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What Is Leeds Known for & Famous For

Leeds is a city in Northern England that is home to just over five hundred thousand people, with another nearly three hundred thousand living in the metropolitan area outside the city. It is the fourth largest city in the country and boasts a long, rich history. So what is Leeds known for and famous for?

Leeds is known for its universities, shopping centers, professional sports teams, and historic buildings. The city is also famous for the Leeds Festival, the Leeds West Indian Carnival, and for being home to the Yorkshire Ripper Murders.

This article will take you through twenty-four things, places, and events that the city of Leeds is well known for. 

Leeds United Football Club

First, Leeds is famous for its football team: the Leeds United Football Club, founded in 1919. The team plays in the Premier League and has won multiple football championships in various leagues throughout its history. Nicknamed “The Whites” and “The Peacocks”, they play their home games at Elland Road.

Trinity Leeds Shopping Center

The Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre is located in the heart of Leeds, and it is one of the most popular places to eat, drink, and shop. 

The center has more than 120 stores and more than 40 restaurants, bars, and other food shops. 

One of the highlights of the center is Trinity Kitchen, which is an area where food trucks and vans set up and sell food to guests. There are seven permanent food trucks and rotating trucks that change every season. 

Golf

Golf is popular in Leeds for residents and visitors alike. There are more than twenty golf courses in the area. 

One of the best places to Golf in Leeds is the Leeds Golf Centre. The center was England’s Golf Club of the Year in 2018. They have an 18-hole course, a 12-hole par-2 course, and a footgolf course. 

Another great course in Leeds is the Howley Hall Golf Club, one of the area’s most played and beautiful courses. 

The University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is famous for its qualitative programs. The university opened in 1874 and is the fifth largest university in the UK, with over thirty-six thousand students.

 

Here are some notable alumni from the University of Leeds:

  • Sir Keir Starmer – leader of the Labour Party
  • Jack Straw – former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary
  • Sayeeda Warsi – former co-chairman of the Conservative Party
  • Piers Sellers – NASA astronaut
  • Nobel Prize winners: Sir William Henry Bragg, George Porter, Wole Soyinka, Archer John Porter Martin, Richard Laurence Millington Synge, Piers Forster

JRR Tolkien Was a Professor at the University of Leeds

Another reason the University of Leeds is well known is that famous author JRR Tolkien was a professor there in the 1920s. He started his teaching as a Reader in the English Language in 1920 and ended his career in 1925 as a Professor of English Language. 

Leeds Beckett University

Another university in the city is Leeds Beckett University. There are more than twenty-three thousand students who study at the university. The school was opened in 1824 as the Leeds Mechanics Institute; it changed its name in 1970 to Leeds Polytechnic and became an official university in 1992. The university has been called Leeds Beckett University since 2014.

Leeds Festival

The Leeds Festival is a three-day music fest that hosts some of the world’s most popular bands and artists. The festival hosts up to 75,000 people each day of the festival. 

Festival-goers camp, glamp, and stay in Leeds hotels when they aren’t enjoying the music. Tickets sell out fast, especially the weekend passes, which shows just how popular the festival is. 

Olympians

Many professional athletes come from Leeds, and many of them end up winning medals at the Olympics. 

For example, these four athletes won the gold medal in the 2020 triathlon mixed relay in Tokyo:

  • Jonny Brownlee
  • Jess Learmonth
  • Alex Yee

They all trained at Leeds Beckett University before winning the medal. 

Two other Olympic athletes from Leeds who won gold medals in 2020 include Tom Pidock, who won the mountain bike race, and Matty Lee, who won gold in the synchronized 10m dive. 

Emmerdale

Emmerdale is a soap opera set in a fictional town in Yorkshire Dales that has been on the air since 1972. The show, at least the interior scenes, is shot in a studio in Leeds. The show has more than nine thousand episodes, and it is still on the air after over five decades. 

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is a UK department store that was founded in Leeds. The first store was a Penny Bazaar that opened in 1884. The Penny Bazaar opened in the Kirkgate Market in Leeds, which is where you can find the M&S heritage stall and coffee shop today. 

The University of Leeds has an entire collection about the history of Marks & Spencer called the Marks in Time Exhibition. There are over 250 full Marks & Spencer stores throughout the UK today.

Leeds West Indian Carnival

Another event that brings thousands of people to Leeds every year is the Leeds West Indian Carnival. The carnival highlights Caribbean Culture and takes place every year on the last Monday in August. 

Here are some of the events and highlights of the Leeds West Indian Carnival:

  • a parade
  • shows for children
  • Costumes
  • Music
  • Dancing
  • Food

The carnival is extremely popular in Leeds, with a couple of hundreds of thousands of people attending each year. 

To learn more about the history of the carnival, check out this Youtube video from Leeds West Indian Carnival:

The Yorkshire Ripper Murders

The Yorkshire Ripper Murders were a set of at least 13 murders and ten attacks by serial killer Peter Sutcliffe. Most of his killings took place in Leeds, which is why the city is famous, or infamous, for the murders. Sutcliffe stated that his motive for the killings was to kill sex workers, but not all of his victims were sex workers. He was arrested in 1981 and died during his sentence in 2020 after contracting COVID-19.

