REVIEW | Christmas in Leeds – My Top Three Kid-Friendly Attractions
Kids these days have got it made. Gone are the days of queuing to see Santa in a mobbed, sweaty shopping centre and in its place are festive experiences we could only have dreamt of as children. And yes, Christmas does seem to arrive earlier every year, but it’s much more than just one day now and suddenly five weekends just don’t seem enough time to fit all of the festivities in! Now we’re properly into December and have truly embraced the spirit of Christmas and better still – I’ve had a chance to sample some of the best events in Leeds.
Here are my top three Christmas in Leeds events.
Lotherton Hall Christmas Experience
When I was kindly invited to Lotherton Hall to preview their Christmas Experience I was seriously excited. Armed with an inquisitive toddler just starting to get the whole Christmas thing we happily headed to Lotherton Hall, which is just a short drive from the centre of Leeds. One of the best things about this experience is that it’s geared up for evening visits, which makes it a perfect option for those wanting to go on a school night or after work, as we were. It’s worth saying that a lot of the attractions are outside, so if you are going at this time do make sure you’re all wrapped up warm!
First of all we ventured into the house itself, which has a different beautifully decorated tree in every room but as the shouts of ‘Where’s Santa’ got louder and more frequent, decided we better go see the man himself! We opted to see him in the North Pole Grotto and it really is a site behold. You walk through an icy wonderland filled with fairy lights and are led to Santa’s workshop, where you can prepare reindeer treats and write a postcard to take to the big guy. You can also drop in on Santa during certain times in the elf village, which is a little clearing in the woods filled with elf huts for various crafts and other stalls. You do have to buy tokens for both Santa and the workshops, so make sure this is sorted before heading over.
Next up was the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ walk; a trail through the woods displaying each of the days of Christmas in wonderfully wacky ways! No spoilers here – you really need to check it out for yourself. Finally we headed to the fairy meadow, a tiny land of fairy houses and villages perfect for any Ben and Holly fans.
We loved the experience and how there was so much to do – but thought it might be best suited to slightly older children who could take part in the crafts – plus the walkways were a little dark at time for little ones. The grotto really is so amazing that if you want to see Santa anywhere in Leeds – make it here.
You can find our more on how to book, and prices online HERE
Thanks to Lotherton Hall for inviting us to the press preview of the Christmas Experience.
Santa Breakfast @ Christkindelmarkt
Over the past couple of years the Leeds German Market has has a bit of a rebrand. Gone are the steins (sob) but if you’re still mourning the loss of the beer hall why not embrace the new family-friendly market and get down to have brekkie with what might be the most realistic Santa in Leeds. (Sorry, of course it’s all the same, extremely busy man!).
Although right in the centre of Leeds, we were transported to a Bavarian hideaway in what could have been the North Pole itself and treated to a morning of delicious food and a chat with Mr S.C. This is a great option for slightly shyer children, who take a little while to warm up to the idea of a man in red who knows everything about them. Santa is sitting in the corner of the room as you enter so there’s plenty of time to get used to him as he makes his way around all of the children. Elves showed us to our seats as we were given colouring and other little activities to keep young ones busy.
Of course – us parents were far more interested in the food! A Bavarian banquet awaits you, with a huge selection of breads, meats, cheeses, eggs, sausages, bacon, pastries and donuts. Elves bring over cream-topped hot chocolate and the whole thing feels very special.
We thought this was a great option for a rainy weekend where you can sit inside in the warm – no running after soggy, muddy children or freezing cold Santa’s Grottos! Yes it’s means giving up your weekend morning but there’s unlimited tea and coffee to get you though. Plus you have the option the other market attractions as well as the huge Leeds wheel. Santa was wonderful with our little boy, who was much more relaxed by the time he made his way to us. We had a really good chat with him and left with very full bellies and a happy little boy!
You can find our more on how to book, and prices online HERE
Thanks to Mill Square Leeds for inviting us to sample the Santa’s Breakfast.
Christmas at Harewood House
My final pick of my Christmas in Leeds round-up comes from one of Yorkshire’s most well known and prestigious houses which has opened up for Christmas for the second year running, after a period of festive closure. Perhaps it was the incredible afternoon tea, the sound of the brass band playing carols in the courtyard, or the glass of prosecco I consumed, but this was the event that left me feeling SO festive and in the Christmas mood.
I’d been to Harewood House for the first time only a few months ago and was surprised at the amount there is to do – and the Christmas event didn’t disappoint. We we kindly invited to sample the Festive Afternoon Tea in the newly refurbished Billiard Room and I can honestly say it was one of, if not the best teas I have had. For those that aren’t members – you are looking at £45 for entry to the House, grounds and for the tea – but wow is this treat worth it.
The children’s tea comes on an actual SLEIGH and has every treat imaginable and words don’t do the adult’s tea justice. Luckily our little boy was on good behaviour as the room was fairly small and quiet – so you don’t have the background noise of the Santa’s Breakfast to drown out any tantrums! We enjoyed a pot of tea followed by an absolute feast of Christmas-themed sandwiches, savoury scones, mini pies, cupcakes, macarons and jellies. Thankfully we were also given a takeaway box as there really was so much between us.
After eating we headed out onto the Terrace, which is beautifully lit with fairy lights and lanterns. As we looked out and admired the view (ran after the toddler) and the imposing alternative Christmas wreaths, we heard the sound of the brass band playing in the courtyard and raced down. On our way we passed the park, food vans serving a variety of drinks (see aforementioned prosecco), fire pits toasting marshmallows and the Santa’s grotto. We just didn’t have time to see and do it all! There are family crafts, penguins, a ferry, the house (which is running a 1920’s dream theme – a fantastical and surreal exploration of the dreams of two little boys).
We really loved the authenticity of the day at Harewood – if elves, fake snow and grottos aren’t your thing this is right up your street. If you don’t need to negotiate the afternoon nap time like us then I’d suggest head up there early and making a full day of it.
Read more about the Afternoon Tea and Dreams of the 1920’s Christmas HERE
Thank you to Harewood House for inviting us to the estate to sample the Festive Afternoon Tea.
Let me know your favourite way to spend Christmas in Leeds!
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
A year to the day and myself, my husband and our two children were midway through our 10th Wedding Anniversary trip of a lifetime to Sri Lanka and now this incredibly beautiful and captivating little country is in mourning.
Emma Stirk is a Business Success Coach and Legal strategist for small businesses, she left her corporate career as a high flying solicitor to set up her own business and has never looked back! Emma is passionate about empowering women to identify their purpose and goals, plan and strategise their next career or business move and create a positive, strong and confident mindset with high performance strategies to increase productivity and efficiency so you can work less, achieve more, and make burnout and overwhelm a thing of the past!
Jo Swann has 15 solid years of experience in Public Relations and runs award-winning Leeds-based PR Company – Chocolate PR after working in media, marketing and PR agencies. She has worked with companies of all sizes including the likes of Whistles, NSPCC, Marriot Hotels, Yo! Sushi to name just a few and won many awards along the way but her mission now is to help small businesses, and particularly female entrepreneurs harness the power of PR.