Leeds Christmas Market 2023: Everything we know as new festive market to replace German stalls

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Leeds is set to host a Christmas market this year, for the first time since 2019.

While the long-running German Christmas market has been scrapped for good, Leeds City Council signed a deal earlier this year to bring a new festive market to the city. It follows the success of last year’s Ice Cube attraction, which included a number of festive stalls alongside an ice rink.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Why was the German Christmas market cancelled?

A Christmas market is set to return to Leeds this year for the first time since 2019 (Photo by Tony Johnson/National World)A Christmas market is set to return to Leeds this year for the first time since 2019 (Photo by Tony Johnson/National World)
A Christmas market is set to return to Leeds this year for the first time since 2019 (Photo by Tony Johnson/National World)

The German Christmas market, which was organised in partnership between Leeds and Frankfurt city councils, was postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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And the Christkindelmarkt was scrapped for good last year, as the council said “foreign travel work visa costs and complications” had added another level of difficulty, making it impossible to bring the event back.

A council spokesperson said at the time: “The German Christmas Market has not been held in Leeds since 2019. Following the pandemic and combined with foreign travel work visa costs and complications, it was mutually agreed with our friends in Frankfurt that it was no longer feasible to bring the German market back to Leeds."

Some festive stalls did run alongside the Ice Cube attraction in Millennium Square last Christmas.

Will there be a Christmas market in 2023?

Earlier this year, the council signed a six-figure deal with a contractor, Market Place Europe, to run a festive market for the next three Decembers, up to 2025. Should it go ahead this year, it would be the first time since 2019 Leeds has had a proper Christmas market.

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What is Market Place Europe and how much will they pay the council?

The council says Market Place Europe is the “largest” operator of Christmas markets in the UK, with 5,000 traders on their books.

The council will be paid £336,000 across the three years as part of the deal, although the document said that extra costs are likely to bring the overall income down to around £240,000.

What will the market look like this year?

The council has remained coy about whether this year’s offer will be similar to the German markets Leeds enjoyed before the pandemic, but they have suggested it will be expanded.

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In a statement released back in May, Councillor Jonathan Pryor, the council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Building on the huge success of the Ice Cube at Christmas and other attractions introduced around Millennium Square last year, the council is proposing to work with Marketplace Europe to expand and improve the Christmas market offer in Leeds.

“Whilst no decisions have been made about the precise locations or the exact nature of the offer, we will be specifically looking at how we can best use our streets and available spaces in the city centre to provide more fun, festive and affordable experiences for the people of Leeds.”

When will the Christmas market take place?

A document detailing the council’s contract with Marketplace Europe indicated this year’s event is likely to run between November 24 and December 17, with a “similar arrangement” confirmed for the following two years.