Free Christmas events in Yorkshire 2022
Let’s be honest, Christmas is an expensive time of year there’s no doubt about it. But this year especially everything is feeling a lot more out of reach. BUT it doesn’t need to be. There are LOTS of Christmas events happening around Yorkshire that are totally FREE. I have scoured the net and come up with a long list of free Christmas events in Yorkshire so there is bound to be at least one near you. If not I have also pulled together types of places to visit so that you can check out what your local is doing.
Here is my round up of events starting in November of FREE Christmas events in Yorkshire.
Reindeer Parade and Breakfast with Santa in Bradford
On Sunday 20th November at Kirkgate Shopping Centre in Bradford City Centre there is a Reindeer Parade starting at 10am. It makes it way from Kirkgate around the city centre so you will all get the chance to see Santa with his reindeer.
On selected dates in December (3rd, 10th, 17th, 23rd and 24th) you can have breakfast with Santa at Broadway shopping centre in Bradford. Not only that but you will get to have a sing along with the elves and receive a special gift. Tickets cost £5 HOWEVER this is then given back to you in a gift voucher to spend in one of the shops in Broadway.
Also on at Broadway every weekend is Sparkle Spectacular. A chance to meet festive characters from Buddy the Elf to a Santa band.
Elsewhere in Bradford there is a Christmas Tree Festival at St James Church Thornton from Saturday 26th November to Saturday 3rd December.
Christmas Light Switch On events
There are so many Christmas light switch on events happening in all the towns and cities across the region. Here are just a few of the ones local to me in Skipton but if you search on Facebook you will be able to find your nearest event.
Skipton is on Sunday 27th November on the High Street. There will be Christmas market stalls, fairground rides and also a willow lantern parade at 4pm.
Settle is on Saturday 26th November in the Market Place. It includes Santa’s grotto, fairground rides, bouncy castles from 12pm then a fireworks display at 5pm
Ilkley is on Saturday 26th November on The Grove. There is also a Santa parade at 330pm
Keighley’s event is on Sunday 27th November in Church Green Car Park. There will be Christmas markets on from 10am followed by live performances from Voices of Yorkshire choir, Marrigold Adam’s the local drag act as Cher and The Trilogies a local vocal harmony group.
Plus many many more local events.
Santa Fun Runs
What a sight, seeing hundreds of Santas running together, the red and white hats bobbing up and down. This year there are quite a few fun runs on and they are great to go and watch, cheering them on.
In Skipton the Santa Run is organised by Skipton Rotary and sets off at 10am on Sunday 27th November on the High Street. The run is 5km or there is a shorter route of 3km for kids or those less abled.
In Howarth the first ever Santa Fun Run is taking place on Saturday 26th November at 11am. Running 10 laps of Howarth Central Park (5km in totally) organised by Howarth and Worth Valley Rotary Club.
In Hull the Santa Fun Run will take place on Sunday 11th December at 11am in Pickering Park.
In Doncaster the Santa Dash will be happening at Sandall Park on Saturday 10th December.
Rudolph’s Run, an illuminated festive Tractor run goes through Skipton on Sunday 18th December. Organised by Lothersdale YFC the run starts in Keighley and will drive through the Airedale villages before arriving in Skipton around 7.30pm.
Rotary Club Santas
Rotary Clubs in a lot of towns put on a Santa visit each year. Our local one in Skipton comes round the town and villages in the lead up to Christmas stopping to let the kids wave and greet Santa in his illuminated sleigh. Find out if your local one is doing it.
You will find that a lot of museums which are free entry will be putting on craft sessions for the kids over the holidays. Our local one Craven Museum in Skipton Town Hall is running a Make and Take Christmas craft session on Wednesday 21st. There are 2 sessions with one already ‘sold out’ – tickets must be booked in advance.
If you have an annual seasonal pass then now is a great time to use them.
National Trust properties in Yorkshire will be putting on a Winter Trail from the start of December. This includes Fountains Abbey, Beningbrough Hall and Nostell Priory.
There will also be Music and Lights event on at Fountains Abbey. As twilight falls the cellarium will be lit up in a rainbow of colour. Live music will be playing from 2-3pm on selected days so check the website to see who’s on. From the 19th December the music will be prerecorded carols being played.
