Fabulously Festive Things to Do With the Kids in Leeds

· Imagine Selby · Christmas

Yuletide magic that will light up their little faces.

Christmas at Roundhay

Get the kids in the Christmas spirit with these festive days out around Leeds.

You and your brood can enjoy a holly jolly Christmas packed to the rafters with festive joy and magic. Whether it’s mastering ice skating at the rink, discovering clues in an enchanted forest or meeting Santa for the first (or tenth) time, there’s delight and wonder to be had at every turn this Christmas in Leeds. So wrap up warm and head out with the whole family for these festive days out.

Head off on the Search for Santa

Search for Santa

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Ellie Hodgson

This December, you can lead the whole gang on an extra special festive treasure hunt around Leeds city centre in search of the big man himself. Oh yes, this is the Search for Santa and it’s jolly good fun for all the family. Old Saint Nick is hiding in some of the most unlikely places around town. Will you find him in a shop, on a balcony or under the escalators? It’s your job to unravel the clues to find the ultimate secret Santa, and once you find and log them all, you could be in with the chance to win a shopping spree worth £1,000!

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

Go on a Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park

Stockeld Park

Credit: Stockeld Park

Stockeld Park is a Christmas day out you simply have to do if you’ve got kids in tow. They’ll love seeing the Enchanted Forest come to life with thousands of twinkling lights, a soundscape and animated installations. You can get lost together in the Snowflake Maze, have a go at skiing on the Nordic Ski Trail and enjoy the show at Santa’s Breakfast Panto, where the kids will get a present from the big man himself. Throw in a visit to Santa’s Grotto and it’s an epic day out in Leeds this festive season.

Christmas Adventure is at Stockeld Park until Tuesday 3rd January 2023. The Christmas in Oz Panto will take place on various dates from Saturday 3rd to Friday 23rd December 2022.

Get into the festive spirit at Otley Christmas Tree Festival

Christmas Tree

The marvellous Otley Christmas Tree Festival is back for the holidays in the market town after a three-year hiatus. Grab your hats and scarves and make your way down to Otley Parish Church for everything Christmassy. There’ll be 44 Christmas trees decorated by local charities, which means that not only will you be able to get plenty of tree-spiration, but also give a little. The Guiseley Brass Band will welcome in the festivities with all the familiar jingles, while choirs from local primary schools bring even more joy. Mince pies are provided!

Otley Christmas Tree Festival will run at Otley Parish Church from 12pm on Wednesday 7th to 6pm on Saturday 10th December 2022.

Follow the yuletide Light Trail at Roundhay Park

This Christmas season, Leeds favourite Roundhay Park welcomes a brand new after-dark illuminated trail that will lead your bunch through their fantastic festive gardens. With over a million twinkling lights all around and seasonal sounds that fill the air with festive fun, it’s an unmissable day out for families in Leeds. We’re talking trees wrapped in dancing lights, twinkling stars and lit-up archways perfect for photos. You can even toast marshmallows over the fire and warm your mitts with a hot chocolate or spiced winter warmer.

The Christmas at Roundhay Park Light Trail will be at Roundhay Park until Sunday 1st January 2023.

Indulge in all things chocolatey at Leeds Playhouse

Christmas and chocolate go hand-in-hand, so it comes as no surprise that the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory musical is taking to the stage at Leeds Playhouse this winter. Watch as Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory. Is everything as sweet as it seems? This feel-good family show will take you and your little ones to a world of pure imagination with all things sweet – just without the sugar high. It’s a Christmas treat you’ll love just as much as the kids.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory comes to Leeds Playhouse until Saturday 28th January 2023.

Be dazzled by The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre

The Nutcracker

No Christmas is complete without the magic of ballet and Northern Ballet’s The Nutcracker makes the perfect festive day out for all the family. You’ll follow Clara as she’s swept away by the Nutcracker Prince into an enchanting winter wonderland, meeting the Sugar Plum Fairy and the notorious Mouse King along the way. Don’t miss the dazzling dancing snowflakes at Leeds Grand Theatre in the ultimate Christmas show that’ll awaken the childlike imagination in even the grown-ups.

The Nutcracker comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 20th December 2022 to Saturday 7th January 2023.

Venture into the Forest Full of Christmas Secrets at This Green Moon

This magical lamplit adventure through ancient Leeds woodland is back, and this time with even more sparkle. Get into the Christmas spirit with a family walk through the Forest Full of Christmas Secrets at This Green Moon at Swillington Organic Farm. Pick up a map and meander through the woods, finding clues and uncovering seasonal secrets as you go. The kids will love the challenge as much as the complimentary toasted marshmallows. Top off a joy-filled festive family evening with hot drinks and bubbling spiced cider around the campfire.

The Forest Full of Christmas Secrets is at Swillington Organic Farm on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th & Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December 2022.

Join in Christopher’s Christmas at The Carriageworks

Looking for festive things to do in Leeds with 2 to 7-year-olds this Christmas? Christopher’s Christmas may just be the ticket. Head to The Carriageworks Theatre this December for a new one-off puppet show filled with all manner of festive fun. You’ll join Christopher Nibble the guinea pig as he hatches a plan to help Santa Claus find his way and save Christmas. Will the guinea pigs of Dandeville wake up to empty stockings on Christmas Day or will your Christmas spirit help save the day? There’s only one way to find out!

