WHAT TO DO IN LEEDS?: Summer holiday family events

WHAT TO DO IN LEEDS?: Summer holiday family events

There’s plenty to do in Leeds, West Yorkshire with the kids this summer. Here’s the lowdown of what’s going on whether you live in Yorkshire or are visiting for a fun day out.

Abbey House Museum

School Holidays

Until 30 Aug

Inspired by our current temporary exhibition, Danger Zone, we will be making crafts and having fun with a different theme each week. From bugs and insects to spies and crimes, there’s plenty to get involved in with the family. Plus, we’ll be theming our silly science sessions so come along to get involved and find out something new!

30 Jul & 2 Aug – Spies and Crimes crafts

31 Jul – Spies and Crimes silly science

6 & 9 Aug – Reptiles and Roars crafts

13 & 16 Aug – Dinosaur crafts

14 Aug – Dinosaur silly science

20 & 23 Aug – Jungle crafts

27 & 30 Aug – Pirates crafts

28 Aug – Pirates silly science

Each Thursday in the holidays – Danger Zone Quest

All sessions run 10am-12pm & 2-4pm.


Leeds Art Gallery

Artspace: Sculpture Experiences

Until 29 Sept

Leeds Art Gallery’s popular creative space for families and others hosts imaginative activities inspired by YSI artist-work within the gallery making links between sculpture and everyday experience of a world full of objects. Check our website for Artspace pop-up events aiming to surprise, play and make us laugh hosted by the Henry Moore Institute and others.


Leeds City Museum

School Holidays

Until 30 Aug, 10am-12pm & 1-3pm

Make Marvellous Music at Leeds City Museum this summer holidays. Explore the musical side of our collections by following our Strange Sounds trail and hear the haunting tune of the Malham Pipe, our 2500 year old whistle! Each week make and decorate two different simple musical instruments from shakers and castanets to Japanese pellet drums and an Ancient Egyptian Sistrum. Design a sheet music decoration to take home.


Leeds Industrial Museum

School Holidays

12.30 to 3pm Tues, Wed, Thurs in summer holidays

Arts & craft workshops linked to our museum collection, including printing and wool felting.

Vintage Bus Day

18 Aug, 10am-5pm

Catch beautifully restored buses and coaches to hop between the city centre and Leeds Industrial Museum, Middleton Railway and Thwaite Mills. Purchase a ticket to either Leeds Industrial Museum or Thwaite Watermill and gain free entry to the other one on the same day! Jump off the bus at Thwaite Mills for a day of fun activities for all the family, including a classic car show and children’s entertainment then head over to Leeds Industrial Museum to see a transport themed movie in the 1920s cinema.


Thwaite Watermill

School Holidays

Until 27 Aug, Tues & Thurs, 1-5pm

Join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays for crafts and experiments with a different theme each week. Make a windmill, design some super cool shades and discover the wonders of ‘smart materials’ this summer.

Vintage Bus Day

18 Aug, 10am-5pm

Catch beautifully restored buses and coaches to hop between the city centre and Leeds Industrial Museum, Middleton Railway and Thwaite Mills. Purchase a ticket to either Leeds Industrial Museum or Thwaite Watermill and gain free entry to the other one on the same day! Jump off the bus at Thwaite Mills for a day of fun activities for all the family, including a classic car show and children’s entertainment then head over to Leeds Industrial Museum to see a transport themed movie in the 1920s cinema.



A Sixties Summer of Fun

24 Jul – 1 Sept

Stuck for something to do for six weeks? Then why not visit us throughout summer for our Flower Power trail, swinging sixties crafts and on special days, artists workshops. Each week we will have a new theme that celebrates Lotherton as it approaches its special milestone birthday.

Week 1: Sixties Summer week

Week 2: Flower Power week

Week 3: Lotherton Birthday week

Week 4: Fashion Crafts week – from the 1960s to now

Week 5: Groovy Zoo week

Week 6: Love Lotherton week

Temple Newsam

Through the ages for all ages tour

Every Sat & Sun, 2.30pm

A tour for our younger visitors with a chance to handle some items from our collection and hear stories of some of the people who lived here.

School Holidays – Monsters in the Mansion

Until 1 Sept

Calling intrepid explorers of all ages to a summer of beastly adventurers! Borrow a monster back pack and go on our monster trail or simply follow the monster map around the house to discover ‘creatures’ in the objects and walls! Hear fantastical stories of awesome animals and become a creative creature in our own beastly lair. Make your own unicorn, dragon or griffin and design a marvellous monster mask to take home.

