Reasons to visit Leeds

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!

The Cuisine

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

Look at each word and choose your definition carefully. You can always go back and change your answer if needed. Good luck!

 

 

 

A Brit in Italy: 5 feste britanniche che probabilmente non hai mai saputo esistessero

Carnevale è appena finito qui a Milano, e le strade piene di coriandoli lo possono attestare. Un’altra vacanza italiana sul calendario che noi britannici non celebriamo. Quindi se non facciamo baldoria prima di iniziare i 40 giorni della quaresima, cosa celebriamo? Ecco qui le nostre 5 scelte per delle feste che potreste non aver mai sentito se non vivete nel Regno Unito.

 

Bonfire Night – La Notte dei Falò

Celebrata ogni anno il 5 novembre, Bonfire Night è una delle più grandi e più popolari celebrazioni nel Regno Unito. La tradizione deriva da un complotto per distruggere il Parlamento nel 1605 per mano di un uomo chiamato Guy Fawkes. Il “Gunpowder Plot” (“Complotto della Polvere da Sparo”) fu pianificato per il 5 novembre poiché quella era la data in cui il Re stava pianificando di aprire ufficialmente il Parlamento. Guy Fawkes e i suoi co-cospiratori piazzarono 36 barili di polvere da sparo sotto il palazzo e pianificarono di farli esplodere una volta arrivato il Re, ma fortunatamente la polizia trovò per prima i barili. Oggi noi celebriamo ciò con grossi falò, e fuochi d’artificio sono sparati lungo tutto il paese per simboleggiare l’esplosione pianificata. Cibo tradizionale viene inoltre consumato alla sera, come le patate arrosto, il parkin (un tipo di torta dolce), mele caramellate e altre molte altre cose appetitose.

Pancake Day

Sebbene il nome ufficiale per questo giorno sia “Shrove Tuesday” (Martedì Grasso), ogni britannico lo conosce come Pancake Day! Così come l’Italia ha il Carnevale per simboleggiare l’inizio della Quaresima, noi festeggiamo con i pancakes. La motivazione dietro a questo giorno è che dovresti usare tutti gli ingredienti dolci presenti nella tua cucina così da non essere tentato di mangiarli per i successivi 40 giorni di Quaresima. Ovviamente, questa regola non è mai veramente seguita, la usiamo solamente come una scusa per ingozzarci di pancakes tutto il giorno! In Inghilterra, i pancakes tradizionali sono davvero sottili (come le crepes) e sono guarniti di zucchero e limone – ma al giorno d’oggi abbiamo la tendenza ad usare molti più condimenti come il cioccolato, il gelato, il caramello, le nocciole, la frutta ecc.

May Day

Questa festa segna l’inizio dell’estate nell’emisfero nord; sebbene tutti sappiamo che l’estate nel Regno Unito non esiste veramente! Il May Day è stato celebrato per oltre 2000 anni e, anche prima di quel tempo, i Romani celebravano il festival di Flora. Ogni anno il 1 maggio, gli studenti bambini si vestono con abiti tradizionali e ballano attorno all’ “albero di Maggio” (vedi sotto). È presente di solito la Morris Dancing (un altro tipo di danza tradizionale che include campane e strani costumi), così come un Re e una Regina del raccolto. Questa tradizione è riservata effettivamente solo ai piccoli bambini, ma in molte città ci sono fiere con cibo, bancarelle, giochi e giostre.

Notting Hill Carnival

Sebbene nel Regno Unito abbiamo molti festival famosi, così come Glastonbury, una delle celebrazioni meno conosciute è la due giorni di carnevale tenuta ad Agosto a Notting Hill, a Londra. L’enorme festa di strada ha avuto luogo ogni anno dal 1966 e ha origini molto complicate. I primi eventi furono in celebrazione della comunità caraibica londinese susseguita a una protesta contro gli scontri razziali di Notting Hill del 1958, e col tempo è poi confluita in una vasta celebrazione della Cultura Nera britannica in genere. I cortei sono ora condotti dalla British West Indian Community, con circa 2.5 milioni di visitatori ogni anno. Ciò significa che il Notting Hill Carnival è una delle celebrazioni in strada più grandi del mondo!

