12 reasons to come back to York this Christmas

2016 is shaping up to be a magical Christmas in York

It might be nippy, but Christmas always brings out the best of York. And 2016 festive season will be no different; the snow hasn’t arrived yet but the Christmas magic is certainly in the air. We’ve put together a list of the 12 best things happening in and around York this Christmas, suitable for visitors and locals alike.

1. Time to panto

York is home to some of the best pantomimes in the country so you’re guaranteed a good giggle wherever you head in town. This year the Grand Opera House is showing Aladdin and Cinderella is playing down the road at the Theatre Royal.

Image: Tim Welbourn
Panto in full swing in York. Image credit: Tim Welbourn
2. Some serious shopping at St Nicholas Fair

Everyone loves a good wander around the St Nicholas Fair. It really isn’t Christmas in York until the log cabins start to appear on Parliament Street. This year (from November 17th onward) the fair will be bigger than ever been before – so no excuse to say you missed it.

York St Nicholas Fayre
York St Nicholas Fayre
3. Chilling out with the ice trail

Whilst you’re wandering around the fair why not go off-piste and check out the Ice Trail which hits York in mid-December. There will be 30 sculptures dotted across the city to find. Past trails have included turtles, teapots and angels.

York’s ice trail. Image credit: Matt Cornock
4. Bringing Dickens to life

York Castle Museums’ Kirkgate always looks magical at Christmas in all its Victorian delight and, as per usual A Christmas Carol is back in its most unique form for a production on the cobbles.

Kirkgate in York Castle Museum. Image credit: chicgeekuk
Kirkgate in York Castle Museum. Image credit: chicgeekuk
5. A merry Georgian Christmas

If you do love a historical Christmas then Fairfax House will be the place to go. Throughout the period they will show you how our ancestors kept the festive season including a special twilight tour to help you get a true sense of what Christmas was like way back when.

Fairfax House. Image Credit: James Stringer
Fairfax House. Image Credit: James Stringer
6. The tipi returns

When you think of Christmas you don’t often think of tipis. However, last year Thor’s became a popular addition to the St Nicholas Fair and it’s back to help you keep warm during the cold York nights.

Cheers! Image Credit: Toni Blay
Cheers! Image Credit: Toni Blay
7. Carols at the Minster

It would be wrong not to mention the towering giant of York that is the Minster at Christmas. If you want to get back to the traditional meaning of Christmas then there are many opportunities to sing carols and take part in services at arguably the finest Minster in the country. Not that I’m biased.

Who can resist the Minster?
8. Keep it Yorkshire

Made in Yorkshire regularly make appearances in the centre of York showing off the best that the country has to offer and fortunately they are back this Christmas to showcase the best handmade and locally sourced gifts.

Gifts Christmas tree.

9. Walking through Christmas

We all love advent calendars, and this year Make It York’s Living Advent Calendar will bring our favourite December tradition alive in the city centre.  On 1 December, the first participating business will reveal a piece of Christmas art in their window – it could be a painting, a collage, a model of something Christmassy. The calendar will grow with a new reveal daily.

XMAS in YORK, North Yorkshire.
Stonegate looking festive
10.  Carols By Candlelight

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a sumptuous three-course dinner at Bettys, while listening to some of the region’s most beautiful voices? Carols will be sung by York Philharmonic Choir. Various dates are available for Carols by Candlelight.

11.  Santa Cruise on the Ouse

Hop on board a YorkBoat Santa Cruise, York’s most unique Santa experience and YorkBoat’s most magical cruise – you know you want too! Meet Santa and friends whilst cruising along the beautiful River Ouse for an enchanting hour and children get a personalised present from Santa. Refreshments, fun and surprises will guarantee a Christmas to remember.

Join Santa and cruise the Ouse. Credit David Precious, Flickr
Join Santa and cruise the Ouse. Credit David Precious, Flickr
12. Coming home

If we’re all honest the best reason to come back to York at Christmas is because it’s secretly still your home and always will be. There’s nowhere you would rather be at this time of year.

Home sweet home. Image Credit: York Photo Walk
Home sweet home. Image Credit: York Photo Walk