Emmerdale tours to courses galore and even wigwam weekends, we’ve got something for all

We’ve all got people in our lives who just seem to have everything. So, instead of buying them more stuff they don’t need (and will probably sneakily return come New Year), why not treat them to an experience instead? From unusual breaks to things to make, here’s our pick…

Workshop Headingley

This stylish sewing-café-cum-haberdashery is a real gem amongst the bars and restaurants of Leeds’ student suburbs. Its craft workshops and courses are ideal for creative souls who’d enjoy learning a new skill and seeing (or wearing) the fruits of their labour. We love the Hayley dungarees; a cool addition to any wardrobe, which can be designed with a choice of pattern and fabric in Workshop’s four-hour February class. What’s more, there’s photography to master, lino to cut, macrame holders to weave, terrazzo coasters to cast and baby mobiles to felt, all led by lovely local artists and makers. Workshop’s tiny kitchen is on hand with veggie and vegan brunches, Bird & Blend teas, coffee roasted by The Blending Room in Hull (which, as far as we know, you can’t find elsewhere in Leeds) and scrummy cakes from Porterhouse and That Old Chestnut, so it’s a real joy to get stuck in. Gift someone a class or, better still, try one yourself and hand over the results… that’s if you can bear parting with what you’ve made. 

Workshop, 24 Otley Rd, Leeds LS6 2AD - classes from £15 

Leeds Cookery School

Situated in a lovingly restored fire station, with bright red gates and kitchen floor tiles marking the engine parking bays, Leeds Cookery School is a wonderful spot to brush up on your culinary skills. With classes covering a whole range of techniques, from julienning vegetables (no asparagus peeler necessary!) to mastering the Teeside chicken parmo, there really is something for everyone. Novices are looked after by experienced chefs Scott and Simon, who’ll have you rocking and chopping in no time. Detailed recipes are provided, along with aprons and refreshments; all you need is some trusty Tupperware to take home your creations. Why not try their Saturday Night Takeaway series and learn to recreate your own Thai, Chinese and Malaysian favourites for a cosy night in? Perfect for a partner who needs a little nudge in the right direction. 

Leeds Cookery School, The Old Fire Station, Gipton Approach, Leeds LS9 6NL - classes from £20

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Leeds Cookery School will have you rocking and chopping in no time

The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa 

There really is no beating the Yorkshire Dales. With the Cow & Calf Rocks to scramble around, the steam railway to hop on, River Wharfe to picnic besides, and the market towns of Otley, Ilkey & Skipton to explore, a New Year’s day out could be just the ticket. Treat your loved ones to a traditional afternoon tea in the lounge of the stunning Devonshire Arms Hotel on the Bolton Abbey Estate, which boasts over 30,000 acres of verdant countryside, footpaths and woodland. With white tables cloths, silver teapots, roaring fires and not a crust in sight, while away a few hours enjoying delicacies from the 4 AA rosette award-winning kitchen. Gift Vouchers are available all year round (psst…if you act fast, you can nab a four-person tea for the price of three). And, if you’ve had a few too many glasses of Laurent Perrier Champagne, the hotel’s complimentary 'Home James' service will even drop you off within a 15-mile radius.

The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey, Skipton,North Yorkshire,BD23 6AJ - teas from £30

Sunken Studio

Ever wanted to re-create that moment from Ghost, or simply a fan of handcrafted ceramics? A Sunken Studio’s pottery experience is a super thoughtful alternative to wrapping up a novelty department store mug. Recipients can join a hand-building or throwing taster session, where all the basics are covered; they’ll learn how to prepare materials for the potter’s wheel and evaluate their progress trimming and turning, before coming back to collect their masterpiece from the kiln. The inspirational space is the city’s only dedicated co-working ceramics centre, located at Leeds Dock, and the tutors are international artists - potty about clay and sustainable practice. Their cute gift voucher packs can be designed with your personal message, and they even having matching tote bags if you want to go the extra mile.

