FAMILIES looking for free or low-cost things to do in Leicester during the run-up to Christmas will find lots of ideas on a city council website.
From crafting snowflakes and Christmas cards, to meeting Santa and singing Christmas carols, there’s lots of festive fun to be had that won’t cost a packet – and they’re all listed here.
On Friday evening (1 December), the Eyres Monsell Community Centre will switch on its Christmas lights, with music from the Southfield Brass Band and a Christmas treasure hunt. Pop in between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, and visit again on Saturday 9 December, when the centre will host its Christmas Fair.
From Saturday (2 December), Santa will be welcoming young visitors to his snow-topped grotto in Town Hall Square. Visits to Santa are free of charge, and he’ll be there every day until Saturday 23 December. Check opening hours and plan your visit here
Also on Saturday (2 December), there’s a Christmas fair at the Brite Centre, with stalls selling stocking fillers, a Santa’s grotto and free craft activities. Pop in between 11am and 3pm, or contact the Brite Centre to book a place on their arts & crafts workshops, which will run on 2,9 and 16 December.
Leicester’s medieval Guildhall hosts its annual Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday and Sunday (2-3 December), with an open fire and a Christmas tree creating the perfect festive atmosphere for browsing a range of unique Christmas gifts. Admission is £1 for adults, with no charge for children.
The city’s libraries are offering additional activities for Christmas too, with crafting sessions at the Central Library from 3pm-5pm on Thursdays in December (7, 14 and 21 December), while younger visitors are invited to look out for the library’s Elf on the Shelf, who’ll be hiding amongst the books in the run-up to Christmas.
Beaumont Leys library is inviting youngsters to take photos of themselves in their best Christmas jumper and become part of a Christmas jumper collage (4 December – 6 January), and it’s also running a treasure hunt (16 December – 6 January), with a fun pack and sticker for everyone able to find all the Christmas parcel pictures.
Fosse Library will offer festive papercrafts between 12 noon and 2pm on Saturday 9 and 16 December, there’ll be board games at Belgrave Library between 4pm and 6pm on Friday 22 December, and there’s a Christmas party for children at the Brite Centre on Friday 15 December. Tickets for the Christmas party are £3.50 each, with a family ticket for four people available for £12.
Visitors of all ages can drop in to Leicester Museum & Art Gallery and make their own masterpiece on Saturday 16 December – the opening day of this year’s Open exhibition. The free art workshops run from 11am to 3pm.
From Monday 18 December, there’ll be a festive theme to all the Stay and Play sessions taking place at Leicester’s Children, Young People and Families’ Centres (CYPFC). Details of the festive programme can be found on the CYPFC Facebook page.
Families planning a trip to the city centre to see Santa in Town Hall Square (2-23 December) and enjoy Leicester’s twinkling Christmas lights can also visit Bright Leicester at Highcross (until 6 December), Santa Saturday at the Haymarket Shopping Centre on Saturday 9 December (12 noon to 4pm) and the Emergence light installation at the bottom of New Walk (from 13-23 December).
Now that major restoration works are complete, Christmas will be celebrated at Leicester Cathedral once again this year. Many family-friendly events are planned, including the cathedral’s Christingle Service at 3pm on Saturday 9 December and the Blessing of the Crib at 3pm on Sunday 24 December.
Getting around the city centre is easy – and completely free – thanks to Leicester’s Hop! service. The one-way circular route links key locations, including Leicester station, Highcross, Leicester Market and Jubilee Square, making it easy for families to see all of the city’s attractions. Hop on and off the green buses, with their distinctive ‘ribbit’ frog sound, from 8am until 6pm from Monday to Saturday.
Details of low-cost family-friendly activities taking place in Leicester during December can be found here.