Christmas is a magical time of year for the kids and there’s loads going on across Leeds that the whole family can enjoy.
Christmas is all about the kids, so why not treat the little ones to a festive day out? You can go and eat breakfast with Santa, see a classic Christmas film with a live score or explore a Fairytale Kingdom inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ Fairytales – and that’s just a hint of what’s on offer as we tip-toe ever closer to Christmas.
The Christmas Experience
The Christmas Experience is an annual treat at Lotherton Hall and this year they’ve got loads of festive fun for the whole family to enjoy. The main attraction is the Twelve Days of Christmas Walk 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 their North Pole, meet the elves of Elf Village and discover the fairies of The Fairy Dell. And once you’re done, relax in the Courtyard Cafe with a glass of mulled wine and a slice of cake, before you wander the festive halls of the house and take a selfie in the Edwardian Selfie Studio.
The Christmas Experience takes over Lotherton Hall from until Saturday 23rd December 2017.
Fireside Father Christmas
Harewood House is opening its doors this winter for the first time in five years. You’ll need to get a ticket to their Victorian Christmas, which gives you access to the house and grounds, including their Fireside Father Christmas. The Servants’ Hall is being transformed into Santa’s workshop – you’ll be invited in to hear him read a Christmas story and the kids will get a special present to take home.
Fireside Father Christmas takes place at Harewood House every weekend until Saturday 23rd December 2017 and every weekday during the final week before Christmas.
Santa’s Post Box
With Christmas just around the corner, the kids will need to get to work on their letters to Santa. Luckily, Santa’s Post Box is back at The Merrion Centre, so they can head along to write their letters with help from his elves. Once they’ve put their wishes down on paper, they’ll be sent directly to the North Pole – watch as they magically wing their way to Santa. Of course, you could always meet the big man himself while you’re there – Santa’s Grotto bauble is back for 2017.
Santa’s Post Box will be at The Merrion Centre until Sunday 24th December 2017.
The Magical Lantern Festival
For the second year running, The Magical Lantern Festival will take over Roundhay Park with 30 intricate handmade lanterns. They’re all new this year, and you can see a replica of Beijing’s ‘Temple of Heaven’ alongside ice skating pandas, giant phoenix and a huge enclosure filled with penguins and polar bears. After you’ve followed the trail around the park, you can head to their entertainment area where there’s a tipi bar with craft beer, mulled wine and hot chocolate. That’s not all, there will also be street food stalls, Santa’s Grotto and fairground rides.
The Magical Lantern Festival takes over Roundhay Park until Monday 1st January 2017.
The 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, just outside Leeds Art Gallery, where it will be making 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 for one of their super-charged hot chocolates? The kids will love loading theirs with cream, marshmallows and their favourite chocolate bars – but you could always add a shot of something nice.
The Leeds Big Wheel will be in Victoria Gardens until 1st January 2018.
Aladdin – The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto
The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto is a production the whole family can enjoy. It’s back at City Varieties and promises to be a raucous interpretation of the classic tale, as you go on an adventure with Aladdin, The Genie and Princess Jasmine. This lively production is packed full of hilarious features, from the boulder fights to the cheesy gags and the audience participation. That’s not all though – the parents among you will certainly recognise the soundtrack, with a slew of pop, rock and soul anthems that will have you singing and dancing in the aisles.
Aladdin – The Rock ’n’ Roll Panto takes over City Varieties until Sunday 7th January 2018.
The Christmas Adventure
Stockeld Park is packed full of Christmassy fun. You can go on an adventure through the Illuminated Enchanted Forest, lit up wth sparkling lights and beautifully lit sculptures, before tackling the four adventure playgrounds or experiencing the illuminated maze. You’ll even take part in their last two attractions – join the little ones on their woodland ice skating rink or don skis for the 1.2 kilometre Nordic ski trail through the forest and around the illuminated lake.
The Christmas Adventure takes place at Stockeld Park until Monday 8th January 2018.
The Wishing Tree
For something a little bit different, take the kids to St John’s Centre. There you’ll find The Wishing Tree. It’s not like other Christmas trees, but the little ones will love it, because they can help decorate it. Everyone who visits can make a wish – you write it on a piece of seeded paper and hang it on the tree. In the New Year, all the wishes will be planted around the city centre, brightening our little concrete jungle.
The Wishing Tree will be in St John’s Centre from 1st to 17th December 2017.
