Santa’s sweet shop, a ‘living advent calendar’ and the ice trail’s back – York reveals Christmas plans for 2016

Ready for a cracking Christmas? Thor's Tipi will be at the heart of York's festivities
3 Oct 2016 @ 8.36 pm
| Entertainment, Shopping

Ice, fire and Santa – York has lined up all the elements for the most festive Christmas yet.

Among the plans are a grotto where children will be able to visit Father Christmas’s old fashioned sweet shop, five-themed festive weekends, and the city’s first ‘living advent calendar’.

The popular Ice Trail returns, as does cosy canvas hang-out Thor’s Tipi as part of a 37-day St Nicholas Fair.

Kate McMullen, head of tourism at Make It York, said:

Hundreds of York businesses have worked with us to help make the city a special place to visit over the festive season and we hope everyone will enjoy this extended events programme.

So what can we expect?

New for Christmas 2016

Living Advent Calendar

Your number's up: The 24 windows of the front of Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria, used as an Advent calendar during the town's Christmas market. Photograph © Matthias Kable on Wikipedia
Your number’s up: The 24 windows of the front of Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria, used as an Advent calendar during the town’s Christmas market. Photograph © Matthias Kable on Wikipedia
Designed to spread cheer (and customers) throughout the city centre, Make It York’s Living Advent Calendar is a new feature for Christmas 2016.

They are looking for 25 businesses with large windows. From mid-November, each business will show a large number in their window from 1 to 25.

On December 1, the first business will reveal a piece of Christmas art in their window – it could be a painting, a collage, a model of something Christmassy.

The calendar builds with a new reveal daily at 11am until the last reveal on Christmas Day… which will be somewhere near the Minster.

Interested in taking part? You need to get in touch by October 21: more details are here.

Santa in Shambles Market

He was in King's Square last Christmas, but Santa is taking his grotto to Shambles Market
He was in King’s Square last Christmas, but Santa is taking his grotto to Shambles Market

Last Christmas, Santa moved in to a brand new grotto in King’s Square. And he loved York so much that he’s coming back – but to a new location.

Father Christmas and his friends will be settling in to his cosy wooden grotto in Shambles Market from December 3-24, just around the corner from York’s Chocolate Story.

Santa’s helpers will be on hand to entertain little visitors in the queue with iconic brands and fun facts about our chocolate city in Christmases past.

Families will then be invited into Santa’s ‘old fashioned sweet shop’ where they will be asked to design their own chocolate bar and post their design to the chocolate room at the North Pole where Santa’s top confectioner elf, Joseph Pinetree, will pick a winning treat.

Five festive weekends

York Explore's lion, part of the 2015 ice trail. Photograph: Richard McDougall
York Explore’s lion, part of the 2015 ice trail. Photograph: Richard McDougall

With a new twist for this year, five themed weekends will add to the Christmas festivities…

Brass band weekend

Bringing a very Yorkshire Yuletide sound, brass bands from across York will entertain Christmas shoppers during the weekend of November 19 and 20.

Choir weekend

And there’s more al fresco music the following weekend – November 26 and 27 – when the city’s choirs take to the city streets.

Family weekend

Not many details forthcoming on this one yet, save for it takes place on December 3 and 4.

Ice trail weekend

Taking place on December 10 and 11, this is one of the coolest ways to enjoy the build up to Christmas. Businesses from across York will sponsor 30 hand-carved ice sculptures, again designed by Glacial Art. Plus live ice carving where the magic appears in front of your eyes.

Shambles Market Christmas Party

It’s in Shambles Market. It’s a party with a Christmas theme. It is due to take place on December 17 and 18. Other than that, we don’t know, but will update with more details as we get them.

Returning festive favourites

St Nicholas Fair

Gifts galore at the St Nick's Fair. Photograph: Chloe Gaughan
Gifts galore at the St Nick’s Fair. Photograph: Chloe Gaughan

Wooden chalets, dressed with twinkling lights will line Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, Coppergate and Judge’s Lodging on Lendal for St Nicholas Fair.

