I am a HUGE fan of York all year round but Christmas give the city that extra bit of sparkly magic!
York is a winter wonderland at Christmas, and you’ll be greeted with the warmest of welcomes from one of the UK’s most festive cities. Experience a Christmas like no other, where the narrow snickelways and cobbled streets are resplendent with decorative lights and colour. Warm your bones with a hot cocoa or mulled wine, and enjoy a sweet treat in the company of family and friends. In York, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. There is a range of festive events and experiences taking place in York this festive season – read on to find out more about the brand-new Christmas Tree Festival, Mead tastings, festive walking tours and more.
There are so many free events to go along to so you’re in charge of your budget. If you want to make a weekend of it there are loads of beautiful hotels and properties to make your visit last a little longer. Check out availability on ebooking.com By using a site like eBooking, you can ensure a great price within your budget and manage your reservation with ease online.
ST NICHOLAS FAIR
18th November-23rd December
The popular St Nicholas Fair will be returning to York city centre this year between 18th November and 23rd December – with an array of local businesses selling everything from handmade gifts to delicious seasonal treats and crafts. Sixty-eight festive alpine chalets will be spread across Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, offering a range of unique gifts, seasonal food and drinks and local produce.
THOR’S tipi will also be back for its sixth year on Parliament Street, from 17th Nov to the 2nd Jan 2022. Serving traditional ‘Winter Warmers,’ such as mulled wine & luxury hot chocolate, with delicious feasts by Yuzu Street Food – all in a twinkly, Christmas style tipi with real log fire.
The rustic Yorkshire Barn in St Sampson’s Square will warm up guests with festive food and drink, from hot chestnuts to mulled wine and King’s Square will host the much-loved Vintage Carousel throughout the festive season.
VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS MARKET
Following the success of last year’s virtual Christmas market, an online market will also run on visityork.org throughout the whole festive season. Helping to bring the magic of St Nicholas Fair into homes across the country, the virtual market will offer a safe and snug option for those looking to purchase their festive gifts online this year, whilst also supporting York’s traders, retailers and attractions.
Plans are also underway for the city to be decorated once again with stunning festive lights, giving a special festive back drop for residents and visitors to the city centre to enjoy. Delivered by York BID in partnership with Make It York, the winter light scheme this year includes the Tree of Light at the Eye of York, beautiful Christmas trees on St Helen’s Square, Parliament Street and Shambles Market and York’s historic bars illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights.
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS AT YORK MINSTER THE YORK MINSTER CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL
18 November 2021 to 6 January 2022 10am – 7pm
Experience the Minster’s first Christmas Tree Festival set in the cathedral’s grounds. The new festival will take place in a festive marquee by the South Piazza and feature around 40 trees decorated by local businesses, schools and charities. Visitors can vote for their favourite tree in the ‘best dressed tree’ competition and visit the activity marquee to write their own Christmas message on a tag to add to a tree. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. No prebooking required.
THE WINTER VILLAGE AT YORK MINSTER
18 November 2021 – 6 January 2022, 10am – 7pm
The Winter Village at York Minster brings the best of both location and local produce to this brand new event. Situated at the foot of the majestic South Door of York Minster, The Winter Village comprises several decorative wooden cabins offering food, drinks, gifts and the perfect place to sit and admire the view. The Winter Village, which is being run in partnership with CMJ Events, will be open daily from 10am to 7pm. Entry is free.
Sunday 28 November, 5.30pm
An atmospheric and breath-taking candlelit service of music, readings and prayers for Advent, in celebration and anticipation of the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. This service will also be livestreamed.
YORK MINSTER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERTS
Thursday 9 and Friday 10 December, 7pm
The Choir of York Minster, one of the UK’s leading choirs, performs traditional and much loved Christmas music, with seasonal readings from special guests and the chance for the audience to join in with carols. Tickets for the popular concerts will go on sale at 10am on Tuesday 12 October
Saturday 11 December with performances at 12.30pm, 3pm and 7.30pm
Make it a Christmas to remember with a special screening of family favourite The Snowman accompanied by a magnificent live orchestra in York Minster’s awe-inspiring Nave.
