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Santa Claus is coming to town

With Christmas just around the corner, Leeds Museums and Galleries have put together a magical festive programme of events and activities not to be missed.

Father Christmas meets some youngsters at Temple Newsam House Credit: Leeds City Council

Venues set to open their doors with more than a slice of Christmas cheer and family fun include; Temple Newsam House, Lotherton Hall, Abbey House Museum, Leeds City Museum, Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds Industrial Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds Discovery Centre and Thwaite Mills Watermill.

An event that needs no introduction is the much loved ‘500 years of Christmas’ at historic Temple Newsam House on the weekend of 13 and 14 December.

Visitors can enjoy a Tudor banquet display, Tudor carol karaoke, Jane Austen music, Victorian merry making, carol singers, and a secret wonderland journey to see the one and only Santa Claus!

Despite his extremely busy schedule, Santa has also agreed to be at Temple Newsam House from 16-20 December from 1.30pm-4pm to meet with children and hear what they would like to receive for Christmas.

On the 21 December from 2pm-4pm, the Leeds Waits will also be holding their annual celebration for the 1622 owner of Temple Newsam House, as part of ‘Sir Arthur Ingram’s Christmas’. Audience participation is essential, in what is a prefect event to get into the festive mood.

Also hosting a special Christmas party this year is Leeds City Museum on Saturday 6 December. A range of sparkling activities and performances will be on offer for people of all ages to enjoy from 11am-3pm.

The fantastic surroundings of Abbey House Museum are always a lovely place to visit throughout the year, and this Christmas, it will also be the home to a very special Santa’s Grotto. Open on a number of dates in the run-up to the big day including Christmas Eve, admission is £4 and includes a present. The Grotto will accompany crafts, music and fun in Abbey House’s Victorian Streets.

Across the road from Abbey House Museum are the picturesque 12th century Cistercian ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, and on Sunday 14 December from 2pm-3pm, The Heritage Singers will return for their popular Christmas concert, where joining in is always a must!

If you have wondered how the Victorians celebrated Christmas, Thwaite Mills Watermill will show you how and also reveal a few secrets on Sunday 7 December from 1pm-3pm at their Victorian family Christmas event. There will be lots of hands on activities throughout the day and the chance to design and decorate your own traditional gingerbread decoration.

If the thought of Christmas shopping on a Saturday fills you with dread, Lotherton Hall have the perfect event to relax and escape the rush on 13 December from 11am-4pm. On offer will be live music, Christmas crafts, children’s entertainment and much more.

This year marks the start of the First World War one hundred years ago, and the Leeds Discovery Centre will be holding a poignant event exploring how Christmas was for those in 1914 on Saturday 13 December from 10am -12noon. Learn more about Princess Mary’s gift boxes for soldiers fighting in the war, and through pieces from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, see the differences between a soldier’s Christmas and one at home.

A range of family art activities will also be on offer from Saturday 20 December -17 January at Leeds Art Gallery, where there will be the chance to find out more about British mythical animals.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:"Christmas is always a very special time of the year, and once again Leeds Museums and Galleries are offering a fantastic programme of events and activities that are perfect for all the family.

"All of our sites will be providing a wealth of family fun, and if this was not enough, there are a range of fantastic gifts available at our museums and galleries shops, which can also be bought online."

Events at Leeds Museums and Galleries form part of ‘Magical Leeds’ which is providing a variety of brilliant events across the city is this year. To find out more about ‘Magical Leeds’, please see www.magicalleeds.co.uk

"Debbie" does Emmerdale

Former Brookside actress Gillian Kearney has joined ITV Yorkshire's award winning soap Emmerdale.

Former Brookside actress Gillian Kearney has joined Emmerdale. Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Gillian, who is best known for her role in Brookside as Debbie McGrath, will play Emma Barton, the estranged mother of Finn, who tracks her down after 22 years of absence.

Emma Barton is a woman with a secretive past. With James and Moira’s affair now out in the open, viewers will be left wondering how the complex Emma will react when she finds out James also fathered a son, Adam with her sister in law, Moira.

“As an avid fan of Emmerdale, I’m delighted to be playing Emma Barton.

She’s a fascinating and complex character and I'm excited to find out what lies ahead for her.

"The team at Emmerdale have all made me feel really welcome and I'm loving being part of such a brilliant show.”

– Gillian Kearney

“I’m thrilled to welcome Gillian to the show. The arrival of Emma Barton has been long awaited, so her arrival is sureto cause fireworks in the volatile Barton family!”

– Kate Oates, Emmerdale series producer

Gillian will make her on-screen Emmerdale debut in January.

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Film based on heroic Afghan rescue screened in Leeds

A film about a heroic rescue mission in Afghanistan has been screened in Leeds with some of the main protagonists in the audience.

Paul Hartley, who is known as Tug, is a central character in the film 'Kajaki: The True Story'.

His role on-screen is taken by an actor from his home town, Huddersfield, who will be joining Paul at the showing which is also raising money for military charities.

Lisa Adlam reports:

Emmerdale take on Corrie for Text Santa

Congratulations to the Emmerdale Netball team who went head to head with soap rivals Coronation Street for charity Text Santa. The Woolpack girls had a lot to prove after they lost in the first event of its kind, held last year. This time Emmerdale got off to a flying start in front of the thousand seater sell out audience - and held the lead for the duration of the match. Final score was 23 - 18. All money raised will go to ITV's Text Santa campaign.

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