The Festive Yard
Leeds Corn Exchange is home to a medley of independent shops where you can pick up everything from handmade jewellery to nautical trinkets and Yorkshire’s finest produce. But after you’ve done your shopping, take the kids to The Festive Yard for a well deserved break. Expect family entertainment, music and arts in amongst a maze of creative stalls. You can grab a bite to eat or festive drink while you’re here, so there’s something for all the family.
The Festive Yard will take over Leeds Corn Exchange from Friday 1st to Friday 22nd December 2017.
Leeds German Market & Santa’s Breakfast Experience
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 Santa’s little helpers who’ll take you to your table, 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, and there are also arts and crafts tables courtesy of Pop Up and Play. And outside, there are fairground rides, traditional stalls and more.
Santa’s Breakfast Experience comes to Leeds German Market every weekend from Saturday 2nd to Sunday 24th December 2017 and every weekday during the final week before Christmas.
Chapeltown Winter Festival
There’s a whole day dedicated to family-friendly fun this December at the Chapeltown Winter Festival. Head down to The Reginald Centre to see puppet shows from Mimika Theatre and a performance from Northern School of Contemporary Dance. They’ve also got live music, a pop up choir and lantern making workshops, which will be followed by the lantern switch-on parade. There’s even a Santa’s grotto, face painting and food and drink stalls.
Chapeltown Winter Festival comes to The Reginald Centre on Friday 9th December 2017.
The Arctic Bazaar
How would you like to do a little Christmas shopping, without the kids complaining? That’s exactly what’s in store at The Arctic Bazaar. Step into a mysterious Nordic world where they’ll be serving up mulled wine, hot chocolate and all manner of sweet treats that are sure to put a smile on the kids’ faces. You can pick up a few gifts from their curated market, which is filled with original works of art, while the kids can get involved in one of their family-friendly activities. Oh, and did we mention that they have a mobile sauna? You’ll feel like you’re actually in Iceland.
Arctic Bazaar returns to The Art Hostel from Monday 11th until Saturday 23rd December 2017.
The Hidden Christmas Market
Sneaky Experience’s takeover of Kirkstall Abbey this December is as much for the kids as it is for the adults. The Hidden Christmas Market is inspired by the Fairytale Kingdom created by the Grimm Fairytales, with a weekend dedicated to family-friendly shows. It’s a five hour theatrical experience with jaw-dropping performances by their group of performers. They also have loads of craft activities, games and secret areas to discover. The grown-ups among you can enjoy the live music, independent retailers and a fairytale-themed bar, which is chock-full of mulled wine, cocktails and festive craft ales.
Hidden Christmas Market comes to Kirkstall Abbey from Thursday 14th to Thursday 21st December 2017.
The Snowman and Cinderella
This is a night at Leeds Town Hall that kids and grown ups can both appreciate. Head along to see a screening of Raymond Brigs’ classic tale of The Snowman, a story that lives on through the generations. It’s backed by a live performance of Howard Blake’s memorable soundtrack by the Orchestra of Opera North, including ‘Walking in the Air’. Before you fly right back to your childhood with your own kids, you’ll all be treated to story time with John Savournin, who’ll bring Cinderella to life with music and illustrations.
The Snowman and Cinderella will be screened at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 17th December 2017.
A festive favourite will once again take place at Left Bank Leeds this December. They’re bringing back Messy Christmas, which will see you and the kids get hands on with loads of craft activities to help create the church’s nativity display. It’s the ideal way to get the kids thinking about the Christmas story, as they help put together the scene from Bethlehem, with stables, characters, and of course, baby Jesus. That’s not all – they’ve got festive food and drink on offer throughout the afternoon, as well as a Christmas carol or two.
Messy Christmas takes place at Left Bank Leeds on Sunday 17th December 2017.
From the big screen to the stage, you can see festive favourite Nativity! at Leeds Grand Theatre this Christmas. There are matinee performances throughout the school holidays, as well as evening shows if you fancy a family night out. You’ll follow the children of St Bernadette’s School as they try to put on their own musical version of the nativity, but it all turns into chaos when they learn a Hollywood producer is coming to visit them. Full of jokes, funny children and tunes from the films, it’s a trip to the theatre everyone can enjoy.
Nativity! comes to Leeds Grand Theatre from Wednesday 20th December 2017 to Saturday 6th January 2018.