After the eerie silence of last year, Leeds this Christmas will be as busy as ever - YEP Opinion

As I write this, it is exactly one month until Christmas. This is both exciting because Santa! and terrifying because I am not quite sure when the year slipped away.

By Rebecca Marano
Sunday, 28th November 2021, 4:45 am
Looking forward to Christmas 2021 in Leeds. Pictured: Upon a Christmas Wish at Harewood House, decorated by the creative company Lord Whitney. The stage set in The Gallery. Picture: Tony Johnson.

It feels like just yesterday that we were gearing up for our will-they-won’t-they Christmas 2020, with headlines of ‘Is Christmas cancelled?’ splashed across the papers and confusing rules implemented about when and who we could invite over for a Turkey dinner.

It was a pretty dismal period for many of us, after a pretty dismal year.

So even though it was a bit of a shock to the system when I realised it is only 30 days until the big day, there’s an undeniable excitement as the Christmas countdown begins.

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Things aren’t fully back to normal yet, for example the annual and much-loved German Market was cancelled in October, but it certainly felt much more like the usual Christmastime in Leeds when I headed into the city centre last week.

Even though it was only mid-November, Christmas trees were up, lights were lit and Briggate was packed with people armed with bags upon bags, eyeing up the shop floor for a bargain.

Everywhere was busier than usual. Naively armed without a reservation (rookie error during Christmas party period) we were turned away from five restaurants, including Nandos, before we were able to grab a table. Even an after tea treat to a Hotel Chocolat hot choccy took an age as people got in early to grab their Portly Penguins stocking fillers.

I say this not to moan (because frankly, I’d had a sausage roll an hour before) but because it actually felt amazing to be in amongst the hustle and bustle of Leeds at Christmas once again.

Don’t get me wrong, the crowds and the queues and the noise is as overwhelming as ever, but after the eerie silence of last year’s festive period, I would take being knocked into while listening to shouts of “Hot chestnuts!” man any day.

So as I get the decorations back down from the attic and begin formulating the Christmas present list (the thought of figuring out what to buy for my ‘I don’t want owt’ dad fills me with dread), I thought I would leave you with some of the festive things I am looking to this year.

Putting up the festive fairy lights. Having a go on the new rooftop curling in Chow Down’s winter village. Buying an obscene, hopefully light-up, reindeer themed jumper. Taking a cosy walk around the Upon a Christmas Wish at Harewood House. A mulled wine or two in THOR's Tipi. Getting into the spirit with Christmas classic ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ at the Everyman cinema. And did someone say - Buddy the Elf, what’s your favourite colour? Watching my neice’s face as I take her to see Santa for the first time. The return of the Christmas work’s do. Spending uninterrupted time with the people I love.