All you need to become a local in just a month. Just don't you dare say "ey oop!"
Moving to a new city is never easy; leaving all of your friends and your old life behind to start fresh in a place where you've got no points of reference and no idea which Wetherspoons are the ones to avoid. Not to mention, you generally waste the first few months doing normie shit that you hear about in local guides printed five years ago.
We've distilled the entire Leeds experience into one simple guide which, upon completion, will give you all the local knowledge you need to be considered a Leeds local in just a month. Be warned though, if you make any reference to a whippet or flat cap though you have to start again from the beginning, or piss off to Manchester...
1. Buy some ‘Don’t Mess with Yorkshire’ merch from Welcome
First thing’s first: you’re in Leeds now, dress the part.
22 Thorntons Arcade, Leeds, LS1 6LQ
2. Ride the free water taxi
Enjoy the scenes along the Leeds-Liverpool canal while getting ferried (literally) between Granary Wharf and Leeds Dock. Start off at Granary Wharf with some of the best pizza in Leeds from Water Lane Boathouse (review here), then hop on the boat towards Leeds Dock, wander around the Royal Armories, and get a fresh baked pastel de nata from North Star Coffee Shop before heading back to the more-central Granary Wharf to finish off.
3. Drink a pint at North Brewing Co
A lot of these are going to be about drinking because what else is there to do, really? North Brewing Co’s Transmission IPA was recently named the best IPA in the country, and with good reason.
Drink it straight from the source at the brewery’s tap room, and if you come down on a Saturday you can spend the afternoon working your way around the food stalls that Leeds Indie Food curate as part of their weekly Eat North events.
Unit 6, Taverners Walk Industrial Estate, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds LS7 1AH
4. Eat a chilli paneer wrap from Manjit's Kitchen
Speaking of street food, prepare to eat plenty of it in your time here. You should probably start where it all began, with Manjit’s Kitchen.
Manjit was instrumental in kicking off the street food scene in Leeds around 2010, and nowadays you can get your very own piece of edible Leeds history from her stall in Kirkgate market.
Kirkgate Market, 37 New York St, Leeds LS2
5. Don’t push-in in the queue at the Brudenell
This is the single most useful piece of advice you’ll be given when moving to Leeds. The Brude is rightfully considered hallowed turf in Leeds as a venue for gigs, Jeremy Corbyn rallies, Chilli Twist crisps, free pool, and getting change from a fiver for a pint.
In a few years time when you haven’t been able to tear yourself away from Leeds and you consider yourself a regular at the Brude you’ll be stood at the bar one September evening waiting to be served, and a teenager in an oversized sweatshirt and pristine Air Max 95s will push in front of you to impatiently order a Tuborg. You’re only allowed to call him a twat under your breath in good conscience if you avoid the temptation to do the same in the next four weeks, see it as an investment in good karma.
33 Queen's Rd, Leeds LS6 1NY
6. Learn all the words to Marching On Together
One day - it could be tomorrow, it could be years from now - you’re going to come across a group of blokes singing the unofficial national anthem of Leeds. They might seem intimidating with their Northern accents and Stone Island jackets, but unless your surname happens to be Cellino or you’ve got a Millwall badge tattooed to your head, then they mean you no ill.
You might even think it looks fun and feel like joining in, and chances are they’ll welcome you into their embrace. Just make sure you know the words, yeah?
7. Pretend to be in a rainforest at Tropical World
Unless you’ve come from Manchester or Scotland (in which case you have our sincerest condolences) the weather here is gonna be shite compared to what you’re used to. If you want a reminder of what warmer climates feel like, head up to Roundhay and visit Tropical World, where it’s got that sticky June humidity all year round, plus meerkats.
Princes Ave, Roundhay Park, Leeds LS8 2ER
8. Try and decide what to eat at Trinity Kitchen
With rotating street food vans every six weeks, plus a line up of permanent stalls such as Pho, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the choice in Trinity Kitchen. Conveniently located in one of the biggest shopping centres in Leeds, it lets you refuel midway through your Urban Outfitters spree, and it's a far cry from the usual shopping centre fast-food courts. Speaking of...
27 Albion St, Leeds LS1 5ER
9. Get a McDonalds delivered
Yeah, that’s a thing here, available through Uber Eats. Aren’t you glad you didn’t move to Bristol now?
