The Best Things to do in York at Christmas

The Best Things to do in York at Christmas

The Best Things to do in York at Christmas

A Christmas staycation is definitely on the cards for many people this winter, and there is no place better to get into the Christmas spirit than the UK’s most festive city (as voted in 2017). The extensive range of things to do in York at Christmas provides an exciting and daunting prospect for prospective merrymakers as there is so much to fit into a single trip! For this reason, we have compiled a list of the must-see festive activities and sights for you to enjoy this Christmas in York.

Observe the twinkling lights

Itching to break out the Christmas lights and decorations in your own house but want to hold off a bit longer? There is truly no better way to welcome the holiday season than by observing the beautiful, twinkling lights that line the cobbled streets of York. The spectacular Christmas lights in York are the most essential element to stir up Christmas cheer during your trip.

Christmas markets are one of the most festive things to do in York at Christmas
Bringing the warm, fuzzy feeling of Christmas, York streets are beautifully decorated with lights

Christmas walks are a fantastic activity for the whole family to get involved in and enjoy on a crisp, winter's evening; not mentioning the added bonus of burning off those Christmas chocolates! In previous years, alongside the Shambles being host to some mesmerising lights, ‘Snow on the Shambles’ has been a popular favourite, bringing that extra added magic to the narrow avenue. So, grab yourself a flask of hot chocolate or mulled wine to enjoy and wrap up warm as you walk the illuminated streets of York and experience the perfect winter evening.

York minister

The traditional, breathtaking services which take place at York Minister are a beautiful reminder of the importance of thankfulness at Christmas time. A Gothic architectural masterpiece, this phenomenal cathedral is a must-see landmark of York throughout the year; however, it really comes into its own during the Christmas period when it is magnificently illuminated.

Seasonal concerts and family-friendly events are regular occurrences at the venue and have helped it become a staple destination for many who visit the beautiful city. Additionally, their Christmas Carol Concerts are a popular event for York tourists to get involved in. The range of breath-taking services occur throughout the day, easily fitting into your busy Christmas staycation schedule. 

Winter Wonderland magic

An award-winning and highly recommended event for those looking for things to do in York at Christmas, Yorkshire’s award winning Winter Wonderland is a firm favourite. Home to the North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink, a Christmas staycation would not be complete without putting on your skates and showing off some questionable moves on the ice. The rink is illuminated by fairy lights and with the addition of a bright and dazzling Christmas tree taking centre stage; Christmas is truly brought to life in this winter wonderland.

The fun doesn’t stop after a session on the ice, however, with added attractions such as an après-ski café and a vintage funfair available to prolong the entertainment for longer. Mulled wine and hot chocolate, alongside hot food offerings, is available to indulge in while warming up and sheltering from the brisk outside air. To amaze the little ones, a snowy, enchanted woodland surrounds the icy spectacle and by venturing through the brightly decorated trees you will find a path leading you to Santa’s grotto. Winter Wonderland is most definitely an authentically fun, Christmassy day out for the whole family to enjoy.

City cruises- Santa Experiences

One of the main things to do in York at Christmas is meet the jolly guy in red; an essential for all Christmas staycations. Transporting the magic from the streets of York to the River Ouse, York’s Santa Cruises offers an incredible, unique experience for your children to remember; one that is sure to stay with them for the rest of their lives. Santa is aboard the Captain James Cook boat, along with many of his friends whom you will also have the pleasure of meeting.

The River Ouse is a tranquil and beautiful river to enjoy a cruise down
The River Ouse is a beautiful setting for Christmas cruise trips, making that Santa experience all the more special

This excursion lasts approximately 50 minutes, making it the perfect festive activity to break up a day of sight-seeing. With a ticket including a present and refreshments for each child in attendance and something a little stronger for the responsible adults, everyone will be satisfied after this cheerful boat trip. Treat your children to an unforgettable experience this Christmas and visit Santa on his magical, adventure-filled boat!

Festive Christmas shopping

Taking advantage of the excellent shopping scene is a necessity and one of the key things to do in York at Christmas. Whether you are scrambling for a last minute gift, or you’re a self-proclaimed shopaholic keen to grab as many bargains as you can, York is a true shopper’s paradise. During these peak shopping times, extended hours are implemented to give you more flexibility. There is also an abundance of high street stores available to peruse, alongside more quaint, hidden retail gems for that extra personal treat. With something for every taste and budget, the range and variety of shops leaves you spoilt for choice. With everything ticked off your Christmas shopping list, the feeling of being prepared for the big day is incomparable and will be the icing on the cake during your York Christmas staycation.

The Shambles are a fantastically festive street in York filled with fantastic shops
With a bit of luck, snow will fall during your visit to bring a true taste of Christmas to your shopping experience

If you have not found all that you are looking for around the bustling centre of York, York Designer Outlet is situated a mere four miles away and is easily accessible by car or bus. Home to 120 stores, from high street names to designer brands with fantastic discounts, you are certain to find the perfect gifts for your friends and family.

After planning all the activities for your Christmas staycation, it is clear that one of the best things to do in York at Christmas is stay in one of the best York serviced apartments we have to offer. With accommodation to fit all family sizes and a team who are committed to finding you the ideal apartment no matter your requirements, there is no better place to spend your time away from the festive streets of York. Visit our website to browse our complete range of York serviced apartments or enquire today to find your perfect stay.

Sophie Emms

Sophie Emms


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