A search for Santa, Britain’s ‘brightest tree’ and a £1K festive prize – York Christmas fun unveiled

Santa will appear along with some magical friends on the streets of York – via a phone app
1 Dec 2020 @ 4.19 pm
| Entertainment

Even in a very different Christmas like this one, there’s lots of festive fun to enjoy in York.

As the city prepares to move from lockdown to Tier 2, the York BID (Business Improvement District) has unveiled its ‘Make a World of Difference – Support Local This Christmas’ campaign.

This aims to encourage everyone to spend in city businesses in the crucial December trading window.

And it is backed by a programme of events which include…

Search for Santa

Santa and his friends have taken up residence in York city centre this December. But can you track them all down?

All you need to do is download the York Quest app onto your phone from the Apple or Google Play app stores. Then, from Thursday (3 December) you can look for the seven Christmas characters hidden around the streets.

Take a fun photo with any you find!

Advent calendar prizes

Anyone shopping in a local business could win one of many £25 York Gift Card prizes – if they are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

And it culminates in a grand lottery draw on Christmas Eve where someone who has shopped in a local business during December can win a whopping £1,000 York Gift Card.

Follow the BID on social media to find out more.

Tree light spectacular

Having upped York’s winter lights game in recent years, the York BID has another bright trick up its sleeve for 2020.

It is wrapping the tree at the Eye of York in 1km of lights – 100,000 LED bulbs in all.

And these are no ordinary lights. They can be programmed to make patterns, pictures and even be controlled by your phone.

It’s the first installation of its kind in the UK – more details to follow.

Watch this space

And that’s not all. “There’s also something very special coming to the empty window space of Debenhams and Virgin Money stores which families won’t want to miss!” says the BID.

‘They need us’

The campaign logo with artwork by Ben Staves

The ‘Make a World of Difference – Support Local This Christmas’ campaign uses a striking ‘York Globe’ artwork from Ben Staves of StavesArt, which trades on Shambles Market.

York BID executive director Andrew Lowson said: “We are urging people to shop and spend local this Christmas. 

“Our local businesses need us more than ever before, because we are not going to get visitors from further afield with many of our neighbouring counties in Tier 3.”

New data the BID and City York Council has procured from Visa and O2 shows the likely loss in spend.  In the three months leading to Christmas in 2019, 41% (£59m) of all spend in the city came from visitors travelling 50 kilometres or further away. 

A snowman on Shambles? Another image from the York Quest app

The BID is realistic that much of that spend will not be recovered, as visitors spend in different ways to locals.

However, Andrew believes there are reasons to be optimistic. “The data we have from O2 dispels the myth that the city is not for local people, because even in the recent October half term when we welcomed visitors from around the country, 68% of those using the city centre were from the York local authority area. 

“York’s businesses have spent time and money making their premises Covid secure and welcoming environments. 

“The BID and partners will highlight the great offering the city has, because if we can encourage local people, who we know use the city centre, to visit, and most importantly spend, it really could make a world of difference this Christmas.”