York’s Christmas lights will be bigger and better again this year – with even the Minster lit up.

The big-switch on has moved to Duncombe Place for the first time, and the lights and projections will adorn the magnificent West Front of the Minster for the event.

And the lights will be used periodically in the run-up to Christmas when there are not services or events taking place inside.

York BID – which organises York’s annual display of Christmas lights throughout the city centre – has commissioned even more lights for Duncombe Place, including sympathetic lighting that will highlight well known landmarks such as the Boer War Memorial and St Michael Le Belfry as well as the Minster.


York Minster’s Canon Chancellor, the Revd Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood said:

  • York in winter is an absolute gem, full of light, energy and excitement and people preparing for the festive season. York BID and Make It York have worked wonders in extending the lighting show to Duncombe Place and in designing the Minster into the scheme.

    We hope that the lights will not only draw people to view the Minster but also encourage them to come inside. They will find a warm welcome and quiet spaces to rest and reflect upon the real meaning of Advent and Christmas.

Big crowds

Huge crowds – and even some snow – in St Helen’s Square last year. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
Organised jointly by the BID (Business Improvement District) and Make It York, this year’s Christmas lights switch on will be on Thursday, 14 November at Duncombe Place.

It has moved from St Helen’s Square partly due to its popularity.

“This is one of the most popular events in the city calendar, and with more and more people turning out each year to mark the start of the festive season, we’ve moved the event to the larger venue of Duncombe Place, where we can more comfortably accommodate the larger numbers,” said Make It York’s managing director, Sean Bullick.

Andrew Lowson, executive director of York BID, said:

  • Creating a welcoming winter lights scheme for the city – including the historic Bar gateways themselves – has been one of the most visible parts of York BID’s work over the last few years, funded by city centre businesses to give the city even wider appeal during the darker, winter months.

    We try to extend the displays slightly each year, and with the move of the light switch-on to Duncombe Place, we’ve added a number of new elements here, which will no doubt delight hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the city centre to stay, shop and socialise at this special time of year.

Andrew Lowson of York BID at last year’s switch on

The switch-on will be hosted by Town Crier Ben Fry and Laura Castle from Minster FM and BBC Radio York’s Georgey Spanswick.

A stage will be set up in Duncombe Place to host the festivities, with music performances ahead of the official lighting up of the streets, which takes place at 7pm.