Everything You Need to Do in Leeds This Christmas

· Joseph Sheerin · Christmas

Christmas is coming – and yule love every minute!

Ice Cube, Millennium Square

Christmas comes but once a year, so you’d better make the most of it!

Leeds is overflowing with Christmas spirit this year. The city has a fabulous festive programme of street markets, light installations, food festivals, craft events, pantos and more. Expect old favourites to make a welcome return, along with plenty of new events and surprises in store – there’s loads of stuff for families to enjoy too. The most wonderful time of the year is set to go with a real bang.

Chow Down Winter Village

Chow Down Winter Village

Credit: Tom Martin

Chow Down’s festive offering is a surefire winner. Head down to Temple Arches for fabulous music, an ever-shifting array of hand-picked street food vendors and a great range of drinks. They’ve stepped it up for Christmas with a purpose-built bar, the Hutte Beer Halle, a heated ski lodge, cosy Christmas tipis, curling and themed sessions for Drag Brunch and the World Cup. It’s family-friendly too, so why not book in for Sunday breakfast with Santa?

Chow Down Winter Village will be at Temple Arches until Saturday 31st December 2022.

Head off on the Search for Santa

Search for Santa

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Ellie Hodgson

This Christmas, we’re sending you on a good old merry chase around Leeds city centre. Your mission? To find the big man himself! Join the Search for Santa and you could be in with the chance to win a shopping spree worth £1,000! He’s hiding in the most unlikely spots around town, and every time you find him, you’ll also find a clue to his next hiding place. So get your thinking hats on (and your scarves too!) and follow the clues to find all 10 hidden Santas – make sure you log each one for a chance to win the big prize.

Search for Santa takes over Leeds city centre from Friday 2nd to Friday 23rd December 2022. Sign up now and get your first clue.

The Christmas Adventure & Winter Illuminations

Stockeld Park Santa Breakfast Panto

The kindly elves at Stockeld Park will pull out all the stops this Christmas. Their Christmas Adventure sees the Winter Illuminations take over the Enchanted Forest, creating a gorgeous, twinkling wonderland for you to explore. Those same lights will render the Snowflake Maze truly magical, a labyrinth made from over 2,000 yew trees. Add in Santa’s Grotto, a Nordic ski trail, an ice skating rink and real-life reindeers for the ideal festive family day out.

The Christmas Adventure will be at Stockeld Park from Saturday 19th November 2022 until Tuesday 3rd January 2023.

Long Live the Christmas Tree!

Harewood House Xmas

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Ellie Hodgson

Harewood House becomes even more spectacular when the most wonderful time of the year rolls around. The interior is turned into a place of whimsy and delight as you walk around the historic complex, which will be decked out with all kinds of creative, innovative takes on the classic Christmas tree by local artists and makers. They’re also offering craft workshops, twilight visits, festive afternoon teas and a chance to meet Santa throughout the Christmas period.

Long Live the Christmas Tree! will be at Harewood House from Saturday 12th November 2022 to Monday 2nd January 2023.

The Leeds Big Wheel

Leeds Big Wheel

What goes around comes around – and the Leeds Big Wheel is back for 2022. This truly impressive 110-foot Ferris wheel will light up the sky from its traditional vantage point in Victoria Gardens, giving all those who climb on board a breathtaking vista across the city. It’s the best way to get a birds-eye view of all the festive lights, but it’s also a feast for the eyes in its own right, with over 25,000 LED lights creating an almost hypnotic display.

The Leeds Big Wheel will be at Victoria Gardens from Saturday 19th November to Saturday 31st December 2022.

Golden Gallopers

Golden Gallopers Carousel

A drop-dead gorgeous vintage carousel, Golden Gallopers has become a firm favourite in Leeds over the Christmas period. You’ll find it back on Cookridge Street this winter. It’s no run-of-the-mill carousel, however, as this beauty has a story that goes back to the Victorian era. Originally made in 1884, it has been lovingly restored and now adds a dash of flair and romance to Christmas in Leeds. Get on board with your kids or a loved one and watch the city blur.

