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News release - Issued by Make It York

Countdown to York’s Christmas Festival

York Christmas Festival and York St Nicholas Fair will run for 37 days: 16 November - 22 December with a return of the Ice Trail, Scandinavian Tipi and Living Advent Calendar ….plus much more….

Planning for York’s Christmas Festival is well underway, which will see the return of the Ice Trail, the popular Thor’s Tipi in Parliament Street and a Living Advent Calendar. Five themed weekends will add to the Christmas festivities; a brass bands weekend (18 & 19 November), a choir’s weekend (25 & 26 November), a family weekend (2 & 3 December), the Ice Trail weekend (9 & 10 December) and a Shambles Market Christmas Party celebration weekend (16 & 17 December).

Snug wooden chalets, dressed with twinkling lights will line Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, Coppergate and Judge’s Lodging on Lendal. Father Christmas and his friends will be at York’s Chocolate Story and Santa’s helpers will be on hand to entertain little visitors in the queue with iconic brands and fun facts about York’s chocolate heritage and stories of Christmases past.

Thor’s Tipi (15 November – 1 January) will offer a festive experience, where friends and family can sit on cosy furs around a roaring fire, all in a beautiful giant tipi. Designed and delivered by the team behind Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland (home of 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.

New this year is Christmas in the York Museum Gardens (16 November – 1 January). This brand new and exciting attraction for York is being created by the team behind Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland and THOR’S tipi bar. For the first time ever, visitors can step into York Museum Gardens after dark at Christmas for a magical walk in illuminated surroundings.

For the first time too, Made in Yorkshire will be hosting their “Yorkshire Yuletide Village” within the Shambles Market area- bringing their talent to the heart of the city.

Bringing ice back to the city centre, as part of York’s Christmas Festival, businesses from across York will be sponsoring forty specially commissioned hand carved ice sculptures, designed by Glacial Art. The Ice Trail weekend (9 – 10 December) will offer live ice carving for a magical experience and every day from 1 December to Christmas day a festive shop window will revealed as part of the city’s Living Advent Calendar.

Over 150 stallholders at the St Nicholas Fair will once again 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 16 November right through to 22 December; all part of the York Christmas Festival. The St Nicholas Fair will run for the full 37 days, with extended late night shopping opening times every Thursday Friday and Saturday throughout festive season.

A host of festive events at York’s visitor attractions; a Made in Yorkshire “Yorkshire Yuletide Village” (16 November – 22 December) at the Shambles Market, the Medieval Christmas Experience at Barley Hall (16 November – 5 January), and Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, home of the Ice Factor (18 November – 7 January), will all go to make up the best York Christmas Festival programme yet.

Seasonal events at York’s world-class visitor attractions such as York 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.

Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, said, “York is especially magical at Christmas time when thousands of loyal visitors will make a special trip here. Hundreds of York businesses are working with us to help make the city a special place to visit over the festive season and we hope everyone will enjoy what we believe is the best Christmas Festival in the country.”

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.

At York Designer Outlet, not only will you find your favourite brands, there will be fun for the whole family at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, including the award-winning Ice Factor rink, funfair and Santa’s grotto. Book your visit now to shop, eat and experience Christmas at its very best. In advance of your stay 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

For regular updates on what’s happening in York over Christmas, or a free guide to Christmas in the City, visit or email A new guide to Christmas will be available free of charge from the Visit York Information Centre, 1 Museum Street, from 1 October.


Photo and Interview Opportunities:

Festive First Night - Thursday 16 November
The Christmas tree lights in St Helen’s Square will be switched on. Timings to be confirmed.
Late night city-wide shopping starts every Thursday evening.

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


KEY DATES – York St Nicholas Christmas Festival 2017
St Nicholas Fair – 37 days – 16 November – 22 December
Thor’s Tipi – 15 November – 25 December
Medieval Christmas Experience at Barley Hall – 16 November – 5 January
York Minster Advent Procession – 3 December
York Minster Christmas Carol Concerts – 14 and 15 December
Ice Trail – 9 & 10 December
Made in Yorkshire “Yorkshire Yuletide Village”– 16 November – 22 December


Christmas In the York Museum Gardens – 16 November – 1 January
This brand new and exciting attraction for York is being created by the team behind Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland and THOR’S tipi bar. For the first time ever, step into York Museum Gardens after dark at Christmas for a magical walk in illuminated surroundings.

