How to spend a wholesome weekend in Leeds this Christmas – including activities, festive food, shows and hotels

In Partnership with Visit Leeds.

It’s the most wonderful time of year and Leeds is taking Christmas to a whole new level for 2023.

Whether you’re a local that’s been waiting for the return of the Leeds Christmas Markets since 2019 or you’ve never set foot in God’s Own County but want to get some festive shopping done in a new city, we’ve got you covered.

For everything to do, eat, drink and watch this Christmas in Leeds, we’ve hand-picked three different itineraries. Mix and match these to your heart’s content for the ultimate Christmas staycation or explore each one-by-one for a taste of a family-friendly trip, festive party or a wholesome Christmas before Christmas…

Trip 1: Christmas for the whole family

Planning a full day out in the city for a range of ages is that age-old task that’s full of possibilities, but it’s not always easy to find something everyone will want to take part in. That’s why we’ve hand-picked spots across the city that will get children and grown ups alike in the Christmas spirit…

Get in the festive spirit by: visiting Santa

Image: Chapter 81

Start your trip with a visit to see Santa over at the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Harehills. There’s a 90-minute festive experience to explore that tells the tale of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, plus the opportunity to hang out with Father Christmas himself.

There’s additional ‘relaxed experiences’ on dates leading up to Christmas, plus extra crafts and exhibitions to check out around the museum’s grounds.

Find out more here.

Finish off some Christmas shopping at: Leeds’ Corn Exchange

Images: The Hoot Leeds

For those last minute stocking fillers and unique gifts from businesses that appreciate every single order you make, look no further than a shopping trip to Leeds Corn Exchange. Thriving with local independents, you’ll find plants and garden gifts inside The Plant Point, CDs and records at Released Records and find cheese and natural wine over at The Cheesy Living Co.

Find out more here.

Stop for food at: Leeds Food Tour

Leeds Food Tour is a unique way to taste test your way around the city, and the little ones will love the treasure hunt with clues about your locations. The idea is that the self-guided or guided tours takes you around six different locations in the city centre, where you’ll make a stop at an independent restaurant or cafe for a snack, filling up to two hours with nothing but non-stop food.

Find out more here.

Sip on: Miles & Co.’s Christmas specials

are you miles
Images: The Hoot Leeds
miles coffee cup.

Miles & Co. Coffee inside Leeds Kirkgate Market found a way to bottle the festive spirit, and serve it in a mug. Grab a Tiramisu Cap with chocolate dusting; a Lebkuchen Latte with gingerbread and chai spices; a white hot chocolate for an indulgent Christmas treat or A London Fog made with homemade Earl Grey syrup, vanilla and silky steamed milk.

Find out more here.

Finish the night off with a show: Snow White Pantomime

Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to the theatre and this year, Leeds’ will be playing host to princess Snow White and the seven dwarves. For a night of cries like “She’s behind you! Oh no she isn’t, oh yes she is!”, the Carriageworks Theatre will be the place to visit…

Find out more here.

Trip 2: Bublé, bubbles and sausage dogs

Michael Bublé has defrosted for another year, and whilst he (or rather a very similar tribute singer) be bringing in the festive cheer with a night of hits, there will be ample opportunity to celebrate with Christmas sarnies, cocktails and even sausage dogs dressed in little Christmas outfits…

Get in the festive spirit by: heading to the Christmas Pup-Up Cafe

Image: Pup Up Cafe

Picture the scene. You’ve spent the week getting everything ready for the big day and you need some time to relax before the festivities truly commence. In comes the Pup Up Cafe, a unique opportunity to hang out with over 50 little sausage dogs in Christmas costumes – name a better serotonin booster than that?

Find out more here.

Finish off your Christmas shopping at: Leeds’ Victorian Arcades

Steeped in heritage, there’s no place to shop quite like the Victorian Arcades in Leeds City Centre. Whether you’re on the hunt for a new outfit for Christmas Day or looking for some Christmas-flavoured tea from Bird & Blend, don’t forget to look up and admire the stunning architecture that’s housed independent stores and big brand names for well over a century.

