Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Leeds
18th August 2023
The capital of the north is the perfect place for a city break in the UK. Even those who may struggle with their mobility and use aids like a stairlift will be able to enjoy a carefree time in the city. Leeds is an old city with a young soul, and it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in northern pride. With friendly people, amazing attractions and a beautiful city centre, it’s bound to keep just about anyone entertained.
The epitome of northern hospitality, offering its residents and visitors a friendly and exciting experience. The laid-back atmosphere and happy disposition will make anyone fall in love with it. This article looks at how to get to Leeds and how someone who struggles with mobility can spend their time there.
How to get to Leeds
Leeds is an incredibly easy city to get to from most parts of England, so you won’t need to worry about complicated connections or stressful journeys. Below are some of the easiest ways to get to Leeds.
Travelling to Leeds by rail
Leeds railway station is the third busiest in the UK, so although that can mean there are many people going through it every day, a lot of services run there directly. For anyone who prefers to preplan their journey precisely, there is a full station map available. You can also find out the full Leeds station accessibility information online.
Travelling to Leeds by road
Many coach and bus services run to Leeds from all over the UK. It’s also conveniently located at the crossroads of the M62 and M1, so it is easily accessible from all over the country.
Travelling to Leeds by air
Leeds Bradford Airport is situated only eight miles outside of the city centre and serves more than 75 destinations across Europe. Getting from the airport into the city is straightforward, with plenty of car hire services, taxis and buses available.
Best accessible attractions to visit
With so much to see and do, it can be hard to know what everyone should tick off in Leeds. The attractions listed below are definite crowd-pleasers and are certainly worth heading to if you are travelling to the city.
Before you visit the city, another resource that you should check is the Accessible Leeds website. Nathan Popple, who has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user, is the editor, and on his site, he reviews shops, places to eat and entertainment venues in the city in the hopes of making it easier for others with limited mobility to enjoy what this thriving city has to offer.
He talks about why he started his accessibility website: “Back in 2011, I wanted to go bowling with my friends at AMF Bowling, but I could not get in. There are lots of stairs. I felt sad and angry.”
Royal Armouries Museum
There are three Royal Armouries Museums across the UK, with the custom-built Royal Armouries Museum situated in Leeds. This building is unique and once you walk inside, you’ll find fascinating knowledge, facts and artefacts.
You can explore a variety of galleries and see exhibits, including Henry VIII’s foot combat armour made in 1520, the largest animal armour in the world, and the ‘pulse rifle’ from the classic 1986 Aliens film.
The Royal Armouries Museum provides excellent facilities, including well-trained staff and wheelchairs available to use on-site. Find all of their accessibility information here.
First Direct Arena
If you want to watch a big show, the First Direct Arena is the perfect place to catch chart-topping singers and amazing shows. Watch some of the biggest names in the world live here, from singers to comedians and everything in between. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime night that you’ll never forget, the First Direct Arena is the perfect venue.
Nathan from Accessible Leeds marked the First Direct Arena 10/10 for accessibility; he said: “It is huge and can hold 13,500 people, however, I did not expect there to be as many spaces for wheelchairs (and for carers) as there are. I couldn't count them, however, there is an entire row of the arena dedicated to these spaces... and that is a lot! The accessible areas offer amazing views and generous comfort with easy access to the accessible toilets.
“The arena offers a free ticket for a carer/support worker, which is really good! There are plenty of nearby accessible parking spaces to the arena, however, these can get taken quickly for a big event. Staff are friendly and well trained to assist people with accessibility needs.”
The First Direct Arena ensure all of their guests with limited mobility and special needs are well catered for with designed seating, personal assistants/companions, lifts, a hearing loop system and more. You will need to book Leeds Arena accessible tickets for the event you are attending. Find all of their accessibility information here.
Leeds Playhouse (formally known as the West Yorkshire Playhouse) is a fantastic place to catch a show in the city. Filled with passionate performances and an incredible atmosphere, this is a great way to enjoy some theatre on your weekend away. The playhouse was originally opened in September 1970, and since then, it has grown immeasurably into a solid institution of the arts.
Nathan from Accessible Leeds marked The West Yorkshire Playhouse 10/10 for accessibility; he said: “The Playhouse has an amazing Changing Places room which is great. There is loads of room along with an H-Frame hoist, changing bed, shower and properly adapted toilet. The Playhouse is a brilliant venue for anyone with any kind of disability, and it is top of my list of places to go in Leeds.”
The Leeds Playhouse offers lift access to the auditorium, multiple spaces for wheelchair users across three levels and accessible toilets. They also have an infrared system in operation for deaf or hearing-impaired patrons. They also offer accessible performances including BSL, captioned, audio-described and dementia-friendly performances. As well as all that, they are part of Ramps On The Moon, a programme that aims to get more representation for disabled performers and practitioners in theatre. Find out more about Ramps On The Moon and the accessibility of the theatre here.
Accessible restaurants in Leeds
Leeds is home to lots of fantastic eateries, and here are the best and most accessible restaurants and cafes in the city.
