York Christmas lights switch on 2015: what’s happening where

The city centre switch on will see St Helen's Square lit up like… well, a Christmas tree. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
11 Nov 2015 @ 7.43 pm
| Entertainment

Those keen beans in Bishy Road are the first to flick the festive switch this year, but where else can you see twinkly lights, special guests and, if you’ve been very, very good, Santa?

St Helen’s Square

Thor's tipi bar – a Christmas bar with added Vikings - pops up on Parliament Street
Thor’s tipi bar – a Christmas bar with added Vikings – pops up on Parliament Street

St Helen’s Square

Nov 19, 6pm

Free

Visit York’s website

York’s 35-day St Nicholas Christmas Festival officially gets the green light (and red, blue and probably the odd twinkly silver one) with an official launch on November 19.

Lord Mayor of York Councillor Sonja Crisp will be joined by special guests David Leonard and Suzy Cooper from the cast of Theatre Royal Pantomime, Dick Whittington (and his meerkat). They will gather around the festive fir tree in St Helen’s Square to flick the switch on the city’s Christmas lights.

As well as all the ooh and aah-worthy lights, there’ll also be festive songs by young performers from York’s Pauline Quirke Academy, a pop-up Scandinavian tipi café complete with a roaring fire and cosy furs in Parliament Street and the first late-night shopping of the till-jingling season.

And if you (reindeer) hoof it over to King’s Square, you should be just in time to see Father Christmas arriving at his grotto outside York’s Chocolate Story.

Bishopthorpe Road

Flashback to last year's Bishy Road festive switch on. Photograph: Bishy Road on Facebook
Flashback to last year’s Bishy Road festive switch on. Photograph: Bishy Road on Facebook

Bishopthorpe Road

Nov 12, 6.30pm

Free

Bishy Road’s website

York’s favourite panto dame Berwick Kaler, The Voice star Beth McCarthy and Santa (note that he gets third billing) are the special guests at the Bishy Road Winter Lights Street Party on November 12.

The festivities kick off at 6.30pm with music, magic, late night shopping, a dozen stalls representing local charities, including York Mind and Friends Helping Refugees, and street food from the local eateries.

Santa is due to land at around 6.35pm, led down Bishopthorpe Road by 50 local children carrying lanterns to his temporary grotto in Fruitique, where he will greet children and listen to their Christmas wishes.

The lights will be switched on at 7.15pm by Berwick and other stars from Dick Whittington (and his Meerkat).

Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland

Ice to see you, to see you ice - Yorkshire's Winter Wonderland makes a welcome return
Ice to see you, to see you ice – Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland makes a welcome return

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet

Nov 20, 5pm

Free

Winter Wonderland website

Get your skates on and head to the McArthurGlen York Designer Outlet on November 20 for the official lights switch-on and launch of Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland.

Heart Yorkshire radio’s Dixie and Emma will be hosting the evening from 5pm, with prizes, festive fun, face-painting, hot food, Santa’s grotto and, of course, The Ice Factor – the north’s largest ice rink.

Coppergate Centre

Part of the Christmas tree at Coppergate. Photograph © Neil Turner on Flickr
Part of the Christmas tree at Coppergate. Photograph © Neil Turner on Flickr

Featuring live music, prizes and the Minster FM roadshow. There will also be a prize giveaway with Fenwicks stumping up a Scalextric set, perfect for boy (and girl) racers of all ages…