After my stroll around the Civic Quarter, I decided to see what the Victoria Quarter had to offer by way of festive cheer. There is a marked contrast between these two areas of the City Centre in the way they are celebrating Christmas.
The area around the Town Hall and Civic Hall is full of interactive fun with the German Market and Christkindel, whereas the east side of town is a bit more genteel and rather than whoops and screams from the funfair rides there are the gasps of admiration for the light show on display.
I am probably stretching the term ‘Victoria Quarter’ a little bit but it is Christmas so please cut me a bit of slack. I began my stroll by going up Thornton’s Arcade. We should be so thankful to those farsighted people who approved the building of these magnificent structures which allow for shopping in all weathers and set Leeds apart from most other cities in the country. The lights and decorations here are subtle and tasteful whilst still being very impressive. When I reached the top I turned left and came back to Briggate via Queens Arcade, again understated but spectacular. The great thing about the decorations in this particular edifice is that they draw the eye upwards, revealing that there is an upper balcony containing businesses, a feature which can easily be ignored at other times when rushing to get from A to B.
Back in Briggate, there are displays outside the shops but the main attraction is the Pixel Christmas Tree which can be walked through, giving a spectacular effect when you look up once inside. I continued down the pedestrian area to Trinity Centre where the feature is a huge tree outside the Everyman Cinema. Coming out of the mall onto Boar Lane there is a great display of white lights cascading from Holy Trinity Church.
Back up Briggate to take in both branches of County Arcade which are home to probably the most breathtaking display of all.
The tree half way down where the link between the two arcades joins has a rather humorous feature whereby a reindeer made of lights is relaxing on a bench, and there is room on the bench for you to sit next to it and when you do there is a cluster of lights on the tree behind which makes it look as though you too have light antlers – brilliant for a photo opportunity.
Speaking of reindeer, there is also a large version when you approach the new Victoria Centre which again is constructed totally of lights. This particular precinct looks amazing at the best of times, but is especially so when decorated. It also forms a circle so is easy to circumnavigate, allowing a look at all of the displays.
Finally, I had a walk along Vicar Lane, taking a look at the colourful offering on King Edward Street, then entered the Corn Exchange. The tree was very much in evidence as usual but this year has been decorated with recycled items such as hub caps, picture frames and film reels. They have all been sprayed gold and silver so look very effective.
I ended the piece on my last stroll by saying that there is only one thing I like better than Christmas and that is Christmas in Leeds. I rest my case.
Photography by Paul Simon.
Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living. He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds. He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.