Ten reasons to love Leeds at Christmas
PUBLISHED: 02:01 15 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:19 19 November 2015
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This year's fantastically festive Magical Leeds programme offers a heady combination of entertainment, shopping and traditional Christmas merrymaking aimed at attracting tourists and injecting a super-duper dose of festive spirit into the lives of residents.
There really is a host of delights to discover in Yorkshire’s unofficial capital, with an irresistible mix of old and new Leeds providing the ideal environment for adventure and a twinkly sprinkling of unmissable Christmas magic. Here's ten for starters.
1. Christkindelmarkt - The scenic but unspellable winter village of traditional German stalls is back by popular demand in Millennium Square until December 20th. Open daily from 10.30am to 9.30pm (6.30pm on Sunday), attractions include a carousel, gift stalls and more sauerkraut than is strictly necessary. See leeds.gov.uk/christmasmarket.
2. Christmas lights - Leeds boasts one of the most extensive city centre festive illumination displays in the country. The lights span over 13 miles of streets and over 2m low energy light bulbs are used. The annual switch-on ceremony attracts huge crowds and will be hosted by Dixie and Emma from Heart Breakfast at the Victoria Gardens off the Headrow.
3. Kirkgate Market - A full festive programme awaits you at one of the largest indoor markets in Europe.
Saturdays from 28th November to 19th December will host real reindeer, brass band performances and Christmas Treasure Hunts; and Sundays will host the Santa's Throne and the Farmers' Markets.
4. Christmas shopping - If getting the Christmas shopping done in plenty of time is a priority then Leeds has a great range of stores and specialist shops to help you find a unique gift for family and friends. There’s everything from high-end designer boutiques in the Victoria Quarter to quirky independents at Leeds Corn Exchange and all the brand favourites in Trinity Leeds which makes Leeds an ideal destination to tick every family member’s Christmas list.
5. Panto - Pantomimes and other seasonal shows are as much a part of Christmas as turkey. Oh yes they are, and Leeds has plenty on offer. Aladdin is on at The Carriageworks, the Courtyard Theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse hosts The Night Before Christmas and Northern Ballet’s new adaptation of The Nutcracker can be seen at The Grand Theatre. Catch Robin Hood: Babes in the Wood at the City Varieties.
6. The Leeds Reindeer Trail - Discover a festive collection of uniquely decorated reindeer placed to guide visitors to some of the city’s leading names in shopping, hospitality and entertainment.
The likes of Leeds Railway Station, Trinity Leeds and the Corn Exchange have signed up to the trail creating a very photogenic reindeer herd like no other, from graffiti covered stags to sparkling golden does. Visitors are invited to follow the reindeer trail map (downloadable via the Visit Leeds website) and share their reindeer selfies with us, using #MagicalLeeds to show off their favourite designs
7. Reindeer - Dasher and Dancer are flying in again for a pat and a chat even though, strictly speaking, they should have their hooves up to prepare for Christmas, at the Merrion Centre every weekend from the 5th to the 20th December from noon to 4pm. Follow your red nose to merrioncentre.co.uk/events
8. Christmas carols - The sound of carols will be ringing out from Leeds Minster. The splendid Victorian church is hosting a series of carol concerts and services during December that will benefit various charities. Visit leedsminster.org for full details. The Lord Mayor’s Carol Concert at the town hall on December 17th is raising funds for Sacarl. Visit leedsconcertseason.com.
9. Something Different - They’re celebrating a deeply dark and eerily enjoyable 'Christmas Killing at Thackray Medical Museum on December 18th. The Murder Mystery Evening and 3 course festive meal promises a Christmas party with a difference a bit of gruesome festive fun, visit thackraymedicalmuseum.co.uk
10. Food and Drink - At the end of an intense day of shopping, there is the opportunity to experience some of the finest food and drink in the city. Trinity Kitchen offers the best street food from around the country, with new food trucks featured in the Kitchen each month, while Trinity Leeds’ other restaurants, which include Angelica, Crafthouse and The Alchemist, offer sophisticated cocktails and extensive menus as well as panoramic views across the city.