West Yorkshire is packed with wonderful things to see, do and experience. How many can you tick off before you hit 25?
There are some things in life you need to do when you’re young, free and maybe even single. West Yorkshire is full of fabulous stuff to conquer before that quarter-century mark comes up. Can you see off all of them before your friends? From phenomenal festivals and pub crawls through to cracking culture and swinging from trees, here’s everything you need to tick off.
Meet the sheep at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
An open-air gallery showcasing modern and contemporary sculpture from near and far, Yorkshire Sculpture Park sits in the stunning West Yorkshire countryside. Installations include work by the region’s own Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. In fact, it’s home to one of the largest displays of Moore’s bronzes and is the only place to see Hepworth’s The Family of Man. But it’s not just home to art, oh no, this spectacular venue is also home to a flock of sheep who are no stranger to visitors. Sound good? Bang it on your list.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4LG.
Experience splendour at The Piece Hall
It’s always good when a place ticks more than one box, and Halifax’s Piece Hall has more ticks than you’ve got boxes. For starters, this handsome 1779 building is a real looker, a staggering piece of architecture worth the visit alone. Step inside and the place drips with history, while also being full of ace spots to eat, drink and be merry. Get into gin and cakes, dine at The Trading Rooms or check out the year-round calendar of events, including huge A-list concerts from the likes of New Order and Nile Rodgers.
The Piece Hall, Blackledge, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1RE.
Walk on the wild side at Tropical World
Roundhay Park isn’t just for the under-25s, it’s for life. But one place you do need to head to while you still have all your hair is Tropical World, one of the highlights of the park. You can visit at any time of year as it’s all indoors, and once you’re in you’ll be delighted by the species you’ll meet. Meerkats rear up and peer at you, while their adorable monkeys and rare, vividly coloured poisonous frogs gaze out at your from their cosy sanctuaries. Step into the Butterfly House and try to spot as many species as you can.
Tropical World, Princes Avenue, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2ER.
Live it up at Leeds Pride
What better way to show your affinity for West Yorkshire and the diversity within it than by making a weekend of it at Leeds Pride? It gets bigger and better every summer, with tens of thousands of people descending on the city, dressed to impress in a rainbow of colours. The Sunday afternoon parade is the main event, but there’s also live music and street parties. Mainstays of Leeds LGBQT+ culture like Viaduct Showbar, Queens Court and Blayd’s Bar come alive with round-the-clock Pride parties.
Leeds Pride starts at Millennium Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3AD.
Scale the wall at The Depot
Got a head for heights? Want to put it to the test? The Depot is one of the best climbing centres in West Yorkshire. It’s a fun and challenging day out whether you’re flying solo or plan on doing it with a bunch of mates. The walls here range in difficulty, starting out with easy climbs ideal for an induction and going all the way up to expert ascents. You can do bouldering too, and while the emphasis is very much on safety, it’s still a good way to challenge your pals to a race – who can get to the top fastest?
The Depot, 173 Richardshaw Lane, Stanningley, Pudsey, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 6AA.
See a spectacular show at The Alhambra
The Alhambra is one of the jewels in the Bradford – and West Yorkshire – crown. It’s long-since been regarded as one of the North’s premier receiving venues and hosts some of the best in entertainment, from international dance performances to star-studded musicals, famous plays and Yorkshire’s biggest panto. Its stage has seen everything from the golden age of variety to the glitzy productions of today, including West End shows like The Lion King, Wicked and Billy Elliot. It’s another underrated gem you’ll want to pay a visit.
The Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1AJ.
Find a view to a thrill at Otley Chevin
Take yourself off to Otley Chevin for one of the best walks in West Yorkshire, topped off with views you won’t forget. There are several different ways to get to the top – some take you past cafes and pubs, others through unspoiled woodland. Hunt out the carvings, hail fellow hikers and, once at the top, bask in the Surprise View itself. From here you can see as far as Almscliffe Crag, so pause to take in the vistas and the wonderfully fresh air. If you need a rest before you descend, The Royalty offers great beer and pub food.
Otley Chevin Forest Park, Yorkgate Road, Otley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS21 3DG.
Step into the past at Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall Abbey might not be going anywhere – it has stood here in one form or another since 1152 – but it’s still something you should see as soon as possible. Whether you’re a history buff, fancy one of the regular events or just want to picnic in the shadow of an ancient abbey, it’s a definite highlight. It has been in ruins since King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, but remains a place full of stories and atmosphere. Stroll by the river, visit the old gatehouse and keep an eye out for film screenings and immersive events.
Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.
Mull over modern art at The Hepworth
You’re never too young or too old to appreciate modern art, and The Hepworth in Wakefield is home to a fabulous collection. The building itself is a thing of wonder – a striking contemporary edifice sat next to the canal and reflected on the water. Named after Wakefield-born artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth, the gallery houses several of her own pieces, along with various other exhibitions. Drop in to see work from Martin Parr, Henry Moore and L.S. Lowry. Gorgeous gardens also make it a place you need to put on your list.
The Hepworth, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW.
Step behind the screen at the Science & Media Museum
The National Science & Media Museum is far from a dry affair. Open since 1983, it has constantly reinvented itself, not resting on the laurels of having the first IMAX screen in Europe. Today you can explore the interactive Wonderlab, as well as delve into a collection that boasts more than three million items. This includes the first photographic negative in the world, movies made in Leeds in 1888 and lots of early BBC memorabilia. Not just a trip down memory lane, it also shows how media, sound and imagery impact us today.
National Science and Media Museum, Little Horton Lane, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ.
Pace yourself on The Otley Run
The Otley Run isn’t just for students. This peerless pub crawl has to be done by absolutely everyone at least once, and it’s highly recommended that you do it while your powers of recovery are at their peak. 15 pubs, a drink in each (we’d recommend a half) and all the fancy dress glory you can muster – it’s that simple. Starting at Woodies Craft Ale House, you’ll make your way down Otley Road to the Dry Dock, taking in pubs, bars and surrounded by fellow Otley Runners. Note: does not actually count as cardio exercise.
The Otley Run starts at Woodies Craft Ale House, 107 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 5JG.
It’s a slippery slope at Snozone
We don’t get much of a winter wonderland in West Yorkshire, so instead of praying for snow, head somewhere where it’s guaranteed all year round – Snozone. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy skiing and snowboarding on real snow without trekking abroad. Their slopes are perfect for both absolute beginners and more experienced skiers who are ready to freestyle. You can book lessons to learn the basics – including private ones – and they’ll provide all the equipment you need at no extra cost. It’s all downhill from there.
Snozone, Colorado Way, Glasshoughton, Castleford, West Yorkshire, WF10 4TA.
Enjoy a fling with axe throwing at TimberJacks
Want to go axe throwing? We thought you’d never axe! This is your chance to channel your inner lumberjack by lobbing sharpened axes in search of a bullseye. At TimberJacks, you’ll be guided by instructors who’ll run you through the basics, making sure you’re safe before schooling you in the best techniques of grip and swing. It’s an amazing thing to do with friends, challenging them to the standard 15-foot throw before you take on the apple challenge – the perfect way to bury the hatchet. Checked shirts are entirely optional.
TimberJacks, Unit H, Flexspace, Burley Hill Trading Estate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2PU.
Take to the water at Yeadon Tarn
Yeadon Tarn is a lovely place for a chilled stroll around the water, there’s also a BMX track, bowls and playground to keep you busy, but Leeds Sailing & Activity Centre is the highlight. It’s the place to go if you’re itching to give water sports a go – you can try your hand at dinghy sailing, windsurfing, powerboating, canoeing, rowing, rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Qualified instructors will help you if you’re just starting out, meaning you can safely tick another thing off your list before you’re 25.
Yeadon Tarn, Yeadon, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 7UR. Contact Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre on 0113 378 1271.
Grab your joystick at Arcade Club
Even if you’ve got every games console going, a visit to Arcade Club should be high on your agenda. Grab some friends, pay the entrance fee and you’ll be able to play all day long without the need for coins. It’s a wonderful mix of vintage 80s and 90s games, classic pinball machines and more contemporary challenges like VR and the latest eSports effort. Challenge your pals at Outrun, Street Fighter and Point Blank, or go solo on original Star Wars and Space Invaders cabinets. Throw in beer and hot dogs for the perfect day out.
Arcade Club, Unit 3, Abbey Retail Park, Savins Mill Way, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3RP.
