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48 hours in Leeds

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Shopping in Leeds

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Planning a jaunt to Leeds? We’ve created just what you need: a guide to where to eat and what to do if you’ve only got two days to pack it all in. We’ve even quizzed a local fashion blogger on her top haunts and inside tips. Keep reading and start planning your weekend away…

Day one: Morning and afternoon

Once you get into the Leeds train station, drop off any bags at a city centre hotel nearby like the Queens Hotel and make your way to the city centre…

Peckish after your journey? Keep your strength up by sampling yummy pastries and gourmet coffee at Anthony’s Patisserie. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, fashion blogger Em (‘just E-M’) from EM Talks has got a great insider tip for you. Tucked away in Queens Arcade, you’ll find Leeds’ ‘yummiest’ cake shop, Cupcakes by Charley.

It’s where those in the know go for freshly baked sponge topped with their special buttercream, and everything is made using ingredients sourced locally. Flavours include Tiramisu, Blueberry Cheesecake and Strawberry Dream. Yum!

Brunch taken care of, now it’s time for some retail therapy at the Victoria Arcade. This is the nucleus of Leeds’ shopping scene with boutiques housed in elegant arcades built around 1900. When they first opened, upper class ladies rejoiced as they finally had somewhere they could go to stock up on dresses without running in to the riff raff on the street. With Harvey Nichols, Whistles and Ted Baker to choose from there’s enough high end shopping here to impress even the most fashion conscious.

Once you’ve seen everything at the Victoria Arcade, Trinity Leeds on Albion Street is one of the more recent additions to Leeds’ scene (it seems Northerners like to shop) and houses everything from restaurants, street food, boutiques and even a cinema all under the same roof. Perfect rainy day entertainment.

Useless (but interesting) fact: With 17 platforms, the Leeds train station has more platforms than any other train station in Britain outside London.

Day one: evening

Once you’re all shopped out, you’ll be ready for a spot of dinner. Brasserie 44 is regarded as one of Leeds’ best restaurants and its modern British/ Mediterranean menu has won it rave reviews from The Good Food Guide and the Michelin Guide.

Suitably fortified, head to the City Varieties Music Hall and bask in the Victorian era architecture while taking in a show. This fun venue tends to show crowd-pleasers like comedy acts, live music, family shows, panto and even weird and wonderful acts featuring psychics and hypnotists.

Day one: after hours

Leeds has one of the biggest student populations in Britain and a bustling nightlife scene. Head to Call Lane for an eclectic mix of bars to explore. But pace yourself — you’ll want to be bright and breezy for more exploring tomorrow.

Our blogger Em has another recommendation for you: you’re most likely to spot her sipping a cocktail at Mook, which creates tempting concoctions which are very reasonable priced saving you cash for more treats tomorrow.

Day two: morning/afternoon

Since you went to bed at a decent time, you can get up nice and early to enjoy Leeds’ fantastic art galleries. The Leeds Art Gallery is a must for contemporary British art. Then head over to the Leeds City Museum for a whistle stop tour through Leeds’ fascinating history (including its role in the Industrial Revolution).

For a spot of lunch (or even a traditional Yorkshire cream tea) the Tiled Hall Café next to the Leeds Art Gallery does delicious soups and cheeky cakes. It’s worth going there just to check out the original 1950s features and tiles.

After lunch, record fans should make a beeline for Jumbo Records, the oldest independent record shop in Leeds which has a fantastic selection and knowledgeable staff on hand to help you track down that LP you’ve been searching for.

Day two: evening

Have a traditional pub dinner and local ale at Whitelocks, one of Leeds’s oldest pubs (it dates back to 1715). Or try the North Bar, which won the Observer Food Monthly’s Best Place to Drink in Britain award.

Later on, why not see if there’s something you fancy at the O2 Academy or the Opera House for entertainment?

Day two: after hours

If you’re feeling brave and have been inspired by watching a gig earlier, why not give it a shot yourself at student favourite – karaoke lounge Japanic?

If it’s a more laid back vibe you’re after, the achingly hip Baby Jupiter bar should be up your street. While if you’re looking for something more high-octane to round your trip off, you can’t beat a club night at the Warehouse.

Key dates: when to go

There always seems to be something on in Leeds. Here are some of the hottest events planned for the year:

03 – 05 May 2013

Rock out at live music venues across the city for Live at Leeds

24 May-09 June 2013

Stuff yourself and sample the best of Leeds’ foodie scene at the Leeds Loves Food festival

28 March-16 June 2013

Check out some of the North East’s most celebrated artists at the Northern Art Prize exhibition at the Leeds Art Gallery

02-15 November 2013

Catch your favourite players in action at the Rugby World Cup

8-24 November 2013

See an independent film at the Leeds International Film Festival

What have we missed here and what’s on your itinerary?

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