How’s this for generosity? We’ve put our heads together, picked out our favourite activities in Wakefield, and given you one for every day of the week! And for you clever clogs that can count, yes okay, there’s actually eight activities here – we threw one more in for good measure. See, generous?! Anyway, let’s crack on...
Activities in Wakefield
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
As if Yorkshire’s countryside wasn’t stunning enough, it’s also the home of one of the finest open-air galleries in the world, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. You can spend the day exploring the park, which is spread across the picturesque grounds surrounding Bretton Hall and attracts 300,000 visitors a year. Work by Ai Weiwei, Anthony Caro, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Marialuisa Tadei are among roughly 80 sculptures dotted around the open-air areas of the park, while the chapel and Longside Gallery house indoor installations throughout the year, too. Best of all, entrance to Yorkshire Sculpture Park is absolutely free; you need only pay for parking. Plus, if you’re staying at our Wakefield South hotel, it has the added bonus of being just a 10-minute drive away.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
National Coal Mining Museum
The Hepworth Wakefield
Having The Hepworth Wakefield on your doorstep is both a gift and a curse. Being able to visit this stunning £35 million gallery whenever you please is an absolute joy. The danger is thinking that galleries like these grow on trees. The Hepworth Wakefield is far from the norm, though.
Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the purpose-built structure is a stunning home for a collection of work donated by Wakefield’s own Dame Barbara Hepworth, one of Britain’s most celebrated sculptors. You’ll also find works by Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, LS Lowry and David Hockney, while the gallery curates a programme of excellent temporary exhibits and events, which has recently featured the likes of Howard Hodgkin, Anthony McCall, and JW Anderson, as well as seasonal art, craft, and food fairs. Speaking of food, it’s also home to The Hepworth Café, which we’ve picked out as one of our favourite places to eat in Wakefield.
If you want to kill time in Wakefield, you can’t really go wrong with a trip to the cinema. The Cineworld on the Westgate Retail and Leisure Park is your top option for seeing a blockbuster during your stay in the city. It has nine screens, a large free car park, and Baskin Robbins ice cream. Plus, it’s no more than a 10-minute drive from any one of our three Wakefield hotels.
National Coal Mining Museum
Make no doubt about it, the mining industry was instrumental in shaping Britain. What better way to learn about it than by donning a hard hat and making your way underground with an ex-collier for a tour guide. Above ground, there’s plenty more to keep you busy at the National Coal Mining Museum and its 45-acre site. Visit the Stable Yard and say hello to the former pit ponies, head to the pithead baths, and – if you’re brave enough – walk across the mouth of the furnace shaft, with nothing but a sheet of toughened glass between you and a 140m pitch-black drop. Trust us, there’s something for people of all ages and interests at the National Coal Mining Museum. That’s why it’s consistently ranked as one of the top days out in the region.
It’s about 20-minutes’ drive from our Wakefield City North hotel, but don’t let that stop you from paying a visit to Nostell Priory. When it comes to wow-factor, you won’t find much better than this 18th-century masterpiece of Palladian architecture and the surrounding 300 acres of parkland. It also happens to house one of three surviving John Harrison clocks, fine examples of interior design by Robert Adam, and an exquisite collection of Thomas Chippendale furniture made bespoke for the house. As you can expect from a National Trust property, there’s a café onsite, the grounds are wonderfully maintained, and there’s an army of volunteers ready and waiting to unleash their wealth of knowledge on willing ears.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed us namedrop Newmillerdam when we were waxing lyrical about the Lakeside Café. If you were wondering what we were on about, it’s the name of a picturesque village on the city’s edge, and not even 10 minutes away from our Wakefield Central hotel. If you’re one for pretty walks and lakeside leisure, then it might be right up your street. In the summertime, the path around the reservoir offers beautiful views and a cornucopia of wildlife.
The Wakefield Museum is housed in the modern Wakefield One public library building, opposite Wakefield Westgate railway station and over the road from Estabulo. It’s a fun day out for the whole family and provides a fascinating insight into the history of Wakefield and its most famous inhabitants, including Charles Waterton, the pioneering naturalist and fearless explorer of South America.
We can’t finish without a quick mention for Wakefield Cathedral, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Sitting slap bang in the middle of the city centre, between Trinity Walk and The Ridings Shopping Centre, the Anglican cathedral is the tallest structure in Wakefield with a history dating back more than 1,000 years. Having recently been refurbished, the cathedral looks better than ever, and is well worth a visit if you’re walking past.