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Things to Do

Best Things to Do in York at Christmas

8 December 2021


The stunning, historic town of York really comes to life at Christmas. If you’re lucky enough to spend the festive season in York, you’ll be treated to a wealth of special events and entertainment, with cosy markets and spectacular Christmas lights galore. 

Our team has put together a few of their top recommendations for Christmas in York. If you want to capture that festive magic this year, these are the events you won’t want to miss out on. 

Wander Along the Shambles 

The Shambles is the oldest street in York. It’s a picture-perfect setting, lined with timber buildings, many of which date back to the 13th century. 

Filled to the brim with amazing independent retailers, the Shambles is a Christmas shoppers’ dream come true. Stock up on potions at The Potions Cauldron, visit the Shambles Kitchen for delicious, indulgent snacks or head to Monk Bar Chocolatiers for your Christmas treats. 

Indulge in a Gin Tasting 

York Gin is renowned throughout York and beyond. The company specialises in artisan gins, made using traditional methods and sold from their shop on Pavement. 

This year, the team are hosting a series of festive gin tasting events, where you’ll be able to learn about the history of the company and try out six of its bestselling gins. 

Guests will be treated to a welcome cocktail and a full-size gin and tonic, made using whichever York Gin you decide is your favourite. What could be better? 

Watch the Snowman at York Minster

The Snowman never fails to get us feeling Christmassy! And this year, York is taking the iconic Christmas film one step further, by showing it on the big screen at York Minster. 

Not only is the film projected onto the big screen within one of the most magical settings in the city, but there’s also a live orchestra accompanying it. The end result is a truly mesmerising Christmas event that’ll have you feeling oh-so festive. 

Tickets for this event will sell out quickly, so don’t delay if you’d like to be in the audience. Book here

Visit the York Christmas Festival 

This year, York’s famous Christmas Market is set to be more special than ever before. The market will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of St Nicholas Fair, which has taken over the streets of York since 1992. 

Alpine chalets will line Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, creating a fully immersive and wonderful traditional festive wonderland. Visitors will be treated to everything from tasty festive treats to stunning products made by local artists. 

York Christmas Festival will be open from 10am to 7pm daily, between 17th November and 23rd December 2022. Find out more here

Book Tickets for the Big Christmas Concert with Alistair Griffin

The medieval Michael Le Belfrey Church is set to play host to an incredible Christmas concert this December. 

Book tickets for the 9th, 10th or 17th December and prepare to be amazed by a musical journey through Christmas. There’ll be acoustic carols and all the Christmas classics. We’re promised hits by Wizard, Slade and The Pogues, to name but a few. 

Head to RHS Glow 

Within easy reach of the centre of York, RHS Garden Harlow Carr promises a spectacular display this festive season. The garden will be lit up with beautiful, festive lighting for a series of events in the run-up to Christmas. 

Visitors will be able to walk through the enchanting light display, and take in the beautiful scenery from the Queen Mother’s Lake, Winter Walk, Doric Columns and Kitchen Garden. Don’t miss the ‘pixel lawn’, created with hundreds of synchronised, dancing lights.

Glow runs on selected dates from Thursday 17th November until Friday 30th December. For full dates or to book your tickets visit the RHS Harlow Carr website.

Indulge in Afternoon Tea at Betty’s

Betty’s is York’s is a world-famous café and tea room. The café is renowned for its delicious afternoon teas, and during the festive season afternoon, tea here is even more impressive.

Book a table at Betty’s and feast on the most delicious cakes, sandwiches and patisserie York has to offer. The Christmas afternoon tea comes complete with a festive blend of black China leaf tea, orange peels, lemon peels and cinnamon and a glass of Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore to toast the season in style. 

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is coming to York this Christmas. The festive event is always truly magical, and it’s perfect for visitors of all ages. 

Expect an outdoor ice rink, a beautiful vintage fun fair and an alpine cafe serving up warm drinks and indulgent snacks. Of course, Santa will also be there in his grotto.

Entry to the Yorkshire Winter Wonderland is free, but separate tickets are required for attractions like ice skating and Santa’s Grotto. Find out more and book your tickets for this year’s event here

Find the Best Things to Do in York

If you want to capture the magic of Christmas, there’s no better place to do so than York. 

The historic city of York is an incredible place to be during the festive season, with so much to see and do, no matter how you plan to celebrate. Look out for the cosiest Christmas markets, breathtaking light displays, inspiring entertainment and some of the tastiest and most indulgent festive food around. 

For more tips on what to do in York, this Christmas don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’re here to help you plan the ultimate winter getaway in York, complete with fireside mulled wine, Christmas carols and all the trimmings! 

Get in touch to find out more. 

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