s a literature festival in town, you can bet your bottom dollar some of it will be programmed here. You can also pick up a bit of vinyl and a tidy portion of food and drink at HPBC, and Scrabble is also on the menu.

Hyde Park Book Club.

Wharf Chambers

Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ - Visit now

Run by a workers’ co-op and members’ club, Wharf Chambers is a multi-use space within chiming distance of the Minster. Think music, art, film, discussion – and lots of lovely live lit, including Poets Hardship Fundraisers. Keep an eye on the noticeboards in the ether for updates.

Wharf Chambers

Carriageworks Theatre

Carriageworks Theatre, The Electric Press, 3 Millenium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD - Visit now

The city-centre theatre presents work by local performers, including writers and spoken word artists, and hosts events as part of the Leeds Big Bookend and the annual Northern Short Story Festival – the only festival of its kind in the North, running since 2016.

Carriageworks Theatre Leeds
The Carriageworks Leeds

Village Bookstore

Village Bookstore, 3 Thorntons Arcade, Leeds, LS1 6LQ - Visit now

Leeds’ Village Bookstore is a classic-style bookshop, with a neat line in self-published zines. The owners are also keen on supporting artists and photographers, using a section of their first floor as a non-profit gallery to promote emerging talent.

Village Bookstore Leeds
Image courtesy of Village Bookstore

Truman Books

Truman Books, 95 Town Street, Leeds, LS28 5HX - Visit now

Over in Farlsey, Truman Books hosts events during the local literature festival plus a packed programme of signings by legendary literature figures and launches by debut authors. It’s worth signing up to the newsletter for updates on the regular “an evening with” readings, from chick lit novelists to hard-boiled crime writers.

via Leeds Inspired

Grove Bookshop

Grove Bookshop, 10 The Grove, Ilkley, LS29 9EG - Visit now

Ilkley is home to the longest running literature festival in the north, taking place in October every year, so it comes as no surprise that the bookshop here is well stocked, with everything from the latest in the Fitzcarraldo Editions line to the entire back catalogue of Yorkshire treasures the likes of Simon Armitage and Philip Larkin. Events are also in abundance, throughout the year.

Grove bookshop
Grove Bookshop

Where to go in Leeds

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Event venue
South Asian Arts

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The Holbeck
Leeds
Theatre
The Holbeck

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Leeds
Theatre
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Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre building
Leeds
Event venue
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Leeds
Theatre
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Leeds
Theatre
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Event venue
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Carriageworks Theatre Leeds
Leeds
Theatre
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Leeds Grand Theatre
Leeds
Theatre
Leeds Grand Theatre

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Leeds
Theatre
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The Leeds Playhouse, formerly the West Yorkshire Playhouse is a producing theatre in Leeds with two stages at its disposal.

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