Amazing Animals

10 – 18 Aug, 10am-4pm

A celebration of our fantastic rare-breed farm animals, native wildlife and birds and animals from all over the world!  Hands-on activities, animal encounters and more.

Clay Creatures

21 Aug, 10.30am-12.30pm

Go on an adventure around the House in search of fantastical beasts with our friendly Learning Officer Nikki Caines then learn some clay skills in order to create your own beast to take home.


Kirkstall Abbey

Free entry

Kirkstall Abbey Markets

29 – 31 Aug


With over 40 stalls in the cloisters of the abbey, the Kirkstall Abbey Market is the perfect place to find high quality Yorkshire produce, handmade crafts, collectables and freshly cooked treats for a tasty lunch. Put an extra spring in your step and take a stroll through the grounds afterwards.

Mini Dragons

30 Jul, 6 Aug, 13 Aug, 20 Aug, 10-11am

Our weekly under 5’s session has a dragon theme for the summer holidays. Bring along your mini dragon for fun crafts and activities in the abbey. Please be prepared that we might messy and we like to go spread outside in nice weather. Older siblings welcome.

Games Galore

Every Weds in summer holidays, 10am-3pm

Each Wednesday of the school holidays we will be putting out a selection of games in the cloister for people to help themselves and have fun.

Outside Art

8 & 28 Aug

Join us in the cloister for some outside art. We will have lots of materials and different techniques to explore.

Picnic with Barry the Dragon

15 Aug, 1-3pm

Come along to the abbey, bring a picnic and meet our friendly dragon Barry. Just make sure he doesn’t eat your sandwiches!

Kirkstall Abbey Fun Dog Show

22 Aug, 1-3pm

Our fun dog show returns with super serious categories such as dog with the waggiest tail and prizes for sausage eating and best control on lead!


Leeds Discovery Centre

School Holidays

Various dates, 10am-12pm

Fun themed sessions every week to come along to, explore and discover our marvellous collections, then take a tour of our incredible object store:

31 Jul – Money, Money, Money

7 Aug – A day at the Seaside

14 Aug – Indian Summer

21 Aug – Marvellous Minerals

28 Aug – Magnetic Toys and Games

Behind the scenes tour

Every Thursday at 11am and 2pm

One of the best ways to access and see our collections is to enjoy our free store tours held every Thursday. These unique tours highlight fascinating objects and delve into the stories behind some of our most unusual items.

These events are free but must be booked, please call 0113 378 2100 or email discovery.centre@leeds.gov.uk


To find out more about Summer Holiday Family Events in Leeds…

For further information including opening times and admission prices please visit: museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk


FREE FAMILY DAY OUT: Exploring Kirkstall Abbey (and Abbey House Museum)

FREE FAMILY DAY OUT: Exploring Kirkstall Abbey (and Abbey House Museum)

I have seen pictures online of Kirkstall Abbey of various events popping up from cinema screenings to markets, all at the 12th century ruins. But other than events, what was there to offer for a family in Yorkshire with young children?

We had been invited to review Abbey House Museum (the gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbey) and Kirkstall Abbey itself by Leeds Museums and Galleries, so we went along in the school holidays to explore.

We drove from Wakefield and I was surprised at how close Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum (which are across the road from each other) are to the motorway and tucked around the back of Kirkstall Rd where I have previously worked for TV channels. Kirkstall Abbey is just 4 miles from Leeds City Centre (bus details are at the bottom of this post).

Vlogging at Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum in Leeds / Yorkshire Families

Even from the car park Kirkstall Abbey is staggeringly beautiful and is thought of as one of the most complete Cistercian monastries in Britain.

But the kids being kids were more interested in the playground next to the car park. Anyway we managed to bribe them into Abbey House Museum Cafe aka The Gatehouse for some lunch before exploring Kirkstall Abbey and then inevitably, ending up back at the playground.

We had a peek inside the museum which is made up of Victorian Streets (but you have to pay to get in and we didn’t have time to do both, we should have scheduled a full day trip out). Abbey House Museum’s The Gatehouse cafe and toilets are aptly themed too with plenty to learn even whilst sat on the toilet!

The cafe, like the museum, is stunning in terms of the architecture of the building. It was a sunny day when we visited so we opted to sit outside overlooking a vast array of plant beds and Kirkstall Abbey across the road.

There’s also a picnic area too or you can choose a range of drinks and hot and cold food from a simple menu of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and other hot meals.