Bolton Abbey have their 12 Days of Christmas trail which starts on Saturday 17th December. Season pass holders can park for free and the walk is also free to do.
Augmented reality app
Loyal Free always put on seasonal trails at participating cities and towns across the country. Locally to us the parks and high streets of Skipton, Ilkley, Bradford and Leeds all have this trail available to do through the app. Simply download the Loyal Free app, open the trail when you get to the park and follow the onscreen instructions.
Throughout December you can take part in this free interactive trail where you are invited to jingle all the way, stopping at locations where you will be met with lyrics to famous festive songs, but some of the words are missing! Play along with friends and family to try and guess the missing lyrics. A group sing-along to jog your memory may help! Scan the QR codes to ‘check-in’ and reveal the answers and see who got it right. By scanning the QR codes you will be entered into a prize draw to win a Christmas stocking full of goodies. The more QR codes scanned, the more chances of winning!
Christmas in Harrogate
Harrogate have got lots going on this Christmas!There is a free Christmas trail on around the town that has been organised by Harrogate Mumbler. This will start on the 7th December.
There are Christmas markets on along with the Candy Cane Express road train to transport festive revellers around Harrogate town centre while the market is on. This has been funded by Harrogate Bid.
The Naughty Elf will be back this year. Every day the elf will move overnight to a new location so you will have to go and find him tagging #harrogateelf in your snaps. This will be on from 11th December.
The Christmas illuminations in the town are also pretty great. This year there will be a Ferris wheel, helter skelter and a Victorian carousel all also lit up brightening the town up further.
Betty’s have revealed their window display so this is worth a look too.
Christmas in Haworth
Haworth have gone all out this Christmas with numerous events running throughout December. As mentioned the First Santa Fun Run is on.
There will also be a torchlight procession on the 3rd and 4th December through the village. On the 17th and 18th weekend there will be a nativity procession. The rest of the time the village will be lit up beautifully.
Outdoor Christmas Eve traditions
Every Christmas Eve in Knaresborough an outdoor nativity takes place. From 530pm live in Knaresborough market square as night falls, the Christmas story will be told. Organised by the Knaresborough community, a mixture of readings and drama bring the story to life with a cast of local residents and a real donkey. This event has a real sense of community and Christmas spirit.
The village of Embsay hold their Christmas Carols around the Tree outside the Elm Tree pub. From 6pm Christmas carols can be heard from locals enjoying their mulled wine.
Garden Centres are always a great one to wander around for a free indoors Christmassy feel. Woodbank in Harden near Bingley is brilliant for this as well as Dobbies in Otley and Moss & Moor in Ilkley. Further afield Tong Garden Centre also puts on an amazing display.
Wakefield Light Up
Following last year’s success, Light Up returns with a series of events lighting up Wakefield, Castleford, South Elmsall, Pontefract and Knottingley, including Christmas light switch-ons, festive markets, street entertainment, choirs and more.
The Light Up programme will also welcome partner activity from The Hepworth Wakefield and the National Coal Mining Museum. The NCMM will host the Illumine event from Friday 25th to Sunday 26th November – this will be a mix of lit up areas, torchlight trails, lantern making workshops, choir and brass band performances, Santa meet and greet and finally the lantern parade at 4pm on Sunday.
From 18-20 November Wakefield will be lit with a trail of light installations throughout the city. There will also be choirs, fair rides, live music, face painting, Santa’s Grotto, lantern making workshops happening at Trinity Walk, the Ridings shopping centre and Wakefield Cathedral.
Christmas light switch on’s will be happening on; Wednesday 16 November in South Elmsall, Tuesday 22 November in Castleford, Wednesday 23 November in Knottingley, Sunday 27th November in Pontefract.
On the weekend of 25-27th November Pontefract Castle will hold their event. The Castle and grounds will be illuminated with immersive illusions. They will reveal everything from how to process space and time to the perception of consciousness. The illusions will include;
Corvus Angelicus – Expect two ten feet tall luminous angels that spread love and light, joy and hope wherever they go!
Magic ball man – Contact juggler and flow artist ‘The Magic Ball Man’ amazes audiences with his mesmerising performances.