10. Make your student loan go further with a bingo windfall
Aside from the odd scratchy when you’re getting a Rubicon from the corner shop, we never condone gambling. Bongo’s Bingo isn’t gambling though.
Yes. there’s a chance you could win big cash jackpots or priceless prizes like lifesize celebrity cutouts or a box of Coco Pops (you’ll see), but even if you don’t win you’ll have had such a great time playing along and dancing to I’m In Love With The Coco while getting showered in somebody else’s Coco Pops (there we go) that it’s not really gambling at all. Maybe don't bring your Nan to this one.
Canal Mills, Brandon St, Leeds LS12 2EB
11. Mark this new chapter in your life with a tattoo you won't regret
You’re going to make enough bad decisions in your first year here, and luckily, some of them can be undone with a quick course of antibiotics and an awkward mass-text. A tattoo is permanent though, so don’t fuck it up.
Sacred Electric’s artists are usually booked up weeks or months in advance, but you can skip the queue every Saturday when they shut the books and offer walk-ins all day. Get there early though, it’s first come first serve. 10 Leeds tattoo artists you need to follow on Instagram NOW
2-3 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ
12. Visit the Marks and Spencer archives
M&S started off in Leeds over 100 years ago (which is great, because that fact gives us tenuous justification for articles where we rank every Percy Pig from worst to best) as a stall in the market before going on to be a high street giant and introducing the UK to avocados.
These archives document its impact and legacy in retail, food, and fashion. Also, Alexa Chung has been here, which instantly makes it cool.
University of Leeds, Michael Marks Building, Leeds LS2 9JT
13. Watch a movie in one of the unique cinemas
We’ve got all sorts of options, from boutique cinemas with sofas and the option of ordering booze to your seat (or just sneak your own in) at Everyman, to historic picturehouses screening indie darlings like Hyde Park Picture House, single-screen neighbourhood theatres like Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley, and an IMAX on Kirkstall Road for big dumb no-brainer blockbusters
14. Go rare book hunting in the Oxfam Bookstore
To quote John Waters, “If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!”. So stocking up here straight away will be useful even when you end up never reading them.
13-15 Otley Rd, Headingley LS6 3AA
15. Pick a side in the Briggate sweetcorn war
Who needs Bangkok’s markets and Mumbai’s street wallahs when you’ve got lads flogging sweetcorn out of little carts outside department stores?
Choose wisely though, deciding whether you’re team Leeds Sweetcorn Healthy & Juicy or Hollywood Sweetcorn will shape the rest of your experience in the city.
16. Get your photo taken in a photobooth
Berlin doesn't have a monopoly on the Photoautomat game - You can get strips of photos printed instantly at North Bar, Fred Aldous, Meatliquor and Urban Outfitters to name just a few. You're having the best time in Leeds, you might as well commemorate it.
17. Brighten up your new place with some plants from Kirkgate Market
You could probably spend half a day wandering around the historical Kirkgate Market, squeezing fresh fruit, necking oysters, and buying bassline CDs from one of the stalls out the back.
While you’re doing all that, make sure you pick up a few plants to breathe a bit of much needed life into your halls. Go for succulents and they’ll manage to survive on even less water than you remember to drink, and only need a fraction of the attention.
18. Sort your beard out at King Koby
The Hipster Manifesto 2010 specifies that all Leeds males of pubic age that wish to drink an IPA must have grown a beard for a period of no less than four weeks. I don’t make the rules, I just let you know about them. Not to mention, Gillette Quattros are expensive when you have to stop nicking your Dad’s off the bathroom shelf, so it's gonna grow pretty freely anyway.
Keep it in check with the occasional shape up from the fam at King Koby, we guarantee you’ve never been to a barbershop like it.
3 Cloth Hall St, Leeds LS1 2HD
19. Get a new look at an alternative salon
Now’s the perfect time to reinvent yourself, nobody knows you or remembers your awkward teenage hairstyles - check out our pick of Leeds’ alternative salons here, and start ruthlessly culling old selfies from your Insta feed while you wait for your appointment
20. Have a stout in Leeds' oldest pub
Whitelocks might have been there for over 300 years, but that doesn’t mean you should waste any more time before visiting. It doesn’t count as a drinking problem if you call it “researching Leeds’ cultural history”
Turks Head Yard, Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6HB
21. Join Trib3 and go at least once
Ever heard of the Freshers 15? It’s nothing to do with your first-year bodycount after the long-distance relationship with your college sweetheart crashes and burns by Halloween. It’s actually a reference to the 15lbs an average fresher gains on thanks to 12 months of drinks offers and McDonalds hash brown deliveries (make it the Freshers 50 if you’re following all of our advice).