Stop for food at: Things In Bread

Images: The Hoot Leeds

Things In Bread opened back in January, and as a local favourite, the bar has been set extremely high over the year with specials like ‘The Roast Beef’ with a gravy dipping pot and stuffing mayo, and a whole menu dedicated to chips – so it’s no doubt that the festive specials (released later this month) will make the perfect pitstop for hungry shoppers around the city.

Find out more here.

Sip On: The Maven’s Silk Road Tasting Experience

Image: Supplied

For those that love grabbing the Bailey’s as soon as the tinsel goes up, The Maven has got a special spirit tasting experience that’ll have you discovering a new festive favourite. The idea is that this Christmas experience offers new flavours to the tastebuds, and mimics a similar setup to the successful Silk Road experience the hidden bar has been offering earlier in the year.

Find out more here.

Finish the night off with: Bublé and Bubbles at Banyan

Image: Banyan
Image: The Hoot Leeds

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas and Banyan has the the perfect way to get you in the mood. With a glass of fizz included in every ticket, singalong to the timeless Christmas hits from a wonderful performer that’ll give the real Bublé a run for his money.

Find out more here.

Trip 3: Wholesome Christmas before Christmas

Celebrate all the best bits of Christmas before the big day with a jam-packed day rocking around Christmas trees all over the city. From vegan-friendly dishes to wreath-making afternoons with a mulled wine in hand, this itinerary is perfect for those looking to unwind before the big day without missing out on any of the festive spirit.

Get in the festive spirit with: Hyde Park Flower Club’s Wreath Making Classes

Images: Hyde Park Flower Club

The Mustard Pot, Tileyard North, The Cheesy Living Co., Left Bank, Gusto, Cut & Craft, Banyan and Nation of Shopkeepers will all host Dottie from Hyde Park Flower Club this Christmas for two-hour wreath making workshops. From expert flower arrangers to beginners looking for a new hobby to try out during the festive season, all are welcome at these exciting evening classes.

Find out more here.

Finish off your Christmas shopping at: Great Yorkshire Vegan Christmas Market

Images: Great Yorkshire Vegan Christmas Market

Looking for gifts that are made for a vegan lifestyle? The Great Yorskhire Vegan Christmas Market is set to be packed with plant-based goodies, with everything from posters and t-shirts to perfumes, skincare, cookbooks, booze and loads of sweet treats to save for Christmas (or not).

Find out more here.

Stop for food at: the original Bundobust

Images: The Hoot Leeds

Bundobust started in Leeds back in 2013 as a little pop-up stall at Leeds Beer Festival. Little did they know at the time that the vegetarian Indian street food would become a northern favourite. The Christmas menu here is packed with sprouts, in the best possible way. Choose from the likes of Sprout Bhajis, Mince Pie Parathas and Festive Dhal, washed down with a tepid glass of mulled wine or Christmas craft beer.

Find out more here.

Sip on: mulled wine at THORs Tipi

Image: THORs Tipi via Instagram

Victoria Gardens will play host to one of Leeds’ biggest mulled drink tents this year, and THORs Tipi promise to return with a bang. The tipi will pop-up a week before the official Christmas Markets, with a huge selection of wine, cider and craft beers, as well as boozy and non-alcoholic hot chocolates to keep punters warm and merry all season long…

Find out more here.

Finish the night off with: Robin Hood Rock N Roll Panto


City Varieties Music Hall plans to pack out the stage with corny gags, water guns, flashing lights, smoke effects and loud bangs – it’s safe to say this is going to be a panto to remember.

Find out more here.

Where to stay in Leeds

Image: The Bells

There’s far more here than you’ll be able to fit into one day, so why not spread out your Christmas trip to Leeds over a few days. We’ve hand-picked our favourite hotels with a range of price points to choose from – all of which are ready to open you with welcome arms over the festive season and beyond.

Find eight handpicked hotels to stay at in Leeds city centre here.

Feature Image – Thor’s Tipi

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