Light walkers – simple, beautiful images in a multicolour swirl of costume and light.
The Hepworth building will come alive on Saturday 26th November and :Ed December with animations flowing across its surfaces, telling stories about Barbara Hepworth, Yorkshire landscapes and the gallery’s riverside setting. There will also be craft sessions for the kids.
Christmas in Halifax
This Christmas in Halifax, it’s all about community. They have so much on offer for FREE. Starting with their specially written Christmas story nicely setting the scene and bringing the community together.
This year will see the brand new Christmas lights installed which will showcase the town as never before illuminating the town’s most historic buildings and showing it off beautifully.
There are also the family-friendly Christmas favourites like cheery singalongs, charity gifting trees and some real-life elves to say hello to (throughout December), not to mention a supercool winter wonderland scene and story telling bear to enjoy in the Discover Halifax Hub at Woolshops.
There are new treats too, like the animatronic characters joining the legendary Painted Window Trail, the all-new Advent Calendar competition, with its sleigh-load of great prizes and the chance to enter every single day.
Don’t forget the Christmas markets at the wonderful Piece Hall which you can wander round and take in all the festive decorations. On Christmas Eve there will be the Halifax Minster Choir performing carols around the Christmas Tree before their procession down to the Minster for the Christingle Service.
Also on at the Minster is the Christmas Tree Festival. From Friday 2nd to Monday 5th December over 30 Christmas trees will fill the Minster with the wonderful scent and magic of community togetherness. Each tree is sponsored and decorated by families and organisations from across the town (entry £2 for adults).
The festivities begin on Saturday 26th November with stilt walkers, street entertainment and more at Woolshops Shopping Centre.
A great fancy dress paddle on the canal from Rodley to Apperley Bridge and back, Leeds is happening with some local SUP groups. This is a free event to watch and join in with (if you don’t need to hire a paddle board). Happening on the 18th December from 10am. This will be quite a sight!
Christmas in York
This year York Bid are putting on the Nutcracker Trail. There are 10 life-size Nutcrackers dotted around the city, and each one is named. Find all 10 and make a note of their names for a chance to win a £500 York Gift Card or 1 of 5 weekly Visit York hampers. Pick up a map and competition entry form from the Visitor Information Centre.
Also on in York is the Christmas window trail where 12 businesses in York display the avocado events sticker. You complete the trail by taking a photo of any of the stickers you find and posting it on instagram with a chance to win a Christmas hamper. This will be launching on December 1st.
Christmas in Hull
This Christmas Hull Museums in partnership with Hull BID are pulling out all the stops in their traditional Victorian Christmas full of festive magic. Throughout the day on 26th November there will be lots of exciting free activities and performances for all of the family to enjoy.
Magical Christmas characters – a selection of magical Christmas characters will be there to interact with. Families can meet the sparkling Winter Fairy by her snow sleigh, and say hello to the cheerful chief Christmas elves Sock and Tinker. Meanwhile, the charming Christmas Belles will delight as they spread Christmas cheer with their ribbons and hand chimes.
Dickensian Christmas characters – Dickensian Christmas characters will be wandering the street scene at the Streetlife Museum and the Museums Quarter Garden, interacting with visitors. Look out for miserable Mr Scrooge, the kind-hearted Bob Cratchit and others!
Musical Performances – Enjoy fabulous festive performances from the Manfire Music Jazz band, the Hull Visual Choir and Hull Choral Union.
Carousel Rides – Enjoy a free ride on a traditional fairground carousel.
Storytelling – Get lost in your imagination by joining Debutots for fantastic sensory storytelling sessions, perfect for children under 7, as well as storyteller Beth Guiver for enchanting winter folk takes for the whole family. Performances will include British Sign Language interpretation.
Face Painting – Get your face painted with a Christmas design for free by the fabulous team at Face Painting 4 U.
Christmas crafts – Join Hull Scrapstore for creative Christmas crafting using recycled materials, and the Hull Museums team to make your own collage Christmas wreath.
Christmas Trail – Pick up a copy of our exciting new Christmas trail which runs across Streetlife Museum, the Hull and East Riding Museum, and Ferens Art Gallery.