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Photocall: Thursday 19 November 18:00 – 18:30. Christmas tree lights in St Helen’s Square will be switched on by the Lord Mayor of York and York’s Christmas Festival will be launched – plus various photo opps around the city….

Countdown to York’s St Nicholas Christmas Festival

York St Nicholas Christmas Festival, incorporating the St Nicholas Fair - now running for 35 days: 19 November - 23 December with New Ice Trail, New Choirs Weekend and New Scandinavian Tipi… much more…

York’s St Nicolas Christmas Festival will be officially launched on Festive First night – Thursday 19 November - by Lord Mayor of York Cllr Sonja Crisp, joined by David Leonard and Suzy Cooper from the cast of Theatre Royal Pantomime; Dick Whittington (and his meerkat). York’s festive fir tree in St Helen’s Square, sponsored by supporters of St Leonard’s Hospice, will be switched on between 6pm and 6.30pm and York’s late night shopping every Thursday on the run up to Christmas will begin.

With a new twist for this year, Parliament Street will be home to a Scandinavian style tipi, there’ll be a new Ice Trail, a new Choirs’ Weekend and the whole St Nicholas Festival and Fair will now run for 35 days. Snug wooden chalets, dressed with twinkling lights will line Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and Coppergate and for the first time will appear on the terrace of The Judge’s Lodging, Lendal.

New for this year, on 5th and 6th December, local school and community choirs will be popping up all around York’s city centre streets and squares in a choral celebration of Christmas, as well as raising money for local homeless charity SASH. Also new this year, brass bands will add another musical note every Thursday evening through the festival.

Meanwhile over in Kings Square, York’s Chocolate Story will be welcoming a very special guest, namely Father Christmas himself, who arrives into York on 19th November and will have his very own cosy wooden grotto. Bringing ice back to the city centre, as part of York’s Christmas Festival, businesses from across York have sponsored thirty specially commissioned hand carved ice sculptures, designed by Glacial Art. The Ice Trail – 12 and 13 December – will offer live ice carving for a magical experience and is sponsored by Yorkshire Water.

Thor’s Tipi (19 November – 2 January) will offer a festive experience, where friends and family can gather around a roaring fire, with cosy furs to keep the cold at bay, all in a beautiful giant tipi. Designed and delivered by the team behind PapaKåta and Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland (incorporating The Ice Factor), Thor’s Tipi will be serving a delicious outdoor winter BBQ, homemade sweet treats, festive hot chocolate, mulled wine, draft ales and Christmas cocktails.

Over one hundred stallholders at the St Nicholas Fair will be selling a range of gifts including jewellery, ceramics, homewares, crafts and Yorkshire produce such as locally made wines and cheeses. This year’s Christmas celebrations will run from 19 November right through to 23 December; all part of the extended St Nicholas Christmas Festival. The St Nicholas Fair will run for the full 35 days too, with extended opening times: 10am to 6pm Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 9pm Thursday to Saturday, and 10am to 5pm on Sundays.

A host of festive events at York’s visitor attractions, as well as the daily Shambles market, a ‘Made in Yorkshire’ Festive Fayre in the Guildhall (26 November – 13 December), the Festive Medieval Market at Barley Hall (26 November – 29 November), the York Christmas Antiques Market (19 – 20 December) and Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, home of the Ice Factor (21 November – 3 January), will all go to make up the best York St Nicholas Christmas Festival programme yet.

Seasonal events at York’s world-class visitor attractions such as the National Railway Museum, Castle Museum, York’s Chocolate Story and further afield at historic venues such as Castle Howard will entice visitors to York too. Not to mention a fantastic choice of festive entertainment at the city’s theatres, with pantomimes and Christmas carol concerts, as well as traditional services at York Minster.

