West Yorkshire is Yorkshire's cultural and literary heart. The county's two largest cities - Leeds and Bradford sit within West Yorkshire, served by gateway to Yorkshire Leeds Bradford International Airport which sits midway between these two dynamic cities. West Yorkshire is a hub for numerous themes. The National Media Museum in Bradford is a national centre for film, photography, TV and the web whilst largest city Leeds is one of the UK's best cities for shops, museums and acclaimed art galleries.
Large towns like Huddersfield and Halifax with their spectacularly preserved Victorian architecture and cutting edge arts centres also sit in the region. To the south just outside Wakefield sits one of the world's best centres for sculpture - The Yorkshire Sculpture Park which boasts numerous pieces by both Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Watch out for exciting developments along Wakefield's Calder & Hebble Navigation Waterfront where the spectacular Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery.
West Yorkshire is a literary mecca with huge numbers of visitors from around the world heading to Haworth home to the Bronte Parsonage Museum set within the stunning moorland of Bronte Country. South of Haworth is the birthplace of poet Ted Hughes - Mytholmroyd. West Yorkshire is also the centre for Yorkshire's industrial heritage, particularly textiles, and historic sites such as UNESCO World Heritage Salts Mill at Saltaire village near Bradford and the Bradford Industrial Museum are where to head to find out more. Many of West Yorkshire's largest historic mills are now new exciting arts centres like Dean Clough in Halifax and Salts Mill.
Industrial legacies such as the canals in the region including the Leeds Liverpool Canal, the Rochdale Canal and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal all now offer scenic narrowboat trips, stunning canal towpath walking and canalside heritage centres such as the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre in Marsden near Huddersfield. A wealth of pretty villages serve as walker bases and hubs for arts and crafts shopping in a region which is as famous for its rugged moorland countryside as for its cities. Village hotspots include Holmfirth, centre for the popular 'Last of the Summer Wine' series.
The breathtaking scenery and walking territory of the Holme Valley surrounds this Pennine Yorkshire village. The choice of walking trails includes the Pennine Way which weaves across Keighley Moor passing Top Withins associated with Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and the Calderdale Way which guides you through some of West Yorkshire most spectacular countryside and historic industrial sites around Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Halifax.
Bradford is renowned as a centre for film, television, photography and media revolving around the spectacular National Media Museum (previously for 23 years the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television). Within the National Media Museum discover numerous galleries including recent new TV Galleries, a giant IMAX screen, two cinemas and constantly changing exhibitions and events pulling on this acclaimed museum's huge visual archive.
Bradford is home to some of the best Asian restaurants in Yorkshire with new restaurants appearing around chic Centenary Square. Great theatres are in Bradford too, particularly the historic and now fully restored Alhambra Theatre which in its early days was a mecca for Edwardian music hall. The city also boasts two exciting art galleries and just outside the city centre the fascinating Bradford Industrial Museum explores in-depth Bradford's textile heritage in onetime vast worsted spinning mill Moorside Mills.
Events and festivals are numerous in Bradford through the year including a selection of film festivals, flower festivals at Bradford Cathedral and a host of events within Salts Mill at nearby Saltaire just north of the city. Once a self-contained village for workers at Titus Salt's Mill which opened in 1853, today Saltaire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dynamic contemporary arts centre with David Hockney gallery, numerous arts and craft shops, chic eateries and canal towpath walking along the adjacent Leeds Liverpool Canal. (the canal walk from the striking Bingley Locks to Saltaire is stunning). Bradford also borders Bronte Country affording easy access to Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage and Keighley and the Keighley & Worth Valley Scenic Railway. Other highlights in the Bradford area include historic spa town Ilkley to the north of Bradford. Ilkley boasts a fine choice of specialist shops and serves as popular walking base for access onto the Dales Way and around the town's stunning backdrop - Ilkley Moor.
