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.

Guest Blog – Outdoor Fun With the Kids

Spring has almost  arrived so this month we welcome guest blogger, Charlotte Shearman on behalf of Tiger Sheds, who explains the importance of getting the family outdoors

Top 5 Picks for Outdoor Play in Wakefield


It’s no secret that today’s children are spending increasing amounts of time inside. Gone are the days of make believe in the garden where the simplest leaf could turn into a teacup, and in are the fabricated lands of computer and television. Research by UK charity Play England has found that whilst 72% of adults preferred playing outside when they were younger, only 40% of children today would choose outdoor play over time spent with technology. Not only is this negative for the health of children, but an upbringing with minimal outdoor play can also cause serious problems our children’s rate of development.

Child development expert Dr Anne Zachary points out that “children need to run, climb, jump and play actively for optimum growth and development and the great outdoors is the best place for young people to actively play and explore”. Sue Palmer, also a child development specialist, agrees saying that unstructured outdoor play is vital to a child’s development as “it takes place in a ‘real world’ in ‘real time’ and ‘real space’”, her work has led her to believe that outdoor play “produces bright and balanced children and, therefore, bright and balanced adults.”

The positive effect of outdoor play on the development of children should not be underestimated, even if the weather is a bit chilly outside. If you think that your children could benefit from more time spent outdoors then why not visit one of our top 5 picks for outdoor play in Wakefield:

 Pugneys Country Park 


A firm Wakefield favourite, Pugney’s Country Park on Asdale Road, makes for a great day out and has ample space for the children to play outdoors. The park has two lakes, the bigger of which is a 100 acre water sports lake so if your children have ever shown an interest in canoeing, sailing or similar other sports; this is the place to bring them.



Thornes Clarence Park

Thornes Clarence Park is a great outdoor area on the Denby Dale Road which features lots of activities that can be done with Children. They have a flagship Children’s play area which features space for toddlers and older children, as well as tennis courts, bowls and sports pitches.


Sandal Castle
Sandal Castle is the remains of a 13th century stone castle just on the outskirts of Wakefield. This a great place to take children as they can not only learn about the history of the area, but also use the ruins of the castle to play make believe games, hide and seek and generally have fun. You can also pick up a family trail in the visitor centre so that all the family can enjoy the outdoors together.



Yorkshire Sculpture Park        

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the kind of place where children can get excited during both summer and winter. The wide expanse of flat space makes for an excellent make believe playground and the sculptures themselves can be a wonderful place for children to play games such as hide and seek.


Swithens Farm and Play Barn

If you were to venture a little further across the border you’ll come across Swithens Farm and Play Barn. Swithens is a great place to take children to meet lots of different furry friends. Not only that, but children can also learn to feed animals including Shetland ponies and micro pigs.


We hope that you enjoyed our round up of places in Wakefield to enjoy the outdoors. For more information about the benefits that playing outdoors can have on children please read this article.

Innovative young chef Liam Duffy tells us the story behind his dream of opening his own restaurant in the heart of Wakefield…

“Originally I wanted to be an actor; it was while I studied drama at college that I took a part time job at Sloanes Restaurant in Wakefield as a pot washer. The kitchen was a hectic but exciting place to be, and when given the opportunity to work full time at the restaurant, I decided to give up on my acting ambitions and became a chef.

WAKEFIELD TOURISMMy passion for food really began while I worked at Malmaison in Leeds, I started buying a variety of cook books to experiment with. One in particular that really inspired me was Made in Great Britain’ by Aiden Byrne. Aiden was passionate about creating modern dishes using the best British produce. I had no idea that a year later I would be working with Aiden.

In 2008 I took part in the BBC Young Chef of the Year; it was an amazing experience, I was really pleased that I managed to get to the final 20 out of 500 chefs. I went on from there to become part of the team that achieved 4AA rosettes at the Devonshire Arms in Bolton Abbey. I learnt a huge amount while working there which prepared me for my next role working with Aiden Byrne in Cheshire. I moved around with Aiden for a year and half; developing the skills that led to my own style of cooking and the desire to open up my own restaurant.

I left Wakefield at the age of 17 and after a few years of moving around decided it was time to move back home. Huge changes have taken place in the city while I’ve been away, including the opening of The Hepworth gallery.

Wakefield has a great selection of really good quality restaurants and café’s all within easy walking distance. I opened Iris in November 2012; I wanted to offer a fine dining Iris Foodexperience that was accessible to everyone, good cooking and excellent service at affordable prices. Everything on the menu is seasonal; we use quality ingredients sourced as locally as possible to create exciting new dishes for our customers. The constantly changing menu means there is always something new to try.

It’s a great time to be in Wakefield, the city continues to improve, and local businesses work closely to promote each other. There is always something happening in the city centre; new businesses opening, food and music festivals, arts events and pop up markets to name but a few. Looking towards the future we would like to continuously improve and expand the restaurant, gain some rosettes and really help to put Wakefield on the culinary map.”

Iris is open Mon to Sat for lunch and dinner to book telephone 01924 367683

For more information about great places to eat in Wakefield visit

Santa is coming to Wakefield

Santa tells us about how he is looking forward to visiting Wakefield this year…

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Santa Claus planning his trip to WakefieldI love this time of year; the elves are wrapping the presents, the reindeers are cleaning their hooves and Mrs Claus is putting the finishing touches to my suit all ready for Christmas Eve.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was flying around Wakefield dropping off presents and gifts for you all.

In fact last year was quite a journey for me and my reindeer crew. We were travelling over the ruins of Sandal Castle when, suddenly we were in the middle of a snow blizzard. The Santa-nav was trying to tell me where to go but we couldn’t see a thing and before long we were hopelessly lost!

Find out what happened during my exciting journey to Wakefield in a book called ‘Santa is coming toSanta is coming to Wakefield book Wakefield’. Visit my friends at Wakefield Visitor Centre and pick up your copy today.

Well I must get back to my work, lots to do in the next few weeks!

Have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Santa is coming to Wakefield & Santa is coming to Yorkshire books are available to buy from Wakefield Visitor Centre.

Visit: 9 The Bull Ring, Wakefield, WF1 1HB

Phone: 0845 601 8353


For inspiring ideas on where to take the family this festive season visit