The Last Word

A Weekend in Leeds


With a European Capital of Culture bid planned for 2023, a feature in Lonely Planets’ Top 10 European Travel Destinations of 2017, a thriving cultural scene and a carnival that is more than a match for Notting Hill; Leeds is a City that you need to visit in 2018.

Leeds is home to a plethora of riches in terms of cultural activities and institutions, with Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute regularly showcasing work of note and distinction in grand settings.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for popup installations from grass roots organisation such as East Street Arts, who are pushing ahead with the city’s mission to become ‘a little less grey’.

The city’s music scene is also buzzing, with many long-established festivals and new pretenders to the throne popping up each week.

Live at Leeds is an institution, with the multi-venue all-day festival returning this May 5th, with tickets flying out the door for a line-up featuring British Sea Power, The Horrors and Circa Waves among many more. World Island also returns once more this year, with three jam packed days bringing Sampha, Loyle Carner, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and many more to the city.

Leeds is a compact city, meaning that in a day trip you’ll be able to tick off its many legendary musical haunts. Spoilt for choice for record shops, Jumbo Records in the Merrion Centre and the smaller but no less stellar Crash Records have been the places to go for as long as we can remember, with the huge wall of handwritten gig listings for the local area showing the sheer scale of choice available. That’s before we even mention the racks upon racks of records. Beware, you’ll spend hours in these two.

While the city has many historic music venues, the Brudenell Social Club is always the place that people go back to. Located in the heart of student land, the Brudenell has at least one and usually two gigs on every night of the week, featuring everyone from the latest guitar slingers on the block to reformed 70s post-punk heroes. Keeping it’s old Working Men’s Club charm, the original gig room has always been a special place to see a show.

It’s safe to say Leeds has firmly embraced the craft beer revolution. From old hands such as the North Bar group who have been importing wonderful beers from across the world to Yorkshire for decades, to newer upstarts such as Belgrave Music Hall and Headrow House, the city has a lot to shout about.

Leeds is also home to one of the country’s most loved new age breweries in the form of Northern Monk. Housed in its own three story mill on the city’s south bank, Northern Monk brews the majority of its stellar IPAs and other styles from the brewery on the ground floor, serves them in its tap room on the first floor, and holds regular, legendary parties in its function room at the top. No trip to the city is complete without it.

Finally, it would be churlish to forget that soon to be nationwide sensation Bundobust started from its unassuming spot down a side street by the train station, perfectly blending a great craft beer selection with the best indian-infused vegetarian pots of wonder.

Speaking of food, this is another area where Leeds has really invested in, harbouring an incredible scene to rival any city. From kings of casual dining such as the Reliance and Ox Club to the Michelin-starred Man Behind the Curtain to the Italian joys of Venetian small plate restaurant Zucco and Neapolitan pizza parlour Pizza Fella, Leeds is buzzing at the moment with a new opening seemingly every week. Try and time a visit with Belgrave’s monthly street food smorgasbord, Belgrave feast, too.

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