Leeds Autism Services have teamed up with Canal and River Trust to host this year's accessible version of the Leeds Waterfront Festival. The event is specially designed to be autism, neurodiverse and learning disability friendly.

The Leeds Waterfront Festival brings the waterways alive each year by hosting a fantastic mix of activities, performance, workshops, arts and fun for all ages.

This year’s main festival launches 26th & 27th June, with our autism friendly event taking place at Leeds Dock on Friday, 29th July 2022 (11am - 4pm)

It's free entry and everybody is welcome!

What's On

All the events and activities are designed to be accessible and aim to showcase the best of the city’s waterfront area around Leeds Dock and Royal Armouries.

Free Accessible Activities 

  • Canoeing
  • Time travelling canal theatre walk with Rusticus
  • Waterway Scavenger Hunt
  • Arts & Craft activities
  • Social Meet Up 
  • Photography competition
  • Stone masonry workshops
  • Royal Armouries live historical re-enactments 
  • Have a go warrior training
  • Community waterside litter pick and recycle 

There will also be a collection of stalls representing local organisation's who provide support for people with autism, learning disabilities and neurodivergent people and promote inclusion together with Leeds Discovery Centre, Canal & River Trust, Royal Armouries and more. 

Leeds Dock Walk Through Video

To help you prepare for your visit to Leeds Dock, we have made an autism friendly walk through video to help you navigate the venue for the Waterfront Festival and let you know what to expect on the day. We hope you find it useful.

Book Canoeing Sessions

The event is free to attend, however if you would like to try our Canoeing Taster sessions you will need to reserve a time slot. 

The accessible sessions are available throughout the day - each 30 minutes long. All the equipment is provided, so all you need to do is select your preferred time slot on the Eventbrite booking page to reserve your place. 

There will also be limited availability to book a canoeing session on the day by visiting the Canal & River Trust stand. This will be issued on a first come first served basis. 

Book Now

Book Time Travelling Drama Walk

You can now book your free place on the Time Travelling drama walk with theatre company Rusticus. We have 3 timeslots available to book on the day: 11am, 1pm and 3pm. The journey will last around 1 hour and covers around 1.7km of walking around the waterfront area.

In this interactive theatrical journey you will travel through space and time with our charismatic professor to find out what makes the canal so special! You will meet a whole host of crazy characters and take part in some seriously silly activities before journeying back to the present and taking part in the ultimate face-off with the Future Planner himself!

Rusticus have had ten brilliant years of creating open-air family-friendly immersive adventures that place audiences at the centre of the story. If you are a family who love an adventure then come and join Rusticus on the Time Travellers Adventure - and don’t forget your imaginations!

Book Now 


Accessibility Information

Sensory Needs:

Disposable earplugs will be available at the Canal & River Trust stand

All staff will be aware of the need to avoid loud noises and will avoid shouting unless there is an emergency

Some noises may be outside our control, so if you want to wear your own ear defenders you are welcome to

As the event is outdoors we will not be able to control the light levels. Please bring your own sunglasses or other protection if you might need it

If you take part in activities on the water it is possible you may get wet. Most people get splashed a small amount from using the paddle of the canoe, but not wet enough to need a change of clothes.

Quiet Zone:

A quiet area is available in Armouries Square to help people reduce sensory input, take a break or just need take time to process things in a quiet space.

The quiet zone will be a tent/covered area with comfy beanbags to sit down and reduced lighting. A staff member will present at all times to ensure quiet zone is used appropriately. 

Easy Read Information:

We will have easy-read signage & event maps plus friendly volunteers on hand to help guide you through the venue.

Toilets and Changing Facilities:

A brand new Changing Places facility and accessible toilets can be found inside the Royal Armouries building plus public toilets available by the entrance of CitiPark multistory car park 


There are 5 accessible parking spaces for Blue Badge holders in the coach park area, which is opposite the Holiday Inn, 100 metres from the event location. They are available 10.00-17.00.

There is a multi-storey car park next to the Holiday Inn, which has additional accessible parking spaces for Blue Badge holders, as well as standard parking spaces. Postcode LS10 1LE, what3words ///glitz.desire.silks

A drop-off point will be available close to the venue entrance. 

Public Transport:

Train: Leeds station is approximately 1 mile away on foot, or 2 miles/10 mins in a taxi

Bus: The below bus routes all arrive nearby

29, 87, 110 Sapphire, 140, 140A, 141, 167 Sapphire, 168 Sapphire, 189, 410, 444 MAX, 446 MAX, X10

Get Involved 

If you are a third sector organisation, and would like a slot or stall to run activities or provide entertainment at this years event, we would love to hear from you.

This is a great opportunity to showcase the amazing work our third sector does across the city. 

Third sector providers will be focused on providing engaging activities on the day, and will only signpost people to where they can get further information or support.

Booking for this event has now closed.