Things to do in York at Christmas – York really comes alive at Christmas and is a beautiful place to visit with lots of things to do from visiting Santa to ice skating or a panto. This year might be a bit different for obvious reasons, so do check with the individual venue. We have gorgeous Christmas lights, a famous Christmas market, and we even have two Christmas shops that are open all year round! Have a look at what’s on in York at Christmas!
If you are not from York, have a look at the our guide to Festive Christmas Market breaks in York.
Big Christmas Concert with Alistair Griffin
Taking place next to York Minster in the beautiful medieval Michael Le Belfrey Church. A brass band will play you in, then Alistair Griffin’s Big Christmas Concert will take you on a musical journey from acoustic versions of traditional carols through to Wizard, Slade and The Pogues. Sing along and sip mulled wine whilst enjoying the fairytale of old York.
Buy Tickets for the Big Christmas Concert here.
Candlelit Concert with Alistair Griffin
Sat, 11 December 2021 within Holy Trinity Church, on Goodramgate
Alistair Griffin presents a very special Christmas show by candlelight in the unique Holy Trinity Church. Take a seat or in this case a medieval pew and soak in the festive atmosphere. While you warm your cockles with a mulled wine listen to classic Christmas tunes, acoustic renditions of famous festive numbers and a Christmas carol singalong.
Buy Tickets for the Candlelit Concert here.
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland
Friday 19 November 2021 to Sunday 9 January 2022
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is staged in the grounds of the Mcarthur Glen Designer Outlet at Fulford on the outskirts of York. It has a huge festive outdoor ice rink, overlooked by an atmospheric Alpine style café, vintage funfair and the opportunity to take the kids to visit Santa. There is no entry fee, you pay for each attraction separately.
Saturday 11 December – 12.30pm, 3.00pm and 7.30pm
The iconic Christmas film, The Snowman is being shown in York Minster again this Christmas. We saw it there a few years ago and it truly is a magical experience. The film is projected onto a large screen and has a live orchestra accompanying it. They have a local child singer to sing ‘Walking in the Air’. Tickets sell out fast, so get booked in!
York Minster – York at Christmas
Why not join the Advent Procession and Sankta Lucia at York Minster – candles provide the only source of light for these unique services in York Minster, launching the season of advent.
The Mansion House
The year before last, The Mansion House was open to the public and decorated as a Gingerbread House. Hopefully that is happening again this year. The Mansion House is right in the centre of York and a visit here could easily be combined with a visit to the York Christmas Market or even a festive afternoon tea at Betty’s.
Christmas at Castle Howard
Not too far from York you will find the beautiful Castle Howard, which is always a magical place at Christmas. Last year they have stepped up to the challenge of an outdoor winter wonderland using sound and light projections in the garden. They will soon announce plans for 2021.
York Christmas Market
York Christmas Market is a lovely thing to do in York at Christmas. The market stretches all the way down Parliament Street and into St Sampson’s Square, with all sorts of stalls selling gifts and food from cute wooden chalets.
See our full post on York Christmas Market here.
Thor’s Tipi is a gorgeous pop up Nordic tent at the end of Parliament Street with the Christmas Market. They sell street-food, hot seasonal drinks and cool cocktails. It’s a perfectly decadent place to take a break from all your York Xmas shopping!
The Castle Museum is a great place to visit at Christmas. Their Victorian Street, Kirkgate looks particularly Dickensian in its festive finery. They often stage A Christmas Carol here and you can also take the kids to visit Santa.
The Magic Hatter’s Christmas Cracker
The Magic Hatter’s Christmas show is absolutely brilliant for the under tens (and fun to watch as an adult too!). Tickets go on sale early in the year, so get this event booked into your Christmas schedule!
Pantomimes and Festive Theatre
It does not get any more festive than a panto at Christmas, and in York we have plenty of choice. Both the Theatre Royal and The Grand Opera House stage pantomimes at Christmas. Also check what’s on at The Barbican and the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.
Piglets Adventure Farm Park
Piglets runs a very popular Christmas special every year, where you take a magic sleigh ride through the forest to visit Santa’s Magical workshop. Every child gets to meet Santa and can choose their own gift. It gets booked up early though, so make sure to buy your tickets in time.
York’s Chocolate Story
Waiting for confirmed dates
The Chocolate Story in York is a lovely attraction where you can learn all about the history of chocolate and sweetie production in York. At Christmas they have a special ‘Santa’ s sweet story’ where the children get to meet santa and join in lots of interactive games with a Christmas chocolate theme. The children get to try lots of different chocolates during the experience and at the end get to make their very own Christmas themed chocolate lolly. It’s a lovely event for younger children.
Also, consider visiting York’s Christmas lights, Barley Hall, Treasurer’s House and Beningbrough Hall.