What to do in Leeds during the winter break
Staying in Leeds for Christmas? There are plenty of events to enjoy in December and January. You’ll find outdoor events, shows and, as always, many beautiful places to go for a long walk. We hope you’ll find something to help you have a wonderful festive experience, whether you spend Christmas with your loved ones or not.
Historic Houses and Parks
Leeds is home to three historic houses — Harewood House, Lotherton and Temple Newsam. There are also many other note-worthy locations nearby. Winter is the perfect time to explore them, as these places often come alive with Christmas lights and decorations.
Herwood House, one of the most well-known country houses in England, offers an array of Christmas attractions: from an illuminated garden and grounds through artist installations inspired by nature and traditions of Harewood to festive afternoon tea. It’s a must-see if you’re staying in Leeds for Christmas. It’s about a 1h trip from the campus (you can get there by 36 buses from the city centre), but it’s definitely worth it.
Temple Newsam is another estate worth visiting over the Christmas period. Similarly to Harewood House, the Edwardian property is illuminated for Christmas. There are also over 500 years of history to explore! It’ll also take about 1h to get there by public transport (buses 14 and 19(.
Roundhay Park is one of the largest parks in Europe. It’s stunning all year but particularly in autumn and winter. You can take a stroll around the lake and warm yourself up with a cup of coffee or tea from a nearby café. Additionally, this Christmas season, the park will be transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of twinkling lights! If you’d like to go, take bus number 12. Don’t forget to book your tickets!
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park connects a good walk with art. It’s an opportunity to see sculptures by renowned artists such as Barbara Hepworth or Henry Moor. It’s a bit of a trip, as you need to get to Wakefield and get a bus from there, but Christmas break is a perfect time for a day trip!
Winter is a perfect opportunity to catch up on books, films and other shows. It is also a chance to see classic winter shows and maybe give a try to new forms of art like ballet.
Northern Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Leeds Grand Theatre
An absolute Christmas classic, ‘The Nutcracker can awaken a child in all of us. We get to ‘share in Clara’s adventures as she is swept away by her Nutcracker Prince into an enchanting winter wonderland. Don’t miss dazzling dancing snowflakes, the famous Sugar Plum Fairy and the notorious Mouse King in the ultimate festive entertainment.’
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — The Musical, Leeds Playhouse
Another heart-warming classic! The Leeds Playhouse adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book features songs from the 1970s film and some new tunes. If you grew up watching ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ seeing the show live will certainly bring up memories of home and childhood.
Candlelight Christmas, 21st and 23rd Dec 2022. Leeds Minster
Enjoy the live performance of songs from Christmas movies like ‘Home Alone’, ‘What a Wonderful Life’ and more in a magical, candlelight setting.
Why not pick up some unique gifts and grab a bite at a Christmas Market? You’re probably already aware of the market on Millenium Square, but you could also check out the one in the Corn Exchange. If you’re up for a day trip, you could catch a train to York and see what the Christmas Market there offers. If you’re after gifts for friends and family, make sure to take a look at our list of top places to shop in Leeds.
Living in Leeds is a great opportunity to explore the wide range of incredible locations in Yorkshire. If you’re too busy during term time, winter break might be a perfect time to get outside and experience nature in many forms and historical sites. If you don’t want to go too far, you could walk along the Meanwood Valley Trail or Otley Chevin. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could go to Ilkley or Knaresborough. There are many other nearer and further places to explore in and around Leeds!
For more ideas, read the Leeds List guide of things to do for Christmas.
If you’re not feeling like going anywhere or looking for budget activities to do in December but still want to feel the Christmas spirit? We compiled a list of small pleasures and activities to help you notice and appreciate the season and break away from everyday routines and chores.
Have a beautiful December! We will see you soon!