Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

14 Things to Do in Leeds Instead of Drinking

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

From climbing walls to life drawing, give one of these booze-free activities a try.

Arcade Club

Giving up the booze for Dry January? Then you’ll need to replace your nights out on the town with something very different indeed – and we’ve got just the thing.

If you’re looking for fun things to do that don’t involve drinking the bar dry, Leeds is awash with activities that certainly fit the bill. You could go on a ghost hunt in one of the city’s most haunted buildings, enjoy an evening of internationally acclaimed theatre or even try your hand at belly dancing. There’s no need to drink to have a great night out.

Whiz round a roller rink with Roller Girl Gang

Roller Girl Gang

Credit: John Steel Photography

Roller Girl Gang run a Friday Free Choice skate session every week at Old Cockburn Sports Hall, and you’re invited. Strap on your skates (they have them available to hire), then head onto the floor and give it a whirl. It’s a relaxed event and everyone is welcome, from beginners to pros. Bring your mates, try out some tricks and have a slalom race through the cones. You can even request music if you want to show off your roller disco moves.

Old Cockburn Sports Hall, Primrose Lane. Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5EW.

Make the most of the social space at The Climbing Lab

The Climbing Lab, Leeds

Credit: Sarae Akhamal

Why not take advantage of the opportunity to take up a new hobby? You can try your hand at bouldering at The Climbing Lab. Not only is it one of the best centres in Leeds, with a custom-built top-out boulder that lets you climb up and over the wall, but they offer free coaching on Tuesday nights to help you get into the swing of things. Alternatively, you can sign up to their introduction classes and learn how to climb on your own or with your friends. Afterwards, head to their relaxed social space and enjoy a cup of Maude Coffee.

The Climbing Lab, Kirkstall Industrial Park, Milford Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2AZ.

Get stuck into arts and crafts at Workshop Sewing Cafe

Workshop Sewing

Workshop Sewing Cafe run a Crafty Social Evening every other Thursday from 5pm to 8pm. It’s a casual event, so you can drop in with your latest project and stitch, knit or crochet to your heart’s content. The cafe will be open for you to enjoy a cuppa and have a natter with other local crafters. But if you’re after a more structured session, book onto one of their workshops, where you can try your hand at everything from felt landscapes to lino cutting.

Workshop Sewing Cafe, 24 Otley Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AD.

Cook up a storm at Leeds Cookery School

Leeds Cookery School

Whether you’re a complete novice in the kitchen or an experienced pro, it’s never too late to learn something new – and you won’t find a more welcoming place to do it than Leeds Cookery School. Based at the Old Fire Station in Gipton, Head Chef Simon Chappelow and his team will get you slicing and dicing with locally sourced produce to create everything from Thai food to fresh bread and pasta from scratch. And because it’s a charity, you’ll be doing good while you learn.

Leeds Cookery School, The Old Fire Station, Gipton Approach, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 6NL.

Escape the room before the clock hits zero

Escape Hunt

Credit: Coker Designs

Ready to test your wits and escape from a locked room before the time runs out? That’s what you’ll get at Escape Hunt, with three mind-bending rooms, all with their own unique theme. Try to stop the missiles being launched in the WWII-themed Our Finest Hour, embark on an epic quest in The Fourth Samurai, or sail the dangerous high seas to find Blackbeard’s Treasure, the choice is yours. You can tackle them alone or with friends, just make sure you get out in time…

Escape Hunt, The Light, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8TL.

Learn to belly dance at Dance Studio Leeds

Dance Studio Leeds Belly Dance

You can learn to shimmy and shake just like Shakira at The Dance Studio Leeds. They run beginners belly dancing classes every Monday evening so you can master this beautiful Middle Eastern art in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Kitted out with an authentic coined scarf, you’ll go through the basic steps like belly rolls and hip lifts first before you pick up more complex moves. If belly dancing isn’t for you, there’s an array of dance classes on offer here too, from salsa to pole fitness.

The Dance Studio Leeds, Mill 6, Mabgate Mills, Macaulay Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7SW.

