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.
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If you are not from York, have a look at the our guide to Festive Christmas Market breaks in York.
Candlelit Concerts – Candlelit Christmas
St Olaves Church, York
November 30, December 1st and 2nd 2023 8PM to 9PM
There will be a series of candlelit concerts from September until Christmas with different themes. Check out all the details at Ignite Concerts.
Buy Candlelit Concert tickets here.
Enchanting harmonies beneath flickering flames: A timeless celebration of Christmas with our mesmerizing candlelit concert and captivating string quartet. Set in the beautiful St Olaves church in York, a string quartet will take you on a festive journey with classic Christmas songs, from the likes of The Pogues and George Michael to Christmas carol favourites. Enjoy a mulled wine and take in the magical atmosphere.
Big Christmas Concert with Alistair Griffin
St Olave’s Church, 29 Marygate, York YO30 7BJ
The 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th of December 2023 – 7.30-10.30pm
Taking place at Q Church (9 Priory St, York YO1 6ET). 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.
We have done this before and loved it!
Buy Tickets for the Big Christmas Concert here.
The Luna Winter Cinema
St Saviourgate, York, YO1 8NQ – 1st – 12th December 2023
Get ready to feel festive, The Luna Winter Cinema season is back and this year, we’re sprinkling the festive stardust over a magical cinema experience.
Whether it’s soaking up a festive atmosphere with friends, snuggling up with your favourite flick, or finding an excuse to whip out your cosiest jumper, join us this Winter for the ultimate Festive movie night.
There are lots of favourite films to see from the 1st to the 12th of December including Elf, Love Actually, The Muppet Christmas Carol and more. See all the films available here.
Let there be Light! Christmas at the Bar Convent
28 Nov – 19 Dec 2023
Gather your loved ones for a visit to the Bar Convent this festive season as our historic house becomes aglow with a twinkling tree, dazzling decorations, and an exciting new luminous installation as part of this year’s Christmas experience ‘Let there be Light!’.
A brand-new light installation will take centre-stage against the befitting backdrop of our stunning C18th Chapel this Christmas. ‘Hope: Shadow and Light’ is a collaborative community work of art that not only responds to the Bar Convent’s Christmas theme but is part of a global drawing campaign originating in Viborg, Denmark; one of York’s fellow UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts. The project, in partnership with York arts charity, New Visuality, and installation artist, Nick Walters will see more than 200 drawings from 15 countries on five continents projected in the Bar Convent’s Chapel dome alongside work created in York as part of #DrawWithDenmark – Green Together 2023 Campaign.
A Baroque Christmas with York Gin
Mansion House, York
1st December 2023 7:30pm
Eboracum Baroque are delighted to return to the majestic York Mansion House for a festive concert of Baroque music in collaboration with our good friends, York Gin.
The programme features seasonal vocal and instrumental works including arias from Handel’s Messiah, music for Trumpet and recorder, and traditional French Christmas carols by Charpentier and Lalande.
We’re delighted to be working with York Gin again. Enjoy a delicious drink of multi award winning gin on arrival in the 18th century splendour of the Mansion House. This promises to be an evening full of festive cheer!
For ticket enquiries, please email email@example.com or call 07827 207 150. We are a small organisation but will get back to you as soon as possible.
Saturday 9th – Sunday 10th , Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th Dec – Various Times.
The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Haxby Road, YORK, YO31 8TA
Box Office Telephone: 01904 501935
Join Rowntree Players for another rollicking romp of a Pantomime in 2023. Cinderella and Buttons are fighting to save the Windy End Hotel when the Queen announces a ball to celebrate Prince Charming’s birthday. But there’s trouble on the horizon with the arrival of a truly horrific trio – determined to find themselves a Prince! Song, dance and all the traditional silliness that goes with true festive family entertainment.
Time: either 2.00pm or 7.30pm depending on date.
Price: Adults – £20.00 / 18 and under – £18.00
GROUP OFFER £12 per ticket when you buy 10 or more*
*Available for select performances
Sunday 10th 18:00pm
Tuesday 12th Dec
Wednesday 13th Dec
Thursday 14th Dec
Castle Howard, Malton, North Yorkshire
11th November 2023 – 2nd January 2024
Christmas at Castle Howard – Take the second star to the right, and straight on to Castle Howard! This Christmas, get lost on a magical adventure in Neverland as we invite you to a Christmas experience like no other.
See all the details of Castle Howard at Christmas.
Wed 06 Dec 2023 at The Barbican
The star studded and Christmas favourite Love Actually, will come alive across the UK in winter 2023, with a full orchestra performing its soundtrack live to screen.
York Christmas Market
16th November to 22nd December 2023
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.
