The ice sculptures are back! The hugely popular York Festival Of Angels may have gone but a new and more ambitious ice trail will spring up in its place this year.

Thirty frozen works of art will appear across the city for a December weekend as part of the first York St Nicholas Christmas Festival, which is set to be the city’s most festive celebration yet.

Also incorporating a 35-day St Nicholas Fair, a Scandinavian style tipi tent, a new city centre Santa’s grotto and a choirs weekend, York is set to be the winter wonderland to beat this year.

City of York Council is to offer free parking in its car parks on the first evening of the festival, Thursday, November 19, from 6pm.

Kate McMullen from Make It York said thousands of people loved to visit the city at Christmas:

By running the St Nicholas Fair for 35 days, introducing the new Ice Trail, Scandinavian tipi and inviting Father Christmas himself, we’re offering new reasons to come back and we hope everyone will enjoy this extended events programme.

So what is in store this Chrimbletide?

New for Christmas 2015

Ice Trail

The ice sculptures are popular with all ages. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
The ice sculptures are popular with all ages. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

York city centre

Sat Dec 12-Sun Dec 13

Glacial Art website

When YorkMix broke the news a year ago that the 2014 Festival Of Angels had been cancelled, the decision was greeted by widespread dismay.

So here’s some news to warm the heart: the same idea is being resurrected as an Ice Trail which will cover the whole city centre.

Altogether 30 specially commissioned hand-carved ice sculptures, created by Glacial Art, will be dotted around York during the weekend of December 12-13.

The event will feature live ice carving, and is made possible by businesses from across the city who are sponsoring their own frosty character or sparkling scene.

Revamped St Nicholas Fair

Winner of the best dressed stand at the St Nick's Fair 2014, winner of the Best Dressed Stand, Paula Snowden. Photograph: City of York Council
Winner of the best dressed stand at the St Nick’s Fair 2014, winner of the Best Dressed Stand, Paula Snowden. Photograph: City of York Council

Parliament Street, York

Thu Nov 19-Wed Dec 23; Mon-Wed 10am-6pm; Thurs-Sat 10am-9pm; Sun 10am-5pm

The hugely popular Christmas market is revamped for 2015.

Running for a record 35 days, it will have a new look with wooden chalets, complete with garlands and twinkling lights, hosting the traders. The chalets will also extend into St Sampson’s Square, Coppergate and Judge’s Lodging.

More than 100 stallholders will be selling gifts including Whitby jet jewellery, ceramics, homewares, crafts and Yorkshire produce such as locally made wines and cheeses.

Scandinavian-style tipi

One of PapaKåta's tipis in use at the Orillo open air cinema in Museum Gardens. Photograph: PapaKåta
One of PapaKåta’s tipis in use at the Orillo open air cinema in Museum Gardens. Photograph: PapaKåta

Parliament Street

Thu Nov 19-Sat Jan 2

PapaKåta website

Thor’s Tipi is brand new for 2015. The giant tent on Parliament Street will boast a roaring fire, with cosy furs to keep the cold at bay, and plenty of refreshments.

Designed and delivered by the PapaKåta team who are also behind Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, Thor’s Tipi will serve an outdoor winter barbecue, homemade sweet treats, festive hot chocolate, mulled wine, draft ales and Christmas cocktails.

Christmas choir weekend

Carol singers in York. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
Carol singers in York. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

York city centre

Sat Dec 5-Sun Dec 6

York choirs will be pop up around our city centre streets and squares in a weekend-long choral celebration of Christmas, while raising money for local homeless charity SASH.

Brass bands will add another musical note every Thursday evening through the festival.

New Santa’s grotto

Santa returns to York's Chocolate Story
Santa returns to York’s Chocolate Story

York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square

From mid-November

Chocolate Story website

Father Christmas returns to York’s Chocolate Story, and this year he’s got a new wooden grotto.

Last year Santa could only manage weekends at the popular attraction, but this year he will be installed with his helpers from the middle of November.

Returning festive favourites

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

A young skater and friend at the Yorkshire Winter Wonderland. Photograph: Yorkshire Winter Wonderland
A young skater and friend at the Yorkshire Winter Wonderland. Photograph: Yorkshire Winter Wonderland

York Designer Outlet

Sat Nov 21-Sun Jan 3

Winter Wonderland website

Again incorporating the Ice Factor – the North of England’s biggest ice rink, Yorkshire Winter Wonderland returns.

New this year is a heated terrace outside the PapaKitchen alpine-themed café, next to the ice rink. It will serve festive Glühwein and hot dogs with Scandi-relish. And Santa will be in his grotto.

Carols at York Minster

A magical Christmas moment. Photograph: York Minster
A magical Christmas moment. Photograph: York Minster

York Minster

Carol concerts: Sat Dec 5 and Sun Dec 6

Minster website

Advent is one of the busiest times of the year at York Minster, and a full Christmas programme of services and celebrations is planned.

