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Golden Acre Park, Leeds
Dave Tunstall via Flickr

Parklife: the top five parks in Leeds

Written by
Vicki Psarias
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Isn't Leeds lush?

Of course, you probably knew that anyway being a Loiner (or perhaps an honorary Loiner), but we really do have it all in this glorious city.

Shopping fit for the most dedicated of fashionistas, amazing cultural institutions (hello Opera North, Northern Ballet and West Yorkshire Playhouse), top-notch world cuisine (never mind what Giles Coren says) and most importantly, during these treasured nearly-summer months, a whole host of spectacular parks on our doorstep in Yorkshire. In fact, Leeds has a pretty impressive 4,000 hectares of parks and green spaces in the city (who says its grim up north eh?).

With a wealth of parks to choose from, here are some of the prettiest our city and the surroundings has to offer. Just don’t forget your picnic!

Roundhay Park 

Image by Tim Green aka Atoach under creative commons licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/

The only park in Leeds that can boast having a family of meerkats as residents, this north Leeds park serves up over 700 acres of parkland, lakes, woodland, gardens and of course the pièce de résistance, 'Tropical World', which is home to all things wild and wonderful. 

There are two lakes at the park; the larger one is titled the Waterloo Lake, taking it’s name from the soldiers who built it after returning from the Battle of Waterloo unemployed and keen to work. With an average depth of 60 feet, make sure you keep the kids on a tight leash near the edge – the lakeside ducks are terribly tempting to young tots. The second lake, Upper Lake, is much smaller and more shallow and is home to two staggeringly beautiful fountains.

Roundhay Park has also played host to some of the city’s most memorable concerts in its outdoor arena space. The pretty impressive list of A-listers includes: Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Genesis and Robbie Williams to name just a few.

And if that isn’t enough, the park also has a mansion, castle, a playground and three flower gardens to boot. Gorgeous.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Photo by Terry Madely under creative commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/terry/

The perfect park for culture vultures, Yorkshire Sculpture Park was awarded the museum of the year award in 2014 and is one of the few parks in the UK to double-up as an open air gallery, setting awe‐inspiring art against a backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty.

The park is home to sculptures by acclaimed artists Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Anthony Caro. There are also four impressive indoor galleries, which have hosted major exhibitions by artists such as Joan Miro and Yinka Shonibare.

Spread over a sprawling 500 acres, its difficult to cover the whole park in one visit. Take a different route on each trip and take your time to explore the spectacular outdoor art.

Word on the street is that Dizzee Rascal is a big fan of park, having visited it during his 2011 tour. Speaking to bing.com, he named the park as one of the places that inspired him the most, saying the sculptures were, 'like nothing I'd ever seen before', adding: 'The contrast between the natural surroundings and contemporary structures is stunning'. If it’s good enough for Dizzee, it’s good enough for us too.

Golden Acre Park

Image by Dave Tunstall under creative commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/dave__tunstall/

Golden Acre Park is to Leeds what Hampstead Heath is to London. Offering rugged woodland set around a large lake, and like its London counterpart its also known for its after dark sexual promiscuity (it’s a known Dogging spot). But don’t let that put you off, Golden Acre is one of the city’s most popular parks with a continually evolving array of flora that the park’s gardeners change each and every year.

It is one of the most perfect places in Leeds to enjoy sunrise and is a stomping ground for budding and professional photographers shooting the lake. Just make sure you leave before it gets dark or you might end up accidentally catching a ‘full moon’ if you know what we mean...

Temple Newsam

Image by Stephen Bowler under creative commons license https://www.flickr.com/photos/50826080@N00/

This spectacular Tudor‐Jacobean mansion is steeped in history and is famous for being the birthplace of Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots and beheaded by King Henry VIII on grounds of treason.

The house has been restored to its former glory and is home to spectacular public art collections. It also houses new collections, recently displaying work by the Turner Prize wining Grayson Perry.

The grounds are equally as impressive with rolling hills, stunning gardens and a golf course for any budding Tiger Woods’!

A firm favorite with both kids and parents is Temple Newsam’s Holme Farm, where you can get up close to friendly farmyard animals, including pigs, sheep, cows, goats and ducks.

Like Roundhay, Temple Newsam also hosts music events, such as Opera in the Park and the all day house and techno party, Cocoon in the Park.

Hall Park

Image by Rubber Bullets Under Creative Commons License

This Horsforth park is perhaps one of the city’s most underrated parks, but it is worth a visit for its spectacular Japanese gardens alone!

Enter the walled garden and you almost forget that you’re in Leeds as you're instanty transported to the Orient. These tranquil, romantic gardens, are brimming with bamboo and lotus flowers, adorned with features which signify the mountains, woodland areas, waterfalls, lakes and open grasslands found in Japan. A must see is the traditional Japanese bridge and waterfall.

In addition to the Japanese gardens, Hall Park also has a skate park, cricket pitch and spider web’s playground perfect for the big and little people of Leeds. 

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