Chow down at Chow Down
This al fresco food festival didn’t take long to establish itself as a fixture in Leeds life. It’s a beautifully simple concept – a bunch of food vans that change regularly, a roster of DJs and live shows, washed down with beer and cocktails, all outdoors. It’s transformed Temple Arches from a piece of derelict ground into a place you need to visit with your other half or friends. You might be feasting on falafel or poutine, dirty burgers or superior ice cream, with music ranging from chill-out to stuff that will get you out of your seat.
Chow Down, Temple Arches, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5QG.
Let the music move you at Mint Festival
Mint Festival is now an established magnet for dance music fans from across the country, and has gone from strength to strength since it found a permanent home at Newsam Green Farm. For over 10 years, it has attracted the cream of the crop in terms of artists and DJs from genres including EDM, house and drum ’n’ bass. Grab a ticket and you can make the most of the wonderful setting, with orchards and forests lit up by a giant neon party overlooking Leeds. Multiple stages and lavish sets make this a day to remember.
Mint Festival takes place at Newsam Green Farm, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 5AD.
Turn into Tarzan at Go Ape
Whether you want to conquer a fear of heights or just fancy some treetop fun, Go Ape Adventure Park is a pretty unique experience in West Yorkshire. It’s squirrelled away in Temple Newsam’s Menagerie Woods, and you may well encounter some of those nut-smugglers as you take on this thrilling but safe obstacle course. You’ll cross rope bridges, swing from trees and speed along zip wires. Real adrenaline junkies will love the Treetop Challenge with its 17-metre-high platforms and 13-metre plummet.
Go Ape Temple Newsam, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE.
Make a splash at Ilkley Lido
One of the most picturesque outdoor swimming spots not just in West Yorkshire but in the whole of the UK, Ilkley Lido is definitely somewhere you need to dip into. If the weather is good, get your cozzy on and plunge into the 45-metre outdoor pool, surrounded by manicured gardens, with the gorgeous Moors in the distance. If it rains, worry not, you can enjoy the 25-metre indoor pool. There’s a cafe and sun terrace at this Grade II-listed lido, while you can make the most of the summer by hiring tennis courts, a putting green and even playing bowls.
Ilkley Pool and Lido, Denton Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 0BZ.
Enter the virtual world at VR-Immersion
What’s great about VR-Immersion is that it works whether you’re solo or with friends. The advanced VR headsets and experiences at Black Dyke Mills mean you can have an unforgettable day out on your own, or share your adventure with your chums. You’ll don HTC Vive headsets and be given a quick induction into how to use them before you’re left to your own devices. After that, you can choose from a range of games suitable for both beginners and experts, whether you want to box, survive in a haunted house or go climbing.
VR-Immersion, Black Dyke Mills, Unit 22 Sf, Brighouse Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD13 1QA.
Celebrate at West Indian Carnival
If you haven’t experienced Leeds West Indian Carnival before, now is the time. This has been a vital and vibrant part of the region’s culture for over half a century, celebrating the heritage, dance and food of the large West Indian population in Leeds. You can follow the parade with its colourful costumes and imaginative floats as it winds its way through the streets, or just drop by Potternewton Park for music, noise and celebration. It’s also the ideal time to try some fabulous food – curry goat, jerk chicken and dumplings are a must.
Leeds West Indian Carnival, Potternewton Park, Harehills Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 4HA.
Join the mosh pit at Slam Dunk Festival
Slam Dunk Festival is another essential annual event to get under your belt before you’re 25. First held in Millennium Square in 2006 after being born from a club night in Leeds, it has grown year-on-year and now sets out its stall at Temple Newsam (as well as having a sister festival in Hatfield). The biggest independent rock festival in the UK, it takes place over one day and numerous stages and is the home of metal, punk, emo and ska. Past performers have included legends such as Fall Out Boy, Enter Shikari, Good Charlotte and NOFX.
Slam Dunk Festival takes place at Temple Newsam, Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0AE.
Find fashion that never dates at Judy’s Vintage Fair
Vintage style never goes out of fashion, and a rummage through the racks at Judy’s Vintage Fair is like a lucky dip of classic looks. It was spawned at Leeds University Union in 2005 and has grown into the more permanent Shop Kilo, with a packed calendar of events around Leeds. They include the ever-popular Kilo Sale, where you can pick up pre-loved clothes for £15 per kilo, as well as a furniture flea and a winter market. It’s a way to shop sustainably, giving timeless clothing a new home and saving it from going to landfill.