Winter in Leeds is a wonderland. Christmas lights, the huge Christmas tree in Trinity shopping centre and the amazing Christmas market.

In winter when it’s cold and miserable outside, it's easy to become a bit lazy, stay inside, and not look after yourself as much as you should. Well, Leeds is such a vibrant and exciting city that you definitely don’t need to stay inside! Here are a few tips from me of activities you could try, to make sure you stay healthy AND make the most of Leeds this winter.

Staying healthy:

  • Illness spreads easily in the cold and it's easy to catch something nasty if you don’t wrap up. Layer your clothes and buy a big winter jacket, especially if you walk a lot. Primark sells cheap, fashionable coats and they’re often under £20! Online shopping is also worth taking a look at – you’d be surprised at what cheap and nice clothes you can get on Amazon, and as a student you can get Amazon Prime, meaning delivery is free.
  • If at any point you do feel ill and you are not registered to a local doctor (which you should by the way!) you can go to the student walk-in centre. Their postcode is LS2 9AE.
  • Make sure you eat healthily too. Look online for inspiration, or buy a cookbook to get some yummy recipes. Sometimes a slow cooker is worth investing in. You can stuff it full with vegetables and meat and leave it cooking all day so that when you get home from university, work, or a day out, your food is ready for you!
  • Exercise is always worthwhile too. Walk wherever you can, its free and good for you! Try downloading some free apps and you could do some workouts at home if you don’t fancy the journey to the gym.

Places to visit:

  • Royal Armouries, Leeds Dock. It’s a fun, free day out.
  • Leeds Town Hall. They offer regular tours that will take you down into the cells beneath and up to the clock tower – or, why not head to one of their exceptional classical music concerts?
  • Kirkstall Abbey. There are 24 hectares of parkland here, so pack a picnic and find a spot next to the River Aire. Visit on the last weekend of the month and you can also make the most of Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market, which offers a mix of street food and fresh local produce.
  • Northern Ballet. The Northern Ballet is widely considered to be one of the best in the world. They offer classics like Swan Lake alongside new ballets like Casanova, The Little Mermaid and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
  • Opera North. Opera North is one of Europe’s leading arts organisations, producing a constant stream of world-class operas that tour the UK and Europe. They’re based at Leeds Grand Theatre.
  • First Direct Arena. It’s one of the best attractions in Leeds, bringing huge names to the city. First Direct Arena hosts an array of comedy, dance and sporting events too to always keep you entertained.
  • Elland Road. Go and support our local football team Leeds United at this famous ground.
  • Leeds art gallery.
  • Leeds Playhouse. Since opening in 1990, West Yorkshire Playhouse has become one of the city’s most cherished cultural institutions.
  • O2 Academy Leeds. It attracts some of the biggest names in music and tickets are usually cheap! A night out there is good too.

Indoor activities for when it’s cold outside:

  • Junkyard Golf Club at The Light
  • Walkabout. A cheap bar which is great for students!
  • Escape rooms – there are quite a few of these in Leeds now and they’re great with a group
  • Go Ape at Temple Newsam
  • Press start gaming zone. This is a cafe that lets you play video games!
  • W fitness in Horsforth. This is a new fitness studio for women that offers great classes and prices.
  • Jungle Rumble crazy golf which is always a laugh!
  • Roxy ballroom. Bowling, pool, beer pong and photo booths. Erm of course!
  • Geek Retreat. A social gaming space that's free for you to play what you like! (It’s a great way to meet new people too)
  • There’s so many opportunities to go to the cinema in Leeds too! There’s Hyde Park picture house Vue and Everyman. All cheap, and all perfect on a cold day.

Here’s a little hint of some of the shows you could catch this winter in Leeds:

  • A Christmas Carol at Leeds Playhouse
  • War Horse: The Story in Concert at Leeds Town Hall
  • Beauty and the Beast at Carriageworks Theatre
  • Jason Manford at First Direct Arena
  • Cinderella Rock n Roll Panto at City Varieties
  • Madness at First Direct Arena
  • Star Wars: A New Hope Live Concert at First Direct Arena
  • Mariah Carey at First Direct Arena
  • Jools Holland and the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at First Direct Arena
  • Inspiration Choir | Christmas Starts Here at Leeds Town Hall

A special mention needs to go to the Christmas market:

The Christmas markets are currently being set up just behind the Rose Bowl. They’re perfect if you’ve got some time to spare in-between lectures. They sell amazing food and great drinks. It's also a great place to find Christmas presents for people. Last year I went there most days for my lunch! It opens its stalls on the 9th of November so be sure to get down there and check it out.

Christmas light switch on:

Every year, Victoria Gardens in the city centre is transformed into a festive wonderland as people come to watch the Leeds Christmas Lights Switch On. The honour of hitting the switch this year goes to world boxing champion and local lad Josh Warrington. There’s amazing fireworks and a massive buzz around the city – perfect for a night out with your housemates.

Yummy meals out (and all for under £10!):

  • Trinity Kitchen. This is located in Trinity shopping centre. They have a variety of types of street food to choose from and most places here also accept student discount! They change their vendors every few weeks which is great too, it means you never get bored!
  • Pizza Fella, Vicar Lane.You can tuck into Number Two, their classic Margherita pizza for just £7, or the Number Six coming in at £8.50 which is topped with Napoli salami.
  • Pieminister. Why wouldn’t you want to enjoy any of their pies, with a side of mash and gravy for just £7.95? They’ve got weird and wonderful combinations for you to choose from, with something for veggies and meat-eaters alike.
  • Tapped. Whichever you choose, most of their 12-inch pizzas come in under a tenner, leaving you just enough change to get one of their tasty dips.
  • Belgrave Music hall. Their burgers come loaded with toppings and won’t cost you more than £8 and chips are £2 too!
  • Doughboys. Dough Boys serve hand-stretched pizza starting at £2.90 for a huge slice.

Here’s the places you could go to shop for those all-important Christmas gifts:

  • Christmas market
  • Victoria Gate
  • Trinity shopping centre
  • Victoria Quarter
  • Kirkgate market
  • The Light
  • Belgrave feast (handmade treasures and presents)
  • Thornton Aarcade
  • Briggate shopping street

Finally, be safe this winter. It gets dark early and it can be icy overnight. Its a beautiful, fun, exciting time of year but make sure to look after yourself, while having as much fun as possible :-)

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