Leeds Travel Guide
Leeds town hall ©
Not very long ago the West Yorkshire city of Leeds was a grim, grey industrial town, which visitors could well describe as the 'dead centre' of England, and not just because of its location. In little more than a decade, however, Leeds has enjoyed an economic boom and its transformation has earned it accolades from all quarters. It is now recognised as one of Europe's most successful cities. Along with this boom has come a tide of tourism, spurred along by a 'UK's favourite city' award from Conde Nast Traveller magazine in 2003.
Leeds currently attracts an average of 1.4 million sleep-over visitors a year, and 18 million more who come on day trips. The reasons they come to Leeds are many and varied, because this is a city with plenty to offer, from its famously wild nightspots to its cultural events, and its abundant shopping to its fascinating collection of museums.
For shopaholics Leeds is pure paradise, its retail areas like the Victoria Quarter, Corn Exchange, Headrow Centre and Leeds Shopping Plaza packed with top-quality, big-name stores. With development ongoing, shopping opportunities are continually getting bigger and better. For culture-vultures, Leeds offers major national and international theatre, dance, opera and music events in a variety of top-class venues, as well as a major art gallery housing an important collection of traditional and contemporary British art.
Among the city's dozens of museums there is the intriguing Thackray, offering a vivid insight into Victorian medical practices; the Amley Mills, housed in an old woollen mill and demonstrating industrial and railway history; and the Royal Armouries, the oldest museum in the UK, containing a fascinating collection of ancient weaponry and torture instruments.
Plenty to do and see means there is never a dull moment in Leeds, and at night the action shifts to the hundreds of pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Some of the live band venues, like The Cockpit, Joseph's Well and The Wardrobe, are internationally renowned. Leeds is also recognised as one of the UK's clubbing capitals.
Sharing access to the nearby international airport is the neighbouring historic Yorkshire city of Bradford, also a vibrant, cosmopolitan city offering plenty to amuse and entertain visitors. Bradford has attractions like the National Media Museum with its Imax cinema, and industrial museum, and a splendid art gallery contained in beautiful Lister Park.
These two complementary Yorkshire cities, with their packed calendars of festivals and events, have become the beating heart of northern England. Visitors to the UK should not pass up the opportunity to visit Leeds, which has been dubbed the 'Knightsbridge of the North'.
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