Yorkshires best Christmas experiences

29th November 2016

Christmas Lights

European Christmas Markets have always stolen the show when it comes to winter breaks. However with the increased interest in the ‘staycation’, many Brits are enjoying a more local Christmas. Yorkshire encapsulates dales, moors, historic towns and industry, allowing Christmas markets in the county to have a truly atmospheric experience as they get back to their roots.

Enjoy roasted chestnuts in the Victorian streets of Sheffield or an upper class Edwardian evening at Lotherton Hall or even cross continents for The Magic Lantern Festival. The entire county is eager to impress and hotels in the Scarborough area are a great base for visiting the huge variety of delights.

For seasonal splendour, see below for some of the best events Yorkshire has to offer.

Kelham Island Christmas Market

Victorian Christmas Market – Kelham Island Museum

To have a truly Dickensian experience this winter you have to visit The 24th Victorian Christmas Market.

Moving away from German markets that can be found in every major city, this brings you back into the history of the country with great food, gifts and experiences to offer. With over 120 market stalls and a music hall crammed with seasonal delights, traditional expectations of a Christmas market are melded with the educational as it also includes a blacksmiths forge, a Victorian drawing machine and other crafts that would have been prevalent at the time.

Situated in streets of the period and with many vendors and officials in period dress, it is a truly immersive experience at this time of year and opens on the 3rd - 4th December to begin the festive season.

Stockeld Park Illuminations

Stockeld Park, Wetherby

The Georgian Mansion is set in 2,000 acres of prime Yorkshire parkland that truly comes alive at Christmas.

Home to Yorkshires largest Christmas tree plantation, Stockeld Park has only built around the festive theme and now hosts an enormous range of winter activities to enthral children and adults alike. With late night openings until 3rd of January, it’s hard not to fall in love with this glittering Christmas wonderland.

An Illuminated Forest & Adventure Playground encourages the kids to let their imagination run wild in four creatively themed play areas and the Giant Yew Tree Maze covers over 2 miles of paths and is 8 feet high, all gloriously lit with thousands of fairy lights. This combined with a real ice rink, Santa’s grotto and Christmas shop are all the ingredients necessary to ensure festive fun.

The Corn Exchange

Leeds Corn Exchange

With almost an event a week over the festive period, the Leeds Corn Exchange is a hive of activity this year. With a vintage element to all their fairs, some are returning after years of success such as the record fair. A monthly experience takes on a yule tide theme and includes every genre of music as well as stocking record players for new enthusiasts looking to start a collection.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair is a much anticipated event on the 3rd and 4th of December. The UK’s largest vintage fair of its kind returns to its home city with inexpensive fashion, homeware and textiles in tow. A great place to look for unique gifts for the fashion minded.

Magic Lantern Festival

Magical Lantern Festival

After its UK debut in London, The Magical Lantern Festival is making its way up north to Leeds in a bid to fuse Western tradition with Chinese culture. Intricate paper lanterns are shaped into iconic characters for both cultures at this time of year, with garlands of flowers nestled happily next to a herd of deer, it is set to be a stunning experience.

The food offered at the event continues the international theme with Authentic German street food a few stalls away from Mediterranean Churros and the South East Asian Little Somboon Kitchen. The Santa’s Grotto is open 2pm - 4pm every day and allows the children a traditional Santa’s greeting to round off the event.

Opening from late November until 2nd January, this event is one you can come back to time and time again.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

A quaintly British experience that works hard to preserve our history, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway goes to great lengths to conserve and restore our heritage locomotives.

With most of its seasonal events already fully booked, the railway is an iconic and valuable charity that is continuing to thrive as people opt for more traditional activities this Christmas.

With themed events for different destinations, Santa’s on board grotto has expanded for 2016 with a herd of real reindeers waiting to meet him at Grosmont station as he opts for alternative transport.

A fantastic experience for children and full of nostalgia for adults that comes with the bonus of a clear conscience as event money goes towards maintaining the UK’s largest preserved heritage railway.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park makes the most of its location as it showcases international artists in both open and indoor spaces, however in the run up to Christmas they have some great workshops with a festive theme.

Festive Wreath Making allows you to create personalised wreaths either for yourself or as a gift and is a skill you can use year-on-year. This follows the tree decorating workshop in November which was a wonderful family activity and takes inspiration from one of the artists currently exhibited in the Park.

The Uncanny theatre is allowing you and the family to indulge in an interactive, participatory performance of The Little Prince, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic tale and inspired by another exhibition within the park. This takes place on the 10th of December and is set to be a delightfully unique adventure.

Lotherton Hall - 12 days of Christmas

Lotherton Hall Christmas Experience

The Edwardian estate is taking its cues from tradition as the Christmas experience is an interactive story telling event spread across the entire park.

Lotherton Hall proudly presents “The 12 Days Walk”, which incorporates its glorious woodland with the well-known song as each ‘day’ has an activity associated with it. Story telling is taken in its most essential form in the elf village as the children are looked after by the head elves allowing them to participate in craft activities and write a postcard to Santa while magical stories of Lapland are told.Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, attended the opening on the 25th November and commented: “The Christmas Experience will be a truly special event for all ages, and the curiosity from those who came along to our preview event was so fantastic to see!"

The Edwardian Weekend returns on the 10th & 11th of December, decorating the house in period fashion of Yule tide and running a host of festive activities. With carol singing in the drawing room and wreath making in the courtyard, it’s hard to miss this window into another class and time.

Image Credit: Neil Turner Monika Itsadamagain Paul Glazzard Alphab.fr Handlebarcam Paul Stevenson Lizzie Coombes