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Party Until the Sun Goes Down at the Leeds Waterfront Festival

· James Tweddle · Culture

This year’s Leeds Waterfront Festival has something for everyone.

Leeds Waterfront Festival

Back for another year of food and fun by the waterfront, Leeds Waterfront Festival is ready and raring to go…

If you thought last year’s Leeds Waterfront Festival was action-packed, just wait until you see the incredible line-up for 2018’s extravaganza. Now in its 11th year, the last weekend in June brings together the very best family-friendly entertainment the city has to offer, from a 20-foot climbing wall to dragon boat races, live music and street food competitions.

With this year’s theme of ‘life’s better by water’, the Leeds Waterfront Festival will transform riverside locations across the city on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June 2018. From Granary Wharf and Brewery Wharf, all the way along to Leeds Dock and Royal Armouries, you’ll find four locations jam-packed with things to do for all ages.

Waterfront Festival

Pressed for time? There are a few standout events that you simply can’t miss. To welcome the Desmond Family Canoe Trail to Leeds, Granary Wharf is letting you try out canoeing, kayaking and even paddle-boarding all day long. If taking to the water isn’t your thing, have a go at the nearby fishing sessions or test your agility on the 20-foot climbing wall from West Leeds Activity Centre.

The activities at Granary Wharf aren’t finished there, though. Their stuffed programme also includes heritage boat displays, martial arts workshops and even the chance to help build a boat – all while you enjoy scrumptious food from The Lock at Hilton’s canal-side BBQ. Once you’ve had your fill, hop aboard one of the boats running between Granary Wharf and Leeds Dock to check out what’s happening on the other side of town.

If you want to try all the delicious grub Leeds Waterfront Festival has to offer, get down to Leeds Dock. Saturday  and Sunday promise the Northern Heats of the British Street Food Award, so you know it’ll be great grub. Come and support Leeds finalists Steak Out, with 28-day aged beef from Sykes House Farm layered onto a toasted brioche roll, or Manjit’s, the Queen of chaat from Kirkgate Market with rice and lentil croquettes, dhals and sliders galore. Don’t forget homegrown heroes Pizza Loco, Dilla Deli, The Baking Biker, Little Bao Boy, Wagyu Lookin’ At and Mr D’s Magnificent Pie Machine all in the running and ready to try too. A public vote will run across the weekend, with the Northern Heat winners announced at 5pm on Sunday – who head to the London National Finals in September.

street food

Credit: British Street Food Photography

Once you’ve finished with a massive feed, you can stick around at Leeds Dock for the dragon boat races, Leeds’ strongest human competition or the adorable ‘close to the bone’ dog show. But if you’ve got little ones to entertain, take the short hop round the Dock to Royal Armouries for a massive range of children’s activites.

The theme at Royal Armouries is pirates, but what else did you expect from a Waterfront Festival? Families can start the day in the museum learning about villainous pirate captain Blackbeard, before heading to the dockside amphitheatre to experience life on the waves, pirate battles and a real life demonstration of the cannons and firearms pirates would have used. If your kids aren’t giddy with excitement by that point, we’ll be amazed!

Waterfront Festival

Brewery Wharf is weighing in on the Leeds Waterfront Festival activities too, and if you want live entertainment on the Saturday – it’s the only place to be. Resident DJs The Sounds of Summer will kick things off at 12pm to get you warmed up, before belting out your best tune at their karaoke competition. If you’re still in the mood to party, The Rebel Sounds will keep your energy up with the best of party and club classics, before Brewery Wharf explodes into life at 5pm with a Latin extravaganza. Brazilian DJ Fabio Bahia is on-hand to pump out the fiesta vibes, accompanied by authentic Brazilian samba dancers and even capoeira performers.

There’s a ton of events we haven’t even touched on yet, from local musicians to a live performance of Treasure Island, but you’ll have to get down to the Leeds Waterfront Festival to experience it all.

Leeds Waterfront Festival takes place across Leeds’ waterways on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June 2018.

Feature image credit: Raj Passy.