Changes are being made to the York Christmas Market this year, both to respond to concerns about overcrowding and make it the city’s best ever.
The aim is to spread the Christmas cheer throughout the city centre, as well as make it a more Yorkshire-themed festive season.
The plans were revealed at a launch event hosted by Make It York in the Manahatta bar on Little Stonegate last night (Tuesday).
This year, the York Christmas Market will run from Thursday 16 November to Friday 22 December 2023.
YorkMix reported yesterday that Thor’s Tipi is to return, but this year the pop-up bar will be in Museum Gardens for the first time. And there will be no bar on Parliament Street.
Make It York managing director Sarah Loftus told YorkMix: “We’ve listened to the feedback and people say it’s too crowded.
“So what we’ve done is taken the bar off Parliament Street, worked with Thor’s, they’re moving to Museum Gardens.
“And we’re going to spread the chalets out further to give more space for people to mill around and wander.”
This year there will be 74 chalets on the York Christmas Market, “about two or three more than we normally have. But most of them will be Yorkshire products – we’re really pushing the Yorkshire Christmas this year.”
There’ll also be a bigger variety of food to eat.
“We’ve got eight food offerings – previously, we’ve had five,” Sarah said. “And we’ve got three mulled wine, and we’ve always had three mulled wine.
“So we haven’t filled all the space because we’ve worked very closely with the council’s access officer to allow more space and spread the Christmas cheer throughout the city.”
Sarah added: “We’re going to try and dress the city much nicer. We’re going to have an information board, which will have a QR code so people can find out what all the businesses are doing, and what’s on offer.
“We’re going to work with some of the attractions and places to have some quiet spaces. So if people find it a bit overwhelming, they’ll go and seek out those quiet places so that they can just dwell a little while before they go back into the market.
“There are going to be two selfie stations, and there’ll probably be a few more.”
Like last year, there will be a soft launch, with no return to the big Christmas lights switch-on.
“What we want to do is spread some entertainment throughout the Christmas market,” Sarah said.
“We’re working with choirs and bands to be on that weekend so we get that real Christmassy feel. So we’re really working with our partners and everybody in the city to make it extra special.”
And a Christmas competition launched last year is coming back and will be more colourful than ever.
Last year, the York BID (Business Improvement District) created a nutcracker trail, with 10 large soldier nutcrackers dotted around the trail. If you found them all and worked out the theme that linked their names, you could have won a £500 York Gift Card.
This year the competition is coming back.
Carl Alsop, operations manager of the BID, said: “There’ll be ten nutcrackers again in new locations. Last year the nutcrackers were two colours.
“Excitingly, this year, we’ve worked with a local artists and each nutcracker will be entirely unique under the banner of Christmas in York.”
The artists and the BID have worked with charities, youth groups and primary schools to ask for their ideas of how the nutcrackers should look.
“We’ve taken loads of elements of those designs and I added them to about 50% of the Nutcrackers.”
They will be revealed and the competition launched on the first day of the Christmas market, 16 November.