More than 100 stallholders will once again be selling a range of gifts including jewellery, ceramics, homewares, crafts and Yorkshire produce such as locally made wines and cheeses. This year the fair will run for 37 days, the length of the York Christmas Festival, from November 17 to December 23.

Thor’s Tipi

Food, drink and a roaring fire inside the tipi
Food, drink and a roaring fire inside the tipi

Back by popular demand after its debut success in 2015, Thor’s Tipi will be on Parliament Street.

Running from November 17–January 2 the Scandinavian-style tipi lets you curl up furs around a roaring fire, enjoying a winter barbecue, festive hot chocolate, mulled wine, draft ales and Christmas cocktails.

Christmas events across York

Victorian Christmas at the Castle

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

York Castle Museum, November 26–December 24
No one recreates the magic of a Victorian Christmas better than the Castle Museum, complete with the sights, sounds and smells of the festive season in days gone by. Stroll along the beautifully decorated cobbled street Kirkgate and meet the shopkeepers and characters as they prepare for the big day. Take part in festively themed family crafts and make traditional decorations to take home with you.

Made in Yorkshire Fayre

The Guildhall, November 24–December 18
Exhibitors will offer everything from ceramics to fine art Yorkshire prints. Unique present ideas, plus displays and demonstrations by design makers from around Yorkshire.

York Early Music Christmas Festival

Joglaresa are part of the festival this year
Joglaresa are part of the festival this year
National Centre for Early Music, December 8-15
The festival showcases beautiful festive music from different parts of the world every December. More details to follow in 2016. Public contact: Call 01904 632220 or 01904 658338 or visit the website for full programme and tickets at www.ncem.co.uk/xmas. Press contact: Shona Galletly, email: [email protected], Tel: 07813 796 733.

York Minster Christmas Carol Concerts

Christmas magic… Photograph: York Minster / Duncan Lomax
Christmas magic… Photograph: York Minster / Duncan Lomax
December 15 and 16
The Minster holds a dedicated season of services to celebrate the true Christmas message. For a full listing of services, events and activities at York Minster, visit the website.

Medieval Christmas Experience

Father Christmas at Barley Hall
Father Christmas at Barley Hall
Barley Hall, November 17-January 5
York’s city centre medieval townhouse will be decorated for the season. Join the lady of the house, Joan Snawsell, as she prepares her household to welcome the great and the good of York into her home for the festive season. Experience the lost traditions and sample the fayre on offer to visitors both grand and humble.

The Keeping Of Christmas

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, November 15-December 31
Experience Fairfax House in all its splendour as it celebrates The Keeping of Christmas with a magnificent festive installation inspired by the traditions of the eighteenth century. See the Georgians’ love of the natural world as they decorated their homes for Christmas, as well as their festive food, extravagant dining table displays, elegant decorations, and remarkable Twelfth Night Cake.

Shop and Skate

Photograph: Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland on Facebook
Photograph: Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland on Facebook
York Designer Outlet, November 19-January 2
There’s fun for the whole family at Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, with an ice rink, funfair and Santa’s grotto. Plus you can go shopping for Christmas bargains.

A Chocolate Covered Christmas

Tis the season to eat chocolate
Tis the season to eat chocolate
York’s Chocolate Story
Visitors to the King’s Square attraction will be in for more than just chocolate treats this Christmas. Visitors will be swept back in time on the fully guided Christmas-themed tours to the York of Christmas past where the founding families of the UK chocolate industry walked the cobbles.

Castle Howard at Christmas

Castle Howard. Photograph: visityork.com
Castle Howard. Photograph: visityork.com
November 19-December 23
The 300 year old home will flicker with the light of hundreds of candles and roaring log fires, whilst soaring trees and traditional twigs glisten with hundreds of baubles.