Bright, multicoloured paper stars, Christmas in York
Festivals,  Things to do

York at Christmas – 2022

If you are visiting York at Christmas 2022 then this guide will help you plan a magical, memorable Christmas trip.

Christmas in York is back with a bang. From Christmas markets, sightseeing to pantomimes in York there is something for everyone this Christmas.

 

 

York at Christmas – shopping

 

York Christmas Market 2022

 

The City of York Christmas Market is part of the six weeks long St Nicholas Fair and is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Yorkshire.

Over 100 alpine style wooden chalets are erected in York’s compact city centre mostly along pedestrianised Parliament Street. Smaller pop-up markets are within a few minutes walk away.

The market is free to enter and there are buskers, brass bands and carol singers to entertain shoppers.

York Christmas market is a great location to pick up locally sourced, handmade gifts as well as locally produced food and drink.

 

Practical information

York Christmas market 2022 is open from Thursday 17th November to Friday 23rd December.

Stalls open around 10 am and close at 6 pm on weekdays or 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

There are no toilets in the market but there are fee paying public toilets in the adjacent Shambles market.

However, the free public toilets in nearby shops are a better option. There are toilets on the third floor of Marks and Spencers on Parliament Street or on the first floor of Browns department store on St. Sampson’s Square.

 

Getting to York Christmas Market 2022

Parliament street and the market is 1.4 kilometres or a 15-minute walk from York rail station.

Fee paying parking is available nearby at Castle Car Park (adjacent to Clifford’s Tower) or St. Georges Field car park.

Alternatively, park at Monks Cross Park and Ride and catch the Number 9 Park and Ride bus which stops near the bottom of Parliament Street on Stonebow.

Discover more about York Christmas markets here.

 

 

Visit a Christmas shop in York

 

The largest Christmas shop in York is Käthe Wohlfahrt on Stonegate, housed in the 15th century Mulberry Hall, one of the oldest buildings in York.

This beautiful two floor shop is the only Wohlfahrt outlet in Britain. It sells traditional Christmas decorations made in the family’s workshop in Germany.

Käthe Wohlfahrt – 19, Stonegate, YO1 8ZW. Open 10 am to 6 pm (10.30am to 5.30 pm on Sundays).

 

Alternatively, visit The Nutcracker on The Shambles.

This cute shop is a good place to pick up hobby or U.K themed decorations.

The Nutcracker – 32 Shambles, YO1 7LX . Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm.

York at Christmas 2022 – Things to do

 

 

York Christmas lights

 

This year, York’s Christmas lights are going to be bigger and better than ever. A predicted 160,000 lights will adorn our city.

There are huge decorated and illuminated Christmas trees in Coppergate, at York Christmas market and in St Helen’s Square.

Coney Street, Parliament Street and Stonegate (which are all pedestrianised) have festive light displays on their buildings and trees and illuminated garlands across the street.

Check out the festive window displays at the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop on Stonegate and Betty’s Tea Rooms.

Monk Bar (at the entrance to Micklegate) is draped in silvery lights. The entrance to St Michael in the Belfrey next to York Minster is covered in a curtain of gold lights.

At the heart of the Eye of York in front of York Castle Museum is the magical Tree of Light with an ever-changing display.

Don’t miss the chance to post a letter to Santa in the giant illuminated post-box in Museum Gardens.

In addition, Christmas visitors can enjoy the usual illuminated York attractions.  York Minster and Clifford’s Tower look amazing at night.

 

Christmas at York Minster

Attending a Christmas service at York Minster is a memorable experience.

The cathedral’s festive season starts with a candlelit advent service on November 27th during which an enormous advent wreath is hoisted above the altar.

On December 2nd there is another candlelit celebration for Sankta Lucia, the Swedish festival of light.

One of the most popular Christmas events in York is the ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ services. There two services to choose from on December 22nd or December 24th. Both services are 1 1/2 hours long.

This year, York Minster is hosting a Christmas Tree Festival from Saturday 3rd December to Thursday 5th January.

There will be 40 decorated trees displayed in the Chapter House and Lady Chapel areas of the cathedral.

