York is set to sparkle this festive season, with more Christmas lights than ever before.
But there will be no big switch-on event in 2022, despite it being ‘one of the most popular events in the city calendar’.
Traditionally held on the first day of the Christmas season, when the St Nicholas Fair opens, it boasted live entertainment and a countdown to the lights being turned on.
Hosted on stage by York radio presenters, and featuring performances from panto stars and Santa himself, the event culminated with the crowd counting down to the switch being flicked and the illuminations coming on to a big cheer.
Because of Covid concerns, the Christmas lights event on hasn’t been staged since November 2019.
That year it was moved from St Helen’s Square to Duncombe Place – because it was so popular.
“This is one of the most popular events in the city calendar, and with more and more people turning out each year to mark the start of the festive season, we’ve moved the event to the larger venue of Duncombe Place, where we can more comfortably accommodate the larger numbers,” said Make It York’s then managing director, Sean Bullick, in 2019.
This year there are no Covid crowd restrictions – but no return to the Christmas lights switch on either.
A spokesperson for Make It York, which organises Christmas events, told YorkMix: “The celebrations for the 30th anniversary of St Nicholas Fair on 17 November are in place of a ‘traditional’ Christmas light switch-on.
“From 12pm to 9pm, there will be free entertainment across the city centre – from bands, choirs, performers, workshops etc.
“The idea is that the Christmas festivities will be spread across the city centre, with even more family-friendly entertainment to get everyone into the festive spirit and see the city lit up for the first time.”
If you’re in the city centre on the evening of the 17 November, you’ll “be the first to see the spectacular light display for the 2022 festive season,” Make It York says.
And they are set to be the best winter lights the city has seen, it included more illuminations, new technology and new areas added to the scheme.
A partnership between York BID and Make It York, this year’s winter light display will increase the use of more sustainable LED and solar lights.
New areas to be lit up including George Hudson Street and Nessgate.
The curtain of lights on York’s historic bar walls will remain, along with the magical ‘Tree of Light’ at the Eye of York with its 1km of twinkly LED lights which change colour to mark important dates and festivals.
Andrew Lowson, executive director at York BID, said: “We’re excited about the new design and can’t wait to see the new winter lights scheme in place.
“Residents and visitors will notice a real difference in key areas like Parliament Street, and we’re pleased that we’ve been able to extend the scheme to light up new areas like Castlegate, George Hudson Street and Nessgate.”