12 Unusual Things to Do in Leeds

Hot Air Ballooning over Leeds and West Yorkshire
Hot Air Ballooning over Leeds and West Yorkshire | © Chris Mole/Shutterstock
Emma Lavelle

Are you bored of the usual activities in and around Leeds? Sick of sightseeing? Fed up with trawling the shops? Tired of wandering around art galleries? Here are a few more unusual suggestions for activities to fill your days and nights if you’re based in Leeds.

Loved by over 40s

Watch pay-what-you-like theatre

The Holbeck Underground Ballroom is a unique performance space nestled in one of the grimier areas of town. Based beneath the railway arches and offering free coffee and beer so cheap it might as well be on the house, this space is known for its eccentric and cutting-edge theatre. All shows operate on a pay-what-you-want basis, allowing those on low incomes to soak up a bit of culture without worrying about the usual extortionate costs.

Holbeck Underground Ballroom, 67-71 Bath Rd, Leeds

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Drink a beer surrounded by plants


Drink a beer surrounded by plants

Popular indie craft beer store, Tall Boys is a Leeds institution for beer lovers – but did you know that there’s a secret area upstairs where you can sit and enjoy your purchases? This hidden hipster mecca is only tiny, curated by The Plant Room to showcase themed prints from local artists, a living wall and of course, plenty of plants. Enjoy the views of the beautiful Thornton Arcade out of the window, sip your beer and keep an eye on the programme of regular events hosted in the space.

Tall Boys, 17 Thornton Arcade, Leeds +44 113 391 2525

Learn about coffee

Head to North Star micro-roasters and book a place on their Coffee Academy workshops to learn a little more about your favourite drink. The experiences are tailored towards both personal and professional interests, offering courses in home brewing, sensory skills and barista training. Buy a pack of their beans, update your home coffee making kit and discover how to create the perfect cup of coffee in your own home.

North Star, Unit 33, The Boulevard, Leeds Dock, Leeds +44 7725 144211

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Take a Leap of Faith

Take a Leap of Faith

West Leeds Activity Centre is great for anyone who loves physical activities or likes to be outdoors. By far the most adventurous activity you can get involved with while you’re there (if climbing and sumo wrestling are too tame for you) is attempting the Leap of Faith. Exactly what it sounds like, this involves jumping from a great height and relying on the wires that are holding you up. The initial climb up a 20 foot pole is enough to turn stomachs so make sure you’re committed to the jump before signing up.

West Leeds Activity Centre, Lenhurst Ave, Leeds +44 113 336 7414

Meet penguins

Meet penguins

Head over to Harewood House to get up close and personal with an animal that you wouldn’t expect to find in Leeds. The experience involves meeting their friendly flock of Humboldt penguins and helping the zookeepers feed them with their favourite fish. It doesn’t come cheap, but who would turn down the chance to meet these beguiling animals?

Harewood House, Harewood Estate Office, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds +44 113 218 1010

Take a hot air balloon ride

See Leeds from a completely different perspective by taking a hot air balloon flight during either sunrise or sunset over the city. Taking flight from Temple Newsam, the balloon takes you soaring over both the city and the surrounding countryside, offering unrivaled views while enjoying a refreshing glass of champagne.

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Learn to forage

Local forager, Craig Worrall runs regular foraging walks with Edible Leeds, helping to teach others how to identify edible food growing in the wild. The walks serve as an introduction to wild food, pointing out poisonous specimens that can easily be mistaken for delicious delicacies. Following the walk, Craig demonstrates how to cook using your finds, allowing everyone to take notes and sample the finished dish.

Scare yourself silly

There’s plenty of reportedly haunted buildings in and around Leeds, including Temple Newsam, Armley Mills and Leeds Dispensary. Simply Ghost Nights run exhilarating events at these spooky locations after hours, allowing thrill-seekers to wander around the deserted buildings in search of eerie goings-on, or even to spend the night if they dare.

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Learn how to make the perfect cup of tea

Learn how to make the perfect cup of tea

If you prefer tea to coffee, you’ll love this informative tasting session at Le Chalet tea rooms. Offering a wide variety of different teas to choose from, the expert brewers demonstrate how to make the perfect cup of tea including little known facts and interesting anecdotes.

Le Chalet, 31-32 Park Row, Leeds +44 113 243 0576

Make your own chocolate bar

Bar, Bakery, Dessert, Pastries, British

Chocoholics will love the indulgent activities at Roast & Conch’s chocolate lab. While sipping a glass of Prosecco, guests can watch the chocolatiers hard at work and learn about the history and nuances of chocolate. When you’re up to scratch on what makes the perfect chocolate bar, you are then unleashed to make your own chocolate creations.

Partake in petanque

If the sun is shining, why not pretend you’re in France and head down to Bond Court to enjoy a delightful game of petanque? This outdoor court is free to use and is surrounded by seating if you’d rather sit and watch the experts play. If you’re unsure of the rules, a helpful noticeboard is there to clue you in (hint: it’s very similar to boules).

Learn to belly dance

Learn to belly dance

Ballet and ballroom dancing are both too cliché – why not enroll on a belly dancing class instead? The Dance Studio offers ten week courses for a very reasonable price to teach you the basics and improve your fitness while having fun with friends. The studio supplies shimmy belts for an authentic experience.

The Dance Studio, Mabgate Mills, Macaulay St, Leeds +44 113 242 1550

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