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Leeds Hall

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Leeds travel guide

While quaint and historic York up the road gets more attention from tourists, Leeds is easily Yorkshire’s economic and cultural superior.

Much of Leeds’ transformation over the last couple of decades has to do with its growth as a high street hub. It was the first northern outpost of upmarket department store Harvey Nichols, earning it the nickname ‘Knightsbridge of the North’. Then Trinity Leeds opened in 2013, covering three floors and offering over 100 stores, while the elegant domed Corn Exchange and the glass-fronted Victoria Arcade still offer endless appeal to shoppers.

Today’s Leeds is Yorkshire’s capital of nightlife, boasting dozens of cool bars and clubs. You’ll find sophisticated drinking holes alongside traditional pubs and student haunts – the city’s university is one of the country’s biggest.

Then there’s the music, with plenty of gig and concert venues, including the striking, fan-shaped Leeds Arena, which opened in 2013. There’s Leeds Festival for lovers of guitar music, and free events such as Opera in the Park and Classical Fantasia have made their names here.

As for Leeds’ modern and exciting dining scene, there’s a swathe of award-winning restaurants serving up classic British and Yorkshire cuisine, as well as Indian, Pakistani, Thai and more. The gastronomic renaissance is celebrated with an annual food and drinks festival.

Beyond the nightlife, there are many museums to explore including the Henry Moore Institute and Armley Mills, one of the world’s largest woollen mills. There are also lots of quirky tours such as the walk through the archives of Marks and Spencer, which sprang from a penny bazaar in the city over a century ago, or the owl trail spanning 25 locations in the city centre and inspired by the birds that feature on Leeds’ coat of arms.

Despite its urban appeal, Leeds is also a green city, with sprawling Roundhay Park, Harewood House’s formal gardens and the woods of Temple Newsam. And don’t forget to visit the gorgeous ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian monastery.

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