A KIRKGATE CHRISTMAS TALE AT YORK CASTLE MUSEUM
On select dates from November 2021 – January 2022 T
his year York Castle Museum’s famous Victorian Street, Kirkgate, will be transformed into a glistening snowcovered ‘stage’ where spectacular large-scale projections present a very special Christmas story full of festive cheer! As the theatrical curtain rises, colourful animations of Victorian puppets Annie and Tom will go on an adventure to bring the magic of Christmas back to Kirkgate. Merry music will fill the air and lights will adorn shimmering trees to immerse you in a truly unique experience at this most wonderful time of year. Tickets included within general admission – Adult £13, Child £6.50, Concessions available
MAGICAL CHRISTMAS AT BARLEY HALL
Barley Hall is a picturesque medieval townhouse tucked away down one of the oldest streets in York. This winter, visitors are invited to explore the beautiful Great Hall and rooms decked out and ready for a medieval Christmas, with flickering candles, garlands of ivy and mistletoe and even a dove or two! Visitors to Barley Hall can make themselves at home, sit on the chairs and experience what it would have been like to live in medieval England. There are also have three wonderfully festive events coming up this Yuletide.
DISCOVER THE HISTORY OF GINGERBREAD WITH FOOD HISTORIAN SAM BILTON
Did you know that gingerbread was once used as a tool to help children learn their alphabet? Or that William Wordsworth had a particular penchant for gingerbread? Join food historian Sam Bilton with a glass or two of spiced ale and a selection of historic gingerbreads as she mulls over the secret history of this sweet treat.
FESTIVE MEAD TASTING WITH THE AWARD-WINNING LANCASHIRE MEAD COMPANY
Learn about the cultural and historical significance of mead, a honey-based drink beloved in the Middle Ages and now the 21st century. The Lancashire Mead Company will lead a tasting of several delicious award-winning meads, along with nibbles to complement them, served in the Great Hall of the beautiful medieval townhouse.
FESTIVE WORKSHOPS AT YORK COCOA HOUSE
Throughout November and December £35 per participant Join the team of chocolate experts in the academy and create your very own chocolate cottage. The special festive chocolate workshops will include discovering where cocoa comes from and its origins, learning how York Cocoa House manufacture their chocolate on site, trying a selection of white, milk and dark chocolate and more. The main part of the workshop, however, is to work with your chosen chocolate to mould and design a chocolate cottage, which you will decorate and take home in a Christmas gift box.
CHRISTMAS AT TREASURER’S HOUSE
20 November – 19 December 2021 Drop in Saturday to Wednesday between 12 noon and 4pm – no booking required. With twinkling lights and glittering decorations, soak up the festive atmosphere of a traditional Christmas. Created as one man’s vision to house his collection of furniture and art, explore this intriguing townhouse at your own pace during this memorable time of year.
YORK’S SCHOOL OF MAGIC CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE AND FESTIVE FUN THEMED CAFÉ
Running on selected dates from 27 November to 24 December 2021 The most wonderful time of the year is set to become even more magical with York School of Magic’s Christmas Adventure and Themed Café. This festive season, join the live, interactive quest and magical characters to find the magic school and dine with Father Christmas. Guided by a magical professor, families will be taken on a winter wonderland journey through the winding streets of York. Within a 2-hour interactive experience with a team of professional actors, you’ll learn spells, hunt for the school’s secret location through the historical city of York, and dine on delicious Christmas treats! Once you have solved the clues that lead you to the secret School of Magic, the excitement of the season continues… Arriving at the school’s secret location in the heart of the city, you will learn special magic spells and mystical skills to help save the world from the evil forces of winter. A festive trip to York School of Magic wouldn’t be complete without a visit from the main man of the season, Father Christmas. Everyone will get a chance to meet Santa and tell him of their secret magic wishes.
SPARKLY YORK GIN CHRISTMAS TASTING
Experts in York have worked out what the Christmas Spirit actually is: Gin! The Fairytale of Old York gin cocktail welcomes visitors to the Sparkly York Gin Christmas Tasting – a festive, fun, fascinating and sparkly treat in the beautiful 16th Century home of York Gin. The London Dry, Grenadine and lime juice cocktail is served in a small Martini glass that’s sugar-rimmed and gilded with edible 24-carat gold leaf, and garnished with a gilded maraschino cherry. A delightfully festive red cocktail, complemented by shimmering sugar crystals and sparking gold, it’s Christmas in a glass. The York Gin Experts then give you a taste of each of our six gins – with tips on how to taste gin like a professional, and details of the flavour profiles of each gin. Along the way, you’ll learn some myths and legends associated with gin making – and the session ends with a full York G&T. You’ll also get a 10% discount on anything you buy at the shop.
