Kay Brown is the Communications Manager for the Leeds International Film Festival which presents more than 250 films over 18 days in November. This year the event is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is opening with an exclusive screening of the stunning adaptation of Wuthering Heights directed by Andrea Arnold. For more information about the Film Festival visit: www.leedsfilm.com
My city could be described in one word as emerging. Over the last 5 to 10 years Leeds has developed dramatically in terms of both its cultural and commercial offering. There is a great appetite for events such as the Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds International Concert Season and Leeds Digital Festival amongst others along with a great grassroots arts scene which reinforces the cultural offering of the city.
If my city was an animal it would be an owl. Owls are featured on the Leeds Coat of Arms and there are a number of owls that can be seen throughout the city; integrated into the architecture, found in interior decorations and etched in glass. In 2009 the Leeds Owl Trail was launched and has since informed and inspired visitors and residents alike about city’s rich heritage.
I would take a first-timer of my city to Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Art Gallery and The City Varieties. Leeds Town Hall is steeped in history with the cells, clock tower and courtroom accessible to visitors on the Town Hall Tours. It’s impossible to visit Leeds without having lunch or afternoon tea in the Tiled Hall Café in Leeds Art Gallery, the beautiful surroundings of the café were hidden for years until they were discovered a few year’s ago. Finally, The City Varieties theatre, has recently reopened after being beautifully restored and also has a great history worth discovering.
You can buy great gifts at Jumbo Records in the St John’s Centre. It doesn’t matter what genre of music you’re looking for, Jumbo will have something that you can buy, whether you want a CD, vinyl or a gig ticket.
If you’re on a budget the best advice for my city is to visit the free venues such as Royal Armouries, Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute and Leeds City Museum. There’s a lot to discover in our museums and galleries and the best part is that it doesn’t cost you a thing to look around.
If you want to splurge I would visit the Victoria Quarter. The Victoria Quarter houses a plethora of designer shops including Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton plus high end high street stores such as Ted Baker and French Connection alongside the department store, Harvey Nichols.
I would describe the people of my city as enthusiastic and helpful. It doesn’t matter where you go, whether you’re shopping or visiting a local venue, people in Leeds are enthusiastic about what’s happening in the city and are happy to inform you about local events and generally help answer any queries.
The best way to see my city is by foot. Leeds is best explored by walking and the rise in walking tours and photo trails shows that there is a real appetite for discovering the city with friends.
If you came to my city and wanted to live like a local, I would suggest you read The Culture Vulture. The Culture Vulture inspires locals to be home tourists and encourages conversations about the city and what there is to do. It’s a great place to find out about events that you might not have heard about anywhere else.
The best season to travel to my city is Autumn. There’s lots of events on to keep you warm, whether you’re looking to catch a glimpse of a band turning on the Christmas lights, are looking to get festive by visiting the Christkindelmarkt or want to sit inside watching films all day in civic buildings at the Leeds International Film Festival.