Entrance is included in the York Minster admission fee.

 

Practical information

All of the above services are free to attend but the Nine Lessons and Carols must be pre-booked in advance.

In addition, there are fee-paying events at the Minster this Christmas.

There are pre-bookable carol concerts on the 8th and 9th December with tickets starting from £15. The services are led by the fantastic Choir of York Minster and include music played by the Yorkshire Volunteer Band.

Note the York Minster is not open for sightseeing during a service or immediately before or afterwards.

 

 

Special events at historic houses in York

 

York’s historic houses put on special displays and themed events each Christmas.

The Treasurers House behind York Minster is beautifully decorated for Christmas with trees and twinkling lights everywhere. In 2002, the theme is ‘The Gift of Giving.’

The house is open for Christmas from November 19th to December 18th from Saturday to Wednesdays.

There are Georgian era food and drink displays at Fairfax House on Coppergate including an elaborate table laid for Christmas dinner. The museum usually offers ‘make your own’ Christmas treats in the basement kitchen using Georgian era ingredients and equipment.

 

Museum events in York at Christmas 2022

 

Several York museums hold special events and festive exhibitions each year.

One of the most popular Christmas events in York takes place at York Castle Museum which hosts carol singing on its famous, full size, Victorian street Kirkgate.

 

Make your own Christmas chocolate

 

York has a long history of chocolate making. The city was once home to Rowntree’s and Terry’s and there is still a Nestle factory here today.

You can make your own Christmas chocolate at York Cocoa’s festive workshops. Try your hand at truffle making or making a chocolate cottage (yes please!). Families with very young children can make chocolate Christmas trees.

Pre booking is essential. There is no on street parking here, the nearest parking is Castle Car Park near Clifford’s Tower.

 

Take a Christmas themed walking tour

 

Join a 90-minute walking tour to learn about the history of Christmas in York and how Christmas has been celebrated at different times.

Tours run nightly from November 19th in whatever the weather so wrap up warm!

Book online here in advance. Tickets cost £12 for adults and just £5 for children.

 

In addition to festive themed things to do in York at Christmas, there are all the usual fantastic York attractions.

Check out my post on the best things to do in York.

 

 

Entertainment in York at Christmas

 

 

Watch a Christmas pantomime in York

 

A Christmas pantomime is a British tradition. It is fun, raucous and over the top but we love it!

Don’t expect a sedate retelling of Sleeping Beauty or Jack and The Beanstalk; instead, expect outrageous costumes, singing, dancing and joke fill plots.

Audience participation is encouraged at a York panto and the louder the better! Be prepared to boo, hiss, cheer and stand up and sing and dance.

This Christmas, the best pantomime in York is at the Grand Opera House York. ‘Old Granny Goose’ starring York favourite Berwick Kaler runs from Saturday 10th December until Sunday 8th January.

If you like old fashioned theatres with stalls, circles, boxes and elaborate decoration, you will love the Grand Opera House.

 

Practical information

Pantomimes run every night with additional matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A York panto lasts around 2 1/2 hours with an interval.

Tickets for ‘Old Granny Goose’ start from £13.

There is no parking on site, but Castle Car Park is a five-minute walk away. The Grand Opera House is approximately 20 minutes on foot from York rail station.

 

 

Watch a Christmas movie in York

 

York’s city centre cinemas show Christmas movies in the run up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve. Going to the cinema is a good option for weary visitors or if York weather is poor.

Everyman Cinema on Blossom Street has comfy sofas and armchairs, and you can even get food and drink delivered to your seat!

This Christmas Everyman York is showing ‘A Christmas Carol’ on December 1st and ‘The Nutcracker’ on December 8th.

In the heart of the city centre, The Picturehouse on Coney Street has multiple screens and a lovely cafe.

Their Christmas movies for 2022 include ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’,’ The Muppets Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Polar Express’. Check dates and time here.

 

Join a carol concert

 

A sing a long carol concert is a Christmas ‘must do.’

The York Community Carol Concert is a local favourite and takes place at York Barbican on December 11th.

