Another Five Ways to Really Experience Wakefield

Our last blog post was so popular we thought we’d treat you to even more inspiring ideas of unusual things to do on your next visit to our district. Check them out & let us know your favourite…

Experience new heights

Jump to new heights as you experience the thrill of indoor trampolining at Gravity Trampoline Park at Xscape Yorkshire. Wall-to-wall trampolines let you safely practice new jumps, slam-dunk in the basketball hoops, join a dodgeball session or just enjoy bouncing to your hearts content.


Go fly a kite

Travel a short distance out of the city and you’ll soon be surrounded by wide open countryside, perfect for flying a kite. Head to Heath Village in September when the sky is filled with spectacular kites of every shape, size and colour at the annual Kite Festival.

 Glow in the dark

Experience an art workshop like never before as you unravel the mystery of neon light at Neon Workshops. See mesmerising demonstrations with glass and flame and glowing examples of neon art explained. Watch the sculptures come alive as they are illuminated with gas and electricity, then it’s your turn to get creative. Taster workshops and intensive courses are available throughout the year.

See a show

Take your seats in the beautiful Grade II* listed Theatre Royal Wakefield and as the curtain goes up watch the 19th century Victorian building come alive with a variety of colourful and stirring performances from local and national theatre companies.

Little Visitors


There’s lots going on outside of the school holidays, with plenty of fun experiences on offer for the under 5’s throughout the year. Bring the little ones along for exciting adventures indoors and out, become a mini miner at National Coal Mining Museum, get creative at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, get messy at Wakefield Museum and follow the mysterious footprints along the Room on the Broom Trail at Anglers Country Park to find the well-known characters from the story. Find out more

We’d love to hear which is your favourite! Get in touch on Twitter or Facebook. Make sure you click here to check out our other five brilliant Wakefield experiences published a few weeks ago!


Five Ways to Really Experience Wakefield

Looking for something different to do on your next visit to Wakefield? Let us inspire you with these five unusual things you can experience in our district…

Star gazing

Ever wanted to learn more about our night’s sky? Now you can with help from the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society. Join the team and special guest speakers every week at the Rosse Observatory in Pontefract. Click here to discover more…

Meet the artist

Take a peek inside an artist’s studio as The Art House open its doors every other month for Artwalk, Wakefield’s alternative night out. Meet the artists and learn more about their work, influences and what goes on behind the scenes. Explore venues around the city, meet new people and discover something new. All are welcome, so slip on some comfy shoes and enjoy a variety of visual arts and crafts, live music and performances. Click here to discover more…

Rhubarb Sticks 285x160How does your rhubarb grow?

Every year visitors from far and wide travel to Wakefield to celebrate the Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb. Did you know that Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb grows in the dark and is harvested by candlelight? Visit the Rhubarb forcing sheds in Carlton Village to learn about everyone’s favourite pink vegetable. If you listen very carefully, you may even hear it growing in the dark!

Walk the route of the stars

Look out for Wakefield Stars in the city  leading down to The Hepworth Wakefield. These special pavement plaques honour and celebrate the achievements of famous Wakefield people and businesses, past and present. Can you spot indie band The Cribs, explorer Charles Waterton and rugby star Neil Fox? The trail starts at the Bull Ring and then follows Westmoreland Street in Wakefield city centre.

jb0098Kids driving you around the bend?

Take them to Diggerland and let them drive real JCB’s instead! Big thrills and buckets of fun await as you ride, drive and operate full-sized construction machinery. Excavate with dirt diggers, take an adrenaline filled ride on Spindizzy or enjoy the views 50ft in the air on the Sky Shuttle.

Find more inspiration of unusual things to do on the district’s official tourism website.

We’d love to hear which is your favourite! Get in touch on Twitter or Facebook. Click here to check out another five brilliant Wakefield experiences in our next post!

Nature & the Outdoors



The Gibson family describe their experience of an active day out in Wakefield

Every year during the school holidays, we try to pack in as much fun stuff to do together as a family as we possibly can. So much time is spent indoors either at school, work, or surfing the net, so any opportunity we have to get outdoors we take it. We’d heard about some taster sessions at Pugneys Watersports Centre and Country Park, you could have a go at all sorts of things from kayaking and canoeing to windsurfing and sailing. The weather was lovely so we decided to head over there to take a look.

