Visit Leeds this Christmas
11th October 2018
Make it Leeds this Christmas; whether it’s for a festive day out or a short break, we’ve got plenty to keep you entertained.
The festive season in Leeds traditionally launches with the Leeds Lights Switch On; this year’s spectacular event takes place on Thursday 8 November at Victoria Gardens with live music, entertainment and a visit from Santa! Take part in the countdown to the festive lights being lit, the Christmas tree on City Square begins to sparkle and the city centre is transformed with colourful illuminations.
Join us at your favourite Christmas Market; with stunning stalls and a feast of festive treats, Leeds Christkindelmarkt returns from Friday 9 November to Saturday 22 December on Millennium Square. You’ll find over 40 traditional wooden chalet stalls and alpine cabins selling a fantastic range of Christmas themed gifts, toys and decorations; or why not savour the delights of authentic German food and drink. Of course, no visit is complete without a ride on our 130 year old carousel.
For a Christmas treat for all the family; visit the free children’s show each Sunday on the market square stage; enjoy sing-along, games, face painting, balloon modelling and appearances from the Winter Wonderland Princesses and other characters! Make it a day to remember with Santa’s Breakfast Experience at the Christkindelmarkt’s Alp Chalet, there’s a special visit to each table and a gift for children; then round off your day at the Festive Funfair on Cookridge Street and Victoria Gardens, open every weekend throughout the Christmas season.
To celebrate Christmas with a Viking theme visit Thor’s Tipi at Victoria Gardens with cosy furs, an open fire pit, twinkling lights and plenty of Christmas cheer. Feast on wholesome winter fodder in the winter garden amidst Christmas trees, atmospheric lighting and outdoor heating; and sample a choice of ales, mulled wine, hot chocolate, prosecco or your favourite festive tipple. Just next door is the Leeds Wheel of Light on Victoria Gardens; towering 100 foot into the sky, with 25,000 sparkling lights, it’s a great opportunity to view the festive lights from a new angle.
As the third largest shopping destination in the UK outside London, Leeds has Christmas wrapped up. For high street names hit Trinity Leeds, head to the Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate for luxury treats, and whilst you’re in town check out Leeds Corn Exchange or call in at Leeds Kirkgate Market, one of Europe’s largest covered markets where you can browse the vast array of stalls.
To celebrate Christmas in style, or for a festive night out, we’ve spectacular roof top bars and award-winning restaurants: Crafthouse offers a distinctive and delicious dining experience, with views across the city from its wraparound outside terrace; whilst Issho serves authentic Japanese cuisine at an open kitchen counter overlooking the Leeds skyline; for a truly memorable Spanish celebration visit Iberica; for meat lovers Fazenda is a must; or for Indian vegetarian and vegan street food with a modern twist sample Bundobust; housed in a former mill, Ox Club is a contemporary restaurant with wood-fired grill creating rustic, smoky-flavoured dishes from the best Yorkshire produce.
For a friendly, relaxed setting Friends of Ham serves top quality charcuterie and cheese alongside craft beers and great wine; the Northern Monk combines years of heritage and tradition to create an extensive selection of unique beers brewed in house and complemented by takeovers from some of the best food traders from the North of England; or if you’re on the move or looking for a lively atmosphere there’s a menu of street food from across the globe on offer at Trinity Kitchen or Leeds Kirkgate Market.
Experience spectacular and dazzling performances in our unmissable programme of festive events; Leeds has a vibrant cultural offer and family friendly activities. Christmas isn’t complete until you’ve experienced the magic of Northern Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House, with amazing dancing snowflakes it’s the ultimate festive entertainment; Leeds Playhouse stages Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Christmas spirit, fun, music and magic at its heart, in a unique 350 seat pop-up theatre their home during the redevelopment work; for an enchanted pantomime experience, featuring spellbinding special effects, glittering sets, stunning costumes, magic and mayhem Beauty and the Beast at the Carriageworks Theatre is the perfect festive treat for all the family; the City Varieties Music Hall gives its unique rock’n’roll makeover to Cinderella, the timeless rags to riches tale with audience participation and the legendary boulder battle!
Leeds Town Hall hosts festive favourites for all tastes: the Inspiration Choir and Orchestra of Opera North bring you the magic of the holiday season with all your favourite carols; The Snowman is always a Christmas favourite, with the Orchestra of Opera North performing the music live to a screening of the animation; the UK premiere of the Pulitzer prize winning opera Silent Night by Opera North is inspired by the dramatic events of the 1914 Christmas truce during WWI; G4 at Christmas return with timeless classics and delightful melodies to evoke the Christmas spirit; and to welcome the New Year the Orchestra of Opera North celebrate with Viennese Whirl, an afternoon of Viennese waltzes, marches and polkas.
There’s lots to entertain you outside the city centre too, with inspiring historic houses all dressed ready for Christmas, with a host of events and activities for all ages throughout the festive period.
Enter an enchanted Christmas dreamscape at Harewood House, where the house and grounds are transported back to Christmas Eve 1928, when two little boys are looking forward to the morning ahead; there’s an assortment of festive-themed events, workshops and experiences on offer, including twilight tours and a special encounter At Home with Father and Mrs Christmas.
The Christmas Experience at Lotherton is steeped in magic: enjoy the Edwardian splendour of the house decked in its finest decorations; delight in the magical woodland walk through the grounds and discover the Twelve Days of Christmas installations; uncover the secret Fairy Dell and catch a glimpse of the fairies in their tiny village; visit Santa at his North Pole home and help out in the workshop, or in the Elf Village where you can enjoy activities and listen to stories under a twinkling canopy; end your visit relaxing with a mulled wine, hot chocolate or cake at the Courtyard Café.
Experience a cosy Christmas at Temple Newsam with log fires, choirs, willow wreath making, mince pie baking, crafts and Christmas quests! Wander through the decorated halls, visit Father Christmas and his elves in their workshop and head down to Home Farm to see the animals bedding down for winter.
Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas at Kirkstall Abbey: join local churches for a Nativity for Families within the 12th century abbey, sing your favourite carols and meet Nigel the donkey; the Heritage Singers fill the air with song at Carols in the Abbey, a highlight of the festive calendar. Call in at Abbey House Museum to visit Santa in his grotto and entertain the children with fun crafts and activities.
Enjoy a trip to Tropical World the most visited family attraction in Leeds: bringing Christmas to the Tropics is a tough job, so Santa has sent Mango the Meerkat on a mission to recruit Little Helpers to bring the magic of Christmas to Tropical World. Take your Little Helpers to Mango the Meerkat’s Magical Christmas during December so they can help Mango and delight in lots of extra festive activities.
So, whether it’s culture or family entertainment, shopping for yourself or for gifts, street food or a gourmet treat, Leeds has it all. Make it Leeds this Christmas #LeedsChristmas