Kate McMullen, Head of Consumer Products and Marketing at Make It York, said, ‘We’re confident York’s packed festive programme will place the city at the top of everyone’s list for a Christmas break. York is especially popular at Christmas time and every year thousands of loyal visitors will make a special trip here. We hope everyone will enjoy this extended events programme and we’re delighted York’s businesses have offered their support to help make this the best Christmas festival yet. ’

Just outside of the city, traditional baubles, trees, wreaths, garlands and candles will transform 18th century Castle Howard into a truly magical place. York’s attractions will be offering a variety of Christmas treats alongside a unique collection of independent shops and boutiques. And at York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and the most visited cathedral in England, visitors can enjoy seasonal services to celebrate the true Christmas message.

At York Designer Outlet, not only will you find your favourite brands, there is also fun for the whole family at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, including the award-winning Ice Factor rink, funfair and Santa’s grotto open from 21st November. Book your visit now to shop, eat and experience Christmas at its very best. In advance of your stay you can telephone Visit York to request your free guide to Christmas in York or to find out more about York telephone the Visitor Information Centre on 01904 550099, email or check out To get the Christmas shopping spree off to a busy start, free car parking will be available in City of York Council car parks on 19th November from 6pm onwards.ENDS

Photo and Interview Opportunities:

Thursday 19 November

6:00 – 6:30pm – The Christmas Tree lights in St Helen’s Square will be switched on by the Lord Mayor of York. Brass bands will play. Panto characters will lead a countdown for the switch-on of the Christmas tree lights. To interview the Lord Mayor or Kate McMullen, Head of Consumer Products and Marketing, Make It York, please contact us using the details below.

For further information please contact:

Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Corporate Communications – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554436


KEY DATES – York St Nicholas Christmas Festival 2015

St Nicholas Fair – now 35 days – 19 November – 23 December
NEW Thor’s Tipi – 19 November – 2 January
Festive Medieval Market at Barley Hall – 26 November – 29 November
York Minster Christmas Carol Concerts – 4 & 5 December
NEW Choirs Weekend – 5 & 6 December
Early Music Christmas Festival – 4-12 December
NEW Ice Trail – 12 & 13 December
NEW York Christmas Antiques Market, Kings Manor – 19-20 December
Made in Yorkshire Festive Fayre, Guildhall – 26 November – 13 December

Santa Sightings
Father Christmas is making a special appearance at a variety of locations around York this festive season…

Santa’s Arrival and Sleigh Parade & Breakfast with Santa, Stockeld Park
Father Christmas Visits, Nunnington Hall
Father Christmas’s Grotto, Fountains Abbey
Santa Specials, North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Father Christmas’ Toy Museum, York Castle Museum
Festive Fun with Father Christmas, Barley Hall
An Audience with Father Christmas, Castle Howard
Santa’s Grotto, York’s chocolate Story, King’s Square
Santa’s Grotto, The Ice Factor, York Designer Outlet

The popular St Nicholas Fair, a part of the York St Nicholas Christmas Festival, will run for 35 days from Thursday 19 November to Wednesday 23 December, featuring gifts and crafts from across Yorkshire and the UK as well as the very best in local farm produce, from ‘Deliciously Yorkshire’. The St Nicholas Fair is one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK, with thousands of visitors coming to York to experience it. The Fair offers crafts and the very best in local farm produce and the city comes alive with bustling stalls, carol singers and buskers. Mulled wine, brandy-laced hot chocolate and chestnuts roasting on the street corner will all add to the festive feel.

Nestled between the visiting markets on Parliament Street and the picturesque Shambles, York’s Shambles Market is open 7 days a week and is the ideal place to find all those last minute items needed for Christmas. You’ll find gifts, decorations, Yorkshire produce, as well as all those home essentials. Stallholders will be making home-made Santa’s for visitors to spot….

And after a hard day’s shopping, spoil yourself with a slap up meal at one of York’s many fine restaurants or bistros. York's venues, museums, theatres and churches come alive throughout the season with a variety of festivities, along with the city's many cafés, pubs and restaurants.

