Historic and cultural things to do in West Yorkshire

By Kingfisher Visitor Guides

Expect to lose track of time in the most delightful way as you spend days out immersed in the history and culture of West Yorkshire.

Museums and traditions

Start your journey with a spectacular mix of history and nature at Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Bridge. The 400-acre National Trust site is set in a wooded valley and home to the hairy wood ant, tumbling streams and glorious waterfalls. At its heart is Gibson Mill, a family-orientated visitor centre telling more than 200 years of valley history, with interactive displays.

Complete your day in Hebden Bridge itself with its Victorian streets, independent shops and creative culture. In neighbouring Heptonstall, you’ll discover the story of the infamous Cragg Vale Coiners and visit Weaver’s Square, with examples of different types of Yorkshire paving. Coal mining shaped much of the county, so it’s not surprising to find the National Mining Museum for England at the former Caphouse Colliery site in Overton, Wakefield. Get kitted out with a hard hat and battery lamp to step into the cage for a trip down Hope Pit.

The 400-acre National Trust Hardcastle Crags site, is set in a wooded valley and home to the hairy wood ant, tumbling streams and glorious waterfalls

The National Science and Media Museum is located in the heart of Bradford. It explores the science and culture of image and sound technologies, with an IMAX theatre and cinemas. Or try the Wonderlab,
where you’ll take part in live sound and light experiments. In Halifax, Eureka! National Children’s Museum is designed for children under 11, where they’ll play with interactive exhibits in six zones.

Nearby, the Grade 1-listed building Halifax Piece Hall is at the centre of the town’s commercial, civic and cultural life. Restorations include a heritage and learning visitor attraction, along with two storeys of unique retail outlets that flank the central courtyard. It even has its own Escaporium, housing the latest craze for escape rooms.

Historic houses, castles and ruins

Set aside plenty of time to explore the historic landmarks that decorate West Yorkshire. Shibden Hall Estate centres on the Grade 1-listed family home of Anne Lister, as played by Suranne Jones in the hit BBC series Gentleman Jack. In the picturesque Shibden Valley, the hall dates back to 1420 and offers visitors a journey through the lives of the people who lived and worked here. Explore the surrounding park to see beautifully restored gardens, a miniature railway and a boating lake.

Shibden Hall in Halifax, West Yorkshire

Dating back to 1420, Shibden Hall is the focus of the BBC drama Gentleman Jack

In Wakefield, visit National Trust-owned Nostell Priory, a Palladian house built on the site of a medieval monastery. The 18th-century architectural masterpiece features landscaped gardens and an Augustinian priory with Chippendale-designed staterooms. There’s also the fascinating medieval ruins of Sandal Castle with beautiful views over the Calder Valley.

Beautiful Oakwell Hall was furnished as a family home in the 1690s and gives an insight into the post-English Civil War household. Battles and sieges once rocked the medieval market town of Pontefract and it’s
home to one of England’s great castles. In its heyday, the once mighty fortress was so powerful that it was known as the key to the North. Today, you’ll experience history brought to life through spectacular free events and family activities.

Shibden Hall Estate centres on the Grade 1-listed family home of Anne Lister, as played by Suranne Jones in the hit BBC series Gentleman Jack

Cultural festivals

As well as permanent attractions, West Yorkshire provides a calendar that’s chock-full of festivals and events, from quirky village fetes to huge agricultural shows. Time your trip with Todmorden Game and Country Fair for everything from cooking demonstrations to falconry flying displays and camel rides. Elland’s Festival of Speed thrills with classic cars and vintage commercial vehicles.

If food and culture go hand in glove for you, there are plenty of festivals to set your taste buds loose on local produce! Enjoy the family-friendly entertainment of the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival as you watch chefs cook up scrumptious feasts. Then, simply eat everything you see. Halifax also holds an annual Food and Drink Festival to keep the yummy theme going.

Read more

History and heritage of West Yorkshire

Fine dining and international flavours in West Yorkshire

Museums, art and architecture for creative minds in West Yorkshire

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Image credits: ©Jim Varney/National Media Museum; Paul White Photography/The Piece Hall; Shutterstock.com; Simon Dewhurst Photography/National Coal Mining Museum

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