Things to do in York at Christmas

There are lots of fantastic things to do in York at Christmas. There are fantastic events happening all over the city, as well as lots of exciting free things you can do with the whole family.

Check out our pick of some of the best things to do in York this Christmas and start planning your festive period.

St Nicholas Christmas Fair

The Christmas Fair in York’s Parliament Street gets better every year. From 14th November to 22nd December, stalls full of gifts, food, drink and festive fun line the street. Get into the festive spirit and tick off some of your Christmas shopping list as you wander the market.

Thor’s Tipi is always a favourite for market goers too. It’s open daily from 10am to 11pm from 13th November to 1st January.

Find more Christmas markets and fairs in North Yorkshire in our handy blog.

York Christmas market stall

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

Now in its 15th year, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland returns to the York Designer Outlet. Come along to skate, enjoy the fun fair rides, meet Santa, sample the delicious food and drink in the alpine themed café and finish off your Christmas shopping in the outlet.

A Nativity for York

This is a special hour long performance of the Nativity from the medieval Mystery Plays. Community actors come have come together under director Philip Parr for a special festive performance.

Santa Cruises

Take to the water for a really unique experience this Christmas. Children can meet Santa on board one of the very special cruises up the River Ouse. They’ll get a personalised present and enjoy face painting, colouring sheets and a letter template to write to Santa. Your Santa Cruise tickets also include a glass of wine or refillable hot drinks for parents and an apple or mince pie, and a soft drink and biscuit for the kids.

Watch a pantomime

Is there anything more Christmassy than seeing a pantomime? Oh no there isn’t! York has lots of wonderful pantos for you to choose from, including Sleeping Beauty at The Theatre Royal and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at The Grand Opera House.

For an extra theatre experience this Christmas, you can watch Scrooge the Musical in the Grand Opera House, and A Christmas Carol at the Theatre Royal too.

cinnamon, pine cones and biscuit stars

Christmas at the Treasurer’s House

Beautifully decorated for the festive season, York Treasurer’s House is a must visit. Their traditional Edwardian decorations will transport you back in time and fill you with festive joy. They’ll also have a selection of seasonal treats on offer in their Below Stairs Café.

Community carols at York Barbican

Join together with the York community for an afternoon full of carol singing and festive entertainment. This very popular event usually sells out quickly, so make sure you get your tickets early.

15th century Christmas at Barley Hall

Barley Hall looks great all year round, but it’s at Christmas that it really shines. This year, as well as traditional decorations, an exhibition on the Three Kings and their gifts will show how important this Christmas story was in the 15th century.

Sankta Lucia at York Minster

As well as special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, York Minster are hosting a Sanka Lucia celebration this year. The candlelit procession and carol service is based on the Swedish Lucia tradition. It’s a celebration of a young Sicilian girl’s bravery and martyrdom from the 4th century.

Christmas tree with baubles

Goddards House at Christmas

If you love tucking into a chocolate orange at Christmas, you need to visit the home of the family who invented them. Goddards House is opening its doors and will be glowing with festive joy. They’re serving a delicious Christmas lunch too, so you can really make the most of your seasonal visit.

Yorkshire Bach Choir’s Hendle: Messiah

Messiah is essential festive listening. The wonderful singers at Yorkshire Bach Choir will be performing it in their Christmas concert on 14th December with stunning Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. This is a real festive musical highlight not to be missed.

Fairfax Yuletide Fayre

Fairfax House looks stunning every Christmas, so is always worth the visit. On 14th November, they’re hosting a Yuletide Fayre, with later opening hours so you can soak up the atmospheric Georgian rooms by candlelight. There will be mulled wine, mince pies, tastings, and music from York Theatre Royal Choir.

There are so many things to do in York at Christmas, you’ll find it hard to get any wrapping done at all! Plan your trip today and book into some fantastic York accommodation as an early gift from you, to you. Happy holidays!