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Leeds cultural attractions

Whether you prefer to see dance or visit a museum, we’ve captured Leed’s best arts and culture destinations. Leeds is the home of internationally-acclaimed arts organisations such as Opera North, Northern Ballet, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Red Ladder Theatre Company.

The Leeds Playhouse prides itself as one of the UK’s most important regional theatres as it reaches its third decade. The Leeds Art Gallery, another of the city’s finest Victorian buildings, is located on The Headrow and admission is free. The Henry Moore Institute is right next door to Leeds Art Gallery and admission is also free. The institute is an award-winning exhibition venue, research centre and celebrates sculpture and the study of it.

The world’s first ever films were shot in Leeds, by Louis le Prince in 1888 – so it’s not surprising that today Leeds still has a thriving film culture and traditionalists will love Hyde Park Picture House, a Grade 2-listed arthouse cinema first opened in 1914.

Tucked away in Swan Street is the charming City Varieties Music Hall. It dates back to 1865 and was originally known as Thornton’s New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge. It became famous as the location for the BBC television series The Good Old Days, which ran from 1953 to 1983. If that makes you feel nostalgic, you can still see performances of the variety acts here. The upcoming features include a number of well-known comedians, from Andy Hamilton to Jerry Sadowitz, as well as drama and music.

The Carriageworks Theatre caters to all tastes, with a programme that includes comedy, dance, film, music and pantomime – look for its many forthcoming family shows. It champions local talent and is the base for Leeds Community Arts Network.  Slung Low theatre company is innovative and exciting. They aim to immerse the audience and engage them outside of conventional performance spaces. The company’s home is The Holbeck, where they rehearse and welcome other companies to present their new work. Check out its exciting Big Ideas series of talks – and pay what you feel.

Our picks

Oakwell Hall & Country Park
Butterfly and flowers

Nutter Ln, Birstall, Batley WF17 9LF

Oakwell Hall is furnished as a family home in the 1690s and offers visitors a real insight into a post-English Civil War household. The site also includes over 100 acres of award winning country park and gardens, a visitor centre, gift shop, nature trail, picnic sites and playground. Visit website

The Tetley
The Tetley

Hunslet Rd, Leeds LS10 1JQ

Set in the stunning art deco headquarters of the former Tetley Brewery, The Tetley is a pioneering centre for contemporary art. Open daily, visitors can enjoy free galleries, a learning studio, workspaces for creatives and a bar and kitchen. Visit website

Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park

West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a pioneering place that aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight, welcoming over 400,000 visitors, including 48,000 learning visits each year. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park seeks to provide a centre of international, national and regional importance for the production, exhibition and appreciation of modern and contemporary sculpture. Many inspirational elements combine here to create a unique and exceptional balance of art, heritage, learning, space and landscape. Visit website

Leeds Cathedral
Leeds Cathedral

Cathedral Chambers, Great George St, Leeds LS2 8BE

Leeds Cathedral is one of the finest Catholic Cathedrals in England and the mother church of the diocese of Leeds. The Cathedral Church of St Anne is situated on Cookridge Street, in the heart of the city centre: an Edwardian building, opened in 1904. The Cathedral is a place of silence and prayer which provides a refuge from the activity of one of Britain’s busiest city centres. Visit website

Ilkley Toy Museum
Vintage toys

2 Whitton Croft Rd, Ilkley LS29 9HR

Ilkley Toy Museum holds one of the finest collections of dolls and toys in the country including dolls, dolls houses, teddy bears, tin plate toys, lead figures and a selection of games together with wooden and paper toys. Dating from 350BC to the present day the exhibits also include a 1940s English working model fairground. Visit website

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Image credits: ©Duncan/; Jonty Wilde/Yorkshire Sculpture Park; The Tetley and Brewery Green/Jules Lister

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