The larger Pennine Yorkshire towns hold some hidden treasures indeed, particularly architectural gems. The outstanding late Georgian and Victorian architecture in Halifax is a feast for the eyes. Architect Charles Barry was commissioned for Halifax's magnificent Victorian town hall dating from 1863 whilst late Georgian historic Piece Hall first opened in 1779 as a market centre for handloom weavers to sell their cloth. Victoria Theatre, originally Victoria Hall, dates from 1901.
The spectacular mammoth Dean Clough Mill site in Halifax was once home to the world's largest carpet manufacturers Crossley Carpets. Today it's a vibrant mix of art galleries, chic restaurants and cafes, the acclaimed Viaduct Theatre and a host of specialist arts shops.
Piece Hall is the site for the Halifax Visitor Centre and numerous specialist shops and markets in the courtyard. Within the grounds of Akroyd Park visit the nationally acclaimed Bankfield Museum for an important collection of textiles, costumes and contemporary arts and crafts. One of Yorkshire's best attractions for children is in Halifax. Eureka! The Museum of Children is hands-on rip roaring fun all the way particularly aimed at tots under 11 years.
Halifax, as Anne Lister of Shibden Hall notes in her famous diaries, was a radical non-conformist hotspot in the first half of the 19th Century. Feargus O'Connor, the Chartist Movement's leader, came to Halifax many times to rally the many supporters of universal suffrage and Chartist leaders like George Webber, a Halifax weaver are integral to the history of Halifax and the Calderdale area.
Haworth is a place of literary pilgrimage with huge numbers of visitors flocking to this picturesque West Yorkshire village due to worldwide interest in the Bronte sisters. Patrick Bronte and his family came to Haworth Parsonage in 1820 and this remained their main home base for the rest of their lives.
For lovers of the Bronte novels and poetry a visit to the parsonage and surrounding moorland, so integral to their writing particularly Emily's Wuthering Heights, is to touch the essence of their influences.
Haworth offers a superb choice of charming B&Bs and the renowned cobbled Main Street in Haworth is crammed with arts, crafts and second hand bookshops, as well as cafes, pubs and tea rooms. The Keighley & Worth Valley Steam Railway has a main station at Haworth and a choice of walking trails push out from the town onto Keighley Moor, including the famous walk across Bronte Falls and upto Top Withins, the ruined farmhouse considered the influence for the Earnshaw's house in Wuthering Heights.
The natural assets of the South Pennine/Calderdale region of Yorkshire including its spectacular choice of walking, cycling and bridleway trails and its fascinating non-conformist industrial history see it today as a Yorkshire visitor hotspot. A selection of historic and atmospheric villages in the region serve as perfect walking bases like Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, crammed with superb arts and crafts shops, vegetarian and specialist organic cafes and restaurants and 19th century mills now arts centre and architecture. Other stunning popular accommodation bases include Mytholmroyd (boyhood home of poet Ted Hughes), Luddendenfoot, Sowerby Bridge and pushing into the heart of the Pennines Mankinholes and Ripponden. Numerous walking and bridleway trails criss-cross and interlink in the area including the Calderdale Way, the Brighouse Boundary Way, the Pennine Way, the Pennine Bridleway and the Todmorden Centenary Way.
In small villages such as Heptonstall north of Hebden Bridge the octagonal Methodist chapel hints at the region's non-conformist history and is the oldest in the world still in use today.
Hebden Bridge is one of Yorkshire's best contemporary bohemian arts and music bases with a fascinating industrial history. If you love specialised arts and craft shops, second-hand bookshops and real ale pubs, cosy live music venues, vegetarian and Vegan cafes, canal towpath walking and walking in stunning Hardcastle Crags and along the nearby Calderdale Way then Hebden Bridge is the perfect location for you.
Hebden Bridge is well served by road and rail and Leeds, Manchester, Haworth and surrounding Bronte country are all easily and quickly accessible from this beautiful West Yorkshire base.
Diverse and dynamic university town Huddersfield has more than earned its European designation as 'Creative Town', and like Halifax is one of the UK's best kept secrets. A classic Yorkshire town on the one hand with its non-conformist political and religious history (Chartist uprising was prevalent here) and many Victorian listed buildings (1,660 in all) built by wealthy Huddersfield industrialists, notably the Ramsdens - on the other hand contemporary Huddersfield is influenced by its central university and its mix of cultures.