The Golden Gallopers Carousel will be at Cookridge Street from Saturday 19th November to Saturday 31st December 2022.

Thor’s Tipi Bar

Thors Tipi

Channel your inner viking with a day, afternoon or night at Thor’s Tipi Bar. Heck, it’s the festive season, make it an all-dayer! Thor’s is returning to Victoria Gardens, the ideal place to get all snug when it’s getting a bit glacial outside. Warm yourself up in front of the roaring open fires with mulled wine and cider, beer and more. Bring the little ones along too – they’ll be all over the hot chocolate stall. There’s also a smaller Thor’s pop-up on Briggate too.

Thor’s Tipi Bar will be at Victoria Gardens from Friday 18th November 2022 to Sunday 1st January 2023.

Christmas at Roundhay Park

Christmas at Roundhay

Credit: Richard Haughton

If you want to summon the true magic of Christmas, make a beeline for Roundhay Park this December. When the sun goes down, the gardens will light up with a light trail that will provoke awe in your little ones. You can make your way around the giant baubles, head through a tunnel of light and marvel at the neon-lit trees. But that’s not all! There’s a cosy tipi where you can get your cold mitts around hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows.

Christmas at Roundhay Park runs from Thursday 8th to Saturday 24th December 2022. 

Lotherton’s Christmas Experience

Lotherton Christmas Experience

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

A reliably magical day out for the family, Lotherton’s Christmas Experience sees the grand Edwardian house become a playground for children who still believe in the magic. Wander the twinkling lights of the woodland walk with interactive stations and discover the Fairy Dell, or stop for a drink in the Yuletide Yurts and watch a magic show. Santa will be waiting in his cabin to decide who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, while there are crafting elves on hand too.

Lotherton’s Christmas Experience runs from Saturday 26th November to Saturday 31st December 2022.

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Credit: Emma Kauldhar

For a classic Christmas trip to the theatre, head along to Leeds Grand over the festive period to experience Northern Ballet’s breathtaking take on The Nutcracker. David Nixon OBE’s incredible choreography is set to the spine-tingling score by Tchaikovsky which is played live by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia – watch as Clara is swept away by her Nutcracker Prince into an enchanting winter world, complete with dancing snowflakes and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Nutcracker comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from December 2022 until January 2023.

Ice Cube

Ice Cube, Leeds

Fancy taking to the ice in Millennium Square this Christmas? Then you’d better get your skates on because Ice Cube is making a much-anticipated return this winter. It’s a 400-square metre ice rink in the heart of the city, with a transparent roof so the Christmas lights can twinkle above you, complete with bars and street food. It’s open for public skating every day, but on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the ’Penguin Club’ gives kids a chance to learn to skate safely.

Ice Cube takes over Millennium Square from Friday 25th November to Saturday 31st December 2022.

The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto

The Rock 'n' Roll Panto

The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto at City Varieties is a definite highlight of the Christmas calendar and this year they’re breathing new life into the one-and-only Dick Whittington. Expect the traditional tale to take on a completely different form, with panto-level gags, lots of audience participation and the injection of singalong rock anthems. It’s a blast for both grown-ups and kids, complete with explosives, smoke effects and a few surprises too.

Beauty & the Beast Rock’n’Roll Panto comes to City Varieties Music Hall from Friday 25th November 2022 to Sunday 9th January 2023.

Leeds Corn Exchange Christmas Market

Corn Exchange Xmas

Credit: Amy Heycock

The festive market returns to Leeds Corn Exchange this winter. It’s masterminded by the people who brought us Rum Fest and the Gin Fair, so you know it’s going to rock. Expect rotating street food, alongside a special festive menu from Dijon Boys, alongside bars from Camden Town, Franklin & Sons and Latitude. Add in stalls from Mahogany Market and Indie Makers, cocktail masterclasses, games, live music and tastings for a mega festive day out.

Leeds Corn Exchange Christmas Market runs from Friday 11th November to Friday 23rd December 2022.

