If you’re wondering what to do in Leeds, start with the Royal Armouries, a museum housing Britain’s national collection of arms and armour. It has an astonishing collection ranging across the centuries from swords to Indian elephant armour, and even full-body armour specially made for Henry VIII. There are lots of interactive exhibits for kids, and architecture buffs will appreciate the Derek Walker-designed building itself.
The Art Gallery is one of the top things to see in Leeds, and underwent a major restoration in 2017. Home to a stunning permanent collection of English heavyweight painters (Constable, Armitage and Turner, just to name a few), it also includes contemporary work by Frances Bacon and Antony Gormley. Temporary exhibits are strong too: recent years have seen shows by Damien Hirst and David Hockney. Insider tip: during the renovations, workers discovered an original Victorian arched glass roof – be sure to look up while you’re there.
Many of the most interesting attractions in Leeds are housed in repurposed buildings, like Left Bank. This Grade II-listed church in Hyde Park has a glittering calendar of art events and festivals that are open to the public. The space hosts live music gigs and beer-lovers’ gatherings, film screenings, and history panels, yoga classes and knitting circles, all under the high ceiling of what was once St Margaret’s Church. Free events abound, including afternoon teas and co-working spaces. Just check to see what’s on during your visit.