Many former industrial towns and cities experienced a decline in the second half of the 20th century, but Wakefield has faced the new millennium with eyes firmly forward. A number of recent developments have transformed the city and its public image. Today, Wakefield offers not only great shopping and a lively nightlife scene but also two genuinely world-class cultural attractions: the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the fantastic art museum The Hepworth Wakefield.
Regeneration projects have helped transform Wakefield in recent decades, and one of the most prominent is the partially enclosed Trinity Walk shopping centre, just to the north of Wakefield Cathedral. It's full of big-name stores, but it isn't the only shopping option in town: there's also the Ridings Shopping Centre, the pedestrianised zone around the cathedral, and the Market Hall on Union Street.
Possibly the most impressive addition to the city is The Hepworth Wakefield, one of the finest new contemporary art museums in the UK. It opened on the banks of the River Calder, south of the city centre, in 2011. Named for local sculptor Barbara Hepworth, the museum houses many pieces of her work, as well as temporary exhibitions and a bookshop, cafe and studios.
Wakefield's offering for art lovers doesn't end there. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, located in the nearby village of West Bretton, is a superb outdoor gallery that features work by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and many other British and international artists. Closer to the city centre, the 13th-century ruins of Sandal Castle are well worth exploring, with an informative visitor centre and regular guided tours of the site.