Leeds is making up for lost time with a jam-packed festive season that’s guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit…
Christmas with all the bells and whistles. Twinkling lights strung from the rooftops, choirs singing yuletide songs and mugs of mulled wine supped in a festive ski lodge. Heartwarming tales of Christmases past and secret grottos that bypass the North Pole so the little ones can meet Santa in person and make their requests. That’s what we’re all craving, that’s what we’ve been missing, and this year, that’s what we’re getting as Leeds goes big on on the Christmas festivities.
See the city lit up with a spectacular display
Nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit like seeing the city lit up by twinkling fairy lights – and this year, you’ve got a raft of new displays to look forward to. Dear Leeds is back on Briggate, bigger and better than ever. Commissioned by LeedsBID and created by James Glancy Design, the studio behind London’s most spectacular Christmas displays, it’s a neon masterpiece that captures the unique spirit of Leeds.
The words are taken from Kate Ryrie’s poem, Dear Leeds, and are designed to work together and apart, so it feels different every time you see it. Each decal is suspended in the air, on a backdrop of mirrored Dibond, so it looks like it’s floating – and because the neon is outlined by brightly coloured vinyl they look just as good in the day. It’s a heartwarming tribute to the people and businesses that make the city special, one you simply have to see.
But that’s not the only light installation you need to look out for. This year, the city will be lit up by three new projections. The first will sit under the bridge on Albion Street. As you walk by, festive images will light up the pavement around you, adding a little colour to your day. Lower Briggate and Call Lane will also have new light projections, but you’ll have to wait and see what surprises they have in store because the details are being kept under wraps.
Elsewhere, Holy Trinity Church will be returned to all its fairy-lit glory. The iconic building will be blanketed in twinkling lights for the first time in two years, now that regeneration work has been completed. Swanky new column lights will be installed on New Station Street too and a new set of glittering tree lights will be switched on at Arena Way, Cookridge Street, Bond Court, East Parade, Albion Place, Lands Lane, Boar Lane and Sovereign Square.
Join the festive fun at pop-ups, grottos and events across the city
Leeds comes alive at Christmas. From Thor’s Tipi to Ice Cube, there’s always loads to do, but this year, you have even more to look forward to. Got kids? Take them to meet Santa and his elves at the Christmas Candy Cane Club in The Merrion Centre or hot-foot it over to Victoria Leeds to See What Santa Sees in an immersive storytelling experience that will show you how Christmas is celebrated around the world. You can even play arcade games Après Ski style in Trinity Leeds.
It goes without saying that Leeds is an incredible place to shop, but it’s even more magical at Christmas. Every Saturday, Albion Place will be taken over by Artsmix, an incredible crafts market where you can pick up gifts galore. Meanwhile, over at Leeds Train Station, the Makers Market will bring you a stocking-filling selection of locally made, handcrafted gifts for three weekends from Friday 3rd December 2021. Perfect for a pre-commute shop!
Heading out? Rolling Social Events brings an ever-changing line-up of street food vendors to Leeds Corn Exchange, including OnaRoll, Raclettmenot and Masri Egyptian. With live music, DJs and a dedicated bar, this will be your new favourite hangout for six weeks from Friday 19th November 2021. And Chow Down’s Winter Village promises a Christmas tipi, ski lodge and pop-up taco restaurant, alongside a packed line-up of live music and entertainment.
LeedsBID has planned a spectacular array of performances to add a little musical magic into your festive shenanigans. From soloists to choirs, opera to brass bands, these spontaneous pop-ups will take place all over the city centre. And that brings us to one of the true highlights of the season – My Christmas Home is an immersive video installation that will invite you into the homes of five different families to see how they celebrate Christmas.