CHRISTMAS is coming - a time to be jolly busy!

Most of us relish a break from the usual routine; a time to catch up with family and friends who may live afar, but there is also plenty of preparation to do.

Entertaining, feasting, partying and present swapping is an integral part of this important religious festivity.

Christmas is also the time of year when we have time to relax and savour the celebrations and participate in activities we would otherwise be too busy within the routine of our working lives to do.

Families will find a wealth of activities to keep the children occupied - but to give you a helping hand, and a little inspiration, we've pulled together a few of the things you may want to do.

Setting the scene for a spectacular Christmas is the Magical Lantern Festival. Returning to Roundhay Park, Leeds, this colourful event is a visual feast featuring larger than life lanterns including the Chinese Temple of Heaven and the popular Polar Bears on Ice.

The event runs until January 1 2018 and the Leeds Charity Partner, the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, will donate proceeds to support children and cancer charities in Yorkshire. For tickets visit eventbrite.

Visitors can enjoy 'A twilight Christmas' at East Riddlesden Hall, Riddlesden. Festive stalls and refreshments will be available in the Airedale Barn from 3.30 until 7.30pm on Saturday December 16 and Sunday December 17 setting the scene for the festivities. For more information call 01535 607075 or email:

Leeds' landmark Millennium Square is transformed into a scenic winter village for the Leeds Christkindelmarkt. The traditional German market, with its wooden chalet stalls, sets the scene for the festivities and is pitched up in the city until December 24.

A host of Angels will descend on Castle Howard near York. 'Angels on High' takes inspiration from this beautiful home's architecture, interiors and art collection.

These classic and contemporary characters will inhabit Castle Howard's grand state rooms to spectacular effect.

Together with glorious floral creations and inspired decorations, Angels on High will surprise and delight. The event runs until December 23. For more information visit or call 01653 648333.

For the first time in five years Harewood House, Harewood, near Leeds, is throwing its doors open to the public for the Christmas festivities. Themed around 'A Victorian Christmas,' visitors can see this beautiful stately home's state rooms and kitchens dressed by Michael Howells, the award-winning set designer from ITV's Victoria. Harewood was one of the locations for the popular series. 'A Victorian Christmas' runs until Sunday December 31 (excluding 24, 25, 26 December). Twilight Tours, giving visitors the opportunity to see the Victorian Christmas displays after dark, run from 6.30 until 8.30pm on December 21 and 28.

Bolton Abbey, near Skipton, North Yorkshire is the perfect place if you are looking for a peaceful place to relax and unwind on the run up to the festivities. Visitors can stroll through Strid Wood and young visitors will enjoy spotting the wooden Christmas trees along the trail. The 'Christmas Countdown' runs until December 24. Call 01756 718000 or visit

Toasting marshmellows around a roaring fire pit while savouring festive refreshments is the perfect pre-Christmas treat. The Christmas Tepees will be pitched up in Ilkley Park, Bridge Lane, Ilkley until December 22. Visit

The story of the old miser Scrooge comes to Skipton Town Hall. Adapted and directed by Michael Whitmore, Quantum Theatre's 'A Christmas Carol' takes to the stage at 2.30pm on Saturday December 23. Visit or call 01756 792809.

Visitors to Thornton Hall Farm have until Christmas Eve to save Christmas from the Mischievous Elf! There will be plenty of fun and activities for all the family at the farm park in Thornton in Craven, North Yorkshire. Call 01282 841148 or visit

A visit to York is a must at Christmas and visitors can step back in time to find out how the festivities were celebrated 150 years ago at York Castle Museum. Call 01904 687 687 or visit