Yuletide York - Christmas Markets and Festivities in Medieval York

Could York be England's most Christmassy City?

Colliergate and York Minster at Christmas, York, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe
Frank Fell / robertharding / Getty Images

The images and sounds of the Middle Ages - in the imaginary, Romantic version at any rate - beautifully lend themselves to the festive sparkle of the holiday season. Perhaps that is why York which, despite its Roman and Viking origins is still the most Medieval of English cities, can turn itself into such a Christmassy place.

From late November onward, within the walls of York and overlooked by Northern Europe's largest Medieval Gothic Cathedral, this is England's "Christmas Central" .

Yuletide York

If you're traveling in England during the Christmas holiday season, head to York for some of England's best seasonal events, starting with a clutch of atmospheric Christmas markets. The York Christmas Festival lasts from November 14 to December 21 in 2019 and includes:

  • St. Nicholas Fayre - the winner of the Best Large Speciality Market at the Great British Market Awards in 2019, starts with a festive first night that sees the city's holiday lights lit amid music, mulled wine and entertainment and lasts through to December 22. Stalls throughout are open for business from 10.a.m.to 6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. More than 100 Scandinavian-style stalls line Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and The Judge’s Lodging. At the Judge's Lodging, a Small Business Christmas Fair features handmade items by artisans and craftspeople. Look for gifts on Coppergate and food and drink along the Shambles. 
  • The York Ice Trail - Moves to a new date for the 2019/2020 holiday season. It takes place on Saturday and Sunday, February 1 and 2, 2020. At least 50 imaginative ice sculptures sparkle all over the city center and surrounding streets, competing for prizes and promising lots of surprises.
  • Yorkshire Winter Wonderland - From November 16 to January 5, Winter Wonderland at the York Designer Outlet has the North of England's biggest ice rink plus a vintage funfair and all the usual Christmas food and drink goodies. Some of the funfair rides date from as early as 1933. And in the 2019 - 2020 season there will be new food and drinks to try in The Chalet at the Ice Factor, and family-friendly treats at Perky Peacocks Cafe overlooking the ice rink, Catch up on designer shopping averaging 60% off and then relax overlooking the skaters' waltz. Advance booking on their website is a good idea.
  • Edwardian Christmas  is once again the theme at the historic Treasurer's House. The National Trust is decorating the house in the style of it's last owner, Frank Green, who re-imagined and rebuilt the house. It's open Thursdays through Sundays between November 15 and December 16.
  • Medieval Christmas Traditions - Lost medieval Christmas traditions are shared at the Barley Hall in the city center, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 16 to January 6. Potions, charms and magic spells were all part of holiday festivities in the Middle Ages.
  • The Keeping of Christmas - 18th century Fairfax house celebrates a period Christmas with an installation of food, drink and decorations on display between November 14
    and December 31, 2019. Mulled wine, mince pies and brandy butter will be served in the Georgian kitchen throughout the season.

In The Spirit of the Season

  • The Christmas Early Music Festival - York is home of the National Centre for Early Music, within the city walls. The festival, at the beginning of December (in 2019 December 7 to 14,), fills several churches, and the Chapter House of York Minster, with Medieval and Baroque music. Tickets were already on sale by mid-October 2019 and the festival is always sold out. So if you are going to be in York for Christmas 2019, check the schedule and book.
  • The Minster Family Carol Concert- Listening, and singing carols in York's sublime Cathedral is one of the highlights of York's Advent season. There is an admission charge for this event. Due to its popularity, there are two concerts - in 2019 on December 12 and 13. Tickets go on sale in late September so don't delay. Check the minster website for exact times and how to buy tickets.

And a whole lot more

They really do go all out for Christmas in York. Find even more events - page after page of them - on the Visit York Christmas events pages .

Was this page helpful?