10 free (or very cheap) things to do in York in December and the Christmas holidays
The Christmas holidays are fast approaching and it’s a very busy time of year. Here are some ideas of things to do in and around York that won’t cost a fortune and will provide some extra entertainment this Christmas.
We also stay up to date with all the events happening in York (and there are a LOT at Christmas) so you don’t need to research yourself – all you have to do is look at our Christmas holidays event listings. We know everyone’s to-do lists are off the scale at this time of year, so York Mumbler is here to make your life a little bit easier.
All we want to know now is, can we ask Father Christmas for another holiday once it’s all over so we can recover? 🎅🎅🎅
1. Enjoy snow on the Shambles❄️❄️❄️
Snow on the Shambles will run intermittently between 5pm & 7pm each Friday until Christmas.
Shambles York has advised: “Please note that the snow is intermittent between the times listed, and not constant, we can only guarantee snow during these times and not for the entire duration. Although snow will fall regularly during these times. Many shops will be open later to allow you to combine a visit with some Christmas shopping.
ℹ️ See more details here 💷 Cost? This year they will be raising funds for York’s St Leonard’s Hospice with a suggested donation of £1 per visitor. 📅 When? Friday 29 Nov, Friday 6, 13 & 20 Dec between 5-7pm 🗺Where? The Shambles, York
2. Visit the National Railway Museum 🚂🚂🚂
A trip out to the Railway Museum is always a good way to let off some steam.
You can see the original Stephenson’s Rocket which is part of the latest exhibition Brass, Steel and Fire. On weekends there is a Pop-up Science demo to find out how to unlock the true power of sprouts. Younger visitors will be whisked away on a merry adventure in Storytelling. Plus you can head out to South Yard for a Steam Ride or a rumble along the Miniature Railway.
ℹ️See the National Railway Museum page on Mumbler for more information 💷 Cost? Entry to the museum is free. 📅 When? All holiday, except 24, 25 & 26 December when the museum is closed. 🗺Where? National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ
3. Look at the Christmas lights in York one evening or visit Twinkle Pike Way🎄🎄🎄
Why not take a wander around town once it’s dark to enjoy the Christmas lights but after the shops have shut to avoid all the crowds. Not only do they look lovely at night it’s much nicer to walk around when it’s not so busy and you’re not carrying loads of shopping!
Or take a trip out to Twinkle Pike Way and be dazzled by the amazing lights. Donate to the brilliant charities they are raising money for this year.
Why not choose something together to donate to a charity or organisation this Christmas? We’ve listed lots of places in York looking for your help in the run-up to the festive period.
Perhaps you could choose a toy together or buy some Christmas treats like chocolates or biscuits. Details of what can be donated, where you need to drop off your donations and by when are listed on our Christmas charity blog.
ℹ️ See a suggested list of charities and organisations you could donate to here 💷 Cost? Whatever you feel is right for your family 📅 When? Any dropoff deadlines are detailed on our blog 🗺Where? Dropoff locations are also detailed on our blog
5. Be a tourist and explore York Minster 🌟🌟🌟
Don’t forget York residents can enter York Minster for free. It goes without saying how impressive it is simply to just wander around.
If you have young children you might want to borrow a ‘Little Explorer Backpack’ which includes I-Spy challenge, binoculars, torch and more or follow Monty the Monkeys trail.
ℹ️ For more information see York Minster Families page 💷 Cost? York residents are free with proof of address including a YorkCard, driving licence or utility bill. 📅 When? Open all holidays but check the website before you visit 🗺 Where? York Minster, Deangate
6. Visit a Museum: York Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum, York Art Gallery 🎫🎫🎫
The York Museums Trust comprises of York Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum and York Art Gallery and there is so much to see and do. There are also child-friendly cafes at the Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Wander down the Victorian Street in the Castle Museum, hunt out some dinosaurs in the Yorkshire Museum or discover ‘Making a Masterpiece’ in the Art Gallery.
ℹ️ See YMT website for more information 💷 Cost? Membership for YMT is £15 per adult York Resident. York children free. 📅 When? Opening times vary – check before you visit 🗺 Where? York Castle Museum, Tower Street, Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens and York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York.
7. Get out for a walk in York🚶♀️🚶♀️🚶♀️
Long or short, Mumbler has a list of 50 walks in and around York. Roughly how long they take and if they are buggy and or dog-friendly is detailed. Get everyone some fresh air and discover a new walk together. Some great walks to provide even more entertainment, where there are things to see and spot include:
🚶♀️York City Walls 🚶♀️York Cat Trail 🚶♀️York Solar System Walk
A Christmas film is bound to get you feeling festive!
Toddler time at City Screen is exclusively for preschool children and their parents or carers. Tickets are £3.00 for children, free for accompanying adults. No adult unaccompanied by a toddler will be admitted. Runs on Fridays at 11.30am.
Mini Mornings at Vue are only £2.49 per person. Mini Mornings run every Saturday and Sunday morning from 10 am, plus every day in the school holidays
Or if you don’t want to venture out, why not snuggle up and watch a Christmas film at home.
9. See a film for free at Spark:York 🎬🎬🎬
As part of the Sparkflix event, the films shown at Spark:York are free. Each film is in conjunction with a local charity to raise awareness. Bring some change to throw in the charity bucket and enjoy a Christmas film! 🎬Thursday 12 Dec: Love Actually – 6:30pm 🎬Sunday 15 Dec: A Muppet Christmas Carol – 5:30pm 🎬Thursday 19 Dec: It’s a Wonderful Life – 6:30pm 🎬Sunday 22 Dec: Elf – 5:30pm
ℹ️ For more information see Spark:York events page. 💷 Cost? Free, charity donations welcomed 📅 When? Dates/times shown above 🗺 Where? Spark:York, Picadilly, York
10. Visit the Malthouse Christmas hosted by the Space Invaders 🎅🎅🎅
Escape the crowds in town and enjoy a family-friendly space. Enjoy making some crafts and let the children make plenty of mess and get the glitter out.
There are various Christmas activities throughout the day, plus a visit from Father Christmas! 🎅
Expect lots of Christmas music, happy vibes, festive cheer, refreshments and York’s best street food!