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🗞️  Best Festive Family Outings In Leeds

🗞️ Best Festive Family Outings In Leeds

Words by
Chapter 81

Christmas is a time for giving, a time for joy, but most importantly – it’s a time for family. There is no better time to bond with your loved ones than during the festive period, as the kids get excited for Santa’s arrival, and Mum and Dad (hopefully) enjoy a much needed rest. 

This year, the City of Leeds is welcoming families of all ages to enjoy all it has to offer. From festive light switch ons, to meetings with the big man himself, here are some of the best family outings in Leeds this Christmas…

Meet Father Christmas…

Christmas At Thackray 

November 18 – December 23 | Thackray Museum of Medicine 

This festive season, the Thackray Museum of Medicine invites families of all ages to join Father Christmas on a magical 90-minute journey, exploring the diverse ways people celebrate Christmas around the world. This enchanting experience offers an exciting blend of activities, crafts, and heartwarming moments with Father Christmas himself. Visitors can embark on a captivating activity trail throughout the museum, and experience the special audience with Father Christmas, where he will regale young and old alike with cosy festive stories.

Available between November 18 – December 23, you can find tickets to this experience HERE

The Christmas Experience

25 November – 7 January | Lotherton Hall

“The Christmas Experience” is an enchanting takeover of Lotherton Hall, the stunning country house situated in Aberford. Here, you can journey to the North Pole for a magical encounter with Santa Clause himself, taking a journey from the magical Wishing Well to Santa’s cosy cabin. Along the way, you will be joined by excited elves, as they share with you stories and presents from their special Elf Workshop. For younger believers, you can also book weekday visits to Santa’s grotto, letting your young ones experience the magic of Christmas in a more relaxed environment. 

“The Christmas Experience” will be a journey like no other. You can book a spot on the link HERE.

Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas 

8 November – 7 January | Harewood House 

Harewood House is putting on a uniquely wonderful Christmas demonstration this year, welcoming families to enjoy an immersive display filled with interactive fun! In collaboration with StudioMUTT, Harewood House is putting on “Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas”, which will be completed by a magical visit to Santa himself.  Filled with festive stories, creative workshops, and even a winter market, this experience is set to wow the whole family. What’s more, you can even conclude it with a delicious afternoon tea, and a stroll around the stunning Harewood House garden. 

This almost two-month event is a real taste of Christmas, and can be booked on the link HERE.

Santa’s Igloo Grotto

Saturdays & Sundays in December | Double Tree Hilton

This Christmas Grotto is being put up in true Hilton style, as Father Christmas comes to visit the DoubleTree’s terraced igloo. This Christmas experience will allow the little ones to take a trip to see Father Christmas in a domed glass igloo, just like in the North Pole, making for a captivating moment to enjoy. Then, the whole family can enjoy some festive favourites together, including hot chocolate, mulled wine and seasonal goodies.

Candy Cane Club 

Saturdays & Sundays in December | Merrion Centre

Follow your nose to The Candy Cane Club at the Merrion Centre to find Santa, his helpers & all of their presents! At The Candy Cane Club you can enjoy a visit with Santa, maybe you’ll choose to get a present & definitely take lots of photos in their sugary sweet wonderland at The Merrion Centre this year! The Candy Cane Club can be found on the main mall within the Merrion Centre & all visits must be pre-booked by clicking here! (It’s open Tuesdays – Sundays in December with free parking for anyone who visits the Candy Cane Club Tuesdays – Fridays.)

Christmas at Thackray Christmas at Thackray
The Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall The Christmas Experience at Lotherton Hall
Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas  Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas 

Immerse yourself in festive spirit… 

Christmas isn’t just something to witness, it’s something to feel, and this year Leeds is putting on a true performance to make you feel like part of the magic. From light displays to artistic projections, these are some unique ways to truly immerse yourself in the beauty of Christmas. 