DAILY FESTIVE WALKING TOURS EXPLORING THE HISTORY, TALES AND TRADITIONS OF CHRISTMAS PAST
According to one 19th-century historian, exactly 1,500 years ago, in AD 521, King Arthur and his retinue celebrated Christmas in the city of York ‘not by holy conversion and devout exercises,’ as he wrote reprovingly, ‘but in the spirit of heathen revelry; with feasting and mirth; in wantonness and many excesses… This was the first ever Christmas festival held in Britain’ If this is true then York is THE original Christmas City. If not, then York has still witnessed two millennia of MidWinter festivities in the guises of Solstice, Saturnalia, Yule and of course Christmas! They have all left their mark on our celebrations today. Put on a Christmas jumper, gloves and a hat, and join Blue Badge Tourist Guide, Sarah Cowling, for a stroll through the twinkling, cheerily lit medieval city streets every day, just as the windows are lighting up like the dates on an Advent calendar.
THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS IN YORK TOUR
The original York Christmas Tour is returning for its third year in 2021. Along the route tour guide will take you on a unique journey through the history of Christmas in the city, helping you to understand how the traditions of Christmas evolved through history. Beautiful locations in the ancient city of York will be used as the backdrop, to tell the story of how an ancient mid-winter festival developed into the Christmas we enjoy today. Bringing to life stories of how the Romans, and Vikings introduced their customs into modern celebrations, you will find the source and meaning of our traditions that make up Christmas and New Year.
EXPERIENCE CINDERELLA AT YORK THEATRE ROYAL
3rd December 2021 – 2nd January 2022
York Theatre Royal presents the most magical pantomime of all, Cinderella! In this timeless rags to riches story, relocated to our very own city of York, expect magical transformations, sparkling sets, stunning costumes, catchy songs and heaps of hilarity. York Theatre Royal’s brand new pantomime will be a fabulous fun-filled treat for your whole family. Join us for a lavish, spectacular production where everyone can have a ball. Starring CBeebies Andy Day (Dandini), The Travelling Pantomime’s Faye Campbell (Cinderella) and Robin Simpson(Sister), Paul Hawkyard (Sister), Crackerjack’s Max Fulham (Buttons), Benjamin Lafayette(Prince Charming) and Sarah Leatherbarrow (Fairy Godmother).
YORK’S ANNUAL COMMUNITY CAROL CONCERT
Sunday 12th December
York’s Annual Community Carol Concert will make a welcome return to York Barbican on Sunday 12 December. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year’s concert, unfortunately, had to be cancelled. However, all the participants from 2020 have been re-invited and will be taking to the stage in what has become recognised as one of York’s must-go-to Christmas events. Taking part will be: Shepherd Group Concert Brass Band, Dringhouses Primary School Choir, Clifton Green Primary School Choir, Stamford Bridge Community Choir and Steve Cassidy. The community carols will be conducted by musical director Mike Pratt and the concert will be hosted by the Rev Andrew Foster and BBC Radio York’s Adam Tomlinson. Proceeds from the concert will be shared by the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York’s Christmas Cheer Fund along with St Leonard’s Hospice (The Press nominated charity).
YORK EARLY MUSIC CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL
3-11 December 2021
The National Centre for Early Music, based in York, is delighted to announce that its flagship festival will return this Christmas. A popular date on the city’s Christmas calendar this year’s festival includes the return of Joglaresa, whose exuberant music and wassailing sums up Yuletide in music and song; The Gesulado Six, returning to York after playing to packed houses in the York Early Music Festival 2021; and award-winning young artists Prisma, from Germany experiences share with our own.
DICK TURPIN RIDES AGAIN AT THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE YORK
11th December 2021 – 9th January 2022
The Grand Opera House are delighted to announce York legend Berwick Kaler will be dusting off his frocks and making his much-anticipated, triumphant return to panto to star in Dick Turpin Rides Again this Christmas! Dick Turpin Rides Again reunites Berwick with his band of pantomime favourites, Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, AJ Powell and David Leonard in a production packed full of madcap comedy, spectacular song and dance, and a Wagon Wheel or two.
ALISTAIR GRIFFIN’S BIG CHRISTMAS CONCERT
3rd December and 10th December 2021 The biggest Christmas concert in York is back with classic Christmas tunes, brass bands, carols and bags of festive cheer… Taking place next to York Minster in the beautiful medieval St Michael Le Belfrey Church on December 3rd & December 10th. A brass band will play you in, then Alistair Griffin’s Big Christmas Concert will take you on a musical journey from acoustic versions of traditional carols through to the Christmas classics of Wizard, Slade and The Pogues. Sing along and sip mulled wine whilst enjoying the fairytale of old York. A special Candlelit Christmas Concert will also take place on December 11th at the stunning venue of Holy Trinity Church.
