The Ultimate Guide to Christmas in Leeds 2022

1st November 2022

2023’s The Ultimate Guide to Your Leeds Christmas  – here 


Christmas is coming! A season Leeds celebrates like no other city.  At this time of year, the city comes to life with spectacular shows, festive food and drink, decked out historic houses, cosy tipis and traditional pubs, the wheel of light, ice-skating, hot chocolates, artisan markets and so much more! It’s a time of year to take time with friends, family and loved ones to make every experience count. 

With so much to do within a totally walkable and accessible city centre as well as further afield we’ve put together an ultimate guide to help you plan your Leeds Christmas. You can’t go wrong whether you’re planning a trip with friends out on-the-town, to a romantic city break or a family getaway to get the kids in the mood for the big day. 


See the city sparkle 

What’s Christmas good for if not gazing at twinkling lights, strung out across trees, houses and streets? It’s one of the most magical times of the year, and Leeds is a city which embraces illumination like no other. So if you’re after a little festive sparkle we’ve got some awe-inspiring locations with a little more to offer than just your standard tangled fairy lights.


Roundhay Park will be offering a captivating after-dark illumination trail, and we’re all invited! The attraction will feature a series of larger-than-life light displays you can enjoy as you take a stroll through one of Europe’s largest parks – the perfect activity for a crisp winter night, with a hot chocolate or mulled wine to sip as you go. 

 Our famed historic houses are getting in on the illuminated action too, with both Temple Newsam and Lotherton offering Christmas lighting extravaganzas to delight visitors over the festive period. At Lotherton, the woodland walk will be bedecked with twinkling beauty, and Temple Newsam will host a Christmas Tree trail with decorations inspired by the house’s spectacular interiors, as well as family arts and crafts activities. 


The city centre will also be providing its yearly glow-up, with a vast array of lights and decorations lighting up bustling shopping streets, squares and public spaces, including Trinity Leeds, Victoria Quarter, and Trinity Church. So head in to pick up some Christmas gifts, grab a bite to eat or a takeaway hot drink and wander the pavements beneath the lights! 


Track down Santa and his elves 

 Don’t tell the little ones, but Santa has more than a few scheduled stops on his calendar this year. It’s almost as though his magical powers help him appear in multiple places at once! A visit to see Father Christmas himself is sure to impress the little people in your lives, so if you’re looking to get a sighting of the big man, here’s the Santa hit list for 2022 – always a huge part of the Christmas experience for families with kids.  


The Merrion Centre will be hosting their traditional grotto and Candyland experience, and it’s right on the doorstep of all the festive action to be found in the city centre, a perfect Santa stop-off to incorporate into your other festive activities. Further afield there are historic surroundings of Lotherton, where Mrs. Claus can greet you and the little ones after a wander through the sparkling woodland walk. Abbey House Museum at Kirkstall Abbey will also have a visit from Mr and Mrs Claus – so wherever you choose, you’re sure to come away with a smile, good cheer and maybe a wrapped gift or two for those kids on the Nice List. 


Explore festive fun 

So we’ve got the lights covered, and we’ve tracked down Mr and Mrs Claus. Now it’s time to explore! First stop, Millennium Square – and make sure you wrap up warm! This year sees the return of the ever-popular Ice Cube, an outdoor ice rink smack-bang in the middle of the city centre. You can strap on your skates and get gliding, before popping in to the apres-ski bar for a warming sip of something mulled or grabbing a bite from one of the alpine food stalls. 


Fancy getting a Santa’s-reindeer-eye view of Leeds in all its festive glory? The Wheel of Light in Victoria Gardens will be carrying visitors up high all winter, or there’s the Carousel at Cookridge Street, where you’ll get to take in the Victorian landscape of the Town Hall and surrounding area. Experience the nearest thing to flying as you soar 30m into the sky and spin 360 degrees on the fun but thrilling Starflyer in Millennium Square.

