9 Reasons you should Visit York at Christmas

York Minster at Christmas
December 8, 2015

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Hot mulled wine, roasting chestnuts, snowflakes and twinkling fairy lights…. If you’re getting in the mood for a Christmas break, York should definitely be at the top of your list!

Here are some of the reasons this festive city has been officially crowned the Christmas Capital of the UK:

1. It has its own Winter Wonderland

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is home to the north’s biggest outdoor ice rink – known as “The Ice Factor”!

This magical festive experience also has a funfair with vintage and modern rides, a rinkside Alpine café, wooden cabins and live entertainment at the weekends, all overlooked by a giant Christmas tree.

And as it’s located at York Designer Outlet, where better to grab some bargain Christmas gifts?

Until 3rd of January | Ice-Skating from £9

2. The city is full of amazing Ice Sculptures

Christmas Ice Sculptures in York

Sculptures in York’s Christmas Ice Trail (© visityork.org)

Spectacular, sparkling ice sculptures transform the streets of York in a glittering celebration of the city on the 12th and 13th of December!

Follow the Ice Trail to find 30 intricately carved figures made from crystal-clear ice, in a beautiful addition to the city’s Christmas celebrations

In addition to these ethereal icy creations, you can watch live ice carving and enjoy mulled wine and festive treats at the food and drink stalls.

12th and 13th of December | Free

3. The City’s Christmas Fair is bigger and better than ever!

St Nicholas Festival York

The St Nicholas Festival (© visityork.org)

From 19th November right through to 23rd December, the city is transformed into a fabulous festive experience for York’s famous St Nicholas Christmas Festival!

Over 100 snug wooden chalets, dressed with twinkling fairy lights and festive garlands, line Parliament Street and extend into St Sampson’s Square.

Browse the festive stalls and pick up a range of gifts like jewellery, ceramics, homewares, crafts and local Yorkshire produce like wine and cheese.

19th November – 23rd December | Free

4. You can meet Santa!

Santa Claus

Meet Santa for photos and presents!

Children can visit Santa at his “old fashioned sweet shop” in King’s Square until Christmas eve (the man’s gotta work after all!).

Kids can tell Santa what they want for Christmas and have a professional photo taken with the big man himself. A special present will then come rolling down the workshop conveyer belt for each child to keep!

Each visit includes a professional printed photo, a gift for each child and a chocolate bar-designing activity in the sweet shop.

Until Christmas eve | £9.95 per child (siblings an additional £7.95)

5. You can have the Most Chocolatey Experience EVER

Chocolate making at York's Chocolate Story

Chocolate making at York’s Chocolate Story

Christmas is a time for chocolate, and lots of it! If you love chocolate, you absolutely have to visit York’s Chocolate Story – an interactive experience that’s guaranteed to get your sweet tooth tingling!

You can discover the story of chocolate, see the chocolatiers creating their masterpieces and even create your very own chocolatey treats. And of course, no chocolate tour would be complete without having a cheeky taste of the produce!

Open daily | Advance booking advised

6. It’s the perfect place for Christmas Shopping

York's Christmas Markets

Shopping at York’s Christmas Markets (© Kippa Matthews / Visit York)

York’s city centre really comes alive at Christmastime, with festive activities, twinkling lights and decorations that are guaranteed get shoppers in the mood for finding some really fabulous Christmas presents!

The pedestrianised shopping area is full of unique shops bursting with gift ideas, plus festive stalls and markets lining the streets and discounts galore just 10 minutes away at York Designer Outlet.

7. The Christmas Pop-up Bar is a Giant Tipi

Thor's Tipi in York

Thor’s Tipi

Thor’s Tipi is a secret bolt-hole in the heart of York’s Christmas Festival! Gather around a roaring fire, with cosy furs to keep the cold at bay and feast on winter fodder from the outdoor BBQ, washed down with mulled wine, draft ales and Christmas cocktails.

Little Vikings are welcome too, with festive hot chocolate and homemade sweet treats.

Open til January 2nd | Free

8. Castle Howard’s Christmas Markets

Castle Howard overlooking the lake

The spectacular Castle Howard

Castle Howard’s courtyard Christmas market returns with a range of festive goodies, local treats, crafts and food stalls in the lovely cobbled courtyard.

The castle itself is transformed for the festive season too, with thousands of baubles, garlands, candles and wreaths, a huge Christmas tree and a roaring log fire.

From 10am to 6pm at weekends and until 5pm on Mondays until 23rd December | Advance booking advised for Castle Howard

9. You can get into York’s biggest attractions for FREE!

If you’re planning a visit to York, you’ll know how many fabulous attractions there are in this historic city – and you can visit them all for free with a handy York Pass!

York’s Chocolate Story, Castle Howard and the JORVIK Viking Centre are just a few of the famous attractions and experiences included with this pass, plus more money-saving extras that will make your York break even better:

  • FREE entry to over 30 of York’s biggest attractions
  • Shopping: Discounts at York’s Designer Outlet & many other shops
  • Getting Around: £££s off cycle hire, taxi fares & free upgrade on car hire
  • Food & Drink: Save money at a range of restaurants, bars and cafes

Find out more about saving money with the York Pass

About the author

Farrah Hedwat

Farrah is AttractionTix’s resident Copywriter. A city girl at heart, her best-loved travel moments are exploring new cities across the world like Barcelona or Los Angeles. Farrah’s favourite things are eating, sleeping, shopping and animals (but mostly animals). Her pet hates are bad grammar and other writing-based “offences”.

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