When we arrived, the first thing we were struck by was the size of the lake and the views surrounding it. Beyond the far side of the water you could see some lovely old castle ruins on top of a hill, the staff in the Watersports Centre told us about a walking route which leads up to the castle, apparently the views are breath-taking.

For for all the family at Pugneys Country ParkWe were given lots of information on the courses that were available, there are plenty to choose from, as well as a really good selection of equipment to hire, anything from Canadian canoes and sailing dinghies to pedaloes and pushbikes.

The prices seemed reasonable, so we though we’d try out a couple of activities for ourselves before deciding on which courses to book. We had a brilliant time splashing around on the water, the Canadian canoe took a little bit of getting used to, we started out rowing in different directions but once we started working as a team we actually started to get somewhere!


Cycling at Pugneys Country ParkThe bike hire was a great idea for exploring the park; we passed people running and walking their dogs, parents with buggies, children speeding along on scooters and families picnicking by the lake, everyone was out enjoying the sunshine. We were surprised to find there was a second lake tucked away behind a hidden trail through the woodland, a really lovely spot and a perfect haven for the wildlife.

All this activity left us feeling pretty hungry so we finished our day in the café; we’d had a brilliant time, who knew we had all of this right on our doorstep. We’ll definitely be back soon, I think I’d like to give windsurfing a go next time.

Pugneys Watersports Centre and Country Park offer special themed events throughout the year click here…


Outdoor Adventures

The Mannion family describe their adventures at Anglers Country Park in Wintersett

“Anyone with children knows that one of the best ways to occupy them during the school holidays is to get outdoors. So more often than not we will pack up the caravan and head off to some idyllic beauty spot to spend a little time living in the great outdoors.

This year we decided to try out a lovely place in Wintersett that some friends recommended to us, it was perfect. The site had a beautiful country park right next door, the boys loved feeding the birds, pond dipping on the lake and exploring the hidden little woodland pathways. They were delighted when they found a ready made den among the trees to hide in and jump out of as we pass by!

The park had a visitor centre with a really helpful team who gave us lots of information about things to see and do in the local area; we hired bikes for a couple of hours to explore some of the trails around Haw Park Woods nearby. On our journey we saw some beautiful scenery, tall majestic trees bordering sunlight dappled paths and wide open cornfields framing the countryside beyond. The boys discovered a hidden little pixie village of tiny doors carved into the trees; there were all kinds of wood carvings and little surprises hidden away around the woods.

Being a typical British summer the weather was mixed, but it didn’t stop us from having a great time. The only problem we did experience was not having enough time to fit in all the places we wanted to visit. Kayaking at Pugneys, wild water swimming at Nostell Priory and exploring a coal mine all sound like activities right up our street, we will definitely be back next year.”

The Wakefield district has an abundance of beautiful outdoor spaces to explore, from historic woodland and heritage sites to local nature reserves and award winning country parks, team this with a wide network of bridleways and footpaths and whatever your age or ability you’re guaranteed to find something to inspire you.

Den building at Haw Park Wood, Wakefield Family picnic at Anglers Country Park Family fun at Haw Park Wood, Wakefield

Ten Wakefield Twitter accounts you should follow…..

Here is a list (in no particular order) of downright essential Wakefield tweeters for those interested following cultural practitioners, talent, events and community. Follow them to be the first to discover those events, exhibitions and workshops that are small but perfectly formed. We avoided the big names to showcase the original and unusual however if you think we have omitted someone (unintentionally of course) let us know as there’s always scope for a ‘Part 2’.


Friends of Unity Hall @FOUnityHall    Image

 Victorian Sleeping Beauty awakes this September when Unity Hall opens its doors once again to creative folk and music loving audiences. The Friends are an eclectic bunch of folk that describe themselves as ‘Pop-up event alchemists’… Follow and be ‘United’


The Old Library WF1 @OldLibraryWF1   Image   

 The old Drury Lane Library is now in the care of The Art House who have plans to develop the site into 34 artists’ studios and public exhibition spaces. Follow their progress as they convert a temple of words into a temple of visual arts.


