The ultimate Fresher's Guide to Leeds: eating out, bars, nightlife and entertainment venues
We're only a few weeks away from the new university term starting and with a new year comes new students who will soon have their Freshers week.
Along with preparing for university life, packing all of the things you need - from your bedsheets, to food, to your favourite teddy that you pretend you don’t have because you’re too cool for that, but the reality is you need it for comfort as you head into the scary adult world.
One of the things, that some may not even considered yet, is planning what you’re going to do once you arrive in Leeds.
Well look no further as we’ve planned it all for you.
From eating out, to the best nightlife spots and entertainment haunts, here's your ultimate Fresher's guide to Leeds.
Cinema and Theatre
Crowd of Favours Cinema Club
The Crowd of Favours is a small bar located next to Leeds Markets which shows a movie every Tuesday for free with popcorn. Films shown vary from the popular, critically acclaimed to cult favourites, basically it go from showing Star Wars to showing the more questionable Sharknado. With this, plus an incredible list of wine, gin and spirits, you’ve got yourself a unique cinema experience.
Of course this has to be mentioned. Located in the Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre, the Everyman offers the homely cinema experience of showing a range of films where viewers can watch from comfortable sofas with food delivered directly to them prior the movie starting. With a menu including milkshakes, pizzas, burgers and cheese covered fries, you’ll want to come back every time.
Hyde Park Picture House
Opened in 1914, this is the last remaining gas-lit cinema in the UK and was the source of the Leeds International Film Festival in 1987. The films shown here vary from the box-office hits to independent to musicals, and this building has even been used as a venue for weddings. Perfect if you want a vintage-style evening.
The popular cinema chain is in Leeds located around seven miles from the city centre. The cinema chain which shows all of the latest releases whether in 2D or 3D and is the classic movie night location.
While maybe an unusual choice for university students there are those who enjoy opera and given it’s history in the city of course it's going to be mentioned. This company is responsible for bringing a range operas which had never been performed in the UK as well as premiering new performances. It is also known for performing musical theatre and electronic music.
There’s two Vue cinemas in Leeds; one in Kirkstall and one in The Light. Again another classic movie theatre where all of the latest releases are shown.
This venue is the hotspot for plays and musicals shown in Leeds. It’s also the location where local schools and universities can go to put on their own performances. This venue also supports local communities and has put on tributes and fundraisers for different movements and groups.
Located in Headingley, Arc is a classic for university students who want to go out for an easy drinks, or pre-drinks, which it’s affordable cocktails, like their famous skittles drink, and cheap spirits and beer, as well as simple but delicious bar food like loaded fries and pizza. It’s perfect for a simple evening out with friends.
Belgrave Music Hall
Also acting as a music venue, Belgrave serves some of the best pizza and burgers around for the best prices. It’s also home to a great list of drinks and has a pretty beer garden on the roof that includes a great view of the busy city. It’s the perfect place to go to for a catch-up with friends.
While a little pricier than the other food on this list it’s still worth a mention for how delicious the food is. A Korean styled menu that has their customers cook their food on a grill in the middle of the table, whether you want to go for a regular meal or go for the famous Bulgogi set meal, you’ll have a fantastic evening surrounded by an incredible atmosphere and food.
Red’s True Barbecue
Located both in Headingley and the city centre. Red’s True Barbecue is famous for its burgers and barbecue meals which is popular amongst the student community in Leeds. As they put it; “Make the pilgrimage to the place that started it all and worship at the altar of meat where so many before you have seen the light.”
Another classic for the local student community. This pub, located in Headingley, is famous for it’s delicious pub dishes and huge list of alcohol filled with with deals. This location will soon become your favourite place to hang out for a sunday meal or place to go when a football match is on.
On the top floor of the Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre is Trinity Kitchen, a place filled with several food stalls of different styles from American to Italian to Chinese to Vietnamese. It’s simply incredible and affordable as several stores take NUS discounts.
Of course this had to be mentioned. This will pretty much become your second home. There’s not much introduction needed to picture this; turning up here for pre-drinks, turning up here for a friendly catch-up, turning up here for a pick-me-up. In fact you won’t need an excuse, you’ll just want to come here.
The Gallery at 164
An independent art institution. Opened in September 2011, the gallery is an informal and relaxed setting filled with the work of different artists and illustrators. The gallery’s aim from the start, and to this day, is to support local artists and culture.
Leeds Art Gallery
Located next to the city hall, this gallery is currently displaying the work of Edward Armitage, William Joy, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Antonio Canova, Paula Rego and Andre Derain. It’s the place to go when you want a quiet day to wander around an art gallery.
Leeds City Museum
Filled with the history of the city, this museum has different galleries showing different aspects of what Leeds has done and gone through over the past hundred years. From World War One and Two to the industrial revolution, Leeds City Museum is a fascinating place to go.
