The summer holidays are now a distant memory and autumn is here. For most of us, now is the time we start reining our spending in, in preparation for the upcoming Christmas period. Aside from, of course, purchasing gifts for loved ones. However, less money to spend on fun this season doesn’t have to equate to having less fun when you live in Leeds. Whether you’re a student, on a low budget, or looking for easy ways to save a bit of money, this list is designed to help you enjoy your weekends in Leeds without having to spend a penny.
The Leeds Owl Trail
The owl is a famous Leeds icon, as you’re probably already aware, and is featured in our city’s coat of arms. The Leeds Owl Trail was developed as an educational venture, however it’s also great fun and a good way to explore the city – including parts of it you haven’t been to before. Download a trail map for free, or you can buy one for 50p from the Leeds Visitor Information Centre if you prefer.
Meanwood Valley Trail
The Meanwood Valley Trail is a 7 mile footpath from the centre of Leeds, passing through Headingley, Meanwood, Adel, Breary Marsh, and Golden Acre Park. It’s free, the scenery is varied, and you can walk a section of it, all of it, or hop on your bike and cycle it.
Visit a park
Leeds has many parks for you to explore in the autumn sunshine, as you crunch through the brown, red and golden leaves underfoot. Spend an afternoon enjoying Roundhay Park, Golden Acre Park, Middleton Park, Pudsey Park, or Chevin Forest Park. Or how about a stroll around the grounds of Kirkstall Abbey? Check the weather forecast and take a picnic to save money on lunch.
Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
Leeds is home to a plethora of museums and art galleries, most of which are free to enter. Visit Leeds City Museum to learn more about the history of the area and see an impressive collection of taxidermy. If you’re interested in Marks & Spencer or clothing in general, head to the University of Leeds for the Marks of Time exhibition. The Royal Armories houses the national collection of arms and armour, and often hosts related events, including reenactments. If you’ve an interest in local history, you should give the small but fascinating Horsforth Village Museum a visit.
Art Galleries: The Tetley
It’s worth visiting The Tetley just to experience the stunningly art deco former Tetley Brewery HQ. However, it has also quickly made a name for itself as the place to go for cutting edge art exhibitions, and fun workshops for all ages. Entry is free, but you might be tempted by the aromas of the Bar & Kitchen while you’re there!
Art Galleries: The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery
Not only does The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery offer a wide variety of collections for free public viewing, but they also run various free art sessions throughout the week, such as Sketch Club. Learn a new skill, practise old talents, or learn about the gallery items in great depth.
Visit a Pub or Bar
Enter a pub quiz
The following bars and pubs in Leeds offer free quiz nights: A Nation of Shopkeepers, The Hop, Outlaw’s Yacht Club, Calls Landing, Stew & Oyster, The Fenton, The Old Peacock, The Mustard Pot (Chapel Allerton), The Box (Headingley), West End House (Kirkstall), and The Woolpack (Esholt). With extra perks during some of the quizzes such as a slice of cake or a fish & chip supper, not only could you find free entertainment with the chance to win a prize but get a free dinner thrown in too!
Watch a film on the big screen
Head into the city centre on a Tuesday night and settle down in a comfy seat in the basement of Crowd of Favours. Tuesday night is movie night in this relaxing independent, and they even provide free popcorn. You may have to stump up for a drink, but consider how much you’re saving on a night out compared to a visit to a chain multiplex!
Save the Planet
These ideas will keep you busy for a very good cause – why not spend a few hours of your weekend doing something beneficial for the planet and your local environment? It’s free, of course, and you’ll feel good for doing it.
Bored of your dining table and chairs? Thinking of chucking them out? Why not upcycle them with a lick of paint or a seat upholstery change? Most of us have half full tubs of paint and scraps of fabric in the house. Alternatively, donate your old furniture to a local charity such as Emmaus, who are working hard to end homelessness in Leeds and beyond. You might even find a new table and chairs for your home there, too.
There are many ways to upcycle. Are you fed up of carrying all your empty jars to the bottle bank? Here are 25 ways to upcycle and reuse your glass jars. Give them another lease of life!
Join in with a litter pick, and make a difference to your local area – you can find a local litter pick on websites such as LitterAction. For example, the LitterAction group in Guiseley often has several picks in the pipeline. None going on in your area at the moment? You could organise your own litter pick. It can be a harder task when there are leaves on the ground and the air is chilly, but it does still need doing, as litter is a pollutant and can be dangerous to wildlife.
Whatever you and your friends and family are into, you are guaranteed to find something free and fun to do in Leeds this weekend – whether that’s visiting an art gallery, taking a stroll in one of our beautiful parks, entering a pub quiz, seeing a film screening, or spending some time benefiting the environment. With so many gratis options, you’ll wonder why you ever chose to pay for weekend activities!