Christopher’s Christmas comes to The Carriageworks Theatre on Wednesday 21st December 2022.

Watch festive family favourites at Left Bank Leeds

This Christmas, Hyde Park Picture House are taking over Left Bank Leeds and filling it with noel joy with their familiar festive favourite movie screenings. Leave the living room and get the whole family out of the house for a cosy community screening of classic family-friendly films Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol in the surrounds of this stunning old church. Come early for Christmas craft sessions and oodles of festive fun – you could go home with your very own elf to add to your decorations box.

Hyde Park Picture House Screenings will take place at Left Bank Leeds on Sunday 18th, Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st December 2022.

Take a trip down A Winter’s Trail at Skelton Grange

Skelton Grange Christmas A Winter's Trail

Looking for after-school activities in Leeds for the kids this Christmas? The annual winter fundraising event at Skelton Grange is a magical celebration of light that will have your little ones looking up in awe. You’ll wander along a candle-lit trail in the wintery woods and gardens, followed by a peak into the illuminated mini village, home to the secret Skelton Christmas fairies. Once you’ve reached the end, it’s time to huddle around the campfire with a warm drink and gingerbread before joining in a host of family-friendly activities.

A Winter’s Trail is on at Skelton Grange from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th December 2022.

Pay a visit to Santa Claus at Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam Christmas

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Temple Newsam is a lovely place to go with the kids in Leeds all year round, but at Christmas the impressive house and grounds really come alive with heaps of festive spirit. You can bring the whole brood along to see the house and farm dressed to impress specially for the festive season, discover themed Christmas trees and enjoy free festive craft activities. Better yet, Father Christmas will be making many an appearance until the big day, so your little ones can hand over those all-important Christmas lists.

Christmas at Temple Newsam runs from Saturday 3rd to Friday 23rd December 2022. Father Christmas will be making an appearance on weekends throughout December and daily between Tuesday 20th and Friday 23rd December 2022.

Harewood House

Harewood House Xmas

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Ellie Hodgson

Traditionally untraditional – that’s the theme at Harewood House this Christmas. If you’re looking for a bit of a different day out with the kids in Leeds this December, the Harewood festive season is a must. You can see the Christmas tree in a new light with Long Live the Christmas Tree! and explore the brilliantly decorated house before joining in a whole host of jolly activities. Then, head outside for a family stroll through the wintery gardens, lit up by thousands of twinkling lights.

Love Live the Christmas Tree! takes over Harewood House until Monday 2nd January 2023.

Experience Lotherton at Christmastime

Lotherton Christmas Experience

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Right through the holiday season, you and your family can get the full Christmas Experience at Lotherton. You’ll be whisked away to the North Pole without even leaving Leeds, where you can meet Santa Claus and his elves Under the Wishing Tree, say hello to Mrs Claus in the house and decorate your very own Christmas ceramics to take home. After that, you can wander around the wintery woodland, discovering the fairies in their secret hideaway as you tip-toe through – listen out for their giggles and whispers!

The Christmas Experience at Lotherton is on until Saturday 31st December 2022.

Save Santa at The Thackray Museum of Medicine

Thackray Museum of Medicine

Christmassy and educational? Pay a visit to Thackray Museum of Medicine because Santa needs your help! His first-aid kit has fallen off his sleigh and everything inside is missing. It’s your job to collect them all while you make your way around the kid-friendly museum, stopping only for some Christmas crafting and photos on the Thackray sleigh. Then, you’ll meet the man himself under the twinkly lights of the Apothecary Shop for some festive stories and a special gift to take home. It’s an amazing festive activity in Leeds for kids of all ages.

Father Christmas is at the Thackeray Museum of Medicine from Saturday 3rd to Friday 23rd December 2022.

Get your skates on at the Ice Cube

Ice Cube, Leeds

Head to Millennium Square for one of the best days out with the kids Leeds has to offer this Christmas. A 400-metre ice rink awaits, where you can skate whatever the weather. For the under nines, the Penguin Club runs every Saturday and Sunday morning for them to get comfortable on the ice, and on Thursday mornings there are dedicated sessions for wheelchair users. Once their little legs are tired out, there’s a selection of hot food and drink vendors offering tasty festive treats.

The Ice Cube takes over Millennium Square until Saturday 31st December 2022.

Rock out at the Rock ’n’ Roll Panto at City Varieties

Dick Whittington

A family outing to the panto is one of the must-do Christmas activities with the kids and this year in Leeds, the Rock ’n’ Roll Panto is coming to the City Varieties. This family-friendly show breathes new life into the one-and-only Dick Whittington. It’s the folk tale but not as you know it. Oh no, this is a show full of panto-level gags, lots of audience participation and singalong rock anthems, with a few surprises throughout. It’s a yuletide activity for all the family that’ll put a smile on the faces of both grown-ups and kids.

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

Hear the classics at The Lord Mayor’s Carol Concerts at Leeds Minster

Leeds Minster

Credit: Ollievision

Want the kids to experience a bit of Christmas tradition? Bring the whole family 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. It’s a chance for you and the kids to hear all the classic carols sung as they were made to be sung, with all proceeds going to four local charities. O come all ye faithful!

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