Just when you think you know the city like the back of your hand, you discover something new to do…
Are you ready to be amazed? From perfectly placed vineyards where you can pick up a bottle of local wine to secret gardens, hidden art galleries and record shops hidden in sheds – you never know what surprises await in Leeds. Which one will you do first?
Buy wine straight from the vineyard
Yorkshire isn’t exactly famed for its vineyards, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them. In fact, Leventhorpe Vineyard is one of the city’s best-kept secrets – they make a small but delicious selection of wine, using grapes grown on their 5-acre plot, and you can buy them at the vineyard itself.
Leventhorpe Vineyard, Newsome Green Road, Off Bullerthorpe Lane, Woodlesford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 8AF.
Indulge in afternoon tea from a shed by the river
Take a little walk down the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Rodley, and you’ll come across an odd looking brick shed. It turns out it’s actually one of the quaintest tearooms you’ll find. Take a pew on one of their outdoor tables and settle in for a great brew and a slice of cake, before carrying on your riverside ramble through the suburb.
The Tiny Tea Room, 18 Calverley Bridge, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS13 1NF.
See original manuscripts and handwritten notes by the Brontë sisters
You’d probably expect all of the Brontë’s manuscripts and materials to be in their museum, over in Haworth, but actually, you’ll find some of them a little closer to home. The Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery is filled with unusual finds, including a small handwritten book of poems and letters by the Brontë sisters.
Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, University of Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.
Brew your own craft beer
Ever wanted to brew your own beer? Now you can learn how with a one day course at Get Cooking. Andy and Steve from Leeds-based Learn to Brew will show you everything you need to know. You’ll learn methods used by the best microbreweries that you can do in your kitchen, using just water, malt, hops and yeast – you’ll make a beer to take home, before trying it out on your own.
Get Cooking, Springfield Commercial Centre, 43a Bagley Lane, Farsley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 5LY.
Go to an art gallery in someone’s basement
It’s not just big galleries in Leeds – you can get your next cultural hit in some very unexpected places including, it seems, someone’s basement. Basement Arts Project is an unconventional art space, tucked away in a pre-war, mid-terrace house in South Leeds, and it offers an eclectic range of events and exhibitions throughout the year.
Basement Arts Project, 26 Burton Terrace, Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5JH.
Visit a Victorian bear pit
It may not be in use anymore, but you’ll find the remains of an old Victorian bear pit on Cardigan Road. The building, which looks like a mini castle, was once part of Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens. They opened in 1840 but closed soon after in 1858, and for a brief while, they were home to a brown bear, monkeys and an eagle.
The Bear Pit, Cardigan Road, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 1LU.
Get crafty with steampunk
Philomena Spectre is a champion of everything steampunk and intermittently throughout the year, she brings her special craft workshops to venues across the city. You can be young or old to take part and you’ll get to find out everything about the subculture. That’s before you get hands-on making your own steampunk ornaments and costumes with recycled materials.
Steampunk Craft Workshops take place regularly throughout the year.
Take a wander around someone else’s garden
Ever wanted to have your own secret garden? Well, we have the next best thing, because you can visit someone else’s. It’s all thanks to the National Gardens Scheme, an organisation that allows you to book a visit to two incredible Leeds locations – The Jungle Garden, a multi-level hideaway filled with jungle-style plants, boardwalks and bark pathways, and The Orchard, a lush garden that boasts unusual fruit trees, Oriental-style seating areas and even a Tea House.
The Jungle Garden, 76 Gledhow Wood Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 1NX and The Orchard, 4a Blackwood Rise, Cookridge, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 7BG.
Pick up gems at the smallest department store in the world
RiversMEET is a one-off. It claims to be the smallest department store in the world, selling wares of local producers like Yorkshire Fabric, The Yorkshire Bag Company and The Beadshop. But that’s not all – after you’ve had a wee shop, they’ve got a cafe too, where you can get a sarnie, a slice of cake and a brew, all in a scenic countryside spot by the River Aire.
RiversMEET, 102 Leeds Road, Methley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 9EP.
Go record shopping in a suburban shed
Shedload of Vinyl isn’t your normal record shop. Owner Mick Carter invites you to come and have a browse of his stock that’s stored in his specially converted shed at the back of his house. It’s open on most weekends, so plan a visit to delve through the racks of retro LPs. We’re talking everything from classic rock to hip-hop, punk and soul gems.
Shedload of Vinyl, 5 Wells Road, Guiseley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS20 9AE.Cover image copyright The National Gardens Scheme.