My stroll around the City ends with a visit to the Victoria Quarter which has to be the classiest Christmas display in the country. Not for nothing is Leeds known as The Knightsbridge of the North, even having its own branch of Harvey Nichols.
I am beginning in Briggate which has the poem Dear Leeds written by Kate Ryrie displayed in neon above the street in which we find a further tipi, the must-have installation for 2022. This is another welcoming watering hole in which to get warm inside and out during your trip to town. They even have sacks of rather large carrots for Rudolph and his mates.
Walking down County Arcade is like stepping back in time to the late 19th Century except the recent refurbishments to this area (well – recent to a gentleman of my advancing years) has added a 21st Century element to the shopfronts, canopy and its supporting structure although there is the hint of a throwback to the original design. If you look carefully you will see that there are a couple of Edwardian CCTV cameras. At first I thought that they might be Victorian but I realised that tv hadn’t been invented then!
At the bottom end of County Arcade is a feature in one of the units called See What Santa Sees. This is an immersive show which does what it says on the tin. Don’t worry, you don’t spend 24 hours looking at the backside of two reindeer, but a 20 minute trip around the world to see how Christmas is celebrated in different places. The installation runs until 23rd December so book now at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/see-what-santa-sees-tickets-205052727227 They are free, although donations are gratefully accepted, but must be booked in advance as there is a limit to numbers.
On reaching the bottom of the arcade and crossing Vicar Lane you come to the mini German Market. If you have been paying attention you will realise that the big one which is normally held in Millennium Square has been cancelled this year, the reason escapes me but it is probably something trivial. There are food and drink stalls and they even have their own snow, how cool is that – geddit?
That brings us to Victoria Gate where less is definitely more. The lights are seasonal without being tacky and the place just oozes class. We are met by an illuminated Rudolph, that reindeer gets everywhere, with antlers festooned with decorations.
At the bottom end of the centre, just outside John Lewis, is the most fabulous minimalist Christmas tree that you will ever see, unless you come to my place, even if it does look as if the only two baubles to have been hung on it have dropped off. I suppose it is down to the cold weather.
To elaborate on my last comment I would like to leave you with a winter weather related fact with which to amaze your friends over the holidays, or bore them stiff in the pub. Did you know the saying ‘cold enough to freeze the balls on a brass monkey’ originated in the Royal Navy? A brass monkey was a square trolley on a warship, made of the aforementioned alloy on which the cast iron cannonballs were stacked in a pyramid shape ready to be wheeled to the part of the deck where they were needed. In very cold weather, the balls would freeze together so that they could not be removed. And you always thought it was rude – shame on you! That’s probably why Nelson always fought wars in warm seas, not that it ended well for him.
Thank you for your company on my trip around the delights Leeds has to offer over the Christmas period, and for allowing me to indulge in some truly awful jokes. It will make the ones in your Christmas Crackers sound much better. There is one more article to go which, after a couple of false starts, I hope to post in the next few days.
Feature photograph is the interior of Tipi on Briggate which, like all of the others in the article was taken by Stan Graham. Is there no beginning to this man’s talents?