Let us inspire you with top things to do
Did you know Wakefield is famous for its rhubarb? Every year the city throws a Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb to celebrate its favourite pink vegetable, including visits from celebrity chefs and lots of rhubarb-themed goodies on sale. Genuinely it's very good!
The World’s First Nature Reserve
The grounds of Walton Hall, a stately home built in 1767, became the site of the world’s first nature reserve at the hands of pioneering 19th century environmentalist Charles Waterton. His work is celebrated in A World of Good, a multi-sensory exhibition hosted by Wakefield Museum until July 2022.
Pontefract is known for its castle, a once-fearsome fortress which bore witness to some of England’s most momentous historical events earning itself the name “Key to the North”! But few know of its ties to liquorice. It is not known who brought liquorice to Pontefract, but the area’s soft loam was perfect for its roots. By 1614 the liquorice extract was being made into small stamped medicinal lozenges. An early form of the famous Pontefract Cakes! In 1760, sugar was added to the recipe, beginning the region’s long-standing relationship with confectionery.
World Coal Carrying Championships in Gawthorpe
Each year men and women race the streets of Gawthorpe carrying huge sacks of coal. Starting from the Royal Oak public house in Ossett and continuing for a distance of 1012 metres, the race ends when the runners’ sacks of coal hit the ground of the Maypole Green in Gawthorpe village. The region’s rich coal mining heritage can also be discovered year-round at the National Coal Mining Museum for England.
With only a few neon makers left in the UK, this unconventional artform is at risk of being lost. But fear not, Wakefield city centre is home to the luminous star that is Neon Workshops. Devoted entirely to neon art, they run a regular programme of sculpture courses which are suitable for beginners right through to expert level.
The world’s largest stone grinding flour mill
Sitting on the banks of the River Aire, Queen’s Mill is the world’s largest stone grinding flour mill, with twenty pairs of stones. It is said that there has been a working mill by the river Aire as far back as Roman times, and it can be stated with some confidence that flour has been produced on the site of Queen’s Mill for an almost unbroken period of more than 900 years! Today the mill is also home to tearooms, a craft beer shop, a coffee roaster, artist studios and lots more.
Yorkshire Sculpture park
Founded just over 40 years ago by a schoolteacher, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has grown to become the internationally recognised home of works by some of the world's finest artists. Stroll through almost 500 acres of parkland and get close enough to touch genuine pieces of modern art that will inspire with their scale and breadth of ideas. There are also temporary exhibitions to enjoy as you take in the fresh air and fresh thinking.
Finish your day with a trip to the magnificent Wakefield Cathedral in the heart of the city. Built around 1,000 years ago, it lifts the soul with its spirituality, impressive carvings and stunning stained glass windows.
Hidden Wakefield Westgate
Adrenaline-seekers will be thrilled to find that the Wakefield district has a secret wonderland for family-friendly fun and blood-pumping activities. Xscape Yorkshire is home to indoor ski slopes, laser tag, climbing walls, trampoline parks, VR arcades, laser mazes and even escape rooms. Complete with a food court to fuel up after a day’s worth of adventure, it’s the perfect place for active families and fun-loving friends.
Wakefield is a treasure trove for all your favourite high street brands. Head to The Ridings Shopping Centre for unique stores and the best bargains. Or pop along to Trinity Walk for your fashion fix and fill up at the food court.
Food & craft markets
The Wakefield district is blessed with not just one but eight markets. For homemade baking, crafts and artisanal produce, browse the stalls at the Wakefield food, arts and crafts market outside Wakefield Cathedral. You might even catch some street entertainment while you shop.