Treat your sweet tooth with dessert

Fusion Gelato

You don’t need to go to the pub to meet up with friends, Leeds is home to some cracking dessert venues if you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth. You can tuck into all manner of ice cream flavours, from your standard mint choc chip to more extravagant creations like hazelnut with tonka bean. Not a fan of ice cream? No problem – treat yourself to the likes of waffles, crepes, cookie dough, milkshakes and cakes, while having a natter with your pals.

Check out Leeds’ ice cream parlours and dessert shops

Bounce the night away at Jump Arena

Jump Arena Leeds

You can flip, bounce and tumble your way across a series of huge interconnected trampolines at Jump Arena. It’s essentially a super-springy adventure playground for adults and kids alike. You’ll have a ball as you bounce around, dive into gigantic foam pits and play epic games of dodgeball. On Friday evenings, it’s party night so the tunes will be cranked up high as you bounce and boogie at the same time.

Jump Arena, Redcote Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS24 2AL.

Explore your culinary horizons at Trinity Kitchen

Trinity Kitchen

Replace booze with street food at Trinity Kitchen. Tucked away at the top of the shopping centre, this haven of delicious grub offers six permanent vendors, serving everything from phố to burritos, ribs and chicken & waffles. But the real magic comes from their pop-up vendors who are lifted into the venue every eight weeks giving you even more delicious choice.

Trinity Kitchen, Trinity Leeds, 27 Albion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5ER.

Get your game on at Geek Retreat

Geek Retreat

Credit: Kate Dunstone

Who needs a pint when you’ve got Leeds’ finest social gaming space to play in? Geek Retreat is a home away from home for anyone that loves to get their game on, whether it’s board games, role-playing activities, collectable card games or even old-school arcade cabinets. You can even settle in with a graphic novel and one of their mammoth ice cream milkshakes for a comfy evening in town.

Geek Retreat, Central Arcade, Central Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DE.

Seek out spectres in a haunted wool mill

Ghost hunting in Leeds

Armley Mills is a historic wool mill that dates all the way back to 1788 and it’s awash with paranormal activity. On a ghost hunt, you can track down the spectres that are rumoured to reside here with the help of a poltergeist expert. They’ll take you into the building after dark and teach you how to make contact with the restless spirits using seances and EMF metres. It’s an exhilarating evening that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping and bones shaking.

Haunted Happenings and Most Haunted Experience host Ghost Hunts at Armley Mills throughout the year.

Treat yourself to a rip-roaring show

Wizard of Oz

Credit: The Other Richard

We’re lucky to have a ton of sublime theatres in Leeds, where you can enjoy a calendar of amazing shows, from tear-jerking dramas to side-splitting comedies and toe-tapping musicals. There’s the latest Broadway blockbusters at Leeds Grand, family-friendly shows at Carriageworks Theatre, cultural gems at Leeds Playhouse and a little bit of everything at Leeds City Varieties. So if you want to soak up some culture, get along to a show and see what the fuss is about.

Find out what’s on in the city’s theatres this month…

Enjoy a film and a slice of history at Hyde Park Picture House

Hyde Park Picture House

Hyde Park Picture House is one of Leeds’ most treasured landmarks, and for good reason. This legendary Grade II-listed cinema has been standing for over 100 years, and you can still catch all the latest blockbusters and arthouse flicks here surrounded by vintage furnishings, from the building’s Edwardian plasterwork to the iconic gas lights and analogue film display.

Hyde Park Picture House, 73 Brudenell Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1JD.

Game to your heart’s content at Arcade Club

Arcade Club

You can get stuck into an evening of retro gaming at Arcade Club. It’s a cool venue complete with neon lighting and consoles covering every inch. Pay the £16 entry fee, then you can go wild on any of their vintage machines for as long as you’re there. You’ll find 250 games spread over 3 floors, so whether you’re a Pac Man fan or a Donkey Kong fiend, you are covered. They even have a 1972 version of Pong and classic pin ball machines.

Arcade Club, Unit 3, Abbey Retail Park, Savins Mill Way, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3RP.