York’s city-wide festive celebrations will get underway with St Nicholas Christmas Fair and the switching on of the city’s ever-growing collection of Winter lights.  Why Winter lights rather than Christmas lights? 

york christmas lights
The Shambles at Christmas

Well, they are lit just before Christmas and stay on throughout the dark winter months, lighting York up until Spring!

york christmas lights
The Lights in St Helen’s Square

The lights will be switched on celebrate the opening of St Nicholas Fair on the 16th of November.

Promising to be the best winter lights display the city has seen, this year will see more lights, new technology and new areas added to the scheme.

york christmas lights
The Church of All Saints, Coppergate

A partnership between York BID and Make It York, this year’s winter light display will increase the use of more sustainable LED and solar lights, with new areas to be lit up including George Hudson Street and Nessgate.

christmas lights in york
Christmas Lights on Coppergate Walk

The curtain of lights on York’s historic bar walls will remain, along with the magical ‘Tree of Light’ at the Eye of York with its 1km of twinkly LED lights which change colour to mark important dates and festivals.

christmas lights in York
The Magical Tree of Light near Clifford’s Tower- Credit Visit York


When is York Christmas Light Switch On?

York Christmas Light Switch On will be on the 16th November 2023.   There is no event planned for it, but it will coincide with the Christmas Market opening.

Indeed, York BID – which organises York’s annual display of Christmas lights throughout the city centre – has commissioned even more lights for Duncombe Place, including sympathetic lighting that will highlight well known landmarks such as the Boer War Memorial, St Michael Le Belfry and the Minster.

york xmas lights
The Christmas Lights on Colliergate

“Creating a welcoming winter lights scheme for the city – including the historic Bar gateways themselves – has been one of the most visible parts of York BID’s work over the last few years, funded by city centre businesses to give the city even wider appeal during the darker, winter months,” comments Andrew Lowson, executive director of York BID. 


Coppergate Walk looking up to The Church of All Saints

“We try to extend the displays slightly each year, which will no doubt delight hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the city centre to stay, shop and socialise at this special time of year.”


Fossgate Christmas Lights

York Minster’s Canon Chancellor, The Revd Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood said:


“York in winter is an absolute gem, full of light, energy and excitement and people preparing for the festive season. York BID and Make It York have worked wonders in extending the lighting show to Duncombe Place and in designing the Minster into the scheme.


We hope that the lights will not only draw people to view the Minster but also encourage them to come inside. They will find a warm welcome and quiet spaces to rest and reflect upon the real meaning of Advent and Christmas.”


york christmas lights
Bootham Bar


For details on the St Nicholas Fair and the Christmas activities going on around the city see www.visityork.org/whats-on/christmas.


Have a look at what else is on in York at Christmas, as well as York Christmas Market and where to visit Santa in York.


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