York Christmas lights switch-on guide 2018: What happens when

Christmas shoppers in St Helen's Square
14 Nov 2018 @ 5.48 pm
| News, Shopping

Lights, panto, action!

Christmas switch on

York’s Christmas festivities get officially underway on Thursday, November 15 as the lights are turned on and the St Nicholas Fair market starts trading.

The Coppergate Shopping Centre started the ball rolling last Friday with their lights switch on.


Now it is the turn of the rest of the city centre. The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Keith Orrell and Lady Mayoress Mrs Judith Orrell, with panto star Martin Barrass, will jointly switch on the lights.

Berwick Kaler will not now be able to make it as he’s tied up script writing and putting the final touches to the York Theatre Royal pantomime.

So what can we expect?

Approximate timings

More streets will get the lights this year. Photograph: Carl Oliver

2pm
Minster FM will be kicking the show off with live broadcasts from around the city

5.15pm
The main event begins. Minster FM breakfast presenter Ben Fry will host games on stage

6pm
Lucy’s Pop Choir are set to take to the stage to perform, followed by music from the Shepherd Group Junior Brass Band

6.30pm
Ben and Andrew Lowson, director of the York BID, switch on Mince Pie FM, the dedicated Christmas music station from Minster FM. Ben invites the Lord Mayor of York Cllr Keith Orrell and Lady Mayoress Judith Orrell along with panto star Martin Barrass on stage.

6.45pm
Ben is joined on stage by BBC Radio York breakfast presenter Georgey Spanswick

6.55pm
The countdown to the switch on!

The St Leonard’s Hospice ‘Light up a Life’ Christmas Tree in St Helen’s Square will be lit up, as well as streets around the city centre.

7.15pm
The event will end with a performance by the brass band.

Late-night shopping

Thor’s Tipi returns to Parliament Street. Photograph: Trev Pack
The celebration kicks off the start of late night shopping, as well as the St Nicholas Fair, which will be open every day until 6pm and until 8pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday up until 23 December.

Card image cap

York at Christmas 2018: Your complete guide to the festive season

Shambles Market will open later too on these nights until 6pm.

Adding to the ambience in Shambles Market, the Food Court will be opening late on these nights, offering delicious street food and Thor’s Tipi in Parliament Street will once again be inviting visitors to sample their mulled wine and sit by the roaring fire.

First York will also be extending Park & Ride services for late night shopping on Thursdays with services running every 15 minutes

Inviting atmosphere

Flashback to the 2016 festive switch on. Left to right: then Lord Mayor Cllr Dave Taylor, Lady Mayoress Susan Ridley, BBC Radio York breakfast show presenter Georgey Spanswick, and York Theatre Royal panto stars Hermione Lynch and AJ Powell
As well as the decorations in St Helen’s Square, the winter light experience will return to the four historic bars in York: Bootham, Micklegate, Monkbar and Walmgate.

The illuminations have been extended this year to incorporate New Street and Colliergate. The decorations feature over 160,000 LED lights and create the perfect Christmas experience.

Returning for a third year, the lights are coordinated by the York BID and supported by Make It York.


They will brighten the city throughout the York Christmas Festival (15 November – 23 December) and continue right through to mid-February.

York BID director Andrew Lowson said:

  • The winter months are a vital time of year for local businesses and the tourism industry.

    York’s winter lights and Christmas lights are part of our commitment to enhancing the inviting atmosphere and will be a must see for residents and visitors alike.

Head of Visit York Paul Whiting said: “York truly is the most festive city in the UK and we’re expecting a really busy season from November right through to Christmas day.”

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