Christmas in York - 12 magical things to do in York this festive season
Christmas in York is magical. From Christmas shows, traditional markets and festive decorations the city is transformed into a winter wonderland. Almost as soon as the temperature drops and the clocks go back, the Christmas holidays are just around the corner.
Immerse yourself in the city’s medieval charm with the streets twinkling under the Christmas lights, and the zingy orange and spicy scents of mulled wine filling the cobbled streets. Christmas is all about creating magical memories with those you love the most and there’s plenty of choice of family friendly events from pantomimes and carol concerts to charming markets, ice skating rinks and meeting Father Christmas himself. Whether you live here or are visiting York over the festive period there really is something for everyone in York this Christmas.
York Christmas Market
Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square
16 Nov – 22 Dec
Experience a magnificent Christmas in York as the magical alpine chalets will once again line the streets as the hugely popular Christmas market returns this year. Running from Parliament Street right down to St Sampson’s Square. York Christmas Market is at the heart of York’s festive activities with local businesses selling an array of handmade gifts and delicious treats.
A truly special shopping experience, each chalet is stocked with artisan products and stocking fillers that anyone would be happy to receive this Christmas. Step into a winter wonderland with twinkling fairy lights, festive delights and cheerful gifts. If you’re looking for a delicious festive drink, then look no further than Thor’s Tipi at the Principal and York Museum Gardens, which are two magnificent places to relax and meet friends whilst listening to the crackling of a real log fire and taking in the festive atmosphere.
A TownMouse Christmas at Fairfax House
Castlegate, York, YO1 9RN
For something really lovely to do with the family this Christmas, A TownMouse Christmas at Fairfax House is one of the most enchanting events this year. You’ll find mousey guests swinging from the ceiling, bursting out of drawers, and causing general havoc whilst they play amongst the festive Georgian decor. Be prepared to be charmed, amused, and thoroughly delighted by the antics of the very special town-mouse guests, who will capture the hearts of the whole family.
Festive Sightseeing Cruises
Hop aboard and join Santa for a magical adventure on the River Ouse this Christmas. Make some magical memories aboard a City Cruises boat as you explore Santa’s grotto and meet St Nick himself. Each well-behaved child will receive their own personalised present and everyone on board can enjoy refreshments, fun and surprises.
Jack and the Beanstalk at York Theatre Royal
St Leonard’s Place, York, YO1 7HD
York Theatre Royal presents the magical pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. With hilarious comedy and breath-taking special effects, together with all the spectacle and magic you would expect from a Christmas panto including lavish sets and stunning costumes, you are sure to enjoy a fun filled adventure with Jack and friends.
Image credit: York Theatre Royal
Christmas in Neverland at Castle Howard
Castle Howard, York, YO60 7DA
Castle Howard becomes a winter wonderland with beautiful decorations, installations and projections as they bring you a Christmas experience like no other each year. Fly into a magical adventure of a lifetime bursting with fairies, mermaids and pirates in Neverland. Vast ships will cruise into Castle Howard’s great galleries, Lost Boy-laughter will echo through the halls, and beautiful rooms will transform into tropical lagoons.
Father Christmas will also be making an appearance to make your visit that little bit more special. Share a photo with Santa in Santa’s Grotto or enjoy a magical, festive afternoon tea.
You could easily spend a full day at Castle Howard and soak up the festive atmosphere, enjoy some lunch in their lovely café and buy any last minute Christmas presents in their gift shop. With a fantastic selection of locally sourced produce, why not stock up on ingredients for Christmas dinner. From turkey to vegetarian pies and all the trimmings, you will have everything you need. Tickets are now available for Christmas in Neverland and pre-booking is recommended.
Image credit: Castle Howard
Christmas at York Minster
Deangate, York, YO1 7HH
York Minster has announced a programme of spectacular family friendly events for everyone to enjoy. From The Nutcracker to a Christmas Tree Festival which will feature trees decorated by local businesses, schools and charities. The popular Christmas carol concerts will return this year and Carols by Candlelight will take place in the stunning Nave of York Minster with festive music performed by the Handbell Ringers of the Chapter House Choir – a uniquely Christmassy combination in the perfect candlelit setting! Residents and visitors can look forward to a sparkling festive season and a traditional taste of Christmas. With lots of exciting events coming up for families, York Minster will remain very much at the heart of everyone’s celebrations.
Image credit: York Minster
Christmas shopping in York
A great reason to visit York this Christmas! If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone special then you will be sure to have lots of smiling faces on Christmas morning. Head to Coppergate shopping centre for all of your shopping needs with many big-name high-street shops, cafes, galleries and museums.
Come and soak up the festive atmosphere in the historic city of York and get anything from lovely stocking fillers to extra special gifts, you’ll find some cheerful shops and beautiful boutiques in York’s most popular shopping streets. Parliament and Coney Street are home to some high street favourites, and Fossgate, Goodramgate and Stonegate are blessed with independent stores and hidden retail gems. This wonderful city is filled with lots of fantastic independent businesses where you will be able to find some really great gifts. Indie York supports and celebrates lots of local businesses in their online directory and map.
Christmas at Treasurer's House
Minster Yard, York, YO1 7JL
Discover beautiful and unique decorations, twinkling lights and all the warmth of the season at Treasurer’s House as they share stories of Frank Green’s travels. Many of the decorations are hand made by the talented team of volunteers who decorate the house and you’re invited to wander at your own pace, making memories as you explore.
Image credit: Treasurer’s House
Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet
St Nicholas Avenue, York, YO19 4TA
York’s favourite festive event, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, offers a magical winter experience for all ages, with an outdoor ice rink, funfair, Santa’s Grotto and The Chalet alpine café. Alongside all of this you can also meet Santa and his Elves as you follow the path to his charming log cabin and receive a special gift. Tickets are on sale now and booking in advance is recommended so get your skates on!
Christmas at York's Chocolate Story
Kings Square, York, YO1 7LD
Join York’s Chocolate Story for a chocolate covered Christmas as they deck the halls with festive fayre and transform all three floors into a winter wonderland. There will be fascinating facts, interactive exhibits and hands-on chocolate making, you will even have the opportunity to have your photo taken with Santa himself. York’s Chocolate Story is open daily for tours with an extra sprinkling of festive fun.
Image credit: York’s Chocolate Story
Silver Street, York, YO1 8RY
Visit the historic Shambles market which is home to a wide range of local traders selling everything from quality gifts, handbags, crafts and much more. Don’t miss the Shambles Food Court where you can grab some lunch on the go from stalls serving a great selection of delicious international street food. There is something for everyone with an array of vegetarian and vegan options available too.
Santa Specials at North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Starting from either Pickering or Grosmont Station, get ready for a magical ride like no other and make festive memories with your family this Christmas. Join Santa and his elves onboard and enjoy a range of enchanting activities and entertainment with every child getting the opportunity to meet Santa himself. But that’s not all – every well-behaved child will receive a special soft toy present as a token of Santa’s appreciation for being on the nice list this year.