Create new Christmas traditions this Winter Season in Leeds

26th October 2020

The evenings have begun to close in and festive treats have started to find their way into our baskets at the supermarket. We’re making plans for the big day and the keenest among us are even thinking about putting up their tree! We all know that the Christmas period will have to look a little different this year, but we need some magic and wonder in our lives now more than ever before. That’s why Visit Leeds is so pleased that Leeds has an amazing range of festive experiences on offer for you to safely enjoy.

Why not grab your household or bubble and take your pick of the many festive shows and events on offer across the city?

The Not So Ugly Sisters is a brand new musical re-telling of Cinderella from a different perspective, showing at Leeds Playhouse from 18-21 November. You can also catch Opera North’s Whistle Stop Opera take on Cinderella, a perfect chance for people of all ages to experience opera.

If you’re feeling a little like Scrooge this year, head to Leeds Playhouse from 3 December – 9 January for performances of the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Full of festive cheer and music, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling warm and fuzzy. Leeds Playhouse is even offering 1000 free tickets to the show for NHS workers as a thank you for everything they do.

A musician inside Leeds Corn Exchange - credit Matt Davis

If you fancy trying something a bit different, Opera North are shaking things up this year with As You Are, A Leeds Soundwalk. Pick up a pair of headphones and meander on an adventure through the city as your sound pack triggers new musical chapters to accompany you on your journey, taking in Leeds’s most recognisable landmarks. Composer and musician Abel Selaocoe has taken inspiration from his South African heritage and performs alongside the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North as well as guest artists to create beautiful music.

Movie lovers can check out Leeds International Film Festival from 3-19 November. Take your pick of some fantastic films and enjoy a safe viewing in a number of stunning venues.

A Christmas tree made of books at Harewood House, Leeds - credit Tom Arber

Those who love Leeds’s incredible country estates around the festive period will be pleased to know that they are once again offering a host of Christmas events. Steeped in traditional Christmas magic and excitement, Lotherton’s The Christmas Experience opens from 27 November and is an enchanting day out for families. This year will see Santa move into the Elf Village to allow for plenty of room for visitors to meet him and maintain social distancing. The 12 Days of Christmas woodland walk, Fairy Dell, traditionally decorated house and Wildlife World will all be open for visitors to explore. Remember to pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment.

Delve into a voyage of the imagination with Upon a Christmas Wish with Lord Whitney at Harewood House. Connoisseurs of make-believe, Lord Whitney has created an experience which invites you to escape with them into an immersive Christmas story unlike any other. Make the most of your visit to Harewood with a Festive Afternoon Tea in the Terrace Tearooms. During the Christmas season, traditional Afternoon Tea will be given a festive twist. Enjoy finger sandwiches, delicious pastries and freshly made scones with clotted cream and spiced berry jam. Combine with a seasonal Harewood gin & tonic served with Douglas fir, cinnamon and star anise or a rum hot chocolate.  During weekends in November, Harewood is also hosting its wonderful Christmas markets where you can pick up thoughtful, handmade and local items from a variety of stalls which include food and drink, craft, contemporary wares and gifts, just in time for Christmas.

New Christmas tree at Briggate entrance at Trinity Leeds - Credit Simon Dewhurst

We simply couldn’t mention the festive period without talking about the amazing Christmas shopping opportunities in Leeds. The city is bursting with Victorian arcades and listed buildings full of independent retailers waiting to be discovered. Unearth a quirky Christmas gift for a loved one or a special treat for yourself in the network of architectural gems including the Grand Arcade, Queens Arcade and Thorntons Arcade. Experience the wonder of the Leeds Corn Exchange, a beautiful Grade I listed building with a stunning domed roof and a host of vintage and gift shops. Enjoy a convenient mix of big high street brands and delicious bars and restaurants in the impressive Trinity Leeds, before venturing over to Victoria Leeds for high-end fashion. This glamorous shopping district is home to both the historic beauty of Victoria Quarter and the modern stylings of Victoria Gate.

Christmas shopping in Leeds wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the historic Kirkgate Market, one of the largest covered markets in Europe. The original Grade I building dates from 1875 and is the birthplace of Marks & Spencer who opened their Penny Bazaar in 1884 and still have a presence.
With over 400 stalls you can source the freshest festive produce or a distinctive stocking filler in a vibrant atmosphere. Take a break in the Market Kitchen and sample street foods from around the world.

A view of Kirkgate Market rooftop from Issho, Leeds - credit Carl Milner Photography

All sound a bit much to fit into one day? Make the most of what’s on offer by staying overnight in one of our many hotels, where restrictions allow.

We’re sure you’ll have an amazing time rediscovering the city this Christmas, but please do so safely and following the latest guidance. Remember that places may be operating at limited capacity so always plan in advance and check if you need to book tickets to avoid disappointment. Some of our festive favourites are missing from the line up this year and, although it’s a great shame, we think this is the perfect opportunity to try something new and create some new festive traditions with your loved ones.

For a complete guide to what’s on during the winter season in Leeds, visit our Winter Season page here.