Leeds City Guide

Leeds is the UK’s third biggest, fastest growing city, with a population of over 70,000 students.

With a thriving music and arts scene, an abundance of events, an eclectic cultural calendar and a huge variety of independent bars and eateries, it’s no wonder that Leeds frequently tops the polls for best student city!

Recently Leeds has been:

  • Voted one of the ‘Top 5 Best Student Locations in the UK’ (Student Hut, 2018)
  • Included in the ‘Top 10 Most Affordable Cities’ (What Uni, 2019)
  • Featured as one of the ‘Top 3 Best Cities in the UK in Which to be a Graduate’ (The House Shop, 2019)
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Music Venues

The Leeds music scene is booming, and with the range of superb venues, forward-thinking promoters and creative curators, the Leeds music community is the perfect platform for any musician.

With an impressive raft of venues across the city, from the massive First Direct Arena in the heart of the city to more intimate venues like the legendary Brudenell Social Club and The Wardrobe opposite campus, there’s always a choice of artists to see any day of the week.

Leeds Conservatoire regularly collaborates with many of the city’s top venues to showcase student talent.

“I love living in Leeds, there’s always something to do! From catching a gig at a local venue to having a quiet walk by the docks, there’s something for everyone, and every occasion.” – Lauren Hutchins, Film Music student

Performing Arts

With Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Carriageworks theatres all located in the centre of Leeds, there’s no shortage of dance, opera, plays and musicals in the city.

Leeds is also home to prestigious companies such as Opera North, Northern Ballet, Yorkshire Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Red Ladder Theatre Company, providing a rich cultural programme of internationally-renowned performances throughout the year.

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Food & Drink

You’ll never be short of something new to try in the Leeds food and drink sector.

From the eternally rotating line-up of street food vendors at Trinity Kitchen and the Belgrave Street Feast, to the array of delicious independent cafes and international cuisine, Leeds is a gourmand’s delight.

We’re not short of a tasty drop to drink either – with craft breweries, top-notch cocktail bars and splendid coffee houses throughout the city.

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Leeds has plenty to offer even the most avid culture-vulture, and with arrivals of big creative employers like Channel 4, the city’s culture offering is set to continue to grow.

Leeds has a great art scene, ranging from the grandeur of the Henry Moore Institute to the unique, independent galleries.

Leeds has a selection of independent cinema and theatres to choose from.

“There’s amazing food culture in Leeds. The market is huge and you can get whatever you want for a really good price.” – Echo Zheng, Music Production graduate


Leeds is a renowned UK shopping destination, an unquiet revolution which began with Harvey Nicholls and has expanded in the recent Victoria Gate and John Lewis development.

The city cleverly covers every shopper’s need; from high-end boutiques in ornate arcades and large shopping centres laden with big brands, to markets and independent shops, there’s something for everyone.

Leeds also has a plethora of music shops covering instruments, records, tickets and merchandise, so we’ve got that covered too.



Leeds has a festival for just about everything – and over the course of the year you’ll find city-wide celebrations of music, film, digital, food, beer, art, and even wellness!

With a varied calendar that includes alternative music giants Leeds Festival, Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds Piano, Slam Dunk Festival, Leeds West Indian Carnival and Leeds Pride, throughout the year there’s nearly always a festival in full swing.

Don’t miss Leeds International Festival – a multi-disciplinary festival across the city which incorporates the acclaimed metropolitan music festival, Live at Leeds.

To see the city in a completely different way check out Light Night – the arts festival that transforms the city with spectacular installations and visual projections!

“I played on the [Leeds Conservatoire] stage at Light Night, which was amazing. There are so many bars and places to perform and they love putting on our students as everyone’s so enthusiastic.” – Maddie Morris, Folk student
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Outdoor & Sports

In and around Leeds you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy the great outdoors!

The Meanwood Valley Trail provides a great track for walkers and cyclists, whilst the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and breath-taking Yorkshire Dales are well within day-tripping distance.

Sports fan? You’ll be able to catch football, rugby and cricket in Leeds, along with the annual Tour De Yorkshire!

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Beyond Leeds

Leeds is perfectly placed in Yorkshire, the UK’s largest county, at the centre of the UK. The city is well connected, both nationally and internationally, by comprehensive bus and rail networks, as well as easy access to Leeds Bradford International Airport and Manchester Airport.

Yorkshire is a world-renowned tourism destination, welcoming millions of people from all over the world each year. Whether you prefer bustling modern cities like Sheffield, the historical streets of York, or to get away from it all in the countryside or at the coast, with Leeds as your base you’re within easy reach of some of the most popular places to visit in the UK.

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LGBT+ Spaces in Leeds

Leeds has a cosy LGBT+ quarter on Call Lane, but there are lots of fantastic LGBT-friendly venues and spaces throughout Leeds City Centre.

Located a 12 minute walk away from campus, Viaduct Showbar boasts glamorous drag nights, accompanied by funky music and a welcoming atmosphere. LGBTQ bar Queens Court is down the road, playing old-school classics with a huge menu of cocktails and drinks. Wharf Chambers regularly hosts queer meetups and gigs, whilst selling reasonably priced drinks at their bar. They are also committed to providing a safe, accessible and affordable space for music, art, film and more.

If you fancy somewhere a little quieter, Flamingos Coffee House is a 10 minute walk from campus, and offers a cosy late-night café experience . Flamingos supports local LGBT+ charities, donating £1 to charity with each rainbow cake sold. If you're a keen reader, independent LGBTQIA bookshop The Bookish Type is the perfect quiet spot to go browsing. 

Open Days

Find out what it's like to study at Leeds Conservatoire by coming along to one of our Open Days. 

As well as talks and tours specific to the courses you're interested in, you can also chat to our staff and students.

Plus, get immediate access to our On-Demand Open Day.

Open Days
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