This article explores constructions of risk and safety in the leisure lives of young women. Drawing upon qualitative data from two action research projects based in the north-east of England, we analyse the risk narratives of two groups of young women, one white and one South Asian, in order to ground theoretical perspectives on risk. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we address the ways in which risk emotions, risk calculations and management strategies are perceived as embodied, temporal and spatially located, arguing that risk is also deeply embedded in social and cultural discourses around female ‘respectability’. Young women share some common risk perceptions and experiences, in particular linked to male violence, many choosing to inhabit inside ‘safe’ spaces for leisure. What is also clear is that taking a risk can be a fun and desirable aspect of leisurely activity, ‘risky’ behaviour providing a way for young women to negotiate and contest dominant discourses around feminine, cultural identities.