Just a short walk along the canal from Leeds Rail Station, a visit to Armley Mills over the weekend is the perfect way to feel at one with the water. When you get there, prepare to be astounded by the beautiful building which was once the world’s largest woollen mill, as well as its history, as the museum reveals the City’s industrial heritage. You’ll see machines that were once powered by the mill’s waterwheel, learn how workers turned wool into cloth, and find out about tailoring too!
We’ll take over the cinema and showcase films made locally sharing images and stories about the Leeds Waterfront as well as hosting an exhibition from a local arts group. Canal boats trips will also give families and individuals the unique opportunity to see the city from a new perspective, out on the water enjoying the ride, spotting wildlife and learning about the history of the canal.
A beautiful oasis alongside the canal, Oddy Locks is home to The Stables tea room. With a recent adoption of the stretch of the canal from Spring to Oddy Locks, this community group has transformed the site over the last 18 months, removing graffiti, creating beautiful planted areas and restoring the natural environment in all its glory.
Over festival weekend, the team at The Stables will offer a wonderful taste of heritage with demonstrations from local traditional workboat owner ‘Sue’ and her horse ‘Bilbo’. Both in traditional costume, they are always a wonderful sight along the canal. Tasty cakes, ice cream and refreshments for visitors with a little live music will ensure you can enjoy the picnic area and take a welcome break as you explore the canal.
Another iconic building featuring on the skyline of our beautiful waterway is Castleton Mill, a Grade II listed former textile mill, built in 1806 and recently restored to its former glory by new owners. Now a vibrant working environment for creative businesses, what better way to inject some more community spirit into the festival itself?!
Inspiring communities to explore its understanding and experience of the water, the Junk boat Racing challenge will be held here hosted by the Open Sources Arts River Clean Up Crew. Groups will be challenged to build their unique craft with items reclaimed from Leeds City Council’s recycling centres across the city. Building takes place through Saturday of the festival and Sunday sees our teams launch their Junk Boats into the canal from the Mill and race their way to victory at Granary Wharf, followed closely along the tow path by delighted crowds enjoying the tense journey along the canal... will they make it?!
A kissing point for where the canal meets the river, Granary Wharf is the original waterfront destination for Leeds, with stunning waterside views and impressive apartments, restaurants and bars. There’s always so much going on in this area over the weekend with an atmosphere you don’t want to miss!
Bringing the traditional together with the bright city lights, Granary Wharf is a fantastic destination over festival weekend. Working with local canoe and kayaking clubs, the wharf will be awash with people of all ages getting on the water all weekend long, in canoes, boats and even on stand-up paddle boards! All this fun is guaranteed to bring the water alive and is a fantastic opportunity for safe, healthy activity on the water for all the family.
There'll also be splash mobs, live music, steel drums, choir performances and yarn bombs…and that’s just the organised activities! All the bars have their own additions to the festival, whether that’s food and drinks deals, their own live music or a quiet corner to escape from the madness, Granary Wharf is the place to start your waterfront journey!
Tucked away between Leeds Bridge and The Calls, if you stumble into Victoria Wharf you’ll find one of the diamonds of the festival!
On festival weekend Brasserie Blanc provides outside dining soundtracked by authentic accordian players, crepes straight from the hot plate, patisserie-style cakes and a barbecue as well as boules and live music. How much more French could it get?
With a more relaxed vibe than some of the other sites, Victoria Wharf is our very own bit of France right here in the centre of Leeds.
Between Granary and Brewery Wharf, Calls Landing provides the perfect pit stop to view the river on a sunny afternoon. Wave passengers on the water taxis as you enjoy a pint of local beer, vibrant street food and the amazing namesakes of Stew and Oyster.
This year, the team will be inviting neighbouring breweries, businesses and food outlets to create a fantastic showcase of this newly named ‘Water Quarter’ of the city, taking over the adjacent car park space and transforming it into a bustling haven of talented designers and makers, local breweries, businesses and foodies!
The gateway to the South Bank, this will be the perfect place to hang out, with a wonderful waterside seating area and a busy quirky artisan vintage and design market bursting with talented local designers and makers and vintage traders. All this alongside the best in craft ales, street food and local musical talent playing throughout the day and evening.
Now if you’re after a party more suited to adults, Brewery Wharf is the place to be, so crank up the volume and dance! Hosted by Oracle, Bar 212 and Azuka, there’ll be a dedicated festival zone with outdoor bars and food to keep you going throughout the day. Capitol Radio’s JoJo hosting karaoke battles to warm things up on Saturday afternoon and then everyone’s favourite 70s DJ Brutus Gold will keep the party going throughout the afternoon before the awesome Utah Saints steal the limelight into the night hosted by Bar 212.
With a buzzing atmosphere and this being the site right in the centre of the celebrations, Brewery Wharf is definitely worth a visit on your travels. Just follow the noise which will lead you to the heart of the fun, because we’re sure you’ll hear it before you see it!
The team at The Tetley will be joining in the celebrations again this year after joining us in 2016. A real creative hub, the former brewery is here to inject even more culture into the festival with their fun workshops for families, their current exhibitions and their playful outdoor space.
On Saturday, there will be a free tour of the current exhibitions at The Tetley and an opportunity to find out more about the latest sculpture commission in the atrium by artist Jessie Flood-Paddock, based on the intriguing tale of ‘Vasa’ a Swedish warship build between 1626 and 1628 who’s maiden voyage lasted only 1300meters before sinking!
What we can say is their Bar and Kitchen is the perfect place for some proper pub grub as you build up your energy for the weekend of celebrations, and there’s no place better for the culture seekers out there!
Marking the completion of the first phase Flood Alleviation Scheme, the FAS Team will be hosting a unique event along Armouries Way, close to the action at Leeds Dock. They’ll be building a mock weir and inviting visitors to pop along and pump it up! There’ll be imaginative, interactive performances, the return of the ‘7 Bridges Walk’ performance and the launch of a brand new book for children and life sized otters and cones to play with!
Colourful, lively and competitive, Leeds Dock is home of the legendary dragon boat races where local people compete in teams for the title of fastest rowers! Coming again this year. hosted by Radio Aire, sign up here to show us what you're made of!
The Royal Armouries Museum will be hosting exciting story-telling session in the amphitheatre on Sunday 25th with actors capturing imaginations with gruesome and exciting stories of old brought to life for this year’s festival audience.
As well as this, The British Street Food Awards will host their northern heat at the dock again this year, a tasty treat for every one that loves to explore the diverse flavours on offer! Choose from tasty offerings inspired by street food from across the world and vote for your favourite…time and time again! Buzzing and lively, there were amazing drinks, even better food as well as a whole host of restaurants and bars to while away the evenings when the festivities have died down…We’ll see you there!
Now heading out of the other side of town, Thwaite Mills is another fantastic structure full of tradition and history. Only a 25-minute walk away from Leeds Dock, or a short free bus ride over the weekend, last year this was another site for the whole family!
Go-cart rides, crazy golf, bouncy castle, face painting, craft and information stalls as well as live music and much, much more!