April Fool’s Day

Molti paesi nel mondo hanno la stessa identica ricorrenza, ma le persone solitamente non ne conoscono il nome in inglese. In italiano il nome è “pesce d’aprile”, che racchiude pressappoco lo stesso concetto della celebrazione qui nel Regno Unito. Una tradizione moderna nel Regno Unito è il coinvolgimento dei principali media. A volte i giornali più importanti o le stazioni radio fanno scherzi col pubblico e rivelano solo in un secondo momento lo scherzo nel pomeriggio, visto che molti scherzi finiscono a mezzogiorno. È tradizione urlare “April Fool’s” dopo che si è fatto uno scherzo a qualcuno, e le persone che lo ricevono sono chiamate April Fools (fessi d’Aprile). Una delle teorie più popolari riguardo le origini di questo giorno è The Canterbury Tales di Geoffry Chaucer (1932), ma ci sono molte altre teorie e possibili origini – nessuno sembra riuscire a mettersi d’accordo!

 

5 UK Hidden Gems to Explore

[Italiano qui]

London, London, London. Such a magnificent, vibrant city which attracts tourists from all over the world. But what lies beyond the sprawling capital? Here are some of our favourite hidden gems, scattered across the UK.

1. Mother Shipton’s Cave

In the picturesque town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, lies the oldest paid-entrance attraction in the whole of the UK. It opened way back in 1630.  There are many legends surrounding Mother Shipton herself. She was born in the area, is rumoured to have lived in the cave, and is described as a soothsayer or even sometimes as a witch! She made predictions about the future which at times amazed and at times terrified the locals! There is a petrifying well near the cave, which over time turns objects to stone. You can see shoes, masks and even teddy bears hanging from the well, now petrified forever. It is well worth a visit if you are exploring the north of England.

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2. The Minack Theatre

In the often sunny (compared to the rest of England!) county of Cornwall, a stunning open-air theatre opens up to the public from May to September, looking out across the stunning coastline. The first show, a production of The Tempest, was put on in 1932 and the Minack Theatre has appeared in listings of the worlds most spectacular theatres.  What better way to take in some true English theatre?

 

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/16/Minack_Theatre.jpg/1024px-Minack_Theatre.jpg

 

 

3. Whitby Abbey and Goth Weekend

Whitby Abbey is a striking 7th century monastery which is now in partial ruin. It inspired Bram Stoker to write his universally known 1897 novel Dracula and the seaside town is now home to one of the largest goth festivals in Europe, which contributes over £1,000,000 to the local economy. If you like the spooky side of life or even just want a great place to see very old English architecture and try some of the best fish and chips in the country, drop by on your next visit to the UK!

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4. Kilchurn Castle

What do you think of when you picture Scotland? Characterful castles, clear lakes and breathtaking scenery? Well you will find them all here in Argyll and Bute in western Scotland. The castle itself has a fascinating story, from the people who have passed through its walls to the many challenges the walls themselves have faced, such as being struck by lightning in the 18th century. This is a great place to get away from it all soak in that rich Scottish history and those spectacular sights. 

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5. Blackpool Tower

At the time of completion (1894) the tallest structure in the British Empire, Blackpool tower is well-known to natives but is not a household name abroad. The 158 metres tall structure today comprises a circus, a prestigious ballroom and roof gardens. On the top floor a viewing platform gives incredible views of the sea and the surroundings, and a glass floor for people who aren’t afraid of heights! Blackpool itself is packed with things to do such as its nightlife, theme park, water park, zoo and many slot machines. It is a popular destination for both family holidays and for people seeking a wild party time. If you’d like to experience the little Las Vegas of the UK, be sure to drop by!

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Thank you for reading our collection of hidden gems. Have you ever been to one of these places? Which would you most like to visit? Let us know!