special featuresadvertorial

31 things you’ll discover with a trip to Leeds

Cheat on your home city with a visit to Yorkshire’s capital city this Christmas – and discover something off the beaten track

Leeds is full of fabulous, instantly recognisable landmarks and there’s no shortage of packed bars and restaurants.

But even if you think you know the city, there’s still plenty of places to waiting to be found.

Venture off the tourist track and you might be surprised by what’s hiding almost in plain sight.

Here are 31 things you can discover in Leeds this festive season…

1. The White Rabbit Bar

Don’t be late to keep a very important date down the rabbit hole in this quirky Alice in Wonderland-esque drinking den. In the depths of a red brick basement, it’s brought a brilliantly oddball mix of curiosities and cocktails to Leeds’ business district since it opened two years ago.

http://www.thewhiterabbitbar.co.uk/

2. Hyde Park Picture House

Shiny anonymous multiplexes step aside, this is Leeds’ number one art house cinema with a 102-year-old history. A little movie classic in its own right, it’s still full of original features to admire while you’re waiting for the big picture.

http://www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk/

3. Tall Boys Beer Market

Beer and bread might not sound like an obvious combination, but at Tall Boys in Thornton's Arcade they’re a mighty match. Head upstairs to the Noonshine Café for a collab between the boys and Leeds Bread Co-op, and look out for regular cool events and exhibitions.

https://tallboysbeermarket.com/

4. Magical Lantern Festival

Light up your Christmas in a magical way with the Lantern Festival at Roundhay Park until January 2. Follow the trail to explore giant illuminated installations around the woodland, lakes, gardens and pathways. And Santa’s there, so you can always drop off your list.

http://www.magicallantern.uk/yorkshire/

5. The Bike Tree

Not like any other Christmas tree you’ll ever have come across (even those weird upside down ones), this one has old bicycle wheels where its branches should to be. Now celebrating its eighth Christmas, you’ll find it standing bright in Foundry Square.

6. Fabrication

Sounds like a club night but it’s actually known as the craftiest place in Leeds. 70 local artists, designers and makers have moved in to The Light, there’s classes too and a costume clinic for anyone wanting to make their own Burlesque or theatre costumes.

http://www.fabric-ation.co.uk/index.htm

7. Friends of Ham

How much do you love ham? No, really love it? If the answer’s lots then you need to be introduced to Friends of Ham on New Station Street. There’s charcuterie aplenty, events, music and tasting sessions to join in, all in the shadow of the hanging hams.

http://www.friendsofham.co.uk/

8. Bad Apples Rock Bar

If you don’t mind sharing your drink with a skeleton in a sunken coffin then you could find yourself in good/bad company at The Boneyard underground cellar at Bad Apples rock bar on Call Lane. In all ways, it’s every bit as dark as you’d hope.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/badapplesrockbarleeds/about/?ref=page_internal

9. The Herb Garden

Why bother with the supermarket packet stuff when you can pick your own straight from the plants at the sustainable garden within the University of Leeds campus. Chancellor's Court doesn’t just have herbs either, it’s got edible hedges and berries and currants too.

10. OK Comics

It might not be the biggest, but size doesn’t matter when it comes to collectibles and OK Comics indie shop in Thornton’s Arcade is an award-winner for its huge stock of comics, mags and graphic novels and the encyclopedic knowledge of its friendly staff.

http://www.okcomics.co.uk/

11. Tiki Hideaway

Call Lane is no secret to anyone who’s ever been to Leeds, but as the name suggests Tiki Hideaway isn’t the most obvious. Look beyond ground level, above Call Lane Social, and you’ll discover a 1950s inspired Polynesian paradise with flaming zombie cocktails.

https://tikihideaway.co.uk/

12. Clandestine Cake Club

The CCC was started by Leeds’ own home baker Lynn Hill six years ago and it now has clubs around the world. Members meet up at planned secret locations to share recipes, advice and, of course, cake! True to its roots, Leeds currently has three active clubs to look out for.

https://clandestinecakeclub.co.uk/

13. Steptoes Dog Vintage

The fabulously named Steptoes Dog has thousands of vintage, collectable and kitsch items that just beg to be rummaged through. After a gorgeous old handbag, a 1950s faux fur jacket or piece of antique jewellery? Find Steptoes little shop on Kirkstall Hill, open Wed-Fri or by calling.

http://steptoesantiques.store.buegle.com/

14. Holbeck Underground Ballroom

If you like theatre off the mainstream, head to Holbeck Underground Ballroom (HUB), the railway arch home of Slung Low Theatre Company and a temporary residence for visiting companies and events looking for somewhere a bit different.

http://www.slunglow.org/

15. The Maven

Prohibition speakeasies love a secret entrance, and The Maven sticks to the rule. On Call Lane, drinkers need to look out for an unmarked entrance, take a hidden staircase then go through the doors marked M (for mystery or maybe martini?)