Greeted by the sights and sounds of Christmas, wander beneath unique tree canopies drenched in seasonal colour. Begin your journey in the edible garden with the 12 Frames of Christmas, then take a walk through the forest of trees glittering with LED lights. Pause at the spectacular video projection on one of York’s best kept secrets, St Mary’s Abbey ruins, and admire the majestic installation specially-commissioned by a local Yorkshire artist. The gardens will even make magical music for you as you reach the 14th century Hospitium.

After following the path down to Father Christmas in his secret bothy, enjoy some child-friendly fun with the ever-changing coloured mirror balls. The breath-taking finale of fire in the Library Lawn will ensure that every part of this enchanted walk will capture the imagination of young and old. Enjoy traditional Christmas treats such as mulled wine and hot chocolate or spiced cider together with hot food and toasted marshmallows.

Christmas in the York Museum Gardens is a brand-new unique evening attraction offering something for all ages and a magical night in York to remember.

For more information please visit www.christmasatthemuseumgardens.comPress contact: Maria Farrugia. Email:

NEW Made in Yorkshire “Yorkshire Yuletide Village” at the Shambles Market:
16 November – 22 December
Made in Yorkshire has been bringing together like-minded designer artists for over 16 years and is keen to show visitors what great talent our county has to offer. For the first time they will be hosting their “Yorkshire Yuletide Village” within the Shambles Market area- bringing their talent to the heart of the city. 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, and are looking for that unusual or special gift, 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

Santa Sightings

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

  • Storytime with Father Christmas, Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens
  • Helping Santa save Christmas, York’s Chocolate Story
  • Father Christmas’s secret bothy, Museum Gardens
  • Santa Specials, North Yorkshire Moors Railway
  • Enchanted evening with Father Christmas, Castle Howard
  • An Audience with Father Christmas, Castle Howard
  • Santa’s Grotto, The Ice Factor, York Designer Outlet

The popular St Nicholas Fair, a part of the York Christmas Festival, will run for 37 days from Thursday 16 November to Friday 22 December, featuring gifts and crafts from across Yorkshire and the UK as well as the very best in local farm produce. 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.

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

Christmas at the Castle at the York Castle Museum: 25 November – 24 December

Take a stroll over the cobbles of a twinkling Victorian street this Christmas and experience the magic and festive traditions of days gone by. York Castle Museum’s famous Kirkgate will be adorned with garlands, traditional gifts will fill the shop windows and local residents will be waiting to greet you.

An Edwardian Christmas at Treasurer’s House: 16 November – 17 December
(Thursday to Sundays only)
Treasurer’s House will be beautifully decorated for a traditional Christmas. Promised to be a perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle and get into the festive spirit with home cooked food and delicious Christmas pudding scones. There is also a new opportunity to head up to the rooftops and festive attic spaces in the search for Father Christmas flying overhead.

Winter Indulgence at Goddards House and Garden:
17 November – 17 December (Friday – Sunday only)

Toast your toes by the fire, see the decorations on the Christmas tree, find out about Terry’s chocolate business at Christmas time and enjoy an indulgent lunch and a sherry in the drawing room afterwards.

York Early Music Christmas Festival: 8 – 16 December
York Early Music Christmas Festival, a firm favourite of the December festive calendar, showcases beautiful music from different parts of the world. From performances from internationally acclaimed ensembles, to choral workshops and candlelit events. Full details to follow Autumn 2017. Call 01904 632220 or 01904 658338 or visit the website for full programme and tickets at

York Minster Christmas Carol Concerts: 14 & 15 December
York Minster’s Christmas Carol Concerts are the most popular events in the cathedral’s calendar, with many people returning year after year to enjoy the festive tradition. The evenings feature traditional Christmas music sung by the full York Minster Choir, with the Yorkshire Volunteers Band leading the audience in Christmas carols and celebrity readers performing seasonal poetry and readings. For a full listing of services, events and activities at York Minster, visit Press contact: Sharon Atkinson, Director of Communications. Tel: 01904 557248. Email:

