Looking for the best literary places in Leeds? There’s plenty going on literature wise in Leeds, including a number of regular nights, from experimental poetry to Fictions of Every Kind (literally), and events run by literary magazines such as Strix and Zarf. There’s also a thriving festival scene – including the North’s only dedicated short story weekend, a specialist nature-writing showcase, an urban spin-off of the famous Ilkley Literature Festival, and spoken word performances at Leeds International Festival and beyond. We’d expect nothing less of a city that’s recently welcomed one of the UK’s leading poets to the University of Leeds as its first-ever Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage.
Here are our picks
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 such as book launches, reading groups, kids clubs and poetry workshops. Look out for events like the WildLines nature writing showcase and May’s Ilkley Literature Festival spin-off Words in the City weekend of poetry and spoken word.
Hyde Park Book Club, 27-29 Headingley Lane, Leeds, LS6 1BL - Visit now
As well as live music and vinyl, visual arts and a vegetarian butcher menu (really!), there’s a little in the way of bookish activity – as the name might well suggest. Good-looking Leeds-based poetry and short fiction magazine Strix hold their issue launch events and birthday parties here, and the HPBC webstore stocks a number of zines for you to get your mitts on. Plus, there’s Scrabble a-go-go on Board Games Afternoon, every Sunday.
Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, LS2 7DY - Visit now
Have a coffee with the homeworkers and get your hair cut on a weekday, or sift through records and let your hair down to live DJs at the weekends. In between, check out the art shows, film nights and cheese and wine Tuesdays. Outlaws also hosts book clubs, poetry readings and their popular Chinwag Q&As, when the writerly likes of Irvine Welsh and Adelle Stripe have been known to pop by for a chat.
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. Two of our fave nights across the hills are held here: the regular Zarf magazine night, plus the bi-monthly Fictions of Every Kind, Leeds’ longest running literary social, run by author SJ Bradley (Strix, Northern Short Story Festival).
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 the Leeds Big Bookend’s annual Northern Short Story Festival – the only festival of its kind in the North, and turning three in 2018. Carriageworks also puts on a number of the poetry and performance events that make up the diverse Words in the City programme, part of Ilkley Literature Festival taking place every May.
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.