Unmissable cultural attractions in Yorkshire
From the Hepworth Wakefield and the Henry Moore Institute to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Yorkshire celebrates the achievements of artists who lived and worked in this magnificent county. Discover their inspiration for yourself and choose Yorkshire for your staycation.
Home of the Yorkshire pudding, Sean Bean and Wallace & Gromit’s favourite cheese, the eclectic county of Yorkshire has so much on offer, from historic cities and picturesque villages to areas of awe-inspiring natural beauty.
Explore neverending beds of purple heather in the North York Moors National Park, wander the rolling Yorkshire Dales and take in a landscape that has inspired artists, authors and musicians for generations.
Lewis Carroll was inspired by a stone rabbit in Beverley, East Yorkshire, when developing the iconic character for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Bram Stoker was inspired by the gothic Whitby Abbey when writing Dracula; and the Brontë sisters famously lived and wrote some of their most beloved works on the Yorkshire moors.
And, famously, Yorkshire has produced some of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney and Damien Hirst.
From sculpture parks, contemporary galleries and cultural hubs to historical museums, Yorkshire is jam-packed with unmissable cultural attractions – get inspired and get visiting now.
Don’t forget, all these places offer fantastic benefits with a National Art Pass – check out our full listings of museums and galleries for more inspiration.
This iconic sculpture park celebrates the powerful relationship between art and nature that Yorkshire is so famous for. Works by renowned sculptors such as Elisabeth Frink, Barbara Hepworth, Damien Hirst and Henry Moore are set against the dramatic backdrop of the 18th-century Bretton Hall estate, and the park holds regular exhibitions in its indoor and outdoor spaces.
Once home to one of the world’s most famous literary dynasties, the Brontë Parsonage Museum tells the extraordinary story of the Brontë sisters in the place where they lived and wrote, producing some of their most celebrated works. The museum holds original manuscripts and early editions of novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, plus personal belongings and period furniture. The museum is located in the pretty village of Haworth, nestled between the countryside of Airedale and the Haworth Moorland.
A large number of Barbara Hepworth’s majestic sculptures sit at the heart of the permanent collection at the Hepworth Wakefield, and the gallery is very much an homage to her work and life (she was born in Wakefield in 1903). The urban grey building is particularly striking against the setting of the River Calder and the wrap-around landscaped gardens are full of wildflowers and plants. Sculpture enthusiasts can enjoy both Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth Wakefield in one day, as the galleries are just a 15-minute drive apart.
There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the historic city of York, from exploring the history of Terry’s Chocolate Orange to the spectacular York Minster cathedral. While you’re there why not pop into York Art Gallery, where an outstanding programme of contemporary exhibitions is constantly evolving. The gallery is known for hosting the annual Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition and for its rich collections of paintings and Yorkshire pottery, among other treasures.
It’s not just the art on the walls that's worth seeing here, as Leeds Art Gallery is full of quirky features that make it a vibrant, inspiring place. Be sure to check out the colourful wall painting by artist Lothar Götz, which was funded by nearly 200 art-lovers through our crowdfunding platform, Art Happens, and don't miss the ornate tiles and barrel-vaulted mosaic ceiling in the Tiled Hall. There’s a rolling programme of exhibitions, and the collections include work by the likes of Francis Bacon, Bridget Riley and Paula Rego. As an added bonus, the Henry Moore Institute is right next door – just a one-minute walk away!
Best known for his abstract bronze sculptures and as a war artist during the Second World War, Henry Moore was born in West Yorkshire in 1898. The Henry Moore Institute pays tribute to the artist’s life and career, holding many of his large-scale sculptures in its permanent collection. Explore art in the grounds, attend exhibitions and events, and peruse an extensive library.
This splendid palace doubles up as a desirable filming location, appearing in everything from Netflix’s Bridgerton and ITV’s Victoria to the music video for Arctic Monkeys’ single 'Four out of Five'. Marvel at its 18th-century architecture, opulent interiors and collection of international art, or explore the expansive grounds and wrap-around woodland. Castle Howard is 15 miles from York, perfect for a day trip out of the city. And if historic houses are your thing, Yorkshire is overwhelmed by spectacular homes to explore, including Temple Newsam, Nostell and Harewood.
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.