Top 11 Attractions in the Wakefield District

Sam Scarpa, Experience Wakefield

With Visit Britain’s annual celebration of English tourism coming up from Friday 18 – Sunday 27 March 2022, why not discover or rediscover what makes Wakefield such an incredible destination with our top 11 best attractions across the district. Diaries at the ready to plan your adventures for English Tourism Week!

1. THE NATIONAL COAL MINING MUSEUM

Head over to the National Coal Mining Museum to hear stories directly from former-miners about their careers and understand the roles men, women, children, animals and machinery played in the operation of the mine. Discover the historic steam-winding engine in action which pulled miners and coal from 140m underground before taking a trip to the stables to meet the pit ponies. There’s certainly something to enjoy for the whole family!

2. XSCAPE

Xscape is the ultimate, fun-fuelled destination. Activities include skiing, snowboarding and sledging on real snow at Snozone, wall-to-wall trampolining and urban climbing at Gravity, 70ft skycoaster and bungee experience, LaserZone laser tag, Volcano Falls adventure golf, Tenpin bowling and 4DX at Cineworld. Plus, free outdoor play area for little visitors aged 6 years and under.

3. YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture. Situated in the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate, YSP was the first sculpture park in the UK, and is the largest of its kind in Europe, providing the only place in the world to see Barbara Hepworth’s ‘The Family of Man’ in its entirety alongside a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore, and site-specific works by Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and James Turrell. As you finish your visit, make your way to the café, find a seat overlooking the park and take a moment to reflect on what you’ve seen.

4. NATIONAL TRUST NOSTELL

This spectacular Georgian treasure house boasts landscaped gardens, parkland and historic stables for the family to explore. One of the greatest treasure houses of the north of England, Nostell is surrounded by 300 acres of parkland and gardens. You can bring your own breakfast picnic to dig into or enjoy brunch at the National Trust venue’s Courtyard Cafe.

5. THE HEPWORTH WAKEFIELD

No trip to Wakefield would be complete without an afternoon at The Hepworth Wakefield. The gallery, with its striking gardens overlooking the River Calder, was awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2017 and takes its name from artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth who was born and educated in the city. Spend an afternoon exploring major exhibitions by the best international modern and contemporary artists and well as Wakefield’s own art collection including works by Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron, L.S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Castleford’s own Henry Moore.

6. DIGGERLAND

Diggerland is a fabulous place where children and adults alike can ride, drive and operate real diggers, dumpers and other full-size construction machinery. With 20 different rides and drives offering fun for all ages, Diggerland is a sure family favourite. There are indoor and outdoor play areas, sandpits, coin operated rides and much more where younger visitors can let off steam while their parents can just sit back, relax and watch the fun… or join in!

7. THE ART HOUSE

Described at the house that art built, The Art House provides time, space and support for artists, makers and creative businesses to develop their practice. It is also a place where artists and audiences of all kinds are welcome to engage with the creative process through a year-round programme of exhibitions and events. The shop and coffee house are a great place to relax during a visit.

8. THEATRE ROYAL WAKEFIELD

Theatre Royal Wakefield

Why not take in a show at Theatre Royal Wakefield? The beautiful Grade II* listed building was built by renowned architect Frank Matcham in 1894 and has been delighting audiences ever since. Whether it’s musical theatre, comedy, ballet, live bands or drama you enjoy, you’ll be sure to find something to love. Don’t miss the ever-popular panto over Christmas!

9. PONTEFRACT CASTLE

Located in the historic market town of Pontefract, the once-fearsome fortress that is Pontefract Castle dominated Yorkshire and beyond, bearing witness to some of England’s most momentous historical events earning itself the name of the Key to the North! Today, the castle is a place of family-friendly adventure, with wide open spaces to explore and play, and fascinating ruins to investigate. Climb to the top of the keep and marvel at the stunning Yorkshire countryside, and visit the castle gift shop for a colourful range of souvenirs, gifts, books and ice creams.

10. RSPB FAIRBURN INGS

On the outskirts of Castleford lies RSPB Fairburn Ings, a haven of peace and tranquillity transformed from an industrial space to a wild place over the last 60 years. Providing a rich habitat for wildlife and birdlife throughout the year, it’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature all year round.

11. WAKEFIELD CATHEDRAL

Not only is Wakefield Cathedral one of the UK’s most magnificent churches, it also has the tallest spire in Yorkshire – stretching up some 247ft (even higher than York Minster) it dominates our city’s skyline. As impressive as it is on the outside, Wakefield Cathedral also reveals an awe-inspiring interior. Inside a colossal space is filled with historic artefacts. It also boasts the world’s most complete collection of stained glass by the renowned designer Charles Kempe.