Leeds Christmas Market 2023: The Return of Festive Joy

On the 24th of November 2023, the Leeds Christmas Market burst back into the City Centre, igniting festive joy throughout the streets.

The Christmas Market, once confined to the limits of Millennium Square, became a beacon of warmth cherished by all fortunate enough to visit and sip hot chocolate by the fireplace. Inevitably, the pandemic and budget constraints dimmed the City’s Christmas spirit in recent times. However, a newfound collaboration between Leeds City Council and Marketplace Europe has given us a refreshed Christmas market experience for 2023.

But does this new citywide celebration truly encapsulate the essence of Christmas?

A significant change this year is the market’s expansion across the City in 14 different zones. Bavarian-style stalls now dot the landscape, offering an array of food and drink, local crafts, Christmas-themed activities and more. Each stall delights its visitors with unique decorations and products, from the cheery craftsmanship of glowing jewellery to the intricate artisanship of candles and woodwork. You’ll find original present ideas ahead of Christmas. While some may miss the relative cosiness of the confines Millennium Square, this citywide approach breathes a different spirit into every corner.

Entering Millennium Square, you’re faced with the delightful choice of mulled wine or hot chocolate. The aroma of grilled German sausages from Swing Grill competes for your attention, followed by the tempting scent of cinnamon and sugar from waffles, crepes and churros. The lights of the rides shower people with crystal blues, grass greens and strawberry reds, while the laughter of children fills the air. Skating, shopping and roasting marshmallows by the fire are just the beginning—the entire City awaits exploration

My experience at the Leeds Christmas Market unfolded as a magical journey. While Millennium Square may lack the variety of stalls it once had, it remains a magical starting point for this citywide adventure. This new approach encourages visitors to roam, discovering the City’s charms, from the Ice Ring in Millennium Square to Thor’s Tippy in Victoria Gardens and the Christmas-themed stalls near The Headrow.

For food lovers, there are plenty of options spread throughout the City, catering to all tastes, from traditional Yorkshire pudding and French onion soup to appetising sandwiches and delightful cakes and cookies for dessert.

The carousel and the Wheel of Light near The Leeds Central Library stand as enchanting attractions bound to ignite your Christmas spirit. The City is also adorned with festive lights, creating an atmosphere of joyfulness and happiness missed in recent years.

Besides the countless activities and shopping stalls available from 10 am every day until 7 pm (Mon-Wed), 9 pm (Thu-Sat) and 6 pm (Sun), the City has also invested in new activities throughout the month. Snow Whit will be at Carriage Works Theatre until the 7th of January, the Leeds Grand Theatre will host the Northern Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker until the 10th of December, and the City Variety Music Hall has made its own Robin Hood Rock n’ Roll themed Panto until the 7th of January. These experiences present the ideal go-to after a tiring day of exploring the market – and a magical way to end the evening.

The market is not just a worthy successor to its predecessor; it’s a festive lifeline for Leeds. It awakens the City, allowing people of all ages to rediscover the excitement of this season. Amidst hardships, the market offers a glimmer of hope—a chance to relish moments with loved ones. ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year’ – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Leeds Christmas Market continues until 22 December.

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