What’s on in Leeds? Food, film and festive kids’ events
Looking for what’s on in Leeds? Renowned for its industrial architecture and what some people are calling the best fish and chips in the UK, you’re not alone. Loads of families are making the trip up north to visit this cultural gem. Not only that but there’s loads available for kids, from a film festival dedicated entirely to littluns to a Christmas extravaganza at Lotherton Hall. Get a dose of that Yorkshire warmth with a weekend in Leeds.
Family and kids’ events in Leeds
- Leeds Young Film Festival, 29th March - 4th April, Hyde Park Picture House:
The silver screen is a powerful thing and the films we watch as kids really stick with us - anyone still scared of the Child Catcher?! The team at the Leeds Young Film Festival get that fandom starts at any age so have created a stuffed bill of workshops and screenings; learn and play at Animation Central with the Cartoon Network, Aardman, Minecraft and more, or see the latest releases and old favourites at Reel City. Our best bit? The chance to create your own adventure in the FREE VR Zone. This is the UK’s largest event of its kind with over 12,000 families coming, so make sure you’re one of them!
- Harewood House Food Festival, 26th - 28th May, Harewood House:
When you asked what’s on in Leeds, we bet you didn't expect it to include stilt walking, plate spinning and a unicycle! The Harewood House Food Festival is happy to buck expectations and is one of those classic family events with tots running around and lots of lovely grub. Those circus skills we mentioned - they’re free for kids who love acting the goat alongside treasure hunts, arty workshops, a children’s dog show (!) and plenty of foodie fun for budding chefs. Throw in a few rides and you’re all sorted.
- Leeds Waterfront Festival, 23rd - 24th June, Whitehall Waterfront:
The Leeds Waterfront Festival is a fantastic lesson in how a community can work together with boat rides, musical performances and food, all designed to celebrate the history of the waterways over a massive 5 miles. Local groups will be pulling together to put on the best party possible and in making sure there's loads for smaller folk to enjoy including crafts, creatures, and the chance to try different watersports. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boards will be a test of your balance but who doesn't love a challenge? Come on down and spend a day on the waterfront.
- The Tetley Weekender, 25th - 26th June, The Tetley:
Inspired by their current exhibition, The Tetley Weekender is a brand new micro-festival which this year takes ‘noise as a starting point’. Sound a little arty farty? Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, and with a committed team of musicians, curators and visual artists, you’re sure to get the best education in all things artsy for your brood. Child-friendly gigs and noisy workshops will let them crash, bash and wallop a wild tune while parents kick back at a yummy brunch in the Bar & Kitchen. In fact, even as young as under 5s are catered for so embrace your inner artist and get noisy!
- Leeds West Indian Carnival, 26th - 27th August, West Indian Carnival Centre:
Leeds West Indian Carnival has been taking to the streets for over 50 years and plays an important part of what’s on in Leeds as the city’s thriving community comes together to throw a big party. Street performers will be decked out in some incredible costumes (feathers, sequins and glitter oh my!) while infectious tunes play overhead and platters of delicious West Indian cuisine are served up. The colour, spectacle and simply the sheer joy on display will be more than enough to get your gang immersed in the culture and it’s a great way to open their eyes to different ways of doing things.
- Light Night Leeds, 4th - 5th October, all over the city including Town Hall:
Come and see the city in a new light (ahem) at Light Night Leeds! With interactive installations and incredible projections, the city becomes a luminous labyrinth across 10 different zones. Last year a collection of giant desk lamps illuminated Briggate and you can expect something just as surreal this time around with a programme filled with exhibitions, dance, music and brilliant street performances. Not only is it a true spectacle but it’s free, so with that glowing recommendation in mind, give it a go!
- Lotherton’s Christmas Experience, 24th November – 23rd December, Lotherton Hall:
The Twelve Days of Christmas will be brought to life with masses of festive fanfare at Lotherton’s Christmas Experience. The main challenge will be where to explore first, although we’re pretty sure kids will make a beeline for Santa and the North Pole. Watch as his elves go about their business in the workshop and take part in crafts and storytelling, with an essential cup of cocoa in hand! Then there’s the Twelve Days of Christmas Walk through the Captains Wood where drummers are drumming and turtle doves are flocking. Plus everything is nestled beneath a twinkling canopy - truly magical.
We hope you find something to love in our list of what do in Leeds. For extra inspiration, check out our page for things to do in Leeds or our ‘Top 10 history and nature sights’ in Leeds post. Any one of the activities hidden within should be serious family fun.