One of the fastest-growing cities in the UK, Leeds is the glitzy embodiment of rediscovered northern selfconfidence. More than a decade of redevelopment has seen the city centre transform from near-derelict mill town into a vision of 21st-century urban chic, with skyscraping office blocks, glass-and-steel waterfront apartment complexes and renovated Victorian shopping arcades. The financial crisis of 2008–10 saw many flagship development projects grind to a halt, but tower cranes are beginning to sprout on the skyline again and a massive new entertainment venue, the Leeds Arena, opened in 2013.
Known as the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’, Leeds has made itself a shopping mecca, its streets lined with bustling malls sporting the top names in fashion. And when you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped, there’s a plethora of pubs, clubs and excellent restaurants to relax in. From cutting-edge couture to contemporary cuisine, Leeds will serve it to you on a plate (or more likely in a stylishly designed bag). Amid all this fashion-conscious finery, it seems fitting that the network of city bus routes includes peach, mauve and magenta lines as well as the more humdrum red, orange and blue.
Top Things to See in Leeds
Henry Moore Institute
Housed in a converted Victorian warehouse in the city centre, this gallery showcases the work of 20th-century sculptors, but not, despite the name, anything by Henry Moore (1898−1986), who graduated from the Leeds School of Art. To see works by Moore, head to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Leeds Art Gallery
The municipal gallery is packed with 19th- and 20thcentury British heavyweights – Turner, Constable, Stanley Spencer, Wyndham Lewis et al – along with contemporary pieces by more recent arrivals such as Antony Gormley, sculptor of the Angel of the North.