Fri 08 Dec 2023 at The Barbican
Disney’s The Muppet Christmas Carol will be presented live in concert this winter across the UK, featuring its musical score performed live to the film.
Sparkly Christmas Gin Tastings
Various Dates Throughout December – To be confirmed.
York Gin offer fabulous gin tastings in their shop on Pavement.
It’s a lively and sociable session where you learn all about the history of York Gin’s six types of gin and get to try each one! The session starts with a welcome cocktail and ends with a full size G&T with the gin of your choice.
Read our review of when we tried Gin Tasting at York Gin
Sparkly Gin Tasting at York Gin
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland
Dates for 2023 to be announced
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.
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.
Thor’s Tipi is a gorgeous pop up Nordic tent in the gardens of the Principal Hotel. 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!
Christmas at York Castle Museum
Details to be announced
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.
Wander through our famous Victorian street, Kirkgate, as Christmas arrives with a blanket of festive snow on the historic cobbles. Enjoy the charming period trimmings that adorn the street and take a peek at an exciting range of historical decorations and objects, all from the museum’s collection, in our stunning shopfronts. With a variety of free family friendly Christmas activities on offer, there’s something for all ages to enjoy.
As well as experiencing the Christmas cheer on Kirkgate, visitors can step back in time as they stroll through our popular Period Rooms, from a 17th century dining room to a 1980s kitchen, all embellished with authentic decorations.
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
1st December – 26 December 2023
The Chocolate Story in York is a lovely attraction where you can learn all about the history of chocolate and sweetie production in York. There will be lots of Christmas related events this year:
“Get ready to indulge in the ultimate Christmas experience at York’s Chocolate Story this December! We’re decking the halls with festive fayre and transforming all three floors into a winter wonderland fit for Santa himself. That’s right, Santa will be taking up residence at our chocolate haven, and you’re invited to join in on the fun!
Don’t miss out on this magical Christmas adventure at York’s Chocolate Story. Book your tickets now and get ready to be transported to a world of chocolatey delights and festive cheer!
Chocolate making with Santa
Join our ‘Chocolate making with Santa’ experience where you will have the chance to meet Santa and even make delicious chocolate lollies with him and his trusty elf. Our guided tour experience will take you on a journey through the rich history of chocolate. You’ll be amazed by fascinating facts, interactive exhibits, and hands-on chocolate-making. And that’s not all – each guest will receive a special hand-delivered gift from Santa and have the opportunity to snap a photo with the jolly man himself. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones. This experience is available for £25 pp or £6 for children under 4 and lasts between 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The price includes:
- A guided tour
- Meeting Santa
- Making chocolate with Santa and his Elf
- A gift from Santa
- The opportunity to take photos with Santa.
Christmas Family Workshop
Get ready for a sweet and exciting adventure with your loved ones! Join our skilled chocolatier for a hands-on festive experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Learn the art of making chocolate-based festive treats, such as tree decorations and candy canes, and create unique designs that you can gift or savour yourself.
You’ll also get to indulge in one of our signature hot chocolates to keep you warm and cosy throughout the experience. Don’t miss out on this deliciously fun opportunity to have fun with the family and satisfy your sweet tooth!
This experience is available for £30pp and is 90 minutes long.
Christmas Chocolate Masterclass
Get ready to indulge in the ultimate Christmas activity for adults! Our Chocolatier-led Masterclass is an incredible experience that will have you rolling, dipping, and decorating ganache-filled chocolate truffles in the finest Belgian couverture chocolate. And that’s not all! You’ll also get to craft and personalise your very own chocolate lolly with a selection of delicious toppings before creating your own Christmas wreath.
This intimate experience is the perfect opportunity to show off your chocolate-making skills while having a blast with your friends. And to make things even sweeter, you’ll be treated to a boozy hot choc during your session. It’s the perfect way to get into the festive spirit and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. This experience is available for £35 pp and is 90 minutes long (18+ only).
Christmas Truffle Rolling
Looking for that extra dose of chocolate during the holiday season? Look no further than our standard festive tour, now with an added bonus of Christmas Truffle Rolling! Our chocolate truffle-making experience allows for even more time to create your own unique and delicious treats where you will roll, dip and decorate delicious Belgian Chocolate truffles! If you’re a chocolate lover looking for an unforgettable experience with that touch of Christmas magic, this is the perfect opportunity for you! Don’t miss out on this exciting and delicious adventure. Combined with the standard tour, this experience last between 1hr 15 minutes – 1hr 30 minutes and is available from £21 for children and £23.50 for adults.”
Also, consider visiting York’s Christmas lights, Barley Hall, Treasurer’s House and Beningbrough Hall.