The food is fresh and nice but basic, so it was perfect for the kids but a little plain for us adults.

We finished off with ice creams before crossing the road to Kirkstall Abbey. Other than the visitor centre it is all outdoors so make sure you wrap up warm and bring an umbrella, unless you drop on like we did and have sunny weather.

Kirkstall Abbey is FREE to enter

There’s also a nice field for children to play on too and well built paths to help you explore the circumference of the Abbey.  On appearance you can tell it was built by monks from Fountain’s Abbey as there are a lot of similarities in its appearance.

As The Cistercians in Yorkshire writes: “The history of Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire, begins with its foundation in 1147, when a group of twelve monks from Fountains Abbey, under the guidance of their prior, Alexander, colonised the site at Barnoldswick. In 1152 the community relocated to the present site of Kirkstall, and remained here until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539. The abbey buildings escaped the wholesale destruction and plunder that occurred elsewhere; most were left standing and used for agricultural purposes; this is perhaps why Kirkstall is now the most complete set of Cistercian ruins in Britain. While the abbey is now embedded in the industrial quarter of Leeds and the site bisected by the A65 Kirkstall Road, during the Middle Ages – and up until the late eighteenth century – this was a secluded spot in a rural setting. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the main thoroughfare to Leeds actually ran through the nave of the church.”

My family and I made our way around the Abbey before realising how to actually get in to the Abbey through the visitor centre.  

The kids loved running around the site and playing hide and seek. Also there’s often activities on in the visitor centre during school holidays.

I also couldn’t resist taking endless photos of the stunning site for pleasure and for instagram of course.  


The kids also found a mud kitchen to play in. It was great to see them use their imaginations to move around the areas rather than give them lots of pre planned activities.

Make and Move: Jasmine and Arianna exploring Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds / Yorkshire Families 

As the weather started to turn, we then made our way back to the playground as we had promised we could go there too.

We had only given ourselves a few hours to visit but I could have easily spent longer there. There is so much to do for the whole family young and old and easily a day out if visiting both places in tandem. 

For other ideas for free days out in Yorkshire, go to: https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk/2019/04/17/free-days-out-in-yorkshire-where-to-go-and-what-to-do-with-the-family/ 

How to get to Kirkstall Abbey

Visitor information:







Opening Hours

Mondays: Closed – Open Bank holidays: 10:00 – 16:00

Tuesday – Sunday:

April to Sept 10:00 – 16:30 Last admission 16:00

October – March 10:00 – 16:00. Last admission 15:00


General admission is free

Venue Details

Visit one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries in the country and step back in time to see how the monks lived. Refreshments are available from the Gatehouse café across the road at Abbey House Museum.


Baby change; Toilets; Visitor centre; Picnic area; Cafe; Education facilities; Play area

Telephone Number

0113 3784079


For information on access at this venue, please visit our Access page


A large free car park is situated opposite Kirkstall Abbey, on Abbey Walk. This includes disabled access parking.

Public Transport

Bus numbers 33, 33a and 757 travel from the city centre to Kirkstall Road.

The nearest train stations are Kirkstall Forge (1 mile away) and Headingley (1 mile away). Contact Metroline for up-to-date travel information on (0113) 245 7676.


Getting to Abbey House Museum

Visitor information:


Abbey Walk




Venue Details

Wander the beautifully created authentic Victorian streets for a glimpse of life in 19th century Leeds.

Telephone Number

0113 3784079



Public Transport

Bus numbers 33, 33a and 757 travel from the city centre to Kirkstall Road.

The nearest train stations are Kirkstall Forge, c.1 mile away, and Headingley, a 1 mile walk. Contact Metroline for up-to-date travel information on (0113) 245 7676.

By car: If you are using a route planner, our postcode is LS5 3EH.


For information on access at this venue, please visit our  Access page


A large free car park is situated next to Abbey House Museum on Abbey Walk. This includes disabled parking. There is an additional disabled access parking space immediately outside the museum entrance.

Opening Hours

Mondays: Closed (Open Bank Holiday Mondays, 10:00 – 17:00)

Tuesday – Friday & Sundays: 10:00 – 17:00. Last admission 16:30.

Saturday: 12:00 – 17:00. Last admission 16:30.


Baby change; Cafe; Shop; Education facilities; Picnic area; Play area; Toilets; Parking

Admission Adult


Admission Child

£2.65 Children under 5 years – free.

