Leeds leads the way when it comes to festive fanfare

Leeds leads the way when it comes to festive fanfare, as Jo Haywood discovers

More than 15 miles of Christmas decorations will illuminate the shopping streets of Leeds this year, ensuring the city twinkles as its cash tills tinkle.

With more than 1,000 retailers offering the season’s latest fashion trends, Christmas gifts galore and delicious food treats on every corner, Leeds city centre is setting itself up as one of the county’s finest festive shopping destinations.

‘It’s an atmospheric, compact shopping centre,’ said Natalie Gibson of Marketing Leeds, which has set up a website – festiveleeds.com – to promote all the city has to offer this season. ‘There are seven covered shopping centres and numerous largely pedestrianised streets offering a mix of high street favourites and cutting edge independents housed in classic settings.’

Europe’s largest covered indoor market is the place to find all your essentials, particularly when the twice-monthly farmers market is in town. You can even purchase everything you need to make a Christmas cake, all weighed out and ready to go for just �5.

Children will also love the new grotto in Kirkgate Market, which welcomed Santa and his favourite reindeer for the first time on November 17th and will play host to them from 12 noon until 5pm, Monday to Saturday, until Eve.

For something a little more luxurious, the Victoria Quarter is a truly magical experience. It has become renowned for its festive decorations, which include a magnificent 20m-high tree, that add a whole new dimension to its already beautiful grade two listed architecture.

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Leeds’ favourite German market, Christkindelmarkt, is also a must-visit event in Millennium Square with its family funfair, seasonal gifts, decorations and hand-crafted toys all displayed in a scenic winter village of traditional wooden chalets.

‘The city really is a fantastic place to visit over the festive season,’ said Natalie. ‘streets are illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights, encouraging everyone to spread a little Christmas cheer.

‘Our shops, attractions, theatres and restaurants are all geared up to create a magical winter wonderland. All people have to do in return is bring along their loved ones, their shopping lists, their sense of fun and their appetite for all things festive.’

You could say that Leeds has got Christmas all wrapped up this year. And it certainly hasn’t been stingy with the ribbon.

Festive family favourites

Every Saturday from 2-4pm until December 17th, crafts inspired by Victorian street scenes at Abbey House Museum.

November 21st to January 21st, Annie in the Quarry Theatre at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

November 26th, Deli Market from noon to 3pm at Kirkstall Abbey; Christmas Crafts from 1.30-3pm at Thwaite Mills; Family Day fun workshops from 1-3pm at Lotherton Hall.

November 26th to December 16th, Edwardian Christmas Trail at Lotherton Hall.

December 1st to January 8th, Aladdin at City Varieties Music Hall. December 4th, Farmers & Crafts Market in Leeds Kirkgate Market.

December 10th, Victorian Christmas living nativity and Santa’s grotto from 5-8pm at Home Farm, Temple Newsam.

December 2nd to January 7th, Beauty and the Beast at The Carriageworks Theatre.

December 9th to January 21st, Jack and the Beanstalk at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

December 10th, Christmas Community Special, music, performance and fun from around the world from 11am to 4pm at Leeds City Museum.

December 18th, Farmers & Crafts Market in Briggate; Carols at the Abbey from 2.30-3.30pm at Kirkstall Abbey. January 12th to 21st, Cinderella at The Carriageworks Theatre.

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