Traditional candle-lit carol services take place in majestic York Minster and in York’s smaller churches. Local museums and galleries offer a blend of both traditional and modern exhibitions and York’s theatres come alive with pantomimes and other Christmas plays. For relaxation, visit the city’s stylish café bars, with a ‘cool Yule’ atmosphere that’ll chill out even the most fraught of Christmas shoppers. For regular updates on what’s happening in York over Christmas, or a free guide to Christmas in the City, visit or email

Made in Yorkshire Fayre (26 November – 13 December, The Guildhall, St Helen’s Square)
Made in Yorkshire has been bringing together like minded designer artists for over 15 years and is keen to show visitors what great talent our county has to offer. A superb variety of exhibitors will offer everything from ceramics to fine art Yorkshire prints. If you have a passion for arts or an appreciation of fine craftsmanship, why not visit to see the displays and demonstrations by design makers from around Yorkshire. For further information regarding the Made in Yorkshire shows and for a list of the exhibitors, please visit The Festive Fayre opens from 10am – 5pm each day.

York Early Music Christmas Festival (4 – 12 December)
On Friday 4 December York Early Music Christmas Festival lights up the festive season with the brilliant European Union Baroque Orchestra’s ‘Taste of the Baroque’ programme in the beautiful setting of the NCEM, St Margaret Church. Highlights throughout the week include: Les Contre-Sujets The Four Nations; The Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists performance of Haydn’s The Creation (Sat 5 Dec); The Marian Consort Christmas with the Shepherds (Mon 7 Dec); Joglaresa Sing We Yule! (Tue 8 Dec); The York Waits Crions Noel (Wed 9 Dec); soprano Clare Wilkinson and friends Courtiers of Grace (Thu 10 Dec) and Ex Cathedra An Elizabethan Christmas (Fri 11 Dec). The outstanding B’Rock Orchestra’s contemporary twist on the music of the Baroque brings the festival to a breath- taking close with a programme of Christmas music from across Europe from Corelli through to Arvo Pärt on Saturday 12 December. Full programme details available at: Media Enquiries: Shona Galletly, on behalf of National Centre for Early Music, e: m: 07813 796 733.

York Minster
York Minster is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and the most visited cathedral in England. It holds a dedicated season of services to celebrate the birth of Jesus and a reminder of the true Christmas message. Advent is one of the busiest times of the year at York Minster. It is a time of anticipation, contemplation, celebration and preparation for Christmas. It starts with the magnificent candlelit Advent Procession, the raising of the Giant Advent Wreath – the largest in the country - and the lighting of York Minster’s star. The season includes some of the Minster’s most popular and beloved services, from the Crib Service to the Nine Lessons and Carols and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

As well as enjoying the Minster’s special advent traditions, visitors can also take time out to explore 2000 years of history through interactive chambers in the Undercroft beneath. York Minster will also host a busy programme of events during December including the popular Christmas Carol Concerts on 4th and 5th December. For a full listing of services, events and activities at York Minster, visit Press contact: Sharon Atkinson, Director of Communications. Tel: 01904 557248. Email:

York’s Chocolate Story
Have yourself a chocolate filled Christmas…and meet Father Christmas himself!
York’s Chocolate Story will be welcoming a very special guest this Christmas. Father Christmas and his friends will be settling into their cosy wooden grotto from the middle of November to welcome children and check who has been naughty or nice (probably twice)! The jolly man himself will be ready to hear Christmas wishes, hand out treats and shake his belly like a bowl full of jelly. Guests visiting York’s Chocolate Story will be swept back in time on the fully guided tours to the York of Christmas past where the founding families of the UK chocolate industry walked the cobbles. Finish your tour by making your very own chocolate creation. The whole attraction will be decorated throughout to give an extra special festival feel. Visitors will be fascinated by Christmassy chocolate facts - for example, did you know that at the height of their popularity one in ten Christmas stockings included a Terry’s Chocolate Orange? Visit . For press enquiries contact Jenni Shepherd Tel 01904 527722 email