La Piola Italian Delicatessen
Whilst not officially a restaurant, La Piola Italian Delicatessen is a great place to visit if you are a foodie.
La Piola Italian is a family-run eatery that serves authentic Italian cuisine. They open early for coffees and breakfasts, and then from noon, there are light lunches from the deli counter that you can enjoy and a freshly cooked small menu with speciality dishes.
Authentic Italian and regional ingredients and ingredients from local Yorkshire suppliers are used in all their meals.
The café bistro is tucked away in the heart of the financial quarter in Leeds, and its premises are accessible to diners with limited mobility or wheelchair users.
Angelica is on the sixth floor of the Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre, and what makes it a popular eatery is not just its great food but the stunning panoramic city views you get. There is also a wraparound planted terrace, but seats on the terrace are highly prized when the weather is good.
The Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre, where the Angelica restaurant is located, is accessible to people with mobility issues. There are lifts to all floors of the shopping centre, accessible toilets and accessible parking is available too.
Best accessible tours
There are lots of accessible tours available in Leeds, and here are some of the best ones that you can enjoy in the city.
Emmerdale Village Tour
Love Emmerdale? Journey to Leeds to see the Emmerdale Village Tour. On this tour, you’ll embark on a 90-minute, fully guided, outside walking tour where you’ll explore the village and see exterior sets of The Woolpack, Café Mainstreet, David’s Shop and many more – with plenty of time to take photos.
The Emmerdale Village Tour is accessible for wheelchairs-users. Mobility vehicles can be used on the village tour, assistance dogs are allowed and there are measures in place for guests who are hard of hearing, have visual impairments or need British Sign Language tours. Find all of the accessibility information here.
Leeds city centre tour
A great way to get your bearings and discover Leeds through a local’s eyes, with a local, expert guide, is to go on one of the walking tours that are offered in the city.
Walking Tours In offers a variety of different guided walking tours across the city, but it is their Leeds Highlights tour that is well worth doing if you are visiting the city for a few days.
The tour is around one hour, 30 minutes, and during this time, you'll not only see and learn about the history of Leeds, but you’ll also gain an authentic insight into modern life in the city today and explore some hidden gems along the way.
These tours are accessible to wheelchair users and people with limited mobility, and guides can always slightly adapt them depending on your needs.
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Watch Yorkshire County Cricket Club play at Headingley
Playing their games at Headingley Cricket Ground, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club are one of the best and most historic teams in the country, and it is a fantastic place to watch cricket, and for sports lovers it’s a great day out.
The Yorkshire County Cricket Club team spoke about why the club is worth visiting: “The world-renowned Headingley is a fantastic place to watch cricket, hosting a range of high-profile fixtures throughout the summer months. The home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Headingley is known for showcasing some of the world’s greatest talent, with an incredible heritage for nurturing some of the greatest players to have played the game. Matchdays in Leeds vary, dependent on the format of the game, but a friendly, and often partisan, atmosphere can be expected.”
They also discussed what they have done to make Headingley stadium as accessible as possible: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club have worked hard to ensure the stadium is accessible to all supporters and continue to strive for better. The ground has a good amount of accessible seating, both indoors and outdoors, as well as covered seating in several locations..”
Yorkshire County Cricket Club have put many measures in place to make themselves accessible. There are accessible parking spots available, accessible seating areas and more. You can see more information about the accessibility at Headingley Stadium here.
Watch a performance from Opera North
Opera North creates incredible productions which fuse traditional opera values with modern day themes. Their shows are an extraordinary experience, and you’ll spend the night riveted by what they put on. As well as operas, you can also watch live music shows, take part in events or watch amazing concerts play. Opera North’s homes are the Leeds Grand Theatre and Howard Assembly Room, however, you can catch them in action all across the UK.
The team spoke about what Opera North provides: “Opera North puts on operas, musicals, and orchestral concerts in Leeds Grand Theatre and Leeds Town Hall, and programmes a varied selection of music (world, jazz, classical), spoken word and film in the beautifully refurbished Howard Assembly Room which is a venue inside Leeds Grand Theatre.
The team spoke in more depth and explained how they help those with limited mobility: “We have friendly box office staff to help book your tickets and inform you of the relevant discounts you may be eligible for, plus they can assist you in choosing the best seats either for a view of the subtitled screens or nearest to the exit etc. We can provide you with any of our brochures and information in accessible formats such as large print, audio or Braille should you need them. And we also offer various accessible performances of our productions. All of the operas sung in another language have English subtitles displayed in large screens either side of the stage which are visible from anywhere in the theatre, and some operas sung in English are titled too.”
Opera North has made many alterations to make its performances as accessible as possible. The Leeds Grand Theatre has wheelchair lifts, wheelchair spaces, and accessible toilets, and they offer accessible performances including captioned performances, audio-described performances and signed performances. Find all of their accessibility information and show times for their accessible performances here. You can talk to the Opera North box office team on 0844 848 2720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As you can see, there are some brilliant and accessible things to see and do in Leeds over a weekend.
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.