Leeds on the cheap: Free things to do

Freebie. Gratis. Cheap. Leeds can be done on a shoestring – from medieval armour and amazing sculpture to Chelsea Flower Show gardens.

Put your wallet away with our guide to free things to do in Leeds.

History - Royal Armouries

History - Royal Armouries

Shining armour worn by knights. Swords wielded by Japanese samurai. And a whole lot more. Explore the battlefields and armies of decades and centuries past at the Royal Armouries. Dating from the Middle Ages to modern history.

 

What to see:

  • Elephant armour. Super rare and super heavy. The armour weighs 118kg and is made up of nearly 6,000 plates.It dates back to 17th century India, and is the only near-complete surviving example in the world.

 

  • Tonlet armour. Henry VIII’s skirt. Back in Tudor times knights wore armoured skirts on the battlefield, in keeping with the fashions of the day. This one belonged to Henry VIII - though he’s more famous for his 6 wives and general tyranny.

 

What to do with the kids:

  • Jester’s Yard. Your kids can dress up as knights and princesses and make their own play swords and shields to take home with them. What about babies? There’s soft play too.

 

Art and Culture - The Hepworth

Not really in Leeds. But worth its inclusion for its all-round awesomeness. Catch a train to nearby Wakefield and you’ll find modern art and sculpture aplenty at this gallery, named after world-famous sculptor and local lass Dame Barbara Hepworth. The Hepworth is one of the best-known galleries in the UK – there’s no wonder Yorkshire likes to show off about it!

 

What to see:

  • Two Forms with White (Greek). Rhythmic, flowing and always modern – Hepworth’s work is instantly recognisable. Two forms with White is typical Hepworth. 
  • Reclining Figure. Son of a coalminer Henry Moore bedazzled with his vast, curvaceous sculptures of the human form in stone, wood and bronze. Reclining Figure is one of his best-known works.

 

What to do with the kids:

  • Create a family masterpiece. Dip into the Art Pods with your little ones and make something inspired by your fave pieces of art. Open on Saturdays.

  

The great outdoors - Roundhay Park

Blow off the cobwebs and breathe in the clean air with a stroll around the lake and gardens of this super city park. There are more than 700 acres to wander, with woodlands and specialist gardens to explore.

 

What to see:

  • The Chelsea Flower Show gardens. The gardens competing at the Chelsea Flower Show put your average back lawn to shame. They’re really special. Explore 4 gardens that were exhibited at Chelsea here.
  • The Monet garden. The gardens painted by French Impressionist painter Monet at his Giverny cottage are probably the most famous ever - who hasn’t seen the Water-Lily Pond? Here you can find a garden inspired by Monet’s work.

 

What to do with the kids:

  • Feed the birds. You can feed gulls and geese at the side of the small lake, and keep your eyes peeled for woodpeckers, herons and great crested grebes.

  

Sightseeing

 

  1. Kirkstall Abbey. Home to monks in the 12th century. The cavernous ruins of this once-magnificent building are a great place to reflect. Surrounded by lush greenery, with the River Aire running alongside it. It’s well worth a visit.

 

  1. Corn Exchange. This vast, coliseum-like building was built in the 1860sto house the thriving corn trade. Designed by the architect who also built Leeds town hall. It’s now an alternative shopping centre stuffed with cool independent shops.