Tom Lawton Music @TomLawtonMusic   Image

 Tom is an Ossett singer songwriter influenced by Bob Dylan, Travis Tritt, Waylon Jennings, Otis Redding just to single out a few. You can listen to him now on iTunes or YouTube. Catch him at one of his local acoustic sets and prepare to be charmed.


Charlotte Blacker @madeofwool   Image

 Charlotte is an animator specialising in knitted sets and characters and her animations have won her awards and national recognition. Watch her sweet animation Little Red Plane on her website


Art Place  @ArtPlacewf1   Image

 The folk behind Art Place aim to support emerging and local artists to exhibit and engage wider audiences. This voluntary organisation is run by Amy Liley, artist and blogger and Lucy Norton, event designer and creative enthusiast.


Ossett Observer @OssettObserver   Image

 Let’s just get this out of the way shall we. Ossett Observer IS NOT A NEWSPAPER. There, now that’s done we can tell you that the good folk behind this twitter account make Ossett beautiful working with the towns creative practitioners and artists; creating  everything from yarn bombing the town centre and unique festivals to ukulele bands  and creative swap shopping.


Pontefract Paranormal @PonteParanormal   Image

Is there anybody there? Well if you tweet the ghost hunters behind this account you are bound to find the answer. Pontefract Paranormal organise ghost hunts and spooky goings on across Yorkshire. Worth a look if you want to do something different.</p>


John Welding @JohnWelding   Image

 John is a local illustrator specialising in pen and ink.  Much of his work documents his daily observations, Wakefield, its architecture and people. Take a look at his work online entitled ‘A New Wakefield Mythology’, created to stimulate viewers into creative writing at Wakefield Literature Festival during 2013.


Castleford Heritage Trust @CasHeritage   Image

 The Castleford community came together to preserve and celebrate their heritage and have recently taken on a landmark stone ground flour mill on the bank of the River Aire in the town. Follow them to keep up with their progress as they plan to convert the mill into a centre for arts and heritage, which includes a visitor centre.


Wood Street Market @Wood_st_market   Image

Wood Street Market demonstrated what can be done with the community comes together to celebrate the heritage of a street in the Civic Quarter. Three street markets packed with arts and entertainment, handmade and local plus a Christmas festival took place in 2013. Watch out for their involvement in the bi-monthly Wakefield Art Walk (ok, we’ve snuck in a number eleven, @artwalkwake) and for their 2014 event plans.


Have we missed out your favourite? Tweet your must follow accounts to @expwakefield and use #followwakey

To celebrate the up coming talks at West Yorkshire Archive Service during April, guest blogger John Goodchild, gives a brief outline of Wakefield’s canal history.

ImageThe availability of cheap transport by water was essential to the industrial development of Wakefield, and even today our waterways are now used for pleasure purposes by increasing numbers.

Wakefield was the meeting place of three initially independent water routes, and still it lies on a route leading to two Trans-Pennine canals which connect the eastern with the western seas. The Aire & Calder Navigation opened to Wakefield about 1702; it had its warehouses at the foot of Kirkgate, where some still can be seen today.


ImageThe Calder above Wakefield was made navigable upstream to Sowerby Bridge in 1770, and the first connection with the Irish Sea was made with the opening thence of the Rochdale Canal in 1804.

A canal to open out the rich coalfield around Barnsley and Silkstone, commencing as the Barnsley Canal in the river just below Heath, was opened in 1799 to Barnsley – where from 1804 was a junction with another waterway leading to the Don Valley – and to Cawthorne in c.1802



ImageAll three of these waterways survived the completion of the railways and remained in active commercial use until after the Second World War, when with the railways, they declined in the face of the motor lorry and better labour conditions: a life on the water was a hard one!

If you would like to find out more about Wakefield’s waterways go along to a course. ‘By Water to Wakefield: a series of talks by John Goodchild’ courses run from 2pm on April 16th, 23rd and 30th at West Yorkshire Archive Service. . The course will reflect on some of the associated matters above and may lead onto more detailed studies.


Please note all the talks mentioned, are all fully booked.