After the year of turmoil we have just lived through it is good to know that the season of peace and goodwill is just around the corner, and if ever we needed those two elements it is now. That grand old building, the Corn Exchange, has got its posh frock on for party time and is providing everything we need for Christmas; so that would be food, drink, entertainment and presents then.

The lower ground floor is where the main action is with food outlets, a bar and a few stalls selling unique products, that only independent traders can produce. Although few in number, the artisans augment the rest of the amazing shops in the place where passionate traders and producers peddle their wares all year round.

There seems to be a distinct African vibe to the clothes producers this year with Sanyan dresses and outerwear, and a lovely lady from Uganda, who didn’t have a name on her stall, but sold the most incredibly coloured slacks, robes and accessories. You’ll never leave a sock in the washing machine again!

To finish off your outfit there was Damilola Jewellery where I spoke to the designer of the pieces on offer. There was a large range of items, which are plated and amazing value for money. Being from an era where any self-respecting lothario would have a pendant, I especially liked the ones shaped like a country or continent, the former being in the colours of the national flag.

Finally there was a stall to make the transition from retail to catering, Omgee Bakes, with their selection of cakes, cookies and other sweet delicacies, most incorporating confectionery such as Mars Bars and Chocolate Orange. What’s not to like.

That brings me nicely onto the food, drink and entertainment, needless to say I sampled all three!

There is a permanent residence from Dijon Boys who bring a selection of their goodies to the party. And when I say goodies I mean goodies. Their food is Christmas but with a twist, so how about this for a Korean Chicken Burger.

The second space is filled by guest traders, and tonight it was Don’t Feed The Dog, who actually did feed this old dog, and very well too. This is the Boxing Day Sub with roast beef and shoestring onions. The 15 hour chips are to die for.

Should all this shopping and eating make you feel thirsty then don’t fret, there is a well stocked bar complete with cocktails and hot mulled wine. The beer is from Camden Brewery, so, as they have brought it all the way from the smoke, it was only fair that I tried a pint.

I was also bullied into trying a sample of Black Tears Spiced Rum. When I say bullied, the chap asked me if I would like one, which is near enough for an excuse.

While I am on the subject of spirits, Latitude, the wine merchants, have a series of Masterclasses on Saturdays, the themes being; The World of Whisk(e)y on 19th November, Maison Ferrand Grande Champagne Cognac on 26th, John Robert’s Botanic Request on 3rd December and Wolfe Brothers Gin on 10th and 17th. The sessions are on the hour, every hour, from 1.00pm to 4.00pm inclusive.

The entertainment changes each week and I was lucky enough to catch Hayley Gaftarnick doing her thing, and a very nice thing it was too, even for an old boy like myself.

So, should you be looking for a place to do your Christmas Shopping – don’t forget the myriad other Indies here – or want somewhere different to while away a bit of time, then pop along to the amazing Leeds Corn Exchange and get the festive season off to a flying start.

Entry is free, although there is a charge for the Masterclasses, and the opening times are Friday to Sunday, noon to 8.00pm, until 23rd December.

For further details please go to

All photographs by Stan Graham

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