My favourite things about Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield, pictured by Amy Lilley.
The Hepworth Wakefield, pictured by Amy Lilley.

Amy Lilley, 26, is a well known face from the Wakefield arts’ scene.

She is the co-founder of We Are, which provides a platform for early career artists and musicians, and arts venue Crux. She grew up in and lives in Wakefield.

Amy Lilley

Amy Lilley

Here she shares her favourite things about the city.

Art & Music:

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of different cultural organisations, and it’s really helped to change my opinion of Wakefield and what our city has to offer.

The Artwalk is a free bi-monthly event on a Wednesday evening, showcasing art, installations, performances and talks over more than ten venues.

Jenna Coulthard mural painting at Crux

Jenna Coulthard mural painting at Crux

Locations include venues such as The Hepworth Wakefield, where you can see pieces from Wakefield’s art collection. There are also regular exhibitions by contemporary artists and of course works by our very own Barbara Hepworth.

I’ve also joined the team for Long Division, a fantastic music festival that takes place in the city centre every year. We’ve just received funding from Wakefield BID for 2018, meaning you can access most parts of the festival for free! Wanting to create our own independent space and venue in the centre, myself and Lucy Norton set up Crux on South Parade. There we host regular gigs and events, and have performances by many fantastic local bands including The Spills, Piskie Sits, Drahla, Sux Blood, Mi Mye and Climbing Alice.

Food & Drink:

We’re spoilt with the amount of quality independent restaurants, bars, and cafes in Wakefield, and I’m pleased to share some of my favourites with you.

Looking from Cross Sqare to Wakefield Cathedral. Picture by Amy Lilley.

Looking from Cross Sqare to Wakefield Cathedral. Picture by Amy Lilley.

My top place for a delicious lunch to-go is Silver spice at the bottom of King Street. It serves up a variety of fresh, home-made, authentic curries everyday (including vegan options) for affordable prices.

On an evening if you feel like escaping Wakefield for a few hours, Jose’s Tapas Restaurant on Cross Street is definitely the place to go. Run by the lovely Jose and Sophie, it’s a welcoming place for a delicious meal.

Whether it’s for a meeting or a night out Wakefield Beer Exchange is my go-to bar. They have regular changing art exhibitions as well as vinyl DJing nights, meet the brewers and tasting sessions.

Harry’s Bar is another of my favourites, a cosy real ale pub tucked away off Westgate. Boasting nine hand pumps, an open fire and free live music on Mondays and Wednesdays, there’s no better place to spend your night this winter.


Wakefield has lots of big high-street shops in The Ridings shopping centre and Trinity Walk which is great for the city, but personally my favourites are the smaller independent shops.

Run by my good friends Natalie and Robin, Eyewood vintage shop on Wood Street is full of unique treasures and is a great place to rummage around for an hour, as is Wah Wah Records on Brook Street if you’re after any new or old vinyl.

Days out:

One of my favourite things about living in Wakefield is that you only have to hop on a bus or drive for five minutes and you’re in the beautiful countryside.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Newmillerdam, Sandal Castle and Heath Common are all just a stones throw away, and are stunning places for a day out.

As much as I am a huge advocate for Wakefield, I do acknowledge its problems and the improvements needed to make it even better.

Sadly we still have a huge number of empty shops, a decline in music venues and a lack of tourism and people spending time in the city centre.

But I’ve been lucky to find out that it’s the people that make this city so great, and when we all work together, anything is possible.