From Millennium Square to Brotherhood and Roxy Lanes... here's where to dodge beer showers and hug complete strangers
The greatest show on earth. No, it’s not Joe Longthorne at the City Varieties, it’s the World Cup, right here in Leeds. At least it would have been if FIFA hadn’t rudely awarded it to Russia instead of England back in 2010, but we’re not bitter. In fact we’re dusting down the flags and working out where Peru is because we drew them in the office sweepstake.
Obviously, there’s only about half a dozen countries with any possibility of winning the damn thing, so your sweepstake entry is likely as worthwhile as an England fan booking a third weeks’ holiday in Russia ‘just in case’.
But you can console yourself with the fact that there will at least be more than a few (sixteen actually) decent places to watch the action unfold in Leeds, where wayward renditions of Three Lions at 2am and anguished cries of predestined misery will surely soundtrack the next month... whether you like it or not.
So here’s sixteen of the best places to dodge beer showers, hug strangers and slump dejectedly amongst a sea of plastic beer glasses...
Brotherhood of Pursuits & Pastimes
One of the few places that manages to mix a distinctive sports theme with selective craft beer offerings and good food. Screens everywhere, even at the bar, so you won’t miss any of the action, and with two floors there’s plenty of space for everyone. Also, the Brotherhood is in a competition run by Budweiser against ten other bars in the country, with £10,000 at stake for which bar can make the most noise. 54 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU Website
The original waterside drinking establishment of Leeds and still going strong as a fine place to watch your sports. The cavernous downstairs bar creates a great atmosphere with its bricked archways, and with plenty of big screens, local beers and a Yorkshire-themed food menu, you can’t go far wrong. 32 The Calls, Leeds LS2 7EW Website
A staple classic in the trawl of Leeds’ traditional pubs, the Palace is putting on a spread for the World Cup with a great range of beers, sharing platters and traditional pub grub on offer during all games, which can be watched on numerous big screens dotted around the walls. Kirkgate, Leeds, LS2 7DJ Website
The ultimate place to watch England games, as long as you’re not bothered about a beer. With up to 1,000 people allowed free entry, it is advisable to get there early. There will be street food and soft drinks available, and probably copious opportunities to appear on Look North if you’re stood at the front if/when England score. Millennium Square promises to show as many other games as possible, but will mix this with Wimbledon coverage also. Calverley Street, Leeds LS1 1UR Website
With Millennium Square going down the family-friendly route, the O2 will probably create the most raucous atmosphere as the perfect arena in which to gather with mates and watch England on the big screen. England games only, free entry, but you’ll need a ticket to guarantee getting in, and expect to be wringing beer out of your t-shirt on the way home. 55 Cookridge Street, Leeds LS2 3AW Website
Belgrave Music Hall
The bar that does everything right has opted to use their upstairs gig venue to screen World Cup games, and with the quality food and craft ale on offer this could be the dark horse of amazing venues over the next month. Using a huge projector they will screen all England games and any others they can fit in between gigs. 1-1a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds LS2 8JP Website
Yes, it’s back and no, it’s pretty much the same as it was, just in a different location. You know what you’re getting at the fun-loving, two-floor Aussie-themed bar. So expect the Socceroos games to be just as lively as England’s, and also expect to be downing Fosters from an inflatable kangaroo like a Fair dinkum Brisbane Ute-builder before last orders. 43 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS1 3HQ Website
It was pretty unlikely that Leeds’ premier sports bar wouldn’t go to town on the World Cup, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Plenty of food and drink packages, VIP table service if booked in advance and the largest non-cinematic screen in Leeds. A recent refurbishment means even more TVs with the ability to show simultaneous games throughout the tournament. 123 The Headrow, Leeds LS1 5RD Website
The famous boat moored strategically in the heart of student land will be a fine venue for some World Cup tomfoolery. You can book special reserved seating in advance and the usual beer and food offers make this a pretty unique sports venue. Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 3AX Website
The secret sports den upstairs at the brilliant Wapentake is perhaps a more rounded retreat from the traditional hulaballoo of World Cup fever. Homely and welcoming, this is like sitting with your mates at home, but with a well-stocked bar, home-cooked food downstairs and a wall-to-wall Yorkshire theme just like England’s defence. 92 Kirkgate, Leeds LS2 7DJ Website
Private rooms and booths are available in the downstairs US-themed bar restaurant, or you can sit and eat while watching every game unfold on the numerous screens around the walls. Affordable with plenty of food and beer deals, this might also be a place to tempt the cocktail-friendly members of the party. 9 Merrion Street, Leeds LS1 6PQ Website
With good craft ales and always a busy, vibrant atmosphere this is a convenient and friendly pub that carries some weight as a sports –watching venue. Small and compact, but you can’t fail to get a good view of the big screens in the front and back rooms. 11 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ Website
Through various incarnations over the years, this has always remained a sports-friendly pub and now you can play pool while watching the action over in Russia. With projectors showing every game there will also be VIP seats available and food and drink deals aplenty. Merrion Street, Leeds LS2 8JE Website
This 24-hour bar services the supercasino in Victoria Gate and has swiftly become the Big Daddy of the city’s sports venues. A 32 foot screen is the jewel in the crown, but 41 TVs around the bar ensure that you can catch the action anywhere, including plenty of other sports at the same time. 1 Victoria Gate, Eastgate, Leeds LS2 7JL Website
Naturally, it can’t be classed as a major sporting event if Roxy aren’t all over it, and that’s certainly the case this summer, with every game shown live on TVs and projectors across the venue and VIP packages available if you book in advance. As always, a great place to party, even to get over those inescapable penalty shoot-out blues. 1 Bond Street, Leeds LS1 5BQ Website
Nestled neatly in the shiny new Central Square development, Toast is a handy servant to the burgeoning financial district, but is also a long-established bar bistro with plenty to offer. Good viewing points all over the bar are accompanied by a special World Cup set menu offering a main meal and a pint for £10. Unit C West Point, 25 Wellington Street, Leeds LS1 4JY Website