Culture, shopping & nightlife
Leeds is brimming with cultural interest, from the national attractions of the Royal Armouries and the Henry Moore Institute, to local curiosities such as Lotherton Hall and Harewood House.
Leeds’s thriving arts scene has everything from big name companies such as Northern Ballet and Opera North to annual festivals like Light Night.
You may have heard of West Yorkshire Playhouse, which offers a year round programme of traditional theatre and star names such as Sir Ian McKellan and Christopher Eccleston. If your taste is for something a little different try The Carriageworks or Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton. There are also spaces helping young companies to develop and show performance work, including The Carriageworks & Emerge Festival, Bradford Theatre in the Mill and the HUB.
Leeds has a strong relationship to dance, with nationally touring companies Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre recently opening their brand new home and performance space in the city centre. Yorkshire Dance and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance also host performances and offer dance classes for all skill levels.
As well as Leeds Art Gallery, the host of the annual Northern Art Prize, Leeds has plenty of smaller independent art galleries. With art students coming from all over to study at Leeds Metropolitan University, University of Leeds and Leeds College of Art the city is bursting with student-led projects such as The Woolgather Art Prize, Test Space and the city-wide Art In Unusual Places offers great opportunities to show work in disused shops.
To keep on top of the many things happening in and around Leeds we recommend The Culture Vulture blog for reviews, competitions and articles.
Knightsbridge of the North
If you are more interested in Harvey Nichols than Damien Hirst, then don't worry. Leeds, or the 'Knightsbridge of the North' as it is affectionately known, is perfect for shopaholics. With over 4.3 million square feet of retail space crammed into just five miles of streets, Leeds has one of the country's largest pedestrian retail areas.
The Victoria Quarter, a series of ornate Victorian arcades, houses countless designers and the best independent shops the city has to offer. Other city centre shopping highlights include The Light, a £100 million development on the Headrow, and the Grade 1 listed Corn Exchange.
If you can't resist a bargain then head down to Kirkgate Market, in the heart of Leeds city centre since 1857 and one of the largest indoor markets in Europe. From the basic essentials of food, drink and toiletries, to clothes, jewellery, furniture and flowers, the market is a must visit for students on a budget. Headingley also boasts charity shops galore, to help you add some retro chic to your room or find the perfect fancy dress outfit.
Don't forget to pick up your NUS Extra card early on in the term to make the most of the discounts available. For just £11 a year you'll be able to get money off in shops, bars and restaurants, as well as travel, mobile phone and many more discounts. You can buy your card directly from our Students' Union, or order it online from the NUS website; and pick it up from the Union offices.
Nightlife for everyone
If after your day of shopping, visiting museums and going to the theatre, you still wish to be entertained then there is arguably no better city in the country than Leeds for nightlife. The city's countless bars and nightclubs ensure that there is something to suit every taste, every night of the week. For the post-sport celebrations on a Wednesday, head to Oceana, or the O2 Academy where thousands of like-minded students will be making the most of the student friendly prices. If mass student parties are not your style and you are more interested clubbing then Mint, Space or Mission will be perfect for you. The vibrant student area of Headingley, home to the University's Headingley Campus, is also a great place for a night out, with a variety of student-friendly pubs and bars.
Live music fans will be spoilt for choice by the variety of gigs in small and larger venues. The Brudenell Social Club in Hyde Park is loved by students and locals alike and is the sort of place where you can watch your mates perform one night and see the Kaiser Chiefs on the same stage the next night. A new 13,500 capacity arena is currently being built in the city centre and is due to open in early 2013. In the meantime you can see a number of big names at Leeds Met Students' Union, Leeds University Refectory, the O2 Academy and the Cockpit, as well as the annual 75,000 capacity Leeds Festival, held in Bramham Park on the August bank holiday weekend.
Leeds and Reading Festivals are two of the UK's biggest music events and have played host to many musical legends. Leeds Metropolitan and festival organisers Festival Republic offer hundreds of volunteering and placement opportunities every year to our students, staff and alumni at Leeds Festival, as well as Latitude and Hove Festivals. These range from festival management, artist liaison and production to sound and lighting and many more. If this sounds like the ideal opportunity for you, take a look at our partnership volunteering website.
- West Yorkshire Playhouse
- The Carriageworks
- Seven Arts
- Northern Ballet
- Opera North
- Theatre in the Mill
- Phoenix Dance Theatre
- Yorkshire Dance
- Northern School of Contemporary Dance
- Leeds Art Gallery
- Henry Moore Institute
- Test Space Leeds
- Royal Armouries
- Lotherton Hall
- Harewood House