http://www.themavenbar.com/

16. The Old Bridewell Cells

There’s more than meets the eye at Leeds Town Hall, but one of its most fascinating gems is the old Bridewell cells which give you an idea what it was like to be in the slammer in Victorian times. You even get to stand in the dock and plead your innocence as part of the tour.

http://www.leeds.gov.uk/townhall/Pages/Town-Hall-tours.aspx

17. The Hedonist Project

On Lower Briggate, this almost contradictory ‘permanent pop-up’ gets away with the title thanks to its ever-changing seasonal inspiration. It’s been a gin kitchen, whiskey joint and rum shack and now it’s a Winter Ski Lodge Bar. Keep your eyes peeled for whatever next …

http://www.thehedonistproject.com/

18. Jumbo Records

Stop downloading, and fall in love with vinyl again with a visit to super-sized indie record shop Jumbo in St Johns Centre. It’s been around for 45 years and has a massive selection in every format and it’s a great place for local music promos.

http://www.jumborecords.co.uk/

19. Roxy Lanes

Forget the anonymity of the sticky-shoed bowling chains, Roxy Lanes is a cool grown-up boutique bowling alley which strikes (!) just the right just the right combination of lane fun with a side of gourmet burgers, pizzas, craft ales and cocktails.

http://www.roxylanes.co.uk/#roxylanesleeds

20. Le Keux Vintage Salon

Embrace your inner 1950s pin-up at this vintage-inspired hair and make-up salon and barbers above Cath Kidston on Lands Lane. Diner sets and a milkshake bar complete the authentic feel and you can even play dress-up in the retro clothing and gift shop.

http://www.lekeuxvintagesalon.co.uk/

21. The Swine That Dines

Gourmet alter ego of the Greedy Pig caff, famed for its full cooked breakfasts, The Swine That Dines is a bit of a trek out on North Street, but it’s worth it. Informal small plate dining, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings only, don’t forget to bring your own bottle.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSwineThatDines/

22. &Model

Contemporary art has found its ideal home in &Model, a three-floor gallery on East Parade. The curators of the 19th century building develop projects and events to bring together established contemporary artists and emerging local talent.

http://www.andmodel.com/

23. Bongo’s Bingo

Every Wednesday at Canal Mills, this is bingo like you’ve never played it before. Think glow sticks, cheesy singalongs, dancing on tables and some of the most terrible prizes you’ll have ever seen (plus some genuine cash ones). It’s a riot of a full house every week.

http://www.canalmills.com/doorly-and-friends-presents/

24. Mrs Atha’s Coffee Shop

There’s no excuse for ever drinking your espresso in a chain when Mrs Atha’s is there instead. It’s tucked away on Central Road, but make the effort and you’ll find a quirky chic coffee house run by the Atha family well known for its Leeds fairground heritage.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mrs-Athas/504663502878116

25. Leeds Art Trail

Discover 15 different art works in and around the city centre as part of the Christmas in Leeds Art Trail until Jan 3. Locations include O2 Academy, Corn Exchange, Harvey Nichols and Leeds Station where Northern Ballet has a Beauty & The Beast inspired Christmas tree.

http://christmas.welcometoleeds.co.uk/

26. 51% Bourbon Lounge

Just off Call Lane, tucked away down Hirst’s Yard alleyway, climb up to the second floor of 11-15 and you’ll be rewarded with a dark wood barrel-tabled drinking den and a mind-blowing array of whiskies – more than 100 to be precise - to work through.

http://www.51percentbourbon.co.uk/#home

27. Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Apart from having the best name probably ever, this gallery above Wharf Chambers is a not-for-profit space putting on contemporary art exhibitions and events. It also has a permanent collection of artworks and provides studios for 22 emerging artists

https://www.facebook.com/stcfthots/

28. Wapentake

No day in Yorkshire should really pass without the consumption of a Yorkshire pudding, so thanks to Wapentake on Kirkgate which serves them up – covered in gravy of course - alongside British classics and a lot of gorgeous speciality breads, all in a cosy vintage setting.

https://www.facebook.com/wapentakeleeds/

29. Colours May Vary

Prepare to set aside plenty of browsing time if you visit this indie book shop and event space on Duke Street near the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It specialises in books on photography, design, illustration and lifestyle so everything you’d want to show off on your coffee table really.

https://www.colours-may-vary.com/

30. Leventhorpe Vineyard

OK, so this isn’t in the city centre, but then it’s a real grape growing vineyard so it was never likely to be was it? It’s still in Leeds, out in Woodlesford so you can’t really walk it, but if you want to experience one of Oz Clarke’s favourites, it’s worth taking a trip.

http://www.leventhorpevineyard.co.uk/

31. Leeds City Varieties Music Hall

If you want a real nostalgic treat, have a look inside Leeds City Varieties and you’ll get a glimpse of how theatre used to be. In Swan Street, it’s one of the few surviving music halls in the country, dating back to 1865 and hanging on to lots of its original charm.

https://www.cityvarieties.co.uk/Online/default.asp

View full mobile page