Living like a local, conferencing like a pro

Leeds is a city packed with exceptional experiences. New discoveries, attractions and surprises around every corner. We’re an independent spirit, with an international vision. When visiting the heart of the North, you’ll never be left asking “what now?”

With renowned galleries and exhibitions, indoor and outdoor independent dining experiences, Victorian shopping arcades, unique shopping experiences and live music venues en-masse, you can sit back, relax and let Leeds entertain you. 

If you’re looking to experience our city at your next conference, our Independent venues have curated their top tips to help you make the most of your stay. Create your own unique itinerary, and to find out just a glimpse of what Leeds has to offer, read on below.

For the foodies

The foodie capital of the North is home to celebrated fine-dining restaurants, independent eateries, global street food markets and local producers. So whatever your taste, there’s a dining experience for you. 

On the doorstep of independent venue, thestudio Leeds, is Mans Market. Situated just a stone’s throw from Leeds Train Station, guests begin their Mans Market journey through a theatrical entrance before entering this authentic Hong Kong style industrial restaurant complete with painted tiles, hanging lanterns and oriental decor.   

Another foodie favourite of thestudio Leeds is Chow Down. Set in Temple Arches; an outdoor venue in an area of the city that has seen huge investment and transformation over the last two years, Chow Down is one of the city’s most popular haunts. Hailed for its incredible selection of independent food and drink traders, showcasing  the best of Leeds’ local talent, with live performances and themed brunches galore in the Summer, before being transformed into an Apres-Ski Chalet in Winter, complete with Hütte Beer Hall and Ciroc Chalet Bar. It’s no wonder Chow Down has become a staple experience in the city, just be sure to book to avoid missing out! 

Located just a stone’s throw from Horizon Leeds; The Adelphi was once Tetley Brewery’s original flagship pub, and is the perfect setting for a laid-back dining experience. A popular haunt for locals, The Adelphi is a homely pub and the perfect location to watch the world go by whilst nestling into opulent, Victorian period decor and indulging in flavoursome local grub. The Adelphi gives delegates a proper Yorkshire experience, and shouldn’t be missed off your list. 

Shop til you drop

If it’s the best of Yorkshire you’re looking for, Kirkgate Market is a one-stop shop for all things independent and is a ‘must visit’ recommendation from Leeds Playhouse. Acknowledged as one of the largest markets in Europe and the original home to Marks and Spencer, Kirkgate Market has everything you need under one iconic roof. The Grade I listed building comprises 800 traders that offer everything from flavours and flowers to jewellery and gadgets and is the place to immerse yourself in the culture of local life in Leeds.

Championing small and unique businesses is Leeds Corn Exchange, one of Horizon Leeds’ favourites. The awe-inspiring building which was crafted by Victorian architect Cuthbert Broderick, is home to an exciting line-up of local, independent minded businesses, makers and creators with an exciting line-up of dining experiences such as infamous OWT. The Corn Exchange regularly welcomes an abundance of pop-ups and if you’re here at Christmas, make sure you pop in to visit the Christmas Market for festive tipples, nibbles and live entertainment. 

City of Culture

Speaking of culture, as Leeds prepares to celebrate a year of culture in 2023, visitors can get a taste of the talent in the city at The Wardrobe close to Leeds Playhouse. The live music and comedy venue is a 50’s styled Leeds institution, and its stage has been graced by the greats over the years, including Amy Winehouse and Beverley Knight. Similarly, The Tetley has also undergone a huge transformation. Once a former brewery, The Tetley has now become a contemporary Art Gallery and eatery and is one of the neighbours to the team at Duke Studios. The Tetley hosts fantastic range of exhibitions which celebrates the diverse and vibrant culture of the city – a must see for anyone passing through. 

Another firm recommendation from Duke Studios is the city’s water taxis, which give the chance to experience the city from a different perspective. Travelling from the Southern entrance of Leeds Train Station to Leeds Dock, you can visit the Royal Armouries, home to the largest collection of arms and armour in the UK. The water taxi is a cheap and cheerful way to travel from one part of the city to another, as you ride the waves of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal look out for Leeds Bridge where Louis le Prince shot the first ever moving film reel.

For some R&R

If after all that you’re still left craving some culture, located minutes from Leeds Playhouse is the Art Hostel, the first of its kind in the UK and the perfect place to rest your head and reminisce about your time in the city. The creative, affordable and unique accommodation was crafted by local creatives from East Street Arts – after a night here, you’re sure to be left inspired.

To plan your trip to Leeds, browse our interactive venue map and discover how you can experience the exceptional, with ease.