Christmas at Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam Christmas

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Put a pep in your festive step at Temple Newsam this Christmas. There’s plenty to do from late November right through to the New Year, including a trail of themed Christmas trees inspired by the estate and a whole host of free festive crafts. Keep a keen eye out for Father Christmas because he’ll be in attendance. Feeling the chill? Grab a hot chocolate or spiced winter warmer and head over to the roaring workshop fire to keep the cold at bay.

Christmas at Temple Newsam runs from Saturday 3rd to Friday 23rd December 2022.

The Lord Mayor’s Carol Concerts

rothwell temperance band lord mayor carol concert

Want to hear Christmas carols sung with true skill? Get yourself down to the wonderful surrounds of Leeds Minster on Thursday 15th December 2022 for the Lord Mayor’s Carol Concerts. This annual event will feature classic carols performed by the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, accompanied by the Rothwell Temperance Band. Expect to hear those carol classics sung somewhat better than you get on your doorstep, with proceeds going to four local charities.

The Lord Mayor’s Carol Concerts take over Leeds Minster at 6.30pm and 8.30pm on Thursday 15th December 2022.

Christmas at Left Bank Leeds

Left Bank Messy Christmas

There are Christmas events galore at Left Bank this year, kicking off with the Amos Trust Christmas Tour, for a night of film, poetry and music. It will be followed by a packed programme, including their famous Night Market, which welcomes makers, crafters and artists to the old church. You can also look forward to a host of festive craft workshops for all ages, Santa’s Grotto, Hyde Park Picture House film screenings and the Christmas by Candlelight concert.

Christmas events at Left Bank run from Thursday 1st December to Friday 23rd December 2022.

Dear Leeds

Dear Leeds

One of the best light installations returns to Briggate this Christmas, and it’s a must-see to get you in the festive spirit. Dear Leeds, which is inspired by Kate Ryrie’s poem of the same name, was commissioned by LeedsBID to help capture the essence of this magnificent city. A modern neon take on Christmas lights, it uses mirrored Dibond to create the illusion that the words are floating. It’s the perfect spectacle when you head to Briggate to pick up some presents.

Dear Leeds is on Briggate over the Christmas period.

Leeds Winter Market

leeds winter market

The largest independent winter market in Leeds is back this December for one day only. You’ll find over 100 indie stalls nestled inside the Royal Armouries, running the gamut from designers to artists, florists to jewellers, printmakers to wellness experts and more. There will be artisan food sellers here too, so you can try samples, fill up and get a flurry of unique gifts to take away. Don’t want to share? Stock up on a hamper and keep it to yourself!

Leeds Winter Market is at the Royal Armouries from 10.30am to 5.30pm on Sunday 4th December 2022.

Otley Christmas Tree Festival

Christmas Tree

It’s been on a three-year break, but the famous Otley Christmas Tree Festival is back this Christmas. Terry Ford, Otley Bellman, will kick things off on Wednesday 7th December 2022 with a performance from the Guiseley Brass Band, followed by a weekend of festive fun. Chomp on a mince pie and check out over 40 trees – all of which have been decorated lovingly by local charities, who you can donate to. Choirs and carols services will provide entertainment.

The Otley Christmas Tree Festival comes to Otley Parish Church from Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th December 2022. 

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

For many, Christmas and chocolate go hand-in-hand – Leeds Playhouse agrees! Their big festive show for 2022 is their sumptuously sweet take on Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This epic musical features all your favourite songs from the 1970s film along with a few new tunes, as you go join Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe on a whirlwind tour of Willy Wonka’s weird and wonderful factory. It’s a family-friendly must-see!

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory comes to Leeds Playhouse from Tuesday 22nd November 2022 to Saturday 28th January 2023.

The Bierkeller Christmas Market

Bierkeller food

The Leeds German Market may well be no more, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a bit of Bavarian revelry this Christmas in Leeds. Bierkeller are back, albeit temporarily, with a seven-week takeover of a Boar Lane unit they’re turning into a festive wonderland. Get ready to sit under twinkling festoon lights while supping steins of German beer, wine and spirits, alongside a food menu full of all the market staples. They’re even showing the World Cup too.

The Bierkeller Christmas Market comes to 25 Boar Lane from Friday 18th November 2022 to Saturday 24th December 2022.