Seven things to do this Christmas that won’t break the bank

7th December 2022

Christmas is just around the corner, but you don’t have to break the bank to get into the festive spirit! If you are looking for cheap or free activities to do in the lead up to Christmas, then Leeds has you covered.


1. Why not visit one of the many craft fairs and markets dotted around Leeds?

Soak in the sights and smells of the festive period as you explore one of the many Christmas markets dotted around Leeds.

Kirkgate Market is one of Europe’s largest indoor markets, with over 150 independent traders and a packed Christmas programme, it’s a great place to explore this festive period. And if you fancy getting your skates on there’s even an indoor ice rink free for all the family to enjoy! There are also free Christmas craft activities in the Market Kitchen if you need to take a breather.

Just next door there’s also a Christmas market at the Corn Exchange, taking over the basement floor the market is set to raise the roof in true festive style in the run up to Christmas. Why not explore one of Leeds’ most iconic buildings decked out in all its Christmas decorations?


Christmas Market, Leeds Corn Exchange - Tom Martin (20)


2. Head out on a wintry walk around one of Leeds’ parks.

There’s snow-thing better than a wintery walk to get you into the festive spirit, thankfully in Leeds we have plenty of parks and estates for you and your family to explore. You never know there might even be a sprinkling of snow on the ground…

Walk around one of Europe’s largest parks by exploring Roundhay park’s 700 acres of woodland, gardens, and lakes. Or if you really want to stretch your legs on a wintry walk, then the seven-mile circuit around Meanwood Valley Local Nature Reserve is a great choice.

You can find a load more countryside wintry walks in this handy guide.

There are also plenty of walks around Leeds City Centre, including the street art trail or the waterfront trails. Why not explore of the city trails centre before wandering along the canal to Kirkstall Abbey…


3. Explore Kirkstall Abbey

Why not venture out for a wintry walk through the peaceful and atmospheric ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, one of the best-preserved Cistercian monasteries in the UK. Just don’t forget to wrap up warm!

There’s also a reindeer dotted around the ruins, so see if you can spot them all and complete the Abbey’s festive reindeer trail.

Dressed up and decorated in different costumes and patterns, visitors can take a photo of each one and decide which is their favourite. The Visitor Centre will also be open and selling hot drinks, snacks, and gifts.

The Abbey is free for Leeds residents and is surrounded by green gardens, just remember you need to bring proof of address for your first visit.

There are also loads of other historic grounds you can visit for free or for low cost around Leeds. Head down to Harewood House, Lotherton Hall and Temple Newsam for a festive exploration through their extensive grounds, there’s also plenty of free parking nearby!


4. Watch a film at Leeds Industrial Museum

Looking for a break from all the hustle and bustle of the festive period? Leeds Industrial Museum is home to one of the UK’s smallest cinemas, just 26 seats to be exact. Come and settle down in the beautiful 1920s style Palace Picture House and a enjoy a mystery Christmas classic film for all the family.

Films are shown daily at 2:00 pm during December and are included in the museum admission charge, for a family of five that’s just £11!


5. Visit a Museum or Gallery across Leeds and celebrate Viking Yule at Royal Armouries

Leeds Industrial Museum is just one of Leeds’s fantastic Museums and Galleries that are free to enter throughout the year. In the centre you can visit Leeds City Museum with a host of activities for families with younger. For those who enjoy visual arts you can visit Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute, The Tetley and slightly further afield Leeds Parkinson Building at the University houses two free galleries.

You can also visit Royal Armouries for free, where on 28th to 30th December they will be celebrating Viking Yule with live performances and activities for all the family.



6. Soak up the atmosphere in Leeds City Centre

Leeds comes to life during the Christmas period, from the towering tree in city square, to the lights adorning the street, to the Christmas markets bringing the streets to life.

These include visiting some of the top instagrammable places in Leeds that have become festive hits including the iconic Carousel on Cookridge Street, Thors Tipi at Victoria Gardens, the Christmas Village, Fair and Ice Rink at Millennium Gardens, the Victoria Arcades in Victoria Quarter, Kirkgate Markets and the Corn Exchange which are pretty all year round but especially in their Christmas finery. A new addition this year not to be missed is the Sidney Street Shop Window that has been transformed into a festive diorama of iconic views of Leeds.

For more city centre inspiration you can check out our handy blog which details some of the best city centre Christmas experiences.

There’s loads of options to get into the city centre including three choices to park and ride, which is running for extended hours during the festive period offering an easy and affordable alternative to parking in the city centre.



7. And finally, why not bring the whole family to meet Santa?

There are loads of places that you can bring your whole family to meet Santa this Christmas, his schedule must be totally packed! You can visit him at St Johns Centre for free, no need to book you can just turn up.

He is also at the Merrion Centre, you can visit Santa’s candy club for only £4 per child but you do need to book in advance.


For those who want to explore further we’ve worked with our friends at Visit Bradford, Visit Calderdale and Experience Wakefield to put together a guide for free activities across West Yorkshire. Read more here.