Once you’re back down to earth, why not head to the brand new Thor’s Winter Garden on Briggate. Think cosy canopy’s, fairy lit trees, warm fire pits, a tipple of mulled wine, and plenty of hot chocolate. It’s the perfect spot for Leeds shoppers, families, friends and locals to relax and enjoy the festive season. Then, take yourself on a stroll to Thor’s Tipi in Victoria Gardens for a Christmas tipple around the roaring fire. It’s probably the cosiest way to spend a winter’s afternoon, and an experience not to be missed. And whilst you’re kicking back with a drink or two, you could plan a tour of Christmas offerings at Leeds’ wealth of historic houses. Harewood House, Stockeld Park, Lotherton Hall and Temple Newsam all have fantastic festive experiences to up the X (ahem) Mas factor.  


Immerse yourself in the magic of music and performance 

 If there’s one time of year when catching a show is an absolute must, it’s Christmas! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a music fan, or you host a house full of panto fanatics, performance spreads festive cheer by the bucket. We’re a city that takes to the stage, so why not join in? 


The iconic Leeds Playhouse will be putting on a pair of heartwarming family favourites, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Stickman both available to festive theatregoers of all ages. If you like a little more beat with your baubles, City Varieties is offering a Rock ‘n’ Roll panto – sure to get those feet tapping! This year featuring the story of Dick Whittington. More classic performances come courtesy of Northern Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre and with a sprinkle of magic, Cinderella will be taking to the stage at Leeds very own intimate venue, Carriageworks Theatre. 

 If you’re lucky, you might even catch a pop-up performance in Leeds Kirkgate Market, or carols in Leeds Minster or one of our city’s other places of worship.  


Feast on festive goodies 

 There’s a reason Leeds is considered the foodie capital of the North. And that only becomes more apparent at Christmas. Our wealth of independent eateries and popular chains offer all sorts of dining and drinking options right across the city, from big budget celebrations through to street food around a roaring fire. 


Start with Christmas markets at two much-loved independently-minded venues – Leeds Corn Exchange and Leeds Kirkgate Market. You might be able to pick up a present or two alongside some delicious sweet treats or a tasty mid-shop Christmas dinner. Then there are festive drinks and cocktail experiences to be found at bars and pubs right across the city, with options for couples, friends and families with grown up kids back for the holiday. 

 If we had to choose one place to please the lot, it might just be Chow Down – the city’s preeminent street food location, with a bevy of pop-up traders, a fully stocked bar and all kinds of live music and DJs on offer. Think warm blankets and outdoor heaters – as well as guaranteed good times. 


For the gift planners and the last minute present purchasers 

 Do you leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute, or hit the shops with weeks to go? Either way, Leeds has what you need. A true shopping destination, it’s the retail capital of the region, with visitors flocking to our expansive covered shopping arcades, independent venues, upmarket boutiques and department stores. 

 You’ll find all the big names across the festive city, whether as part of the weather-proof Leeds Trinity shopping centre, or along the traditional shopping street of Briggate. And if you’re up for a mid-shopping break, one of the historic alleys off the main street could just be the place – home to a series of welcoming pubs, including Whitelock’s – one of the oldest in the country. 


You certainly can’t beat a bit of Victoriana at Christmas, so a wander through the Victoria Quarter and our other historic arcades is a ready-made tradition in itself, with upmarket shops offering gifts for the people you want to cherish in your life. Even if your shopping bags remain resolutely empty, it’s a great chance to grab a selfie beneath the decs and the resplendent tree. 

 Reckon you can fit all of that into just the one festive period? Probably not without some of Santa’s time saving magic. But if you do, we want to hear about it! Because Leeds is about as Christmassy as it gets, and we love to show off our city for the holidays each and every year. 

 Use the Visit Leeds Christmas pages to plan your trip to Leeds this year and remember to keep your eyes peeled on Visit Leeds’ social media for updates #LeedsChristmas.