You can join a regular gym and never go, or you can sign up for Trib3 - a HIIT-focused, trainer-led studio that looks more like a Future video than a gym, where you pay per session rather than a membership you won’t use. You even get the first one for free.
68A Wellington St, Leeds LS1 2EE
22. Do the Otley Run in full costume
Take it from me, there’s a very narrow window of opportunity in your youth where you’ve got the figure for fancy dress and the stamina to drink in twenty consecutive bars in an afternoon - even walking from Headingley into town seems like an ordeal from second year onwards. Make the most of it while you can.
23. Stock up on groceries at a Chinese supermarkets
Supermarket world food aisles have come a long way since being dominated by Blue Dragon sachets and Old El Paso kits, but they’re still basically agoraphobic compared to the real deal - not to mention a proper rip-off.
Head down to somewhere like Sing Kee to stock up on authentic ingredients at prices close to wholesale. A lot of the Chinese and Thai restaurants in town get their stock from them, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for your Tuesday night stir fry.
Sing Kee, 26-28 Woodhouse Ln, Leeds LS2 8LX
24. Get off the high street
As well as big-names in high profile shopping centres like Trinity and Victoria Gate, Leeds is full of smaller independents as well. Wander around the beautiful arcades such as Queens Arcade, where you can find a treasure trove of unique jewellery in Aladdin’s Cave or check out Accent clothing store, which has been established since 1984.
The Corn Exchange is also a must see, the building itself being one of Britain’s finest Victorian buildings, featuring the likes of All Blues Co, Little Leeds Beer House and Outrage Jewellers.
25. Do shots on Call Lane
You know how Pret have an allowance of coffees that they give out for free to keep people coming back? Several Call Lane bars - we’re not going to say which ones - have a similar allocation of shots to do exactly the same thing, and that allocation is roughly all the shots.
Increase your chances of getting one by not acting like a twat, never asking for one, and when ordering using the magic words: “And one for yourself"
26. Join a Girl Gang
You can never have too many friends in a new city, and Girl Gang is a unique way of meeting new people; hosting events and parties that bring together a community of women to influence and inspire each other in safe, inclusive spaces. The fact that it happens to involve a lot of glitter is a bonus, too. Read about how you can join their quest to "do rad shit and change the world" here
27. Go treasure-hunting in vintage furniture shops
Those wiggly mirrors from IKEA aren't gonna cut it I'm afraid. Head down to Retro Boutique on Hyde Park Corner, RetroLand in Armley, or Swiss Cottage Antiques on Burley Road for some rare, quirky decor. You'll thank yourself when you get home every night, maybe not so much when it comes to moving day next year...
28. Don't waste your morning, get wasted in the morning
Eat brunch and drink all the prosecco, mimosas, and Bloody Mary's you can physically handle in a set amount of time at one of Leeds' many, many bottomless brunches. I had you at "eat brunch", didn't I?...
29. Stock up on zines and coffee table books from Village
Independent bookstore and gallery Village stocks a specially curated selection of books and magazines, as well as a selection of small press zines. Get your screenprint fix, indulge your perversion of fondling different paper stock, and pick up something new to add to your coffee table, proving that print is very much still alive.
3 Thorntons Arcade, Leeds LS1 6LQ
30. Play old school games in Brewdog
You can finally forgive your Mum for "accidentally" chucking out your beloved collection of old school games the minute you moved out, because you can play all the best ones at Brewdog. Bash your fingers to the bone on the legendary Street Fighter 2, publicly humiliate your friends on the best multiplayer game ever Goldeneye 007, or indulge in a bit of socially-acceptable drink driving with a Punk IPA-fuelled Mario Kart 64 sesh.
White Cloth Hall, Crown Street, Leeds LS2 7DA
Oh, and 31. Let Leeds Confidential keep you up to date with everything going on
What, you thought we were gonna pass up the opportunity for some self-promotion? Nah.
As enjoyable and iconic as the things on this list are, you could get most of them done in an afternoon if you've got the stomach for it - plus, Leeds is constantly changing and growing. Follow us on Facebook and sign up to our weekly newsletter at the bottom of this page, and we'll keep you up to date and let you know where's worth spending your time and money in the years to come.