John Forrester’s video of the extremely busy St Nicholas Fayre in 2011
Breathe in… It’s going to be busy in York for the next few days as that traditional Christmas prelude, the St Nicholas Fayre, rolls into town.
Merry market men and women will be plying food, drink, gifts and crafts to shoppers shipped in by the coach full. St Nicholas Fayre runs from Thursday, November 29 to Sunday, December 2, with more than 200 stalls expected. Here’s a guide to what’s where.
And if you’re venturing into the city centre, best of luck my friend…
Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, Coppergate
This is the main thrust of the fayre, with wooden huts selling every sort of foodstuff or crafty gift. Expect stallholders dressed like Victorians. Judging by past years, you will be able to buy everything from toy aeroplanes to polished wooden ducks, home-made Battenburg cake to award-winning pies. All the deliciouslyorkshire local food and drink stalls are at the St Sampson’s Square end of Parliament Street.
- Admission: Free. And look for the free samples too
- Time: 9am to 6.30pm
- Elbow rating: Maximum – expect six digs to the ribs every 10 yards
The Guildhall and St William’s College
Here you’ll find the Made In Yorkshire market. There will be handbags from Huddersfield, art from Ilkley and skirts from Sheffield. Lots of unique jewellery, paintings, photographs and smellies. Among the stallholders from York are Rayford Holroyd, an artist who takes a distinctly wonky view of the world – see his picture of Shambles, right.
- Admission: Free
- Time: 10am to 5pm
- Elbow rating: Strong – expect a fair amount of jostling
The Mansion House has been decked out with late Victorian decorations for the first time since – well, since late Victorian times. The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Keith Hyman, even helped to make some of the decorations, under the expert guidance of historian Louise Hampson. Visitors can also have a go, fortified by the mulled wine and a mince pie that comes with each ticket.
- Time: 10am to 4pm
- Tickets: Adults £5, concessions £4, residents with a YorkCard £2.50
- Elbow rating: Risky. One false move and you could squash the paper decorations
If you think a Victorian Christmas is far too cutting edge, head to Barley Hall which is all about Middle Ages merriment. Medieval traders gather to sell their wares in the 14th century hall, which is tucked away off Stonegate in Coffee Yard. And as well as the gifts, there’s traditional wine and ale at the bar.
- Time: 10am to 5pm
- Tickets: Adults £2, concessions £1, family of four £5
- Elbow rating: You’ve a middling chance of being splashed by mead
This one’s for people with money and time to spare, but it would be a lovely way to start your Chrimbo shopping. Begin Thursday, November 27, with a festive-themed four-course breakfast with the papers in the historic surrounds of Treasurer’s House tea-room.
- Time: Thursday, November 29, 11am to 1pm
- Tickets: £19.50. Booking essential – call 01904 624247 or email Treasurer’s House
- Elbow rating: Zero – you’ll have plenty of space to relax