Type Hyde Park into a popular internet search engine and you’ll be met with pages of content before seeing anything relating to Leeds. Whilst London’s famous expanse makes our own version hard to find online, in real life the area’s role in the city is equally important up north as its southern namesake. Here, Hyde Park represents a vibrant community of diverse cultures coming together, from Leeds locals and families, through immigrants who set up home here long ago, to the newer influx of students co-habiting, and often remaining, in this exciting part of town.
To keep all of the above happy, there is always plenty going on in and around the area that travels from Otley Road, up towards Woodhouse, and down towards Burley. It is easily reachable, a mile or so from the centre, with buses throughout, and trains servicing Burley Park station. Hyde Park itself, known also as Woodhouse Moor, is a sprawling outdoor space beside the busy main road in between Headingley and the city centre. Within is a children’s playground, a skate park populated with active youth, tennis courts filled in the summer months, acres of grass on which students and locals relax and play sports, and pathways for walkers, runners and cyclists to navigate. Woodhouse Moor is a vital piece of urban nature in Leeds.
It is also the setting for many community gatherings here. Notably, the annual Unity Day is a free celebration of all that LS6 stands for – people, community and cultural diversity – at which hundreds of folk come together to share positivity and party to bands and sound systems through day and night. Community has become a big part of the area, with initiatives like LS6 Community Time Bank and Hyde Park Source encouraging friendship and inclusivity to improve lives and spaces, and charities such as Poverty Aid and the Cardigan Centre providing essential support.
For decades, Hyde Park has welcomed a large Asian community, who settled here, and whose culture remains integral to the suburb today. Many of these families still live in the rows of back to back terraces that symbolise these streets, and bring with them aspects of their traditions. Leeds Grand Mosque is the most visual evidence of this, a religious building in the midst of Hyde Park where the capacity of 1500 is regularly reached. Other backgrounds and beliefs are equally provided for, with Hyde Park Methodist Church, St Augustine’s Wrangthorn and All Hallows’ mixing harmoniously. At Left Bank, in what could be seen as a fitting representation of Hyde Park, a beautiful church has been transformed into an arts venue and events space promoting creativity, connection and wellbeing.
Shops, cafes and restaurants also add to the multicultural vibe, with Abu Bakr and Grove Cafe just two examples of great places attracting mixed ethnicities and enhancing the area; Retro Boutique appeals to students and more with their eclectic array of vintage; May’s Thai Malaysian Cafe and Bangkok Cafe offer Eastern delights; Oranaise, Le Cafeti?re, Popina’s and Chichini cook up dishes of British breakfasts, North African delicacies and Mediterranean dinners between them; and LS6 Cafe is a hangout uniquely decorated with all kinds of clocks, serving all day food, coffee and beers.
Unsurprisingly for an area filled with students, there are plenty of other establishments also pouring the booze. The Hyde Park and The Royal Park are uncomplicated pubs, welcoming of students and locals alike; The East Village arrived a few years ago to add a New York feel to proceedings, with great cocktails and cool music; Hyde Park Book Club then came to put on vital underground gigs and laid back vibes in a former petrol station; and most famously, The Brudenell has transformed itself over the years from a regulars social club to an inclusive bar and hip music venue that is acknowledged as one of the best in the country, attracting cult acts and international stars, whilst somehow maintaining its traditional charm.
But perhaps Hyde Park’s most recognisable landmark is one of its most historic; the Hyde Park Picture House opened in 1914, and this stunning building still stands in its original form, a rarely preserved and ornate spectacle from outside and in. Far from living in the past, the cinema operates superbly in the modern day, by showing a mix of independent art house films, select blockbusters, and other uniquely curated events. A must visit, indeed.
So there you have it; this characterful piece of Leeds is one of its most diverse and vibrant, and as a lengthy google search of ‘what to do in Hyde Park Leeds’ will eventually discover, it is home to many great independents, some essential names, and above all, thousands of people that make Leeds, Leeds.