York at Christmas 2017: Your complete guide to the festive season

29 Aug 2017 @ 8.41 pm
| Entertainment

Museum Gardens will be lit up for Christmas as part of the city’s plans for the festive season 2017.

A ‘Yuletide Village’ at Shambles Market, the return of the Ice Trail weekend, choirs, shopping and food and drink will all form part of the city’s Christmas bonanza.

There are five festive weekends, the return of Thor’s Tipi and the ‘living advent calendar’, and of course the shopping jamboree which is St Nicholas Christmas Fair.

Sally Greenaway, head of Visit York, said:

York is especially magical at Christmas time when thousands of loyal visitors will make a special trip here.

Hundreds of York businesses are working with us to help make the city a special place to visit over the festive season and we hope everyone will enjoy what we believe is the best Christmas Festival in the country.

New for Christmas 2017

Magical Museum Gardens

The Hospitium in Museum Gardens looks festive in the snow. Photograph: York Museums Trust

November 16-January 1
Christmas In the York Museum Gardens is brand new for 2017.

Created by the team behind Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland and Thor’s tipi bar, you are invited into Museum Gardens after dark at Christmas for a magical walk in illuminated surroundings.

It will be filled with “the sights and sounds of Christmas”, including tree canopies drenched in seasonal colour.

The edible garden boasts the 12 Frames of Christmas, while a forest of trees will be glittering with LED lights.

There’s also a spectacular video projection onto St Mary’s Abbey ruins. This will be commissioned from a Yorkshire artist. The gardens will “even make magical music for you as you reach the 14th century Hospitium’.

Look out for Father Christmas in his secret bothy and take in some family fun with the ever-changing coloured mirror balls.

And what is described as “the breathtaking finale of fire in the Library Lawn” brings your journey to an end. Christmas treats are planned too, including mulled wine, hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows.

Entry is by timed ticket only. Prices: adults £14.95, children (4-16) £8.95, family ticket £40. More details here.

Yorkshire Yuletide Village

Shambles Market at Christmas. Photograph: YorkMix

November 16-December 22
For the first time makers’ collective Made in Yorkshire will host a Yorkshire Yuletide Village within the Shambles Market area – bringing talented artists to the heart of the city.

Exhibitors will offer everything from ceramics to fine art Yorkshire prints. Visit to see the displays and demonstrations by design makers from around Yorkshire, and choose a unique gift.

Santa’s everywhere

Santa talks turkey to three young fans in his Shambles grotto. Photograph: York’s Chocolate Story

Father Christmas is going to be everywhere this Christmas. Look out for him at these locations…

  • Storytime with Father Christmas, Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens
  • Helping Santa save Christmas, York’s Chocolate Story
  • Father Christmas’s secret bothy, Museum Gardens
  • Santa Specials, North Yorkshire Moors Railway
  • An Audience with Father Christmas, Castle Howard
  • Santa’s Grotto, The Ice Factor, York Designer Outlet

Returning Christmas favourites

St Nicholas Fair

Brisk trade at St Nicholas Fair

November 16-December 22
Running for 37 days, St Nicholas Fair features gifts and crafts from across Yorkshire and beyond as well as the very best in local food and drink produce.

Bustling stalls, carol singers and buskers will fill Parliament Street. And mulled wine, brandy-laced hot chocolate and chestnuts roasting on the street corner will all add to the festive feel.

Thor’s Tipi

November 15–January 1
Thor’s Tipi is back to offer that unique a festive experience, where friends and family can sit on cosy furs around a roaring fire, all in a beautiful giant tipi.

Inside the big tent you can partake in a winter barbecue, homemade sweet treats, festive hot chocolate, draft ales and Christmas cocktails.

Living Advent Calendar

York’s Chocolate Story took part last year

December 1-25
Returning for its second year, the calendar sees shops and businesses counting down to Christmas with a new festive shop window reveal every day in December.

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

November 18-January 7
The popular festive event returns to the York Designer Outlet. Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is home to the north of England’s largest outdoor ice rink – The Ice Factor – with its magical setting, giant Christmas tree and rinkside Alpine-themed café.

Five festive weekends

Five themed weekends are planned to keep the Christmas fun coming.

Ice Trail Weekend

Working on an icy unicorn at last year’s Ice Trail

December 9-10
Bringing ice back to the city centre, as part of York’s Christmas Festival, businesses from across York will sponsor 40 hand carved ice sculptures, designed by Glacial Art. Look out too for live ice carving.

