Juliette Bains: Clock strikes fun as new names arrive in city centre

Old venues such as the former Gatecrasher site are getting a new lease of life.
Old venues such as the former Gatecrasher site are getting a new lease of life.
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STANDING in an empty room, full of adrenalin and nervous energy, my friends and I were given strict instructions.

“Hunt for clues, and solve the puzzles to get out. If you fail to make it within the hour, you lose the game.”

This isn’t your typical evening activity, but that’s the beauty of Tick Tock, Unlock.

In case you haven’t already heard, the live escape game is one of the newest – and most popular – things to do in Leeds.

Shooting right up to the city’s number one spot on Tripadvisor, the logic-based game has already captured the imaginations of hundreds of people.

I won’t give too much away (although I will bask in the glory of making it out with eight minutes to spare). But I will say that being locked in a solicitor’s office surrounded by playing cards, a safe and a seemingly endless array of padlocks was the most fun I’ve had in Leeds in a long time.

As we left the building with huge smiles on our faces, it sparked a discussion between the triumphant group about how lucky we are to have so many unusual things to keep us entertained in the city.

Yes, we have a huge number of places to go for a drink, but Leeds is about much more than finding the next place to stagger to.

Barely a week seems to go by without some clever new idea or event popping up, from interesting new concept bars and restaurants to shop and market openings.

For starters, New Dock (the former Clarence Dock site) seems to finally be getting its act together, with a monthly waterside market starting this weekend.

I wrote in this column a few weeks back about how long overdue it was that such a landmark site was put to better use. Thankfully, the new market looks like exactly the sort of thing the Dock has been crying out for – with award-winning street food, local produce, live music, a bar, children’s activities and stalls this Saturday and Sunday.

It’s also encouraging that the new owners Allied London are making the effort to tackle the travel issue by putting on a free riverboat taxi from Granary Wharf.

This is precisely what New Dock needs to entice people back to what is a beautiful yet forgotten part of the city.

Shoppers in the city are also being spoiled for choice, as Lambert’s Yard on Lower Briggate launches on November 21. It’s already being hailed by industry experts as the perfect chance for Leeds to return to its successful retail roots.

With designers, independent fashion retailers and artists all under one roof, it’s certainly something the city hasn’t seen much of before, and it’s great to see a modern concept take shape in such a historic building.

Time will tell if it will be a hit or not, but the independent sector seems to have taken a bit of a hit in the city centre of late, so here’s hoping this will help lead the revolution.

If that’s not enough to keep you busy, there’s a bunch of new bars and restaurants opening too.

Buca di Pizza opens tonight and has taken over the site of La Grillade on Wellington Street.

It certainly has big shoes to fill, with La Grillade enjoying 30 years of business, but it’s always good to see someone new throwing their hat into the ring.

On the other side of town, Manahatta bar and The Brotherhood are launching at the former Gatecrasher site.

They’re sure to fit in amongst the likes of The Pit and Belgrave in what is now a vibrant, upcoming corner of Leeds. With so many things to do, clothes to buy, food to eat and drinks to devour, it feels like Christmas really has come early for Leeds this year.


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