As well as the carol concerts, there’s the raising of the Giant Advent Wreath – the largest in the country, the Crib Service, the Nine Lessons and Carols and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Christmas at the Castle Museum

The Victorian Christmas Experience… Photograph: York Castle Museum
The Victorian Christmas Experience… Photograph: York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum, Eye of York

Various, from Mon Nov 30-Christmas Eve

Castle Museum website

Lots of family fun planned at the Castle Museum. Father Christmas is back, and this year he’s opening his festive toy museum, to rediscover what boys and girls dreamed of getting in their stocking in years past.

There’s the return of the Victorian Christmas Experience tours during the school holidays, and Scrooge is back too for performances of A Christmas Carol.

Fairfax House exhibition and events

Fairfax House taken from Clifford's Tower at night. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
Fairfax House taken from Clifford’s Tower at night. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

Fairfax House, Castlegate, York

Tues Nov 17-Sun Jan 3

Fairfax House website

Elegant Yuletide splendour at the Georgian townhouse again in 2015, with the return of the exhibition The Keeping Of Christmas.

There are twilight tours, a Christmas concert and family-friendly storytelling sessions too.

York Early Music Christmas Festival

Acclaimed vocal ensemble Ex Cathedra return to the Early Music Christmas fest. Photograph: Neil Pugh
Acclaimed vocal ensemble Ex Cathedra return to the Early Music Christmas fest. Photograph: Neil Pugh

National Centre For Early Music, Walmgate

Fri Dec 4-Sat Dec 12

NCEM website

Beautiful music in a beautiful church setting.

The Early Music Christmas Festival returns with a programme including the European Union Baroque Orchestra, the Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists performance of Haydn’s The Creation, and Ex Cathedra’s An Elizabethan Christmas.

Christmas markets

Made in Yorkshire Fayre

A glassware gift from a previous fayre. Photograph: Made In Yorkshire
A glassware gift from a previous fayre. Photograph: Made In Yorkshire

York Guildhall, St Helen’s Square

Thu Nov 26-Sun Dec 13, 10am-5pm

Made In Yorkshire website

Makers and crafts people sell everything from ceramics to fine art Yorkshire prints, so if you know someone who appreciates art this could be the place to find them a unique gift.

Medieval Market at Barley Hall

Father Christmas at Barley Hall
Father Christmas at Barley Hall

Barley Hall, 2 Coffee Yard, york

Thu Nov 26-Sun Nov 29

Barley Hall website

It’s worth visiting Barley Hall at Christmas because it is decorated to the nines in traditional festive garb, and Father Christmas is here too.

While your there browse the goods on sale from a variety of medieval merchants.

York Christmas Antiques Market

King's Manor, York. Photograph © Rodhullandemu on Wikipedia
King’s Manor, York. Photograph © Rodhullandemu on Wikipedia

King’s Manor, The University of York, Exhibition Square, York

Sat Dec 19-Sun Dec 20

King’s Manor website

York has a year-round reputation for being a haven for antiques hunters. And this year it hosts a special Christmas market for those looking to give a piece of history to a friend or loved one (or keep it for themselves).

York pantomimes 2015

Dick Whittington, York Theatre Royal

Berwick in full dame mode, when it was announced the panto was moving to the NRM. Photograph: Colin Richardson
Berwick in full dame mode, when it was announced the panto was moving to the NRM. Photograph: Colin Richardson

The Signal Box Theatre, National Railway Museum

Thu Dec 10-Sun Jan 24

Theatre Royal website

Or to give the show its full title, Dick Whittington And His Meerkat, this is a one-off opportunity to see Britain’s best dame Berwick Kaler and the gang in a new location.

Moved to the Signal Box Theatre while the Theatre Royal renovations are carried out, the panto will sprinkle its magic over the tracks at the NRM.

Jack And The Beanstalk, Grand Opera House

Jade Ellis on X Factor. Photograph: YouTube
Jade Ellis on X Factor. Photograph: YouTube

Grand Opera House, Cumberland Street, York

Fri Dec 11-Sun Jan 3

Opera House website

One of the favourite pantos, Jack, his Ma and a mad old cow take to the stage in this New Pantomimes Production.

The show stars X-Factor’s Jade Ellis stars as Fairy Peapod, Scooch’s Caroline Barnes and Russ Spencer return to York, this time as Jack and Jill, and Emmerdale star Stuart Wade plays Dame Tilly Trot.

Peter Pan On Ice, York Barbican

York Barbican, Paragon Street, York

Wed Dec 23-Sun Jan 3

York Barbican

The Russian Ice Stars bring something new to the Barbican this Christmas, Peter Pan On Ice.

The ice dancers have their own take on this famous fantasy adventure by JM Barrie.