Medieval Christmas Experience at Barley Hall: 16 November – 5 January
This winter visitors have the chance to discover the hidden history of Christmas in medieval York by going back in time into the beautifully decorated rooms of Barley Hall. Join the lady of the house, Joan Snawsell, in her celebration of the festive season and enjoy this unique and colourful Christmas experience in York. 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 Peter Livesey / Chris Padget / Nathan Waddell, Marketing Team. Email:

The Lost Traditions of Medieval Christmas Rediscovered at Barley Hall:
17 November – 5 January

Discover the preparations the household went through during the month of Christmas, yuletide and overeating as well as exploring the extent of the involvement of the Lord and Lady of the house, William and Joan Snawsell, who will both be on hand over the weekend.
Join talented medieval minstrels Trouvere and discover the instruments used and the importance of music in Christmastide celebrations at home or in church. With special performances throughout the day this truly is a unique festive music event right in the heart of the city of York.

On December 16-17, Barley Hall’s medieval Great Hall will turn Dickensian and a choir will recite some of the most popular carols from the past 150 years. Helping visitors to explore the links between Christmas celebrations of today with the Middle Ages. Public contact: Visit or call 01904 615505. Press contacts: Paul Whiting, Marketing Manager for Barley Hall (Part of The JORVIK Group of Attractions). Tel: 01904 543433. Email: OR Peter Livesey / Chris Padget / Nathan Waddell, Marketing Team. Email:

FESTIVAL: THE KEEPING OF CHRISTMAS at Fairfax House: 14 November – 31 December
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.

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland: 18 November – 7 January
The FOUR-time award-winning festive event - Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland - returns to the York Designer Outlet. Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is home to the north of England’s largest and best-loved outdoor ice rink – The Ice Factor – with its magical setting, giant Christmas tree and rinkside Alpine-themed café. With vintage funfair rides dating from as early as 1933, Santa welcoming visitors in his enchanting log cabin, live weekend entertainment and of course Christmas shopping in over 120 designer brands for up to 60% less at York Designer Outlet, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland really does have something for everyone. Skate, play, shop, dine at Yorkshire’s winter wonderland. or call 01653 619169 for more information.

A Chocolate Covered Christmas: 1 – 31 December
York’s Chocolate Story will undergo a festive make-over to welcome Farther Christmas. Visitors will get a chance to meet Santa and participate in a number of special themed walks, in which they will complete a mission to help him save Christmas. On the way, visitors will learn festive facts about iconic brands and how chocolate was involved in Christmas past as well as make their own Christmas-themed lollies and watch special festive demonstrations with York’s talented chocolatiers.

Castle Howard at Christmas 2017 – Angels on High: 18 November –23 December
This Christmas a host of angels will descend on Castle Howard, York’s own world-renowned stately home, to surprise and delight visitors. Inspired by the family art collections, fabulous creatures from elegant herald to mischievous cherub will populate the grand state rooms to spectacular effect: flamboyant floral creations and inspired decorations creating a unique festive ambiance. Favourite features returning include the awe-inspiring 25 foot dressed Great Hall Christmas tree and the fairytale gingerbread house: and for youngsters Father Christmas’s Magical Garden. With live music around the house; seasonal menus and festive afternoon tea; Christmas gifts and treats galore in Castle Howard’s own Gift Shops, Farm Shop and Garden Centre, plus cosy indoor market, there’s everything you need for a perfect Christmas. For the latest information visit



York Theatre Royal – Jack & the Beanstalk
14 December – 3 February

This year York Theatre Royal will be bringing back the ever popular Jack & The Beanstalk, a family favourite featuring a line-up of much loved panto characters - the big bad giant, Daisy the cow and of course, Jack himself.
Book at or call Box Office 01904 623568.

Grand Opera House York – Beauty and the Beast
15 December – 7 January

This classic magical story features a wonderful mix - a Handsome Prince, a Beautiful Girl, a Fearful Beast and a very Wicked Witch, heroic deeds, abundant adventure, true love, crazy comedy, glittering costumes, mayhem and make-believe, plus dazzling special effects.
To book call Box Office on 0844 871 3024 or book online at

Barbican Pantomime – Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood
21-31 December

Shane Lynch from the multi-million selling band Boyzone will team up with stars from EastEnders, Coronation Street and pop for this spectacular family pantomime, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood


Notes To The Editors

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.

About Visit York

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.

York Tourism Facts

6.9 million visitors annually
£564 million total visitor spend
19,000 jobs supported by tourism