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12 days of Christmas fun in Leeds


Here at Leeds Beckett, we’re pretty lucky to be based in a city which is absolutely magical at Christmas time.

Not only do we have delicious food and shops brimming with goodies for all the family, we also have a Christmas tree the size of a small mountain – plus loads more. In fact, there’s so much to do that even Ebenezer Scrooge would enjoy spending time here.

Here’s a list of our 12 favourite things to do in Leeds at Christmas time:

1. Enjoy Christmas on campus

If you feel peckish in-between lectures, you can enjoy a yummy Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in our food court.

There are also lots of fun events for you to get involved in. For example, you can go along and watch Beckett choir sing some festive tunes, watch one of our brilliant sports teams participate in a Christmas tournament, or simply sit back with a mince pie and enjoy how pretty campus looks in the snow.

2. Visit the German Christmas market

Now, this one is pretty special. Leeds’ annual German Christmas market in Millennium Square features traditional wooden stalls, handmade gifts, fairground rides, delicious food and plenty of mulled wine. Who could resist a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a freshly made crêpe on a cold winter’s night?

3. Have a drink in Thor's Tipi

This one is technically part of the Christmas market, but Thor’s Tipi gets a special mention as it’s just so much fun. This Viking inspired, pop-up tipi bar is the ideal place for a festive fiesta. There’s a log fire, twinkly lights, delicious drinks, amazing music and an even better atmosphere. You’ll have to be quick if you’re planning a night at Thor’s though – it’s so popular that it fills up quickly.

4. Christmas shopping

Enjoy a spot of Christmas shopping? You’ll love a day out in Leeds. We have all of the usual high street stores, as well as quirky boutiques, designer labels, vintage delights and much, much more. Good places to visit include Trinity Leeds, the Corn Exchange, Victoria Quarter, Victoria Gate and Kirkgate Market.

5. Wonder at the Christmas lights

The lights that decorate the city during Christmas are so pretty, you could spend many an hour wandering around and spotting them all. The annual Leeds Christmas light switch on is also a great night out for all the family. Come and spot a famous face (previous light switch on events have been hosted by Pixie Lott, McFly and the Leeds Rhinos rugby team), and watch the huge firework display.

6. Ride the big wheel

Fancy admiring the dazzling sights of Leeds City Centre from within a big rotating wheel? Well, you’re in luck. Leeds’ huge observation wheel is located on The Headrow, and on it you can ride 60m high above the city - that’s almost the length of 15 double decker buses. Each gondola even rotates, so that you can enjoy 360° views of our wonderful city and surrounding areas.

Don’t like heights? There are plenty of Christmas stalls around here for you to watch the wheel whilst enjoying a treat with your feet firmly on the ground.

7. Make a wish

If you plan on visiting Trinity Leeds this Christmas, you’ll find it difficult to miss their Wishmas tree. You might wonder what exactly a Wishmas tree is - well, it’s Europe’s largest Christmas tree. You visit the tree, make a wish, and watch as 50,000 magical lights light it all up. What’s even better is that one of your wishes may just come true. Trinity give away some amazing experiences each year, so it’s definitely worth giving it a try.

8. Snack on some festive food

Leeds is definitely a place for foodies – particularly at Christmas time. We have plenty of restaurants serving up yummy festive dishes – from a good old traditional roast, to a five bird burger topped with Brussel sprout coleslaw and a boozy brandy cranberry mayonnaise. Whatever type of food you’re into, you’ll find it here in Leeds.

9. Attend a secret event

We love a bit of mystery here in Leeds, which is why there are often secret events dotted around the city. This Christmas, it’s in the form of an amazing ‘hidden’ Christmas market at Kirkstall Abbey. We’ve heard that there will be live performances, a DJ, bands, quirky retailers, yummy food and lots more.

10. See Santa's Grotto

If you’re young at heart, you’ll love a visit to see the big man himself. Every year, the Merrion Centre host their Christmas Grotto, which is where children can visit Santa within a huge glittering bauble. Why not treat a little one to a visit? You can even use it as an opportunity to ask Santa if you’re on the good or the naughty list this year.

11. Dash through the snow

Have you ever seen over a thousand Father Christmases running around a city centre before? Nope, we hadn’t either until we saw the Leeds Santa Dash, in aid of St Gemma’s Hospice.

This annual 5 kilometre run through the city centre is a fundraiser for an amazing cause, and it’s the perfect excuse to get dressed up and have some fun. If you find yourself in Leeds on the day, why not throw on a beard and hat and join in?

12. Shout 'He's behind you!'

Last but not least, we have the good old Christmas tradition – a pantomime. We do panto really well in Leeds. In fact, we have so many different pantomimes that you could easily see a different show every day of the week. You can choose between lots of cool venues, including: City Varieties, Carriageworks Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Leeds Grand Theatre.

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