West Yorkshire

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The biggest metropolitan county in the United Kingdom, West Yorkshire's prosperity was built on wool, coal mining and engineering. The architecture of its main town and city centres reflect this today, though instead of wool, they are likely to have craft shops or a branch of a certain bookstore chain. Culturally, brass bands such as Brighouse and Rastrick or choral societies dominate the area. It is recognised as the birthplace of the Northern Union, which we know today as Rugby League Football.

Today, most of its canals no longer carry cargo to Sowerby Bridge, Leeds or Huddersfield. It is likely to be tourist traffic enjoying the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Legal and financial service now dominate the modern city of Leeds. Overall, tourism is a big earner to the UK's biggest metropolitan county. As for conference venues, undoubtedly part of the mix. This time, a more modern day engineering achievement defines West Yorkshire: the M62 motorway, with such wonders like Scammonden Bridge. Likewise with Emley Moor Television Tower, which too can be seen from the same motorway.

Its modern day links with road and rail, as well as a wealth of tourist attractions makes West Yorkshire a prime conference venue. Leeds and Halifax is blessed with Victorian era market halls and arcades which make for good shopping in atmospheric surroundings. If television, cinema and photography's your scene, ignore the National Media Museum in Bradford at your peril! From there, why take a trip to Titus Salt's model village, Saltaire and visit Salt's Mill? Salt's Mill has a number of shops and David Hockney's 1853 Gallery which is worth a visit. A short distance away is Bingley, home of the Five Rise Locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

By day or night, there is plenty to do in West Yorkshire. For example, first class live entertainment at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Leeds Arena. Halifax, Wakefield and Huddersfield have the thriving Victoria, Opera House and Laurence Batley theatres. Wakefield is home to the recently opened Barbara Hepworth Gallery.

For sporting attractions, West Yorkshire is blessed with three Football League sides and a number of semi-professional teams. It has a wealth of rugby league and rugby union sides. For sport of a different type, wannabe skiers unable to get to Tyrol from their conference venue in Leeds, in no time, should give Xscape in Glasshoughton a whirl.

If you prefer something more sedate, there's a number of historical attractions such as the village of Haworth, given its Bronte Family connections. Go down a former coal mine in the National Coal Mining Museum between Wakefield and Huddersfield, or visit The Royal Armouries in Leeds. Make the most of your journey there via the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. For railways of a smaller variety, try the Kirkless Light Railway from Clayton West to Skelmanthorpe.

If retail therapy is more your scene, you will be spoilt for choice, particularly in Leeds, Huddersfield and Halifax. Leeds has the recently opened Trinity Leeds development, plus Briggate, Harvey Nichols and the Corn Exchange. Huddersfield has a very good indoor and outdoor market and a number of big name shops which compares well with its fellow north of the River Aire. This also true of Leeds' out of town counterpart in the White Rose Centre. Halifax is worth a visit not only for Kirkgate Market, but also the unmissable Piece Hall. Formerly a woollen trading centre, it is home to a number of little quirky shops, has an occasional open market and open air events.

With so much to do in West Yorkshire, you will be amazed. Plus it is easy to get to on contemporary and more antiquated modes of transport. As conference venues go, small hotels to public halls, you will be spoilt for choice.

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