This concert has been running for over 60 years and regularly sells out. It is a mix of solo musicians, big bands and local school choirs and is guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit.

If you are visiting overseas, this is one of the best things to do in York to feel like a local.

 

Attend a Christmas Concert with a difference

Alistair Griffin’s Big Christmas Concert returns to St. Michael le Belfrey church in 2022 (next to York Minster). After hearing rave reviews from previous concerts, this is on our to do list this year.

Opened by a brass band, the concert includes acoustic versions of traditional carols as well as modern favourites such as Slade and The Pogues ‘Fairy Tale of New York.’

Singing, dancing in the pews and Christmas jumpers are encouraged!

 

Practical information

The concerts take place on December 9th, 10th and 17th. Seating is first come first served.

There is no parking on site. Nearest parking will be Marygate Car Park or St Michael le Belfrey is a 15-minute walk from York rail station.

 

Christmas in York with kids 2022

 

 

Visit Santa in his grotto

 

Kids can meet Santa at several York city centre locations.

Santa has a cosy wooden chalet for drop in visits on Coppergate near Jorvik Viking Centre.

There is pre-bookable Santa meet and greets at York Castle Museum, the medieval Barley Hall and The Treasurers House behind York Minster. Admission fees apply to these attractions.

Alternatively, visit Santa on a festive cruise whilst touring the River Ouse on City Cruise’s Santa Experiences.

The experience includes a one-hour cruise, a meet and greet with Santa plus a personalised present and goody bag for kids. Children and adults receive a drink and biscuit or mince pie.

The Santa Experience is so popular that many York families return year after year so pre-booking is essential.

Read more about all the tours available in York here. 

 

Make chocolate with Santa

 

For 2022, York Chocolate Story are offering Christmas themed tours that include Santa meet and greets.

Families will learn how chocolate was involved in Christmases past as well as the history of chocolate in York. The tours end with the opportunity to make a chocolate lolly (yummy big lollies!).

York Chocolate Story are also running truffle rolling tours and Christmas masterclasses for families and adults.

 

Practical information

 

York Chocolate Story is on Kings Square near the top of The Shambles. There is no parking on site so the nearest parking is Castle Car Park.

‘Chocolate making with Santa’ experiences take place every Saturday and Sunday from 26th November until 23rd December. General chocolate tours will continue to run weekdays.

 

Go ice skating as a family

 

The York Winter Wonderland at MacArthur Glen shopping centre on the outskirts of York features an open-air ice rink. It also has pay as you go fun fair rides and food stalls.

The ice rink is made from real ice and is centred around an enormous Christmas tree. There is a warm, enclosed marquee with a cafe and viewing areas plus a separate marquee for skate hire.

The ice rink offers parent and toddler sessions during the day which are a great option for new skaters as the rink is less crowded. Very young skaters can use penguin shaped stabilizers.

 

Practical information

York Winter Wonderland is a short ten-minute drive from York City Centre (traffic dependent). There is lots of free parking available on site.

Alternatively, catch the Number 7 bus from several York City Centre stops including York rail station.

This is a regular service taking with a 15-minute journey time.

 

Children’s events at York Minster

 

You may not think that visiting the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe is a child friendly attraction, but York Minster works hard year-round to attract families. Christmas is no exception.

Families with very young children can attend the Crib Service on December 24th. Children dress up as nativity characters (including animals) and go onto the altar when their ‘part’ is mentioned in the Christmas stories.

Any and all costumes are welcomed at this service; we have seen Iron Man and Spiderman in the nativity tableau!

On Saturday December 10th, York Minster is screening The Snowman and the new Shaun the Sheep film on a big screen in the nave. Both films are accompanied by a live orchestra and are an event to remember.

 

Practical information

Tickets for The Snowman are £20 – £28 and must be pre booked online here.

Queues form early for the free to enter Christmas eve crib service so arrive early to get a seat.

There are no food facilities in York Minster but there are ample toilet facilities including a changing table.

