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Christmas in York - 10 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 countdown to Christmas is on. Immerse yourself in the city’s medieval charm which provides an enchanting backdrop with glittering lights decorating every tree and the zingy orange and spicy scents of mulled wine filling the 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.

Laura Shepherd
December 12, 2021

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St Nicholas Christmas Fair

Parliament Street and St Samson’s Square
Sunday – Thursday 10am – 6pm and Friday & Saturday 10am – 8pm

Experience a Christmas in York like no other, the magical market alpine chalets will once again line the streets as the hugely popular St Nicholas Fair Christmas market returns for another year. Running from Parliament Street right down to St Sampson’s Square. St Nicholas Fair 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 unique products and stocking fillers that anyone would be happy to receive. Stroll down Parliament Street and in the middle of the market you will find Thor’s Tipi, which is a great place to relax and meet friends whilst listening to the crackling of a real log fire. If you’re looking for a delicious festive drink, then look no further than Thor’s Tipi! You can also find Thors Tipi at The Principal Hotel which is only a stone’s throw from the train station.

Shambles Market

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, crafts and fashion. Don’t miss the Shambles Food Court either 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.

Once you have picked up some Christmas food in the market, why not head to York Museum Gardens and let your children post their letters to Santa.

Festive Sightseeing Cruises

Join York City Cruises for one of the most magical events on the River Ouse. Hop aboard and join Santa and Santa’s good friends Mary Christmas or Ernie the Elf on the Captain James Cook boat, where each well-behaved child will receive their own personalised present and everyone on board can enjoy refreshments, fun and surprises.

Cruises are running from Saturday 27th November until Thursday 23rd December. For times and more information, visit the City Cruises website.


St Leonard’s Place, York, YO1 7HD

York Theatre Royal presents the most magical pantomime of all, Cinderella. A fabulous fun filled treat for the whole family, expect magic transformations, sparkling sets, stunning costumes, catchy songs and lots of laugh out loud comedy. Starring CBeebies Andy Day who will be playing Dandini, with Faye Campbell as Cinderella.

Get your tickets before the clock strikes midnight! Performances run from 3rd December – 2nd January 2022.

Experience Christmas in Narnia at Castle Howard

Castle Howard, York, YO60 7DA

Castle Howard is the place to be this Christmas. And for some people, Christmas would not be Christmas without a trip here. Step through the wardrobe into an enchanting adventure this festive season. An icy spell has been cast on this mystical land where it is always winter, but will Christmas spirits be restored and will warmth and joy return?

The interiors at Castle Howard will be lavishly decorated and a series of breath-taking installations, lighting, projections and soundscapes evoking everything we love about this time of year. Father Christmas will also be making an appearance to make your visit that bit more special. The magical world of Christmas in Narnia is waiting for you at Castle Howard this year.

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 treats for Christmas dinner. Visit after dark for magical adventures and see the castle transformed in twinkling lights.

Castle Howard is open from 10am daily. Tickets are now available for Christmas in Narnia and pre-booking is recommended.

Christmas at York Minster

Deansgate, York, YO1 7HH

York Minster has announced a programme of spectacular family friendly events for everyone to enjoy. From a winter village, a Christmas tree festival which will feature trees decorated by local businesses, schools and charities, a wreath making workshop and Carols by Candlelight taking place in the stunning Nave of York Minster. 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.

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 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.

Visit a Christmas market and shop locally, support small businesses and pick up some unique gifts for your loved ones. Come and soak up the festive atmosphere in the historic city of York and get anything from lovely stocking fillers to extra special gifts.

Winter Jungle at Spark:York

17-21 Piccadilly, YO1 9PB

Delve deep into the Winter Jungle at Spark: York and enjoy a tropical take on Winter. Expect a buzzing creative community space in the heart of York which is home to the freshest selection of traders featuring bars, street food stalls, independent retailers and artists.

Immerse yourself in a winter experience like no other, the Winter Jungle is open from October 2021 to March 2022. Enjoy a classic cocktail, craft beers and delicious food in a vibrant, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet

St Nicholas Avenue, York, YO19 4TA

Celebrate Christmas in York and enjoy the ultimate day out as Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland returns to York Designer Outlet. The North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink and 30ft Christmas tree will take centre stage, there will also be lovely log cabins and a cosy café offering a selection of mince pies, hot dogs and various sweet treats.

Alongside all of this you can also meet Santa and his Elves as you follow the path to his charming log cabin and select a special gift. There’s enough to entertain the whole family and there is also a great selection of designer shops.

Tickets are on sale now and booking in advance is recommended so get your skates on!

Join Santa for some chocolate making at York's Chocolate Story

Kings Square, York, YO1 7LD

Have yourself a chocolate filled Christmas in York this year. Join Santa for some chocolate making on a special themed tour and create your very own festive lolly. There will be festive demonstrations and opportunity to get your photo taken with Santa. York’s Chocolate Story is open daily for tours with an extra sprinkling of festive fun.

Laura Shepherd
December 12, 2021
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