YORK ST JOHN CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERT
6th December 2021
Come and celebrate with the staff and students of York St John University at their annual Christmas Carol Service in the glorious surroundings of York Minster. This year the theme is ‘ Hope and Healing’. There will be exciting performances from our drama, dance and music students, as well as the chance to listen to readings and sing traditional carols. All guests are invited back to York St John University after the carol service to carry on the festive celebrations with Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate, Mince pies and time to socialise. A British Sign Language interpreter will be in attendance for this event.
CHRISTMAS AT CASTLE HOWARD PRESENTS ‘CHRISTMAS IN NARNIA’
13 NOVEMBER 2021 – 3 JANUARY 2022
The Castle Howard Christmas team are going all out with a theme that will take festivities to a whole new level this year. Inspired by the much-adored novels by C. S. Lewis the historic house will be turned into the wintery, magical land of Narnia. Visitors will journey through the grand state rooms and experience installations based on scenes from the epic stories. And of course, the 26 foot Christmas tree will once again adorn the Great Hall, ladened with over 3000 baubles.
Castle Howard will welcome back theatrical designers Charlotte Lloyd Webber, Bretta Gereke and team who have worked their magic on Castle Howard at Christmas for the past four seasons. This year they join creative forces with The Projection Studio’s Ross Ashton and Karen Monid who will add a layer of projection mapped magic and sound installation to the room decorations that Charlotte Lloyd Webber’s team are well known for.
Visitors will also be thrilled to hear that Father Christmas will be back once again. One of the north’s most hotly sought-after tickets, ‘An Enchanted Audience with Father Christmas’ will take place inside the House with the same format that delighted audiences in 2020.
There will also be a Grotto in the Courtyard running on weekends in December and School Holiday days. Check the website for more information and tickets
SANTA EXPRESS AT NORTH YORKSHIRE MOORS RAILWAY
4 – 5, 11 – 12, 18 – 19 and the 20 – 24 December 2021
Visitors are invited to hop aboard the Santa Express, the ultimate festive outing at The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR). Santa and his team of elves will be returning to the heritage railway this Christmas for a magical journey for all the family. Hop on board from either Pickering or Grosmont Station and enjoy an enchanting one-hour train journey with a meet and greet with Santa Claus as well as a special Christmas present and NYMR backpack for each child.
MAGICAL SLEIGH RIDES AT PIGLETS ADVENTURE FARM
Daily from 20 November to 24 December 2021
All are invited to jump aboard the magical Sleigh Ride to Santa’s Woodland Village – it’s time to check in at Elf Airlines, visit the new Polar Post Office whilst waiting in the Departure Lounge for your flight aboard Santa’s Sleigh to the Woodland Village where you are greeted by Santa’s Elves. In the Woodland Village you can join in with the Elf Show, visit Mrs Clause’s Sweet Shoppe, and the North Pole Pizza Company for delicious sour dough Pizza. Kids get to make some reindeer food and leave a wish on the wishing tree, while adults can enjoy a free mince pie and mulled wine so they are not left out.
MOOR MAGIC AT THE NORTH YORK MOORS NATIONAL PARK
Join a festive event at Sutton Bank National Park Centre and The Moors National Park Centre. Special for this year will be a family-friendly Lantern Lit Christmas Adventure with Merry Mouse and friends and the brand-new Merry Mouse and the Lost Parcels Trail. Those at home can also enjoy a virtual Santa’s Grotto experience, or come and visit the park centre on a special Christmas shopping weekend or visit the Christmas crafts exhibition. Check the website for more information
YORKSHIRE’S WINTER WONDERLAND AT MCARTHURGLEN DESIGNER OUTLET YORK
19 November 2021 – 9 January 2022 Y
orkshire’s Winter Wonderland will be making a welcome return to McArthurGlen Designer Outlet York this winter, with the popular outdoor ice rink, vintage funfair and Santa’s Grotto. The Ice Factor – the North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink at 975 sq. m – will once again have a 30ft high sparkling Christmas tree as its centrepiece. Surrounded by illuminated trees, log cabins, the rink side cafe and a viewing platform, this magical setting makes for the perfect festive experience for all ages.
Overlooking the ice rink is The Chalet, a cosy alpine-themed, après-skate café and an ideal spot to warm up after a session on the ice or to watch the skaters glide past. There will also be some vintage funfair rides from the golden era of fairgrounds and visitors can follow the path through the snowy enchanted woodland to find Santa’s cosy log cabin and collect a special gift.
Disclosure: this post was written in collaboration with eBooking.com