 

Where to eat and drink at Christmas in York

 

 

Thor’s Tipi

 

Thor’s Tipi is a huge canvas tent amongst the stalls of the York Christmas market and is only erected for the festive period.

The tipi is open all day and late into the night and serves hot drinks such a hot chocolate and coffee or alcohol (including mulled wine). It attracts daytime weary shoppers looking for a rest and night time party goers.

The tipi has sheepskin lined benches centred around an open fire which creates a communal, convivial atmosphere.

Our kids love going to Thor’s Tipi and a mouth-watering hot chocolate is an annual pre-Christmas treat.

 

people sitting around a fire inside a canvas tipi with a Christmas tree outside, Christmas in York
Tempting Thor’s Tipi…

Indulge in a festive afternoon tea

 

Treat yourself to a festive afternoon tea in York this Christmas.

100-year-old Betty’s Tea Room is a York institution and there are queues all year round to enter the non-reservable tea room.

You can avoid the queues by booking a festive afternoon tea. Betty’s prices start from £39.95 per person and you won’t be disappointed!

Adjacent to Bettys’s is The Ivy. The festive selection of cakes in this gorgeous restaurant are to die for. The Ivy’s festive afternoon tea cost £26.95.

Malmaison, one of York’s newest hotels, costs £35 per person including a glass of Prosecco. Make sure you take a trip to the roof top Sora Bar for fantastic views of York.

The Grand Hotel (York’s only five-star hotel) offers family friendly festive teas. Prices start from £39.95 per adult and £24.95 per child.

If you prefer something more modern, check out Hotel Indigo’s on Walmgate. Their festive afternoon tea costs £19.95 per person.

 

 

Festive day trips from York

 

There are lots of fantastic day trip options if you are visiting York at Christmas for an extended period.

Choose between fun attractions, historic sites or visiting other Christmas markets in Yorkshire.

 

Castle Howard

 

Castle Howard is spectacular at Christmas because their already ornate rooms are professionally decorated on an annually changing theme. We visit each year as there is always something new to see.

The theme for 2022 is ‘A Fairytale Christmas.’ Castle Howard is a full day trip as you can visit the house, landscaped grounds and adventure playground in addition to a small Christmas market and pop-up Christmas Cafe.

Castle Howard is a 20-minute journey from York and is best reached by taxi or car.

 

 

Stockeld Park

Stockeld Park is fun adventure park aimed at families.

Entry is free but you pay as you go for the on-site attractions which include an ice rink, Snowflake maze, Santa’s grotto and Nordic Skiing. The night time illuminations in The Enchanted Forest are well worth a visit.

Stockeld Park is a 20-minute drive from York city centre and unfortunately it cannot be reached by public transport.

This is a very popular attraction in York at Christmas time so book online in advance.

In 2022, the park opens from November 19th until January 3rd and is open from 10 am to 9 pm.

 

North York Moors Railway

 

The Santa Specials on the North York Moors Railway usually sell out with many Yorkshire families returning year after year.

At Christmas, families can enjoy a special one-hour steam train trip across the Moors and meet Santa and his elves along the way. There are games and activities to do plus each child receives a gift from Santa. All tickets include a drink and a snack.

The trains start from Pickering or Grosmont so you will need a car to travel there from York.

2022 Santa Specials run from December 3rd until December 24th but trains do not run every day so check times here before visiting. Pre-booking is essential.

 

Leeds Christmas Market

 

Leeds Christmas market (also called Christkindelmarkt) has a German theme. It is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Yorkshire.

The market is on Millennium Square in the centre of Leeds and is open from November 5th until December 17th.

It sells authentic German food, drink, decorations, and ornaments plus there is a carousel and rides for kids and indoor bars for adults.

York to Leeds by car takes around 50 minutes but parking is difficult. I recommend taking the train as fast trains run regularly from York (approximately 40 minutes).

 

York at Christmas 2022 will be bigger, better and more magical than ever. Spend your Christmas in York and make it a Christmas to remember.

 

If you are visiting York as part of a Christmas in Yorkshire, check out this list 100 things to do with kids in Yorkshire.

 

 

 

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