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7 Unexpected Surprises that Await in Leeds this Christmas

· James Tweddle · Christmas

Try something totally different with these Yuletide crackers.

Thor's Tipi & Leeds Big Wheel

Christmas in Leeds will be particularly magical this year because there are a few surprises in store…

You’ve probably got last-minute shopping to do and Christmas get-togethers to look forward to, but Leeds is full of unexpected surprises that will make the festive season that little bit more special. So between the madness, take a minute to enjoy the magic of Christmas – after all, ’tis the season to be jolly.

The Lost Present

The Lost Present

Christmas is the perfect time to wander around Leeds, looking at all the festive decorations and lights spread across the city. But this year, Riptide Theatre has turned it into even more of an adventure, with The Lost Present, a special treasure map.

For one week only, you’ll have the chance to help reunite a lost gift with its rightful owner. Armed only with a map and your wits, you’ll follow this sensory journey around the city, making a festive potion and delivering lost Christmas cards along the way. Suitable for all ages, it’ll take about an hour to complete the whole adventure, but we won’t judge you if you stop off for a mulled wine or a hot chocolate along the way.

The Lost Present will be in Leeds from Monday 10th December until Sunday 16th December 2018.

Pixel Tree

LeedsBID Christmas Tree Trail

Credit: @Kluens

At this time of year, Leeds is packed with twinkling light displays, from the colourful shapes on lampposts to the pulsating Leeds Wheel of Light. But there’s one decoration that takes the biscuit and it’s right in the heart of town.

The Pixel Tree stands at a towering 12 metres high. This conical masterpiece from Aaron Andrews is part of the Leeds Christmas Trail, and is made up of thousands of LED pixel lights, all individually controlled. It’s interactive, so you can walk through it and be immersed in a world of spiralling movement and colour. If you stand right in the middle, it almost looks like it’s snowing around you.

The Pixel Tree will be on Briggate until Thursday 3rd January 2019.

Eat North

Eat North

All summer long, North Brewing Co. played host to a weekly food fair, Eat North, where you could get the best street food from the North and beyond every weekend. It ends with the summer, but for one day only, it’s coming back for a special festive edition.

The Eat North Christmas Special promises a delicious Yuletide celebration. Expect crisp crusts from Pie Eyed, gooey American cheeseburgers from Meat:Stack and a little mac and cheese heaven from The Ball Box, all topped off with sweet treats from Copper Spoon Cakery. With drinks, festive gift packs and live music too, it promises to be a scrumptious day out.

Eat North Christmas Special will be at North Brewing Co. on Saturday 8th December.

Thor’s Tipi

Thor's Tipi Bar

A Viking encampment in the heart of Leeds? You must have lost your mind! But it’s true – this Christmas, you can warm your cockles around an open fire in Thor’s Tipi, a Viking-inspired tipi bar in Victoria Gardens.

A huge tent has been erected outside Leeds Art Gallery and they’re making it feel festive with fairy lights, holly and decorations. Venture inside where they’ve created a cosy hideaway with wooden benches, furs and a fire pit to keep warm, or stay close to the outdoor barbecue where heated lamps will keep you toasty on those cold winter days. You can sup local draught ales, mulled wine and hot cider, with hot chocolate for the kids – making this the perfect post-shopping pitstop.

Thor’s Tipi will be in Victoria Gardens until Sunday 31st December 2017.

Festive Splash

Bramley Baths

Credit: Lizzie Coombes

Swimming pools and Christmas. They’re two things that have absolutely nothing in common, right? Wrong! This year, Bramley Baths are bringing together their two favourites things for a merry water extravaganza in the form of Festive Splash.

For this Chrismassy treat, you’ll arrive for your usual swim, except this time you’ll be accompanied poolside by Bramley’s own Tutti! Leeds Community Concert Band, playing everything from Christmas carols to classic hits. The best part? Once you’ve dried off, there will be mulled wine and mince pies waiting for you.

Festive Splash will be at Bramley Baths on Friday 7th December 2018.

A Forest Full of Christmas Secrets

Green Moon

Want to give your little ones a truly magical adventure this Christmas? Event company This Green Moon returns with another spine-tingling adventure, A Forest Full of Christmas Secrets. Round up the whole family and head to Swillington Organic Farm, where a magical elf will set you on the path to follow the lights, armed with just a finger torch.

Along the way, there will be spooks and magic, as you uncover the secrets behind the ancient woodland and the ‘little folk’ hidden in the trees. Once you’re finished, you can warm up with hot chocolate, spiced cider and wood-fired pizza. You can even enjoy live music while you get toasty round the enormous campfire and roast a marshmallow or two…

A Forest Full of Christmas Secrets will be at Swillington Organic Farm from Saturday 8th December until Sunday 23rd December 2018.

Heofon Light Maze

Heofon Light Maze

Need a break from shopping? Take a detour from Briggate and head away from Trinity, because one of the best surprises the city has to offer is inside Leeds Train Station. The Heofon Light Maze is an incredible find – step inside and get lost in a world of colour.

The maze is made up of 21 semi-transparent panels. They’re 2.20 metres high and illuminated by RGB LED rails that subtly change colour. The effect is absolutely magical. Ben Busche, the designer, wanted to create a hypnotic experience, an infinity of transparency and reflection – hence the name, Heofon is the old English word for the heavens.

The Heofon Light Maze will be inside Leeds Train Station this December.