Strolling around the Christmas Market the sights, smells and sounds of festive season filled the air.
In truth we could have been in Bavaria or Bruges but if there’s one thing we can thank Europe for is the arrival of the traditional seasonal market in the UK.
And Leeds will give anywhere a run for their festive money this year with their wonderful Christkindlmarkt in Millennium Square, in the heart of the city centre.
It’s a traditional German Christmas market that consists of more than 40 wooden chalet stalls selling a wide variety of seasonal gifts and delicacies.
The atmosphere around the market felt very seasonal. The air was filled with the smell of warm cooked food. We stopped at a stall that sold garlic breads for a snack as we browsed through the stalls of handcrafted Christmas gifts.
One chalet which caught my eye was selling mead and wine. We sampled a drink called Viking Blood, which was like mulled wine – perfect to warm us up on the cold night.
The market was busy – you could understand its popularity among the Christmas shoppers.
We soon learned the beauty of it is that so many attractions are close together – most were between 10 and 20 minutes walk apart. This allowed us to see more of this young and vibrant city.
So, armed with GPS, we headed to The Royal Armouries the next day.
The museum houses more than 8,500 objects through its six galleries: War, Tournament, Oriental, Self-Defence, Hunting and Peace. Our guide, Keith Ducklin, showed us around. What stood out the most was the Oriental section and the amazing Hall of Steel. This is a central tower which runs the whole height of the building decorated with 17th century armour and 19th century military equipment.
The exhibits on display are vast and you could easily spend the day here. This is certainly an attraction to keep adults and kids alike interested.
For lunch we headed over to Trinity Kitchen based in Trinity Leeds shopping centre, which is a mix of vibrant restaurants and street food vans. After walking round the food outlets several times trying to decide if we wanted pizza, burritos, Indian street food or fish and chips, we decided on Pho Vietnamese street food.
We ordered Pho Xao Chicken and Pho Xao Veggie. Both were rice noodle based dishes full of flavour that came in large portions which were filling and satisfying.
Once fed, it was time to go shopping within the Trinity. With the wide range of shops you could complete your entire Christmas shopping without ever leaving the complex.
All the expected high street names and more offered a seemingly endless shopaholic paradise. It wouldn’t be hard to get lost in this labyrinth of shops and floors. Luckily for me we had our itinerary to stick to so after a couple of hours shopping – and a couple of quid lighter – we headed back to our base, the smart Hilton Leeds City Hotel, to get ready for our evening meal.
In the evening we dined at Chaophraya and Palm Sugar. Upon arrival we were greeted by friendly and welcoming staff who quickly showed us to our table. This authentic Thai restaurant had a spacious layout and Far Eastern feel.
The restaurant was busy with a lively atmosphere. As we were seated within minutes we had drinks on the table of Tiger beer and Amaretto to help us decide what to order. For starters we shared the vegetarian golden baskets.
These were mini-tartlets which you filled up with subtly flavoured vegetables that were just the right portion size and very tasty. For my main I ordered the tofu in tamarind sauce with a side order of egg fried rice and my partner had the spicy fried rice with beef and basil.
The dishes arrived promptly with another round of drinks to accompany them. Both meals were cooked perfectly with enough flavour and spice to pack a punch but not ruin the delicious taste of the meals.
Although it was busy the staff made sure every table was happy with their food and the overall customer service was second to none.
If you are looking for a place to eat in Leeds this would be my first choice.
Whether you are looking for that last minute Christmas shopping or fancy a city break, Leeds is well worth checking out.
James Rogers stayed at Hilton Leeds City
Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4BX
Tel: 0113 2442000 FAX: 0113 207702
For more information on Leeds and its attractions contact VisitLeeds