National Geographic Traveller (UK) has listed the county in its Cool List 2019, a profile of 19 “must-see destinations” including Hong Kong, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Oslo and Antarctica.
It has been included largely thanks to the Yorkshire Sculpture International, a 100-day sculpture event held from June next year by The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Added to this, The Hepworth Wakefield will also be unveiling its Hepworth Riverside Gallery Garden, with access to the former Victorian mill buildings next door.
The Calder Valley was also outlined for its “burgeoning hub for restaurants and independent shops”.
Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller (UK), said: “West Yorkshire stood out for many reasons in 2019, but the arts scene really sparked our attention.
“The Yorkshire Sculpture International triennial next summer – hosted by the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, the Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park – brings new work by international artists alongside existing world-class collections.”
He also nodded to the £15m redevelopment of Leeds Playhouse being a factor.
Ruth Pitt, the new chairwoman of Leeds 2023, a five-year arts and culture project in the city, is delighted.
“People in the Leeds region have always known what a fantastic destination it is and it’s wonderful that we are going to be on the global map in this particular way,” she said.
It comes after Leeds was last year named a top destination by another major travel guide, Lonely Planet’s Best In Europe 2017.
The list praised the city’s urban regeneration and flourishing cultural scene.
Starting on June 22 next year, the Yorkshire Sculpture International will include work from artists around the world and pieces drawn from the region’s own collections.
It will involve major new outdoor sculpture commissions in unexpected places across Leeds and Wakefield, ending on September 29.