Admission Concession


Admission Family


Admission Group


Admission Leeds Card

  • Leeds Card Adult £4.15,
  • Breezecard child £2.10,
  • LeedsCard Family £8.80.
  • Leeds Card Extra £3.15 Please make sure you have your card with you.

Admission Max Card

General admission is free

Admission Membership

Admission is free to members of the Leeds Art Fund, Friends of Leeds City Museums, the Museums Association and the National Arts Collection Fund.



YORKSHIRE EVENING POST: Meet the Yorkshire Family behind Yorkshire Families Magazine Blog

YORKSHIRE EVENING POST: Meet the Yorkshire Family behind Yorkshire Families Magazine Blog

Yorkshire Families editor Sophie Mei Lan and her family are regularly featured in Yorkshire Evening Post so we thought we’d also share their favourite things to do in the region.

Sophie Mei Lan is a multi-award-winning vlogger, blogger and film-maker – she runs Yorkshire Families magazine, MamaMei.co.uk (a family and mental health blog) and Evoke Media Group – an all female video production and influencer marketing company Blog Up North.

Sophie, 31, lives with her husband Chris Hale of three years, 32 and their two daughters Jasmine, 7, and Arianna Hale, 4.

Family of the Week – as featured in Yorkshire Evening Post

What are your top tips for getting
children to do what you ask?

I try to be as positive and a gentle parent where possible. So I try to explain things and reason with them. But sometimes if they’ve kept me up at night I loose my rag!

Bribery and rewards normally do the job too.

What family task takes you the longest?

Getting ready for school and nursery, we have endless troubles over what to wear and how wrinkly their tights are.

What’s the weirdest thing your children
have done/brought home/done to your house?

My eldest Jasmine loves art and regularly comes out of school with enormous box models made out of rubbish. We always look odd as I don’t drive so have to try and get the kids and a huge sculpture of rubbish home, I’m like Buckaroo. Jasmine’s very precious about keeping them as well.  

Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why?

We both have our own YouTube channels. I vlog about mental health and attachment parenting at YouTube.com/sophiemeilan and they have their own Make and Move channel. And they have taken to presenting and vlogging so naturally they instantly say: “Hi guys, comment down below, subscribe and give this video a thumbs up.”

What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids?

My daughter was at the bus stop for me and begging for an apple and all I had was chocolate in my bag. The other people at the bus stop looked disgusted at me.

What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done?

They told their teacher in a careers class that their mummy is a professional footballer for a living (because they’ve seen me play football a few times… I love it but no-one would ever pay me to play it!).

Mini moan – what really gets your goat?

Judgemental people! You really don’t know what battle or toddler someone is facing. So just don’t judge and try empathise.

What’s your favourite family day out?

We’ve always loved the free crafts at The Hepworth Wakefield and now we run The Hepworth Cafe there, so we’re there all the time.

We had a lovely day out at Kirkstall Abbey recently and it’s free to enter.

Image India Hobson / The Hepworth Wakefield

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately?

We all love going to Xscape in Castleford, from bouncing on trampolines in Gravity to learnming to snowboard in SnoZone, there’s loads to do. We also love trying out climbing walls and love the new one at Meadowhall in Sheffield. I also love dancing, vlogging and shopping at Victoria Gate, Kirkgate Market and Trinity Walk in Wakefield.

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

It can be relentless and trying to reason with kids mid tantrum is hard.

What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed?

I co-sleep and breastfeed, so there’s no such evening without kids for me.

What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why?

We like trying out different places inside The Light or Trinity Leeds. In Wakefield we love going to Abdul’s Indian or Pizza Express.

What’s the best thing about weekends and why?

No school runs and reviewing lots of family-friendly places for my YorkshireFamilies.co.uk blog and magazine.

What is your most treasured memory?

My daughter nearly died when she was 3 months old. And the Leeds Intensive Care Unit loved her back to life. I’ll never forget the moment that she started breathing again.

What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds?

The transport! Lack of parking, awful trains and the ring road.

What’s the children’s favourite food/meal?
They love a good Sunday Dinner with lots of gravy.

What’s your top penny-pinching tip?

Take a range of snacks around with you.

One family member’s proudest achievement?

I was a semi-finalist bellydancer on Britain’s Got Talent and my husband Chris Hale was a quarter-finalist on BBC’s MasterChef.

What one item can you not live without?

My gym kit, phone and liquid eyeliner.

What can your children not live without?

YouTube and my phone.  

Child’s favourite book and author

We went to see Dear Zoo recently at Wakefield’s Theatre Royal and they loved that by Rod Campbell.