A classic for those who were born and bred in Leeds, the place where it was pretty much guaranteed you’ll have gone on a school trip to. This museum looks at the history of the great Medieval battles that took place centuries ago which displays the armour and weapons used, as well as giving live displays and offering action-packed weekends away.
Brudenell Social Club
Located in Headingley, this venue, which also acts as a bar, plays host to a string of underground artists of a vast of genres. This venue has seen the likes of Marmozets, Lee Scratch Perry and Twin Atlantic perform and offers a genuine community feel as it treats both fans and artists with respect and care.
Located next to the Leeds University campus, this venue also acts as a club on some nights. Freshly opened in 2016, this venue has already seen the likes of Pale Waves perform with bands like The Amity Affliction also booked to attend.
First Direct Arena
Here’s the obvious one. Opened in 2013, this arena has already seen a range of artists perform at this venue, from local legends The Kaiser Chiefs to the biggest names in the music industry like Fleetwood Mac, Fall Out Boy and Black Sabbath, this venue has helped to bring Leeds into the spotlight of the music world.
The Key Club
The small underground venue which took over when The Cockpit shut down. This venue has seen performances from those in the alternative, underground scene from Patent Pending to You Me At Six to Waterparks, this venue is incredibly popular and is even hosted by the same company which created Slam Dunk Festival.
Leeds O2 Academy
This venue has also brought in famous acts that are not quite big enough to perform in a arena. Located next to the Millennium Square (and also next to two Wetherspoons) this venue has seen the likes of Jessie J, Scouting For Girls and George Ezra perform and has continued to be a popular venue over the years.
Located inside the Leeds University Campus, this venue has seen a varied amount of underground artists perform over the years such as Eliza Doolittle, Tonight Alive and Motionless In White. It’s been host to some comedy gigs and club nights.
While also acting as a bar, this venue has seen a range of artists in genres such as alternative rock, jazz and pop perform. This venue has also seen several comedy stars perform and various different club nights and Facebook events.
The Key Club
This is the go to club for not only the best underground gigs but for the best alternative club nights. On Tuesday they have Slam Dunk where they play pop-punk and emo classics, Wednesday they have Bigmouth where they play indie rock, on Friday nights they have Fuel where they play the best rock anthems as well as hardcore rock and on Saturday there’s just a mixture of everything with a few guilty pleasures thrown in. That plus cheap drinks, you can’t go wrong.
Every Saturday night at The Warehouse they have Rock ‘n’ Roll nights where they play nothing but the best alternative tunes. Thrown in the occasional special guest, such as Roy Stride from Scouting For Girls who will be DJing on Saturday 29th, and the occasional night dedicated to artists on their birthday, you really can’t afford to miss out.
This is the club what everyone is talking about. Let’s see, they have the best special guests from Gok Wan to the Chuckle Brothers to even Phil from Eastenders. They have one of the best Freshers events in Leeds, Icebreaker on Tuesday 18th September, and they host Quids In every Monday where selected drinks and entry are all Â£1 before midnight. It’s the student party that everyone wants to go to. Jack Maynard is also booked to DJ on 26th September 2018 for Freshers Friday.
Located in the Leeds Civic Quarter, Revolution, known as Vodka Revs amongst the student population, is well known for it’s Happy Hour event from 5pm-9pm on Thursdays where cocktails are 2-4-1 and the drinks are incredible. It’s usually the host for Freshers events by universities where in some parties there is a fancy dress theme. Honestly you’ll have a great time.
Another must go place for Freshers Week. Tiger Tiger hosts a series of events from Closure Saturday to Flashback Friday, as well as hosting special birthday parties for you and guests. It also plays host to special comedy nights. It’s one of the most talked about clubs in Leeds and for good reason too.
Crash is a record shop located near Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre. This record shops sells of the best vinyls and CDs around, as well as hosting signings and acoustic performances from bands. It’s also the place to go for to your tickets for events happening around Leeds for fair prices, basically minus the service charge.
The must go shop for all the comic book / anime / TV show fanatics out there. It sells Pop figures, comic books, manga, and action figures from all of the best TV shows out there, from DC to Marvel to The Walking Dead to Attack On Titan to Rick and Morty, this shop will be your idea of heaven.
Another great record shop. Jumbo also sells some of the best vinyls and CDs out there, as well selling tickets for the must see events for shows in and around Leeds. Honestly you’ll love going in there and it doesn’t matter if you want to buy something or not, you’ll want to just take in the atmosphere and browse the never ending vinyl displays.
This is pretty much where everything is. It has all of the clothes shops that you’ll need, it has all of the best cafes and restaurants (such as Trinity Kitchen) on the top floor, it has the Everyman Cinema and it hosts one of the best student nights in Leeds where everything is discounted.