Industrial heritage and new contemporary arts edge blend well in this Pennine Yorkshire centre. Huddersfield hosts many festivals throughout the year and is home to numerous acclaimed museums, theatres, art galleries and the famous Alfred McAlpine Stadium - a venue for football and rugby with its pioneering contemporary design.
Huddersfield is main centre for the Kirklees region which includes the stunning landscapes of the northern Peak District and the South Pennines. To the south west of Huddersfield are the dramatic Pennine Moors including the National Trust's Marsden Moor Estate. Further south sits the equally stunning Colne and Holme Valleys. Historic villages such as Marsden and Holmfirth ('Last of the Summer Wine' village) make perfect walker bases. To the east the landscapes are somewhat gentler around Kirkburton, Emley and Denby Dale. A walker's paradise, Kirklees contains a host of way-marked trails and national trails including the Pennine Way winding across the high moorland of the region, the circular Kirklees Way, the Colne Valley Circular Walk, the Holme Valley Circular Walk, the Bronte Way and the Spen Valley Heritage Trail.
Keighley & the Worth Valley is rich in industrial history, and is home to a railway and bus museum. Platform 3 and 4 at Keighley Station are designated to the Worth Valley Railway and the fully restored branch line. Take your seat on a vintage steam train which will take you from Keighley to Ingrow, Oakworth, Haworth and Oxenhope with beautiful views of the moors and Bronte Country and key sites featuring in The Railway Children film, starring Jenny Agutter, along the route.
Access to Leeds City breaks couldn't be easier with Leeds Bradford International Airport situated just 11 miles north west of Leeds City Centre. Leeds is Yorkshire's capital city and its largest. Firmly on the map as a top European city break, Leeds is an eclectic mix of internationally and nationally acclaimed art galleries, museums, fine shopping quarters, dynamic waterfront development, superb theatres and a nightlife and music scene to beat all.
New and exciting additions are soon to include the hotly awaited Leeds City Museum off Millennium Square and waterfront developments around the Royal Armouries alongside the River Aire promise a host more chic restaurants, bars and hotels. Top family attractions in the city include the UK's centre for arms and armour - the Royal Armouries and the interactive extravaganza at the Thackray Medical Museum.
Like shopping? Leeds is one of the UK's best cities for shopping around the historic Victoria Quarter, the new mix of shops, cinema and entertainment at The Light and within big name stores located here in Leeds such as Harvey Nichols.
Leeds pays due attention to its industrial heritage within centrepiece museum - The Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, once the biggest of Britain's woollen mills and find Britain's best collection of 19th and 20th century art outside of London at the renowned Leeds Art Gallery. Leeds has moved on and up to rank with the best of the UK city breaks.
Exciting times are afoot in Wakefield, birthplace of sculpture greats Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, which is set to see new architecturally impressive museums and galleries alongside what is an already impressive arts and culture scene.
Wakefield's waterfront is receiving much attention with plans for the new Trinity Walk retail outlet and the new sculpture gallery (to be designed by acclaimed architect David Chipperfield) which will serve as home for a huge collection of Barbara Hepworth's work, hence its name 'The Hepworth Wakefield' (due for opening 2010).
One of Yorkshire's most impressive arts spaces is in the area - the renowned Yorkshire Sculpture Park, home to numerous sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and new stars on the sculpture front such as Andy Goldsworthy, James Turrell and Nigel Hall. Wakefield is also appropriately the site for the National Coal Mining Museum for England based at Caphouse Colliery. Here you can take underground tours and view one of the most impressive coal mining collections and archives in the UK.
Wakefield Westgate Station sits on the East Coast Mainline Rail line, offering easy access from Edinburgh and Scotland and up from London. Indeed Wakefield's excellent transport links, including its close proximity to the M1 and excellent rail links will play a major role in the city's rejuvenation.