Barley Hall (26 November – 29 November)
This winter discover medieval Barley Hall for a unique festive experience. One of York’s hidden secrets; this medieval townhouse, tucked away in the centre of the city will be decorated for the season so you can explore the history and traditions of Christmas. With seasonal events including our Christmas festive market (26-29 November) where medieval merchants will be showcasing their goods and the chance to meet merry old Father Christmas in his grotto, Barley Hall has something to offer everyone this winter, regardless of how naughty they’ve been…Public contact: Visit or call 01904 615505. Press contacts: Paul Whiting, Marketing Officer for JORVIK Viking Centre, DIG, Barley Hall and Micklegate Bar. Tel: 01904 543433. Email: OR David Scott, Head of Marketing for JORVIK Viking Centre, DIG, Barley Hall and Micklegate Bar. Tel: 01904 543426. Email:

Fairfax House
EXHIBITION: THE KEEPING OF CHRISTMAS (Tuesday 17 November – Sunday 3 January)

Experience Fairfax House in all its splendour as it celebrates The Keeping of Christmas with a magnificent festive installation inspired by the traditions of the eighteenth century. 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. Mulled wine and mince pies will be served in The Georgian Kitchen throughout the season. Normal admission prices apply

CHRISTMAS TWILIGHT TOURS (Thursday 26 November & Wednesday 9 December at 7.00pm)
Join the Director, Hannah Phillip, for a Twilight Tour of Fairfax House and learn more about the celebrations and traditions of a Georgian Christmas. Enjoy seeing Fairfax House after dark in all its festive glory, and hear about the merrymaking, decorations, feasting and activities that surrounded this festival in the eighteenth century. Tickets: £14.00 / M&F £12.00 includes mulled wine and mince pies

CHRISTMAS CONCERT: JUST ANOTHER STAR (Friday 4 December at 7.30pm)
With Ad Hoc – Fairfax House

The vocal quartet, Ad Hoc, return with an evening of music to 'drive the cold winter away'. With their customary versatility, they will perform a variety of pieces spanning 700 years in celebration of the season of Christmas. We invite you to come and relax in the elegant saloon, as you listen, once more, to Frances Brock, John Gill, David Howard and Sue Lindley. Tickets: £16.00 / M&F £14.00 includes glass of mulled wine

FAMILY EVENT: WINTER TALES AT FAIRFAX HOUSE (Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 December at 5.00pm)
Storytelling with Jenna Drury, Mud Pie Arts

As Christmas approaches and the nights draw in, join us for some enchanting winter tales and traditional storytelling. Meet Molly our scullery maid as she takes you through the house, sharing festive stories from Scandinavia and reading classic tales from Dickens and Wind in the Willows. She may even tell tales about secrets in the house! To keep out the winter chill, huddle round as we also enjoy hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies – the perfect Christmas treat for all the family. Suitable for age 4yrs and above. Tickets: Warm drinks and mince pies included: Child £6.00, Adult £8.50, Family Ticket (1 adult, 2 children) £17.50. Includes refreshments

York Castle Museum (30 November – 31 December)
HOLIDAY AND FAMILY FUN! Step back in time to celebrate Christmas at the Castle
Monday 30 November, Tuesday 1 December, Sunday 6 December, Monday 7 December, Saturday 12 December, Sunday 13 December and Thursday 17 December – Thursday 24 December, 11am – 4pm (2.30pm on 24 December)

This Christmas holiday, Father Christmas will be opening his very special festive Toy Museum at York Castle Museum! Experience some Christmas magic as the toys come to life to tell tales of Christmas traditions and re-discover some of the most popular Christmas toys of past and present. Father Christmas will be making special appearances throughout the day to finish making his list of presents to deliver on Christmas Eve. Each child will receive a chocolate treat for the Christmas tree. For more information visit

Saturday 12, Sunday 13 December, Thursday 17 December – Thursday 24 December, performances between 11am and 4pm

Scrooge is back by popular demand! Drop-in performances by actor Chris Cade on the beautifully decorated Victorian street, Kirkgate.

