The Ultimate Guide To Your Leeds Christmas
The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us…
Leeds is the merriest place to be this Christmas! The city comes to life with spectacular shows, festive food and drink, cosy tipis, the wheel of light, historic houses, ice-skating, glittering Christmas lights, shopping and so much more.
And new for this year, Leeds Christmas Market! From 24th Nov – 22nd Dec, Leeds hosts an authentic Christmas Market experience. With lots of stalls across 12 city-centre locations offering an authentic feast of quality Christmas cuisine and a wealth of handcrafted goods and bespoke artisan products. Even Santa himself will visit.
With so much going on across the whole city, we thought we’d put this handy guide together so you can be sure you’ll have the best and merriest Leeds Christmas.
Leeds Christmas Market
Across Leeds City Centre | 24th Nov – 22nd Dec 2023
This is the one everybody has been waiting for…the return of the much-loved Leeds Christmas Market, so you can bet that this new look Christmas Market is going to be bigger and better than ever. So far, twelve different locations have been confirmed across the city centre to host local indie and international traders.
There will be artisan gifts and handcrafted goods aplenty on offer, with a standout selection of food and drink options that embody the Christmas spirit we all know and love around this time of year. Hog roast, Italian chocolates and specialty cheeses are just the beginning.
Opening from 11am everyday, there’s truly going to be something for the whole family. Whether you’re watching the giant advent calendar open with the kids, or out with mates looking for a mugful of Glühwein to warm you from the cold – all twelve locations will bring the best of Leeds’ festive spirit alive.
The full opening hours for the Leeds Christmas Markets are as follows:
Mon – Wed: 10am – 7pm
Thu – Sat: 10am – 9pm
Sun: 10am – 6pm
*Some market locations opening at 10.30am
Find out more here.
Millennium Square and Victoria Gardens
24th Nov – 31st Dec 2023
Ice Cube on Millennium Square is the perfect place to test out your ice skating skills – and whether you’re a pro on the ice or it’s just your first time skating, there’s different timings to suit every ability. There’s Penguin Club for little ones looking for some extra assistance, lessons with a National Ice Skating Association instructor and a dedicated accessible skating session for wheelchair users and those with additional needs; all in addition to the general public skates that take place each day.
In addition to the skating rink, you’ll find craft, food and drink stalls and a full family funfair with themed rides, like Rescue Rudolph, Santa’s Super Shooter, a giant Snow Globe and the North Pole Funhouse.
And for the traditionalists amongst you take a ride on the vintage carousel or The Wheel of Light which will give you spectacular views of the city. Plus, Thor’s Tipi will also be there – but more of that later!
Full opening times for for Millennium Square and Victoria Gardens are:
12.30pm – 9.15pm Monday to Thursday*
12.30pm -10.15pm Friday*
10:30am – 10.15pm Saturday*
10.30am – 7.15pn Sunday*
*Except during school holidays (27-29 Dec) when opening times are: 10.30am-9.15pm (10.15pm on Fri)
Market Stalls, Ski Bar and Funfair: 12pm – 9.30 Monday to Friday (10pm on Fri), 11am – 10pm Saturday and 11am – 7pm Sundays
Find out more here.
Ideally, a trip around every single tipi in town will let you test out the best hot chocolate, cosiest blankets and warmest spot by the fire. But realistically, once you’ve sat down with your mulled wine at your first stop, we bet you won’t want to leave.
Luckily, all of these tipis will keep you warm and well-fed throughout the night so no matter how many you visit, you’ll be able to get into the Christmas spirit in style.
Christmas Shows & Pantos
Pantomime season is almost here…oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is.
Nothing screams Christmas more than heading to the theatre on a cold, crisp evening and watching a brilliant show. Whether you want to risk being pulled on stage by a lavish panto dame or prefer a more civilised evening at the ballet, there’s so many productions happening in and around Leeds this season for you to enjoy.
Music & Performances
Christmas music is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the festive season. Give us any chance to sing Mariah Carey at the top of our lungs or watch carol singers get together for heart-warming singalongs that bring the whole community together.
