Well, here we go on this year’s Christmas magical mystery tour, and where better to start than the amazing building that is Leeds Corn Exchange. The old girl is all dressed up in her finery for the occasion and can’t wait to welcome you.

This is a Christmas Market like no other because it showcases what the independent traders have to offer as well as turning the lower floor into a food, drink and exhibition area. Don’t worry, your favourites such as Owt are still there providing the most delicious food fresh from Kirkgate Market cooked as only they know how, but they have been joined by a series of street food vendors plying their wares. There is also a bar serving whatever libation takes your fancy, it’s thirsty work this Christmas Shopping malarky.

When I said that the Corn Exchange had been dressed up for the occasion I wasn’t kidding, there are about 4,000 balloons decorating the space requiring almost as much wind as a parliamentary debate.

The great thing about using the lower floor again is that it keeps the shopping and revelling separate so trading can continue upstairs unfettered. It also provides a soundtrack to your spending with a succession of DJs and live performances filling the air with their cool vibes. Far out man! When I was there on opening night there was a jazz pianist giving some Christmas classics the hip treatment. I could do with some of that myself.

There are also a couple of alcoves which have been utilised as settings in which to promote gin and, for the first weekend, scotch. Fortunately, now that the space has been refurbished, the toilets have been reopened meaning that you don’t have to go to the first floor for a comfort break.

There will be a changing line-up of food vendors, this week it was Raclette and Masri Egyptian Street Food from whom I purchased a Beef Shawarma with spiced chips for £6.50, a bargain for a sandwich filled so generously with meat. It would have been rude to neglect the Raclette so I had one of their delights for supper.

The upshot is that if you want somewhere different to go for your niche purchases and/or a very pleasant day/evening out you really should give the Corn Exchange Christmas Market a visit. Surely they deserve your custom even if it is only to repay them for blowing up all of those balloons!

Rolling Social Christmas Market is on Thursdays to Sundays until 23rd December. Opening times are noon until 10.00pm. Admission is free.

All photographs by Stan Graham

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