See our full guide here.

Brass band weekend

November 18-19
Bringing a very Yorkshire Yuletide sound, brass bands from across York will entertain Christmas shoppers during this weekend.

Choir weekend

November 25-26
More music, this time provided by choirs young and old from across the city and beyond.

Family weekend

December 2-3
Extra fun is planned for the youngsters over this weekend.

Shambles Market Christmas Party

December 16-17
The market is the place to be this weekend as festive activities, food, drink and shopping combine.

Christmas at York’s attractions

Christmas at the Castle

The Victorian Christmas experience… Photograph: York Castle Museum

November 25-December 24
York Castle Museum’s famous Victorian street Kirkgate will be adorned with garlands, traditional gifts will fill the shop windows and local residents will be waiting to greet you.

An Edwardian Christmas at Treasurer’s House

November 16-December 17
Treasurer’s House will be beautifully decorated for a traditional Christmas. Get into the festive spirit with home cooked food and Christmas pudding scones. There is also a new opportunity to head up to the rooftops and festive attic spaces in the search for Father Christmas flying overhead.

Winter Indulgence at Goddards House and Garden

November 17-December 17 (Fri-Sun only)
Toast your toes by the fire, see the decorations on the Christmas tree, find out about Terry’s chocolate business at Christmas time and enjoy an indulgent lunch and a sherry in the drawing room afterwards.

York Early Music Christmas Festival

December 8-16
A firm favourite of the December festive calendar, the festival showcases beautiful music from different parts of the world. From performances from internationally acclaimed ensembles, to choral workshops and candlelit events.

York Community Carol Concert

December 17
This has been a wonderful annual treat – for 60 years! This year York’s community carols at the York Barbican celebrates its diamond jubilee. Featuring the York Railway Institute Band, York Civic Youth Choir, York Musical Theatre Company and many more the concert will raise funds for York Mind.

A magical York Minster moment. Photograph: York Minster

York Minster Christmas Carol Concerts

December 15 & 16
The evening concerts feature traditional Christmas music sung by the full York Minster Choir, with the Yorkshire Volunteers Band leading the audience in Christmas carols and celebrity readers performing seasonal poetry and readings.

Medieval Christmas Experience at Barley Hall

November 16-January 5
Discover the hidden history of Christmas in medieval York in the beautifully decorated rooms of Barley Hall. Join the lady of the house, Joan Snawsell, in her celebration of the festive season and enjoy this unique and colourful Christmas experience.

The Keeping Of Christmas at Fairfax House

November 14-December 31
See the Georgians’ love of the natural world as they decorated their homes for Christmas, as well as their festive food, extravagant dining table displays, elegant decorations, and remarkable Twelfth Night Cake.

A Chocolate Covered Christmas at York’s Chocolate Story

December 1-31
Meet Santa and take part in a number of themed walks, in which they will complete a mission to help Mr Claus save Christmas. On the way, visitors will learn festive facts about iconic brands and how chocolate was involved in Christmas past as well as make their own Christmas-themed lollies.

Angels on High at Castle Howard

November 18-December 23
This Christmas a host of angels will descend on Castle Howard. Inspired by the family art collections, the angels will populate the grand state rooms: flamboyant floral creations and inspired decorations creating a festive ambiance.

Christmas shows

Stars of the Grand Opera House panto, Beauty And The Beast. Photograph: David Harrison

Jack And The Beanstalk – York Theatre Royal

December 14-February 3
Dame Berwick and the gang bring back the ever popular Jack And The Beanstalk, featuring a line-up of much loved panto characters – the big bad giant, Daisy the cow and of course, Jack himself.

Beauty And The Beast – Grand Opera House

December 15-January 7
This classic story features a handsome prince, a beautiful girl, a fearful beast and a very wicked witch. Plus heroic deeds, abundant adventure, true love, crazy comedy, glittering costumes, mayhem and special effects.

Robin Hood and the Babes In The Wood – York Barbican

December 21-31
Shane Lynch from chart-busting band Boyzone teams up with stars from EastEnders, Coronation Street and pop for this family pantomime.

Aladdin – Joseph Rowntree Theatre

December 9-17
The Rowntree Players panto features a cave of wonders, a rather strong willed princess and the hero Aladdin, along with the assistance of a magic lamp, a flying carpet, an all powerful genie and, of course, the comedy contributions of Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee there is no way the evil Abanazar can win. Is there…?