Every day, time 9.30am – 5pm

Follow the trail and discover some Christmas cheer! 50p per trail, includes reward.

Saturday 19 December – Wednesday 23 December, tours start between 4pm and 7.30pm the experience will last approximately one hour

This is a magical festive tour of the museum’s Victorian street and a chance to capture the magic of a traditional Victorian Christmas. This year Eliza Mistletoe and Barnaby Jingle need to find Christmas presents, can you help them decide what to buy from the shops in Kirkgate? Meet some of the residents and shopkeepers of Kirkgate as they get ready for Christmas and take part in some fun festive activities along the way. Join in with wassailing under the Christmas tree – if you can sing loud enough then Father Christmas might just make an appearance to tell his tales of Christmas. All children taking part will have a special moment with Father Christmas and receive a traditional toy. £8.50 per child, £6 per adult. Children must be accompanied by adults and adults must be accompanied by children! Tickets are limited and booking is essential. Price includes museum admission, shopping list gifts, present from Father Christmas for children, and coffee and mince pies (juice and biscuits for children). To book a place please ring York Museums Trust on 01904 697979.

Friday 18 December, 6.30pm – 8.30pm Suitable for adults and groups

Enjoy a special evening on the Victorian street at York Castle Museum, celebrating a Victorian Christmas and meeting the residents and carollers. Includes a special performance of A Christmas Carol. With Christmas crafts, decoration making, ghost stories, gift stalls, special curator’s talks and object handling, this is an evening to enjoy the traditions of Christmas.
£10 per ticket. Tickets are limited and booking is essential. To book a place ring York Museums Trust on 01904 697979

VESP#07 Seeing the Unseen (10 December, 4pm – 7.30pm)

Exciting and groundbreaking archaeological research taking place at University of York is the inspiration for Vespertine’s final event of 2015. Phytoliths, silica skeletons of cells that allow the identification of plants from 100 years ago, providing vital information about our history, are to be transformed in 3D printed sculptures, light projections and festive decorations. Jorvik DIG will also play host to a themed soundscape created through York St Johns’ Converge Project and there will be plenty of opportunities to get hands-on with activities for all ages. In addition there will be an opportunity to meet the expert, Archaeobotanist and Researcher Hayley McParland at 4pm before the event to learn more about this fascinating process. Free entry.

Shop and Skate at York Designer Outlet
Take a trip to York Designer Outlet this festive season, for all your gift and fashion must-haves under one roof. You’ll be spoilt for choice with over 120 high street and designer brands including Reiss, The Kooples, LK Bennett, Jaeger, Ted Baker, Kurt Geiger and French Connection – all with savings of up to 60%. Not only will you find your favourite brands, there is also fun for the whole family at Yorkshire’s Ice Factor, with an award-winning Ice rink, funfair and Santa’s grotto open from 21st November. To find that perfect gift or party outfit and also enjoy a day of skating, visit for further information. Press contact: Natalie Flint Interim Marketing Manager. Tel: 01904 682705. Email:

The three time award-winning festive event – Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland – returns to York Designer Outlet this November. Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is home to the north of England’s largest and best-loved outdoor ice-rink – The Ice Factor – with its giant Christmas tree and rinkside Alpine-themed café, which this year has a new heated outdoor terrace. With both vintage and modern fun fair rides and games and stalls, Santa in his magical Grotto, live weekend entertainment and of course top-notch discount Christmas shopping at York Designer Outlet, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland really does have something for everyone.