Magical Night at The Queens – Light Projections 

15 December – December 23 | Queen’s Hotel

The Queen’s Hotel is preparing to put on a stunning light show extravaganza this Christmas season, welcoming spectators to see the beloved building as they’ve never seen it before. Partnering with LeedsBID, this light projection will showcase Christmas at Queens, taking you on a tour around their many festive rooms with the help of a very special guest – The Gingerbread Man. Using the creative genius of Spanish artistry team Onionlab, the projections will illuminate awe-striking visuals that play a festive story for everyone to enjoy, featuring the voice of Hollywood actress Celia Imrie CBE as a narrator. For more information on this, read our article HERE.

Holbeck Christmas Market and Light Switch On

25 November | St Matthew’s Market and Holbeck Moor

Saturday 25th November will see the district of Holbeck completely transformed, with visitors invited to a jam-packed day filled with festive entertainment. Between 12-4:30, St Matthew’s market will undergo a seasonal transformation, becoming a Christmas haven offering charming market stalls, a Santa’s grotto, delicious festive food and a variety of live music entertainment. However, the main highlight of the evening will be the Light Switch on, inviting you to watch the streets of Holbeck illuminate with Christmas glow from 5pm onwards.

A Forest Full of Christmas Secrets 

9-10, 16-17 December | This Green Moon 

The woodlands of This Green Moon have undergone a magical transformation, turning into a magical lamplit adventure for all to enjoy. This December, you and your little ones can join the trail and use the map to explore the woods and uncover the secrets of Christmas, uncovering clues and treats along the way. To top it off, you can rest by the campfire, tucking into food by The Yorkshire Pizza Co. and The Dutch Pancake Co., whilst sipping on a spiced cider or warm hot chocolate. Not only that, but every child can also enjoy a complimentary toasted marshmallow. 

Availability for these spectacular events are between 14:00 and 18:30, and can be booked HERE

Santa's Igloo Grotto Santa's Igloo Grotto
Holbeck Christmas Market Holbeck Christmas Market
A Forest Full of Christmas Secrets  A Forest Full of Christmas Secrets 

Enjoy a Festive Story…

It isn’t Christmas without your favourite stories. Whether on television, on stage, or written in a book, the magic and nostalgia of Christmas is a product of its wonderful storytelling.  That’s why we wanted to highlight some of the stories on offer throughout Leeds this December, as stages deck up to tell some of our festive favourites. 

‘A Christmas Carol’ Live Reading

8 December | City Square

Tradition is a quintessential part of the Christmas season, and there’s nothing quite as traditional as Charles Dickens’ classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol’. This festive season, you can listen to Leeds Beckett Universtiy’s Dr Oliver Bray sit down at City Square and read this timeless story, gathering in a crowd as the sun sets over Leeds. Whether you want to drop by for a minute or two, or stay for longer with a warm hot chocolate, this Christmas treat is a gift from Leeds School of Arts to you. Instilling a true sense of joy this December, you can enjoy the live ‘A Christmas Carol’ reading from 1:30pm on 8 December. 

Snowed In 

20 & 21 December | Northern School of Contemporary Dance 

Set to be a blizzard of fun for the whole family, you can enjoy an enchanting story by the Northern School of Contemporary Dance this Christmas. Snowed In is the tale of four friends, who wake up to find themselves completely snowed in. What unfolds is a fun and exciting adventure, in an interactive show brought to you by Anatomical. Watch as the cast imagine an incredible hotel, through artistic dances and beautiful storytelling. 

Took book tickets for this stunning performance, follow the link HERE

ELF The Musical 

27 & 28 December | First Direct Arena 

First Direct Arena are putting on a spectacular performance, as Hollywood blockbuster ELF has been supervised into a stage show like no other. Complete with Santa’s flying sleigh, an audience snowball flight, a giant candy cane journey to the North Pole and aerial cirque stars, you’re bound to see the journey of Buddy the elf as you’ve never seen it before. The stellar cast includes Steven Serlin, Charlie Quirke, Charlotte Hall and Barry Bloxham, who together will have you in hysterics during this light hearted family classic. 

To buy tickets, follow the link HERE.

ELF The Musical at First Direct Arena ELF The Musical at First Direct Arena
‘A Christmas Carol’ Live Reading at Leeds Becket ‘A Christmas Carol’ Live Reading at Leeds Becket
Snowed In at Northern School of Contemporary Dance  Snowed In at Northern School of Contemporary Dance 


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