White Rose Shopping Centre: First look as Leeds shopping centre unveils its ‘White Rose Express’ Christmas decorations

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White Rose Shopping Centre has unveiled its “magnificent” 2023 Christmas scheme with steam train-themed decorations.

The “White Rose Express” is an immersive spectacle that “transports guests to North Pole Railways” as they enter the South Leeds shopping centre. Visitors are invited to follow the glowing train track past a number of Christmas trees, signal posts and lampposts on their way to meet Santa himself.

The display was installed over five nights and includes more than 2,000 metres of lights - enough to cover the pitch at Elland Road 19 times according to the shopping centre - and 300 metres of garland - more than twice the height of Altus House, the tallest building in Leeds.

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The White Rose Express has arrived at the popular Leeds shopping centre. Picture by White RoseThe White Rose Express has arrived at the popular Leeds shopping centre. Picture by White Rose
The White Rose Express has arrived at the popular Leeds shopping centre. Picture by White Rose | White Rose

On the journey along the track, guests are guided through the centre by 155 hand-crafted railway sleepers, leading them to the grotto, the 6.5 metres long White Rose Express train, where the man in red awaits.

The Christmas wonder continues outside in The Village, where guests can take a selfie with a towering, adorned Christmas tree, inviting families to capture a festive memory.

The White Rose Express was created by James Glancy Design, who are responsible for festive installations across the UK such as Carnaby Street and Regent Street’s “Spirit of Christmas”, and the work to design the installation started back in July 2022 with a team of 50 designers, project managers, artists, electricians and riggers.

Visitors are invited to follow the glowing train track past a number of Christmas trees, signal posts and lampposts on their way to meet Santa himself. Picture by White RoseVisitors are invited to follow the glowing train track past a number of Christmas trees, signal posts and lampposts on their way to meet Santa himself. Picture by White Rose
Visitors are invited to follow the glowing train track past a number of Christmas trees, signal posts and lampposts on their way to meet Santa himself. Picture by White Rose | White Rose

Luke Robson, senior creative designer at James Glancy design, commented: “With this scheme we invite audiences on a cinematic journey past twinkling Christmas trees, glowing signal signs and flickering lamp posts; culminating with an unforgettable meeting with Santa onboard the train-themed Grotto.

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“The design is inspired by Yorkshire’s rich history of steam railways and the unique arched architecture of White Rose Shopping Centre. We are thrilled to welcome visitors onboard the White Rose Express”. 

Steven Foster, Centre Director at White Rose Shopping Centre, said: “Our White Rose Express decorations truly transport visitors to a magical world; you can see the festive spirit on our guests’ faces as they enjoy the spectacle. 

The Christmas wonder continues outside in The Village, where guests can take a selfie with a towering, adorned Christmas tree, inviting families to capture a festive memory. Picture by White RoseThe Christmas wonder continues outside in The Village, where guests can take a selfie with a towering, adorned Christmas tree, inviting families to capture a festive memory. Picture by White Rose
The Christmas wonder continues outside in The Village, where guests can take a selfie with a towering, adorned Christmas tree, inviting families to capture a festive memory. Picture by White Rose | White Rose

“Our grotto is sure to get visitors in the Christmas spirit and, alongside hundreds of shops and restaurants, plus thousands of free parking spaces, White Rose is the perfect festive family day out.” 

The new grotto, where visitors can meet Santa, is open daily until Christmas Eve on Sunday December 24, with a number of sensory-friendly sessions from 10am to 10.30am every Tuesday through December, during the shopping centres quiet hours from 10am to 12pm.

Booking is required to visit Santa at the White Rose’s grotto. Tickets are available via the White Rose website at £6 per child, and includes a gift and free entrance for an accompanying adult. 

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