Places to see Santa
Want to see Mr or Mrs Santa Claus this Christmas? You’re sure to find one of them inside one of the many grottos. Father Christmas is extremely busy this year so there’s a few different bases dotted around the city centre and beyond to find Santa this year with his trusty elves by his side.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any presents, if you believe Jo March’s famous opening lines to Little Women are anything to go by, and although, of course, Christmas is about much more than giving and receiving, in our modern world we’re not going to deny that Christmas shopping is a huge part of the festive buildup. To make your shopping trips as easy as possible, we’ve rounded up a list of all the places where you’ll find the essentials. Think stocking fillers, wrapping paper and even one-off handmade gifts – there’s something for everyone here.
As a city that thrives on independent traders, it’s no surprise that when it comes to Christmas shopping, Leeds has limitless places to find everything from an office Secret Santa gift to a heartfelt gift for a loved one to treasure forever, all which support a local shop owner or artist.
If you’re unsure on where to begin your shopping trip, we’ve located all the best hotspots for you to mooch around…
Just because the Leeds Christmas Market is making its return this year it doesn’t mean we can forget about all the other alternative markets in and surrounding the city. From an adorable market lit by candlelight to one that’s been around since the 90s, we’re really spoilt for choice this year. More than shopping, find workshops, entertainment and more at these markets.
A large part of Christmas is wandering around and seeing all the festive lights. As well as the traditional offers in our shopping centres – Victoria, Trinity, Corn Exchange etc… and throughout the city on the Leeds Christmas Markets, LeedsBID have organised some extra special pieces perfect for those festive photographs.
Drape Lighting, Trinity Church, Boar Lane – From Friday 3rd November
Festive Lights Tree, St Peter’s Square – From Friday 3rd November
Winter Decorations, Briggate with James Glancy Design – Friday 24th November 2023 – Sunday 10th March 2024
Christmas projection, The Queens Hotel with artists onionlab – Running Friday 15th– Saturday 23rd December. Read more about it here.
See our Christmas Markets page for more activities.
Christmas Food and Drink
Christmas is one of the tastiest times of the year, and with endless turkey burgers, unlimited glasses of mulled wine and plenty of festive puns you could stuff them inside your Christmas cracker.
It really is the season to be merry, and as the unofficial foodie capital of the North here’s how Leeds is saying it with food…
Christmas food shopping and hampers
We all know that a major part of Christmas is of course…the food. From the controversial sprouts to pigs in blankets and that highly anticipated cheese board which you masterfully put together to unveil at the end of the night, it’s that one time of the year where you can keep the fridge stocked with a host of deliciousness to indulge on over the festive period.
And for that family member or friend who adores food and drink, what better gift to give than a delightful hamper overflowing with treats to take them blissfully into the New Year.
So, we’ve pulled together a list of Leeds independents who can help make your Christmas food offering that little bit more special, and who also offer great gifting options to make you the most popular person in town.
Festive bottomless brunch
Christmas is the best time to get together with friends and colleagues and what’s better than a bottomless brunch to catch up on a boozy budget. Enjoy some festive foods along with an endless flow of prosecco, champagne and more.
Festive Afternoon Tea
Want to enjoy the best foodie offerings of the season without the hustle and bustle of a bottomless brunch bar? An afternoon tea is the perfect alternative, with fizz optional.
Christmas Foodie Specials
The options are endless when it comes to festive food and drink in Leeds whether you’re looking for a traditional Christmas dinner, tasting menus, fusion and international cuisine or sharing platters… you’ll be spoilt for choices for indulging and enjoying time with family and friends this Christmas.
We’ve rounded up our top picks from across the city this year on our festive food and drink pages here – so sit back, tuck in and enjoy!
Where to go for food on Christmas Day
Hands up if you don’t want to do any washing up this year on Christmas Day. Us too. Luckily, there’s plenty of bars and restaurants across the city that plan to open on December 25th. Choose from fancy five courses with Champagne or find a laid back turkey dinner at your local pub – whatever your preference, it’s still available on Christmas Day.