Sunken Studio, Unit 1, Beaver House, Carlisle Rd, Leeds LS10 1LB - classes from £40 

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Go potty for pottery at Sunken Studio

Emmerdale Studio Experience  

We all have an aunt who knows the Dingles from the Bartons and loves a cheeky Saturday morning omnibus, so why not bag an Emmerdale experience this Christmas so they can get up close and personal with a fully guided studio tour? New for this year is the bonus of ITV Television Centre opening its shutters to welcome visitors to the actual working set, where storylines are filmed five or six days a week all year round. Get a snap on Yorkshire’s most famous sofa, pull a pint of Black Sheep at The Woolpack  and hear first-hand gossip behind the camera. Pre-booking is essential as tours (available weekends only) have limited capacity. Those buying gift vouchers can add a personalised message or even a few souvenirs all packaged in a covetable David’s shop jute bag.

Emmerdale Studio Experience, 27 Burley Rd, Leeds LS3 1JT - experiences from £32.50

Yorkshire Wine School

Think you know your Merlot from your Malbec? Well it’s time to let your present do the corking, with a gift voucher to one of Yorkshire Wine School’s popular events. Running in Leeds, Harrogate, Sheffield & York, these make an excellent choice for the wannabe sommelier in your life, who will thrive scoring each slurp (demonstrated expertly by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust accredited tutors) with fellow attendees. Specialising in everything from grape climates to what to look out for at the local supermarket, the informal classes also show you how to pair different wines with food (there’s plenty to go around) and even include gin and beer tastings for non-oenophiles.

Yorkshire Wine School, 1 The Light, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 8TL - classes from £25 

2019 12 13 Yorkshire Wine School Credit Jimmy Poole Jpg
Yorkshire Wine School makes for a corking gift Jimmy Poole

Circle 8 Massage

Bang in the middle of Leeds City Centre, a stone’s throw from the Corn Exchange, Circle 8 are experts in the anatomy and physiology of the human body; knowing precisely how to rehabilitate injury, optimise sports performance, posture and wellbeing. For a gym bunny, weekend athlete, or simply someone who spends more time than they should hunched over a desk, a massage voucher is a fantastic alternative to that expensive box of chocolates. With deep tissue and sport massage, cupping and hyper volt therapies all on offer, they’ll be in safe hands with the knowledgeable and friendly Circle8 team. 

Circle 8 Massage, Suite 6, 36 Call Lane, Normans Bar, LS1 6DT - vouchers from £30

Timberjacks axe throwing

Leeds’ newest Viking experience will have family rivals (or that colleague who just needs to let off some steam) wielding axes like Ragnar Lodbrok himself at Burley Hill Trading Estate. Targets are between 15 and 30 feet from the throwing platform and, with five chances to hit bullseye, the points are totted up to award your team champion. From single sessions to lifetime memberships or even a personalised Black forest axe complete with stone sharpener, there are gift ideas galore.  

Timberjacks, Burley Hill Trading Estate, Unit H, Flexspace, Leeds LS4 2PU - sessions from £15 

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Hit the present bullseye at Timberjacks

Clarion Lodge Wigwams 

Cosying up under the stars, waking to woodland birdsong… why not live life on the wild side and book a wigwam mini break for you and your loved ones this Christmas? Clarion Lodge, situated beside Otley Chevin country park - known for its stone carvings and spectacular views over the Wharfe valley - is a camping and glamping site with brilliant facilities, open all year round. Its Big Chief Wigwams, fully heated timber cabins complete with electric sockets and appliances, are as little as £48 per night for two adults. As they sleep up to five, you could even get the whole family involved. With nearby attractions including the market town of Otley, Harewood House and endless walking or cycling trails, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained. 

Clarion Lodge Wigwams, West Chevin Rd, Menston, Ilkley LS29 6BG - wigwams from £48pp

Harrogate Baths

For a full hammam experience, you needn’t book a flight to Istanbul - just send your nearest and dearest to Harrogate Baths for half a day of ultimate relaxation. Famed for curing lower back pain, arthritis and skin complaints, this royal spa town’s waters have been putting a spring in visitors’ steps for centuries. As is tradition, the baths comprise of three interlinking rooms, increasing in temperature, with a freezing plunge pool to dive in between. A real feat of Moorish architecture, with intricate mosaic flooring and great domed archways, this is the ultimate escapism (especially as electronic devices are banned). Simply doze on the red leather beds swathed in a fluffy white robe, or add treatments from volcanic scrubs to Himalayan salt massages, nails and facials. Gift vouchers can be redeemed against any visit or package and there’s also a choice of luxury Neom products on the website for an extra special touch.

Turkish Baths Harrogate, Parliament St, Harrogate HG1 2WH - sessions from  £19

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Harrogate Baths is the ultimate escapist treat