‘Living’ Advent Calendars: The Lockdown Christmas trend lighting up the streets of Leeds

This year, communities across Leeds have been bringing advent calendars to life in an attempt to spread some Christmas cheer in a socially distanced way.

While Leeds remains in a Tier 3 lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic, pubs, restaurants, churches and other places where people may usually celebrate Christmas remain closed.

Multiple communities in Leeds have responded by creating ‘Living’ advent calendars.

The activity – which is Covid-secure – sees a different house in the community light up a window each night with a festive design.

The trend is not exclusive to Covid times – it began in Sweden in 2005 and places such as Saltaire, Henley-on-Thames and Bournemouth have adopted the trend prior to the pandemic.

There has however been a massive uptake this year with new calendars appearing across Leeds in Kirkstall, Far Headingley, Chapel Allerton, Gledhow, Alma Road and more.

Where previous years have allowed groups to gather together and enjoy the windows – sometimes with Live Music and mulled wine – this year the popularity of it has soared due to how suitable it is for social distancing.

Yorkshire Voice

Mandy Long, organiser of the Kirkstall trail, said: “It’s the perfect activity for a lockdown.”

“You can organise it without having to get together.”

By the end of the month each calendar will create a trail for people who wish to visit each different window.

The displays will remain up until the beginning of January to provide an activity for people in the days between Christmas and New Year and so that the later windows have enough time to be showcased.

In Far Headingley the residents have been enjoying a ‘switch-on’ every evening at 5pm.

Posy McTurk of the Far Headingley Village society said: “I’ve met lots of people who I’ve never met before.”

“Lots of young people responded and they are already talking about doing it next year.”

Local resident and volunteer, Alison Hesley said: “I think anything we can do to connect the community at the moment is great.

“We have a long, dark, locked-down winter ahead and it is really nice to have little things to brighten the day.

“I am looking forward to involving my kids in making our window and it also gives me an excuse to drag them out for a walk to see the others.”

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