Kirkgate Market

Kirkgate Market is a huge indoor market in Leeds that has been open since 1857. The market sells food, drinks, jewelry, and home goods. It also hosts many events like fashion shows, food and drink fairs, and live music sessions. 

Many people go to Kirkgate for the wide range of foods and cuisine that they have. One of the market’s highlights is the Asian Bazaar which is held every Wednesday morning. 

Roundhay Park

Leeds’ Roundhay Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world, with more than seven hundred acres of land. The park is full of birds, lakes, woodland, and recreational facilities. It was named the Best Public Park by the Royal Horticultural Society.  

The park used to have a large open-air pool that was open from 1907 to the 1970s. It is now covered with grass and a parking lot, but you will still see mention of the pool, called the Lido, throughout the park. 

Leeds Rhinos

The Leeds Rhinos are a well-known rugby team based in Leeds. They were founded in 1870 in Leeds and play at Headingley Stadium in Leeds, which is the fifth-largest rugby stadium in England and holds 19,700 fans. 

The rugby team plays in the Super League, which is the highest tier of rugby leagues. The Leeds Rhinos are a successful team with 11 League Titles, 14 Challenge Cups, and three World Club Challenges. 

Yorkshire County Cricket Club

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club, also called the Yorkshire CCC, is another sports team based in Leeds. They play at the Headingley Cricket Ground, which holds over eighteen thousand fans. 

They have a long history, as they were founded in 1863. The team is the most successful English cricket team, with 33 championships. They also have other championships, trophies, and honors. 

The Leeds Town Hall Ghost

Leeds Town Hall is the center of Leeds’ government, and the building also hosts many ceremonies, offices, and public events. But, the Leeds Town Hall is most well known for its ghost. 

The ghost of Leeds Town Hall is said to be Charlie Peace, a burglar, and murderer who lived in Leeds until his execution in 1879. There have also been sightings of a woman ghost, but her name and story are unknown. Many tour operators offer tours and ghost hunts that people can take through Town Hall, which is a huge attraction of the town.

 

Jeremy Paxman

Jeremy Paxman is a broadcaster, TV host, and journalist from Leeds. Paxman is well known for being a worker and presenter with BBC, including his time as a host on Tonight, Panorama, the BBC Six O’Clock News, Breakfast Time, and Newsnight. 

He has also hosted the University Challenge since 1994. Outside of his work on BBC, he has worked for Channel 4 News, has written many books, and is Vice President of the London Library. 

The Invention of Fizzy Drinks

Leeds is known for the invention of fizzy drinks. Joseph Priestley discovered fizzy drinks in 1767. He worked in a Leeds brewery when he put a bowl of water over a beer vat. He infused the water with carbon dioxide to create fizz.

 

He published his findings in 1772, and J.J. Schweppe created his carbonated mineral water company in 1783, which is how fizzy drinks became popular. 

The World’s First Film Was Shot Here

Another thing Leeds is known for is for being the place where the world’s first film was shot. The film was shot in 1888 by Louis Le Prince when he took his camera to a family event. The camera amused his family, and to show them what it did; he had them walk around in front of the camera, thus creating the film known as the Roundhay Garden Scene. 

You can check out the film’s footage here on Youtube from Classic Film Channel:

The Corn Exchange

The Leeds Corn Exchange is an old building that opened in 1863 as a corn exchange. Leeds built the corn exchange in the hopes that the city would become the central corn exchange of England. By 1872, over one hundred and sixty corn traders had stands at the market. 

The corn exchange continued until the late 20th century, and today the building is a shopping center and is still considered one of the architectural highlights in Leeds. 

Royal Armouries Museum

The Royal Armouries Museum is a museum in Leeds that is home to the UK’s arms and armor collection. There are five galleries in the museum that display more than 4,500 objects for visitors to admire. The museum also has shows, displays, a shop, and a cafe. 

The museum is a great place to visit for residents and visitors alike since tickets are free and they are open year-round. Some of the museum’s highlights include Henry VIII’s armor, a full-sized elephant armor, and the pulse rifle from the 1986 Aliens movie. 

Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a national park in Leeds. There are many hiking and walking trails in the park that cater to all difficulty levels and distances. Many of the walks also include some of the highlights of the park, which include:

  • a cove
  • Waterfalls
  • Cliffs
  • Gorges
  • Caves
  • castles

Briggate

Finally, Leeds is known for Briggate, a pedestrian shopping center and one of the city’s oldest parts. There are many activities to indulge in in this district, including shopping, restaurants, live music and events, and admiring the historic buildings and streets. 

Here are some of the most popular attractions in Briggate:

  • The Victorian Quarter shopping center
  • Harvey Nichols department store
  • Trinity Leeds, an indoor and outdoor shopping center full of fashion stores, bars, food, and more

Conclusion

Leeds boasts a wide array of exciting attractions. Locals love the city for all it has to offer; however, the festivals, sporting events, and history bring many people to visit the city every year too. 

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