A lot of people have heard of the famous British cities. Aside from London; Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh are always high on tourist agendas for people visiting the British Isles. But the city where I come from, Leeds, is roughly the same size as Edinburgh and geographically very close to Liverpool and Manchester. Nevertheless, it is barely mentioned in the guidebooks for the UK. In fact, as this article will show you, Leeds is one of the hidden gems of England and here are some of the main reasons why…
Thornton’s Arcade, Leeds
The Corn Exchange, Leeds (A place farmers used to come to trade corn, is now a bustling hub of artisanal shops)
The friendly folk
Leeds is the 4th biggest city in England and situated in the county of Yorkshire, or West Yorkshire to be precise. In fact there are many people from around the world living in Leeds and the surrounding area and over 2 million people live in the metropolitan area. The city has a long history of immigration from the Caribbean as well as India and Pakistan. More recently the city has welcomed more newcomers from the EU and students from across the globe, thanks to the two outstanding universities, Leeds University and Leeds Beckett.
In general, in Leeds there is a fantastic mix of cultures and there is a great feeling of community. Next to the Jamaican jerk chicken place you can find a fantastic south Indian curry house, and next door to those is probably a traditional old pub. There is a great blend of different folk who live together in peace and are very accepting of each other’s differences. People always want to help each other and at the end of the day just have a laugh. This is helped massively by the famous friendliness of Leeds and Yorkshire folk, and if you’re ever waiting for a bus in the city of Leeds, you can be sure someone will strike up a conversation with you, usually about the weather!
English food sometimes gets a bad reputation for being bland, especially compared to the fabulous flavours of other world cuisines. But recently a food revolution has taken place in the UK and Leeds is at the front and centre of this. Here you can find a plethora of amazing restaurants with cuisines from all across the world, with many first generation immigrants setting up shop here.
As I mentioned already, the different cultures and backgrounds of the people of Leeds make it a wonderfully diverse place and the food is no different. A stroll around the city centre will help you discover fantastic fresh sushi, spicy Thai dishes, delicious American barbeque and burgers, real Italian pizza and, of course, the traditional Yorkshire staples. Our most famous export is no doubt the Yorkshire Pudding. It is a light and fluffy savoury side dish made from crepe batter. Put these along with some lovely British beef, roasted potatoes and gravy and you have the wonderful Sunday Roast. In Leeds Kirkgate Market you can now find Yorkshire wraps, which are wraps made with Yorkshire Pudding and all the trimmings inside. Yummy!
Yorkshire puddings (centre at the top) and all the trimmings
The Bars and Music Scene
One of the best things about the UK is that we know how to party. Our world famous bands and artists have captured the attention of the entire planet for generations and these days festivals like Glastonbury are still the highlight of any music-lover’s calendar. Now, Leeds does not have many famous artists that come from the city, but we make up for this by our cultural offering.
Leeds is home to countless fabulous bars that serve outstanding local craft beer and whip up delicious cocktails. Not only this, most of the bars always know how to play it with the music, and you can be sure that during an evening in Leeds you will hear some great tunes to get you clicking your fingers or (later on) up on the dancefloor. For the real party people there are always some great DJs from across the world in town for the weekend, which you can catch at one of the many nightclubs, some of which offer music and dancing until well past 4am. Outside of this there is the yearly Leeds Festival, which has hosted the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead and Metallica. If you’re a real culture vulture then you’ll be happy to know the city has a rich West Indian heritage and every week there is the chance to get down to some reggae, dub and ska music, played through world class homemade sound systems.
The Yorkshire Dales
Now technically I’m not talking about Leeds itself here, but definitely a reason to visit the city is that it is a great base to travel out into the surrounding Yorkshire countryside. As mentioned, Leeds is situated in the heart of West Yorkshire and Yorkshire is the largest county in England. Commonly nicknamed ‘God’s own county’, Yorkshire is simply beautiful.
Rolling hills fall into each other amid beautiful lush valleys, divided by quaint little stone walls into separate squares (or dales). Many people have seen the quintessential postcards of the English countryside and usually, the photographs are taken in the Yorkshire Dales. Charming old villages are the gateways to outstanding circular walks that take in waterfalls, old viaducts and stunning views from the top of the many hills. At Malham Cove you can find a huge limestone gorge with breath-taking views from the top and on a fresh sunny day in the summer there is no better place to be than walking and picnicking in the Yorkshire countryside. After your walk, stop by at the local pub in the village to relax the muscles with a pint of the local bitter ale or tuck into a hearty pie. There really is no place as peaceful and beautiful as the Yorkshire countryside.
So there are some excellent reasons to visit Leeds! Now try the quiz below to test your knowledge of the words in bold.
Reasons to visit Leeds Quiz
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