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15 Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained this Christmas (That You’ll Love As Much as They Do)

· Katie Wells · Christmas

Get into the festive spirit with the whole family.

Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall

Leeds has plenty to offer for families this Christmas, so treat the little ones to a fun-filled festive day out.

The Christmas holidays are all about spending time as a family and in Leeds there are plenty of fun activities that’ll get kids and adults alike into the spirit of the season. In fact, there are 15 family-friendly festive events on across the city. You can feast on a special breakfast with Santa, see wonderfully wintery theatre shows and enter into an enchanted forest lit up with twinkling lights. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Christmas adventure.

Christmas Adventure

Stockeld Park Christmas Adventure

Stockeld Park is packed full of Christmassy fun. Start the day with Santa’s Panto Breakfast, where you can feast on a full English and enjoy a performance of The Three Little Pigs. Then set off on an adventure through the Illuminated Enchanted Forest, lit up with sparkling lights and beautifully lit sculptures, before you tackle the four adventure playgrounds or experience the gigantic snowflake maze. You can even take the kids for a whizz around the ice skating rink and don skis for the 1.2-km Nordic ski trail through the forest.

The Christmas Adventure takes over Stockeld Park from Thursday 14th November 2019 to Friday 6th January 2020.

The Leeds Big Wheel

Leeds Big Wheel

You can’t miss the Leeds Big Wheel. No really, you can’t – it’s huge! You’ll find it in Victoria Gardens, where it will make its wonderfully slow circuit, offering you incredible views over the city as you go. Step inside the enclosed capsules, which are safe for all the family, and enjoy the ride as you look out over the rooftops. Afterwards, why not nip into Thor’s Tipi next door for a hot chocolate? The kids can load theirs with cream and marshmallows while you can add a shot of something nice.

The Leeds Big Wheel takes over Victoria Gardens from Friday 15th November 2019 to Wednesday 1st January 2020.

Christmas Experience

Lotherton Christmas Experience

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

The Christmas Experience is an annual treat at Lotherton and this year they’ve got loads of festive fun for the whole family to enjoy. The main attraction is the Twelve Days Trail through the Captains Wood – you can try to hook one of the seven swans swimming, shout ‘bonjour!’ at the French hens and listen out for the calling birds. While you’re there, pay a visit to Santa in the North Pole and meet his elves in the craft workshop. Then relax inside with a hot chocolate and marvel at the house’s beautifully decorated halls.

The Christmas Experience takes over Lotherton from Friday 22nd November 2019 to Sunday 5th January 2020.

A Night at The Mansion

Harewood House Christmas

Credit: Tom Arber

Harewood House has been transformed into an enchanted world of festive magic. Artistic duo Davy and Kristin McGuire have created an immersive audio visual project within the house, bringing it to life. Expect nattering statues, moving paintings and singing crockery as you wander through the twinkling halls. Once you’ve explored every nook and cranny, the kids can enjoy Music & Merriment with Father Christmas, so get ready for stories, songs and sweet treats.

A Night at the Mansion takes over Harewood House from Saturday 23rd November 2019 to Sunday 5th January 2020.

Red Riding Hood Rock ’n’ Roll Panto

Rock n Roll Panto

Credit: Ant Robling

Nothing beats a good old fashioned panto at Christmas and this year Leeds City Varieties are putting on a rip-roaring, rock ’n’ roll version of Red Riding Hood. Gather the kids and follow Little Red into the deep, dark woods, where she’ll face terrifying beasts and earth-shaking boulder battles. Expect all the usual panto antics, with crazy costumes, silly gags and loads of audience participation, not to mention a belting singalong soundtrack that’ll get the whole family up on their feet.

Red Riding Hood Rock ’n’ Roll Panto comes to Leeds City Varieties from Friday 29th November 2019 to Sunday 12th January 2020.

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

You won’t want to miss The Night Before Christmas, a fun-filled show that’s coming to Leeds Playhouse for the holidays. It tells the story of Carol and Elf 30046, an unlikely duo who set out on an adventure to save Santa. He’s positively bursting with festive cheer while she thinks Christmas is all a load of nonsense. But as they race to track down a speeding sleigh, a beautiful friendship blossoms between them and Carol finally realises the true meaning of Christmas.

The Night Before Christmas comes to Leeds Playhouse from Saturday 30th November to Saturday 28th December 2019.

Santa Special Trains

Middleton Railway Museum

Credit: Middleton Railway

All aboard! Middleton Railways are running their Santa Special Trains for the holiday season. You’ll take a ride on one of their historic steam trains, following the mile-long track from Moor Road to Park Halt and back. On the journey, Santa and his elves will visit your carriage and specially select a present for each youngster. When you arrive back at the station, the little ones can play with their gifts and you’ll all be treated to festive refreshments. Why not have a wander around the free museum while you’re there too?

The Santa Special Trains come to Middleton Railway every weekend from Saturday 30th November to Sunday 22nd December 2019 and Tuesday 24th December 2019.