The Ice Factor will be open daily from Saturday 21 November to Sunday 3 January 2016, with tickets from £9.00. Booking is advisable – visit or go to the Facebook page or call Tel 01653 619169. Press contact: Maria Farrugia, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Office: +44 (0)1653 619650 E:

Castle Howard at Christmas – Saturday 21 November to Wednesday 23 December 2015
Enjoy a truly magical Christmas with a visit to Castle Howard, Yorkshire’s finest stately home, this festive season. The 300 year old home will flicker with the light of hundreds of candles and roaring log fires, whilst soaring trees and traditional twigs glisten with hundreds of baubles. The 1,000 acres of parkland take on a beauty of their own in the winter months and will twinkle with the lights of Christmas trees which line the drive. Indulge in festive menus at the cafés before browsing the gift shops, farm shop and garden centre which are filled with everything you need for a perfect Christmas. Browse Christmas markets on selected dates and see the house sparkle as night falls during late night opening on various dates. Children will love meeting Father Christmas by a roaring log fire at our popular fireside audiences and keep an eye out for extra special Santa experiences for the first time this year. For the latest information on all these events, visit

York Theatre Royal at the National Railway Museum
Dick Whittington (and his meerkat) Pantomime (10 December – 24 January)

This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the UK’s longest running pantomime Dame, Berwick Kaler and the York Theatre Royal team as you’ve never seen them before. Whilst York Theatre Royal undergoes a major redevelopment, Dick Whittington and His Meerkat will take place this Christmas in The Signal Box Theatre at our museum. Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper and David Leonard can’t wait to join Berwick Kaler and the panto family once again to perform as part of this unique experience.
As always, expect fabulous costumes, stunning sets, toe-tapping music, breath-taking transformations and magic spectacle. Book your tickets at

Grand Opera House York
Jack and the Beanstalk (Friday 11 December – Sunday 3 January)

New Pantomime Productions returns to Grand Opera House York for the 17th year this Christmas with the ever popular Jack and the Beanstalk.
Jack lives in a small village with his Ma. The only food left in their cupboard is a piece of mouldy cheese, a rotten apple core and a pair of smelly shocks! Find out what happens when Jack takes their old cow to the market and ends up selling her for five beans. X-Factor’s Jade Ellis stars as Fairy Peapod, Scooch’s Caroline Barnes and Russ Spencer return to York, this time as Jack and Jill and Emmerdale star Stuart Wade plays Dame Tilly Trot. Further casting soon. To book call Box Office on 0844 871 3024 or book online at

York Barbican
Peter Pan on Ice (23 December – 3 January)

Deplidge International Ltd proudly presents The Russian Ice Stars in Peter Pan on Ice. Second to the right,' said Peter, 'and then straight on to the York Barbican! The world-renowned Russian Ice Stars brings to York a new adaptation of this famous fantasy adventure by J.M. Barrie.

Santa Spotting
Father Christmas is making a special appearance at a variety of locations around York this festive season. If your little ones are searching for Santa within York’s walls, look no further than Barley Hall for some Festive Fun with Father Christmas, where they can meet the man himself and take away their very own personalised gift. Santa will also be making his list of presents to deliver at Father Christmas’ Toy Museum at York Castle Museum, plus there will be a Santa’s Grotto at York’s Chocolate Story and also at York Designer Outlet’s The Ice Factor.

Heading outside of York, hop on board for the Santa Specials, a tour by train led by Father Christmas on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway through the North York Moors National Park. Or enjoy An Audience with Father Christmas beside Castle Howard’s roaring log fire. Children can enjoy ‘Breakfast with Santa’ at Stockeld Park, head to the grotto at Fountains Abbey or accept a personal invitation to meet him at Nunnington Hall.

Notes To The Editor

Make It York (York’s Destination Organisation) has an overarching remit to market the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as an exciting place to live, study, visit and do business. The remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand.
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York

Key tourism facts:
6.7 million visitors annually, £573 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs