Leeds Christmas Lights
Held virtually for the first time in its history, the 2020 Leeds Christmas Lights switch-on will see performances from panto and theatre stars along with messages from local sporting celebrities and the Lord Mayor of Leeds.
Previous years have seen crowds gather on Victoria Gardens for the annual festive showpiece which officially kicks off the countdown to Christmas.
But current social distancing requirements and restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have meant that the council’s events team have had to come up with creative ways to ensure thousands of people can still come together and celebrate the season safely.
Taking place on November 15, the finale of this year’s free, hour-long virtual switch-on will include footage and pictures of people in Leeds switching on lights on their tree, house or street in a dazzling montage.
The finished video will be set to a very special performance of Light up the Sky by local brother pop / rock band The Dunwells.
Lead vocalist Joe Dunwell said: “Since the start of lockdown we have been doing regular Facebook live evening shows to keep people entertained and the music alive whilst everyone has been stuck at home. The response and feedback we have received has been very humbling and to be asked by the council to help mark the official start of Christmas in such a memorable way by recording one of our most cherished songs is a huge honour.
“We really look forward to seeing all the videos and images submitted from people all across the Leeds communities and are extremely excited to see the finished result which hopefully will bring everyone a bit of much needed festive cheer.”
Festive lights will also still be on display around Leeds city centre in the run-up to Christmas and will be switched on following the online event.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Christmas in Leeds is inevitably going to be very different this year and the restrictions we have in place mean that we won’t be able to celebrate in the usual way.
“After such an immensely challenging time for us all, it’s more important than ever that we come together in whatever way we can. Being able to see how people from all across Leeds are marking the festive season will be the perfect way of reminding us all that we’re all still connected and united in marking this very special time of year.”
The virtual switch-on event will be free to watch on the Millennium Square YouTube channel and Facebook page on Sunday, November 15 from 4pm.
Christmas at Harewood House
Harewood will once again transform its House, Grounds and Gardens into a festive delight for all to enjoy.
Upon a Christmas Wish with Lord Whitney is where visitors will delve into a voyage of the imagination this festive season, as a Christmas tale is recounted and the House will reveal its magic to all those in need of whimsical wonder. Created by connoisseurs of make-believe Lord Whitney, the House shares its favourite memory of when a little girl was granted a festive wish to experience a Christmas like never before. Having established a reputation as out-of-the-ordinary, creative and far from predictable, Lord Whitney have created a show which invites you to escape with them into an immersive Christmas story unlike any other.
Christmas at Harewood has been designed with social distancing in mind, whilst allowing as many people to enjoy Upon a Christmas Wish as possible in a safe manner. Booked time slots and reduced capacity in the House provide a unique opportunity to enjoy the show, immerse yourself in the story and soak up the atmosphere with fewer crowds.
Tickets for Harewood’s 2020 Christmas season, Friday 13 November to Sunday 3 January, are now on sale (Adults £17.50, Children £9, Family (2+2) £46 with online and early bird discounts available, max 6 people per booking in line with the government’s ‘Rule of Six’), with pre-booking essential and current restrictions necessitating visitors booking a time slot to enter the House.
In addition, Father Christmas will return to welcome families for exclusive out-of-hours access to the house, to ensure a safe environment can be provided with all the necessary precautions in place, whilst still creating a magical experience. Likewise, a tailor made programme of pre-bookable festive workshops are back, as well as festive afternoon teas and the opportunity to visit after dark in Harewood Lates.
Lotherton Christmas Experience
The Christmas Experience will return for its fifth fantastic year at Lotherton, and the elves have been busy tweaking the tinsel and adding the last sprinkle of festive fairydust to make this year as magical as ever.
Tickets are on sale now and are being snapped up quickly, as Santa’s diary has been given a special makeover to ensure socially distanced festive fun for all the family.
In a year that’s been more glum than fun, visitors young and old will get all the festive feels when Santa and his elves take up residence at the popular destination just outside of Leeds.
The Elf Village has had a makeover and is home to Santa and his most trusted head elves, who will be waiting to greet families and share Christmas cheer for all to hear.
Little ones will first visit Postmaster Pippin McJingles in Ye Olde Post Office Central to send their letter to Santa, before heading to the Reindeer Emporium and collecting their very own magical reindeer feed to take home ready for Rudolph to enjoy on Christmas Eve.
And of course, no Christmas Experience would be complete without a visit to the main man himself. Santa will be in The Elf Village ‘Under The Wishing Tree’, waiting to greet boys and girls, hear their yuletide wishes and give them an early Christmas gift. Pre-school children will also have the opportunity to visit Santa in his cabin during the day.
Seasonal favourites including the Twelve Days of Christmas Woodland Walk and the Enchanted Fairy Dell will return, although with a different look and feel, including one-way adventure paths to follow, sanitising stations along the way and social distancing guidelines in place.
Venturing into the house, visitors will be transported back in time, as they enjoy each room decked out in the traditional festive finery of an Edwardian Christmas. This year, the elves request all grown-ups and children aged 11+ wear a mask to visit Santa and to explore the house.
The Christmas Experience opens on 27 November 2020 and is run by Lotherton and Breeze. Tickets are available now, with a number of visit options, early booking is recommended as spaces are limited and strictly on a pre-booking only, time-slotted system.
Hygiene and social distancing measures will be in place to ensure Lotherton is COVID secure. Full Covid safety measures can be found on the website.
Childline’s Virtual Merry Little Christmas Event
X Factor winner Leona Lewis will headline the charity’s Merry Little Christmas concert on Thursday 10 December.
The popstar, who has been supporting the charity during the pandemic will perform three songs for the virtual entertainment event in aid of the charity’s Childline service.
Merry Little Christmas which normally takes place at the Holy Trinity Church in Belgravia will now take place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it will be an evening filled with musical performances, celebrity readings from their favourite Christmas book or poem and even magic acts.
Leona Lewis will star alongside magician Ben Hanlin, The D-Day Darlings the UK’s premier wartime group who reached the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, as well as The D-Day Juniors, song and dance troupe West End Kids and BBC Young Chorister of the year 2019 Anna Haestrup.
All the money raised from the event will go to Childline to help their frontline staff and volunteers continue to be here for children this Christmas.
The event will begin at 7pm and General Admission costs £20 per household and VIP tickets which include a selection of Christmas treats including chocolate from Lindt and mince pies from Lidl can be purchased for £45 per household.