Outdoor gigs, summer pub crawls or foodie festivals? You’re spoilt for choice this summer, so get that diary filled to make it your best one yet.
Summer is just around the corner, so now’s the time to get yourself prepped. We’ve rounded up 33 things for you to add to your must-do list, from the best spots for a cold summer pint to the biggest events heading to the city, plus epic days out that the whole family can enjoy. They’re best enjoyed while to weather is at its peak, so get to it!
1. Ilkley Lido. It’s not summer if you haven’t slathered on the sun lotion and gone for a swim in the sunshine. Hell, why not picnic and play tennis while you’re there?
2. Roundhay Park. At 700 acres, you’ve some got exploring to do. Tick off Canal Gardens first, then wander around the lakes (both of them), visit the castle folly and circle the gorge. Got kids? Add adventure playgrounds, tennis and Tropical World into the mix.
3. Strawberry Picking. Quintessentially British (and a mighty fine day out) why not visit a local farm and pick your own fruit?
4. Ed Sheerin at Roundhay Park. This summer you can see one of the most popular artists of the last decade perform his record-breaking hits outdoors. Expect all the classics, from ‘A Team’ to ‘Shape of You’.
5. Go Ape. Pelt down zip wires at top speed and reach heights of up to 15 metres as you work your way through this almighty tree-top course. It’s entirely outdoors, so now’s the best time to gather up your mates to give it a go.
6. The Bridge Inn. Take your pint outdoors and settle next to the River Aire this summer. The Bridge Inn is one of Kirkstall’s favourite pubs and boasts a generous set of benches right next to the river, so you can take in those views with an ice-cold pint in hand.
7. The Luna Cinema. Switch up your standard trip to the cinema with a special outdoor screening in Millennium Square. You can see the rom-com classic Pretty Woman, 2018 blockbuster Bohemian Rhapsody and family favourite Mary Poppins Returns on a huge HD screen.
8. The Tiny Tea Room. A little brick shed doubles as a quaint tea room filled with homemade eats on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal in Rodley. But the best part is their picturesque outdoor area, where you can sip your brew and scoff scones in the sun.
9. Epic dance concerts. Live orchestras are breathing new life into massive tunes this summer. You can dance to house classics at The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics, relive the good ol’ days at 80s Classical and see The Urban Soul Orchestra roll back the years at Classic Ibiza.
10. Harewood Soapbox Derby 2019. Grab a spot at Harewood Hillclimb to cheer on a homemade cart race that relies purely on gravity – that means no motors. Past carts have ranged from Thomas the Tank Engine replicas to technically brilliant machines designed by engineering firms.
11. Rooftop bars. There’s no better way to enjoy a cold craft beer than on a rooftop with spectacular views over the city. Belgrave Music Hall and their sister venue Headrow House are a must.
12. Leeds Festival. The Bramham Park shindig has bagged headliners like Foo Fighters, Post Malone and The 1975 for 2019. But that just scratches the surface of what’s on offer across three days, as they’re joined by the likes of Royal Blood, Anderson .Paak and Blossoms.
13. Stockeld Park. If you’ve got kids to entertain, this is the place to go. There are oodles of activities to try out in the sunshine as part of the Summer Adventure, from go karting to roller skating, buccaneer boating and adventure playgrounds.
14. Bank Holiday Boathouse Feast. Head to the city’s favourite waterside bar to enjoy two jam-packed days filled with drool-inducing street food. From seafood snacks to raclette cheese, you will be spoilt for choice. There’s even an Aperol bar and live DJs on all weekend.
15. Otley Run. The students have gone home for the summer, which means the Otley Run is all yours. Take on the epic 16-pub crawl from Headingley into the city centre.
16. Temple Newsam & Home Farm. Another one for the little ones in your life, Temple Newsam is a cracking summer day out. It’s free to explore the grounds, and there’s a lot to see, with plenty of picnic opportunities, but the cherry on the top is the farm. See pigs, goats, sheep and ducks.
17. Kirkstall Abbey food markets. There are three markets coming to the Abbey this summer. You can wander around 40 different stalls filled with local produce and crafts as the 12th-century ruins provide a stunning backdrop.
18. Leeds Waterfront Festival. This summer, the waterfront will come to life with a festival feeling. Enjoy street food, play games and watch the hotly-anticipated annual Dragon Boat Race. You can also expect live music and family pop-up areas for the kids.
19. Eat North. If you haven’t been to the weekly street food market at North Brewing Co. yet, now’s the time to do it. Sit outside in the sun, with your pooch, and treat yourself to the epic combination that is good food and good beer.
21. Drinks at the top of Victoria Gate. Fancy a sophisticated tipple high above the city’s rooftops? Try out New York-style loft bar East 59th or Japanese restaurant Issho with its own bar that promises whisky, sake and cocktails.
22. North Leeds Food Festival. Head to Roundhay Park to devour pad Thai, paella and churros from vendors serving all kinds of global cuisine. Or why not go for a deluxe brownie from the artisan market? They even have a stage with Leeds Cooking School, which will showcase the city’s best chefs.
23. Summer pub walks. There’s simply no better way to spend a sunny day in Leeds than by taking a long, leisurely stroll through the countryside, stopping at a pub or two along the way. Check out our pub walks.
24. Leeds West Indian Carnival. An incredible celebration of West Indian culture since 1967, the carnival will be one of the year’s highlights with a day of music, costumes and street food. Don’t miss it.
25. Water taxi. Take the famous yellow water taxi from Granary Wharf over to Leeds Dock to view the city from a whole new angle, before you stop off at the Royal Armouries. To make the most of the weather, grab a seat out front.
26. Buon Apps. You can feast on delectable Italian fare next to the River Wharfe with a visit to Buon Apps. They have oodles of space to sit outside, plus huge windows indoors that flood the room with sunlight as you tuck into classic pizza and pasta dishes.
27. Cocoon in the Park. For techno and house lovers, the outdoor day festival Cocoon in the Park is a must – especially as this year will be its last. They’ve secured DJs like Sven Väth, Eats Everything and Patrick Topping to bring the big tunes for one final blowout.
28. Get active. The last thing you want to do is stay in on a sunny day, so get out there and embrace your adventurous side. From BMX’ing to water sports and cycling, there are loads of outdoor activities for you to try.
29. Leeds Pride. Join tens of thousands of people in the city centre for a day-to-night celebration of LGBTQ+ culture. Expect flamboyant floats, live music and a cracking set of events to carry you through the night in a city-wide takeover you won’t want to miss out on.
30. Otley Chevin. Whether you’re bouldering, rambling or just taking in the sights at the Surprise View, Otley Chevin is an absolute must.
31. Park Square. This beautiful square is one of the city’s best spots to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Settle down and soak up the colourful flower beds and Georgian architecture, complete with a glimpse of the Town Hall towering in the background.
32. Summer pub crawls. Why settle for one beer garden when you can tick off five of them, all in one go? We’ve got three for you to try – see if you can do them all by the end of the summer.
33. City Beach. Leeds may be inland, but you can still enjoy the seaside, thanks to this pop-up beach. It’s back at Victoria Gardens from Saturday 10th August to Sunday 1st September 2019.Cover image credit: Proud Fox Creative