As they chant at Elland Road, “We all love Leeds!” And I can’t imagine anyone coming here and not feeling the same. But I am biased.
So why do I love Leeds so much?
Well, although I have called both New York and London home, Leeds is where I was born and bred. And I am really proud of where I come from and how it has evolved over time.
For those of you new to the UK or to travelling oop north, Leeds was an integral part of the industrial revolution. And even whilst I was growing up here in the 70s and 80s, the black fingerprint of its industrious past still stained many of the buildings. It was struggling to find its new calling and the town centre was very grey – defeated.
Now, it is a thriving vibrant destination for shoppers, culture vultures and music lovers, as well as commerce and design.
For those visiting my city over the Derby Stance weekend, you are going to have very limited time to do anything other than soak up all the derby and coaching fun we have put in place.
However, if I were to recommend certain pursuits that you might be able to squeeze in, these would be a few…
Hyde Park Picture House has been showing films in Leeds for over a century and is one of my sanctuaries. It is still partially lit by oil lamps and has a timeless feel as you sink back into a red velvet chair with your Northern Bloc ice-cream, and the curtain draws back. The only things missing are the organist and ushers.
If you love music and you’re anywhere near the town centre, make sure you visit Leeds institution Crash Records. Ian will happily chat music (and Leeds United) as you browse the rows of vinyl, old and new. And next time you’re here, pop to Brudenell Social Club to catch a gig – it is a gem, prized by musicians and punters alike.
If you still fancy a drink after you’ve supped our favourite Northern Monk beer at Summit At The Ramps, head to Outlaws Yacht Club. It has the friendliest staff, great drinks and some chilled out choons. If you’re still thirsty when it closes, or fancy a dance, head to another Leeds institution: Mojo. It is rammed with people who love music and strong liquor. They have pretty much everything you would want in both departments – and dancing on the bar/tables is the norm.
Finally, we are very lucky to have some fantastic sprawling free parks in the city and on the outskirts of the city but one of my most favourite places to be, and it won’t cost you a penny, is the Leeds/Liverpool canal. You could walk part of the way to Eiger or head in the opposite direction and see our industrial past, now swanky creative offices, and some unspoiled wildlife. It is often bustling with joggers, cyclists and people fishing. And is a wonderful place to gather your thoughts and see Leeds Past and present collide beautifully.
I could go on and on. I tell you what, grab me at the conference and I’ll help you plan a whole city break.