Leeds German Market & Santa’s Breakfast

Leeds Christmas Market

Credit: Leeds City Council

Did you know that you can take the kids to Leeds German Market to have breakfast with Father Christmas? Santa will host an authentic German breakfast buffet – you’ll be met on your arrival by his little helpers, before the big man comes along with his sack full of presents. You can all help yourself to the buffet which promises everything from bratwurst to donuts. After you’ve filled your belly, you’ll set off on a festive treasure hunt around the market. There’s also fairground rides, traditional stalls and more.

Santa’s Breakfast Experience comes to Leeds German Market every weekend from Sunday 1st to Saturday 21st December 2019.

Hansel & Gretel

Family-friendly theatre company Wrongsemble are putting on an enchanting production of Hansel & Gretel at Leeds Central Library. It’s a show filled with Christmas magic, music and mayhem that kids of all ages will love. You’ll join the two siblings and follow a trail of breadcrumbs into an enchanted fairytale world. But things might not be as they seem when they discover a mysterious gingerbread house deep in the woods. Will they escape? Bring the whole brood to find out. You can even meet the cast on stage after the performance.

Hansel & Gretel comes to Leeds Central Library from Saturday 7th December 2019 to Sunday 5th January 2020.

Christmas at Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam Christmas

Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries

You can get into the festive spirit with a trip to Temple Newsam this December. The house and grounds will be traditionally decorated, so as you wander through the halls you’ll get to see how the house’s historic residents celebrated the season in the past. Don’t forget to pop in to see Santa and tell him all your Christmas wishes too. Then head over to Home Farm and get stuck into an array of craft activities – you can try everything from wreath making to Medieval tile crafting.

Christmas comes to Temple Newsam every weekend from Saturday 7th to Sunday 22nd December 2019.

The Snow Mouse

Snow Mouse

After a sold-out run in London, the heartwarming puppet show Snow Mouse is coming to Leeds Playhouse and it’s a must-see over the Christmas holidays. You’ll delve into a snow-covered woodland, where a young boy is out playing alone. That is until he discovers a sleeping mouse under the snow. Join them in their adventures as they slide, tumble and laugh through a magical winter wonderland. It’s a relaxed performance where you’ll be sitting around the stage on benches and cushions, so it’s great for tiny tots.

Snow Mouse comes to Leeds Playhouse from Tuesday 10th December to Saturday 21st December 2019.


Santa and the Christmas Dragon

Santa and the Christmas Dragon

The Alive & Kicking Theatre Company are bringing their action-packed production of Santa and the Christmas Dragon to Leeds Kirkgate Market. Filled with magic, music and one very mischievous dragon, it’s a great way to keep the kids entertained for free in the holidays. You’ll join Leanne and Little Joe, who are dreaming of the perfect pet. But this fun-loving duo get more than they bargained for when they wake up to an actual dragon on Christmas morning – let the mayhem begin!

Santa and the Christmas Dragon comes to Leeds Kirkgate Market from Saturday 14th December 2019 to Monday 23rd December 2019.

Messy Christmas

Left Bank Messy Christmas

Left Bank Leeds are running a family craft day this Christmas. It’s festive-themed, so you can get stuck into making glitter crowns and twig stars to wear on the big day. Follow that with a treasure hunt around the spectacular old church building, with a sweet treat waiting at the end for the kids. After the adventures, you can enjoy a seasonal tale in their cosy storytelling space. They want everyone from young tots to great grandparents to get involved, so you can bring the whole brood.

Messy Christmas comes to Left Bank Leeds on Sunday 15th December 2019.

A Winter’s Trail

Leeds City Museum Kids Trail

Credit: Leeds City Museums and Galleries

Jack Frost has run ragged through Leeds City Museum over the Christmas holidays. Will you be able to track him down before he gets up to any more mischief? The kids can follow his trail of chaos through each of the galleries, marvelling at the museum’s cool artefacts as they go. After you find the cheeky little fella, you can stop by the cafe for a winter warmer – there’s hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows for the little ones or gingerbread lattes for grown ups.

A Winter’s Trail comes to Leeds City Museum from Thursday 19th to Tuesday 24th December 2019 and Friday 27th to Tuesday 31st December 2019.

Sleepy Santa Trail

Kirkstall Abbey

Credit: Leeds City Museums and Galleries

Kirkstall Abbey is a spectacular Leeds landmark and you can explore every inch of it with the kids on the Sleepy Santa Trail this Christmas. After the excitement of the festive season, Santa and all his elves are exhausted so they’ve landed in the Abbey for a kip – keep your eyes peeled as you wander through the ruins of the Cistercian monastery. After you’ve found all the festive friends, pop over to Abbey House Museum where you can join in with fun family challenges like Splat a Sprout.

The Sleepy Santa Trail takes over Kirkstall Abbey from Friday 27th December 2019 to Friday 3rd January 2020 and Christmas comes to Abbey House Museum from Sunday 1st December 2019 to Tuesday 31st December 2019.

Cover image credit: Lizzie Coombes