Are you looking for some festive fun or a lovely Christmassy day out in York but perhaps your children are too old for you know who?
We’ve got lots of ideas for fun Christmas days out for older kids, tweens and teens so you can get in the festive spirit without seeing the man in red!
From indulging in a festive afternoon tea to singing some festive tunes together there is plenty to do this December in and around York. So why not treat the family to a festive and fun trip out!
🎄 Delight in some Christmas decorations followed by cake
Why not visit one of the gorgeous houses or stately homes in York and see it all decked out for Christmas? There are lots of lovely places to visit in and around York. Here are a few highlights to inspire you!
🎄 A restored medieval townhouse and once home to a Lord Mayor of York, Barley Hall has returned to its 15th-century state, ready for a medieval Christmas. Explore the beautiful Great Hall and rooms decked out and ready for a medieval Christmas, with flickering candles and garlands of ivy and mistletoe.
🧁 After all that you can sit back and relax with a hot chocolate in Barley Hall Coffee Shop.
🎄 The entire Estate will be transformed into a winter wonderland as Tinkerbell sprinkles fairy dust over the Castle and Grounds, creating a Christmas day out like no other. The main House will be transformed into a Peter Pan-themed odyssey, with beautiful decorations, installations, and projections.
🧁Enjoy a cake and hot chocolate afterwards in one of the cafes or treat yourself to toasted marshmallows in the twinkly Courtyard!
🎄 Enjoy an enchanting Christmas experience with hundreds of merry mice taking over Fairfax House! A Christmas wonderland like no other, you’ll find our mousey guests swinging from the ceiling, bursting out of drawers, and causing general havoc whilst they play amongst our festive Georgian decor. Be prepared to be charmed, amused, and thoroughly delighted by the antics of the very special (and yes, a tad naughty) town-mouse guests!
🧁 Wander through the Christmas markets in town afterwards to buy a festive treat or how about a visit to Thors Tipi in the Museum Gardens?
🎄 Visit the Bar Convent this festive season as this historic house becomes aglow with a twinkling tree, dazzling decorations and an exciting new luminous installation as part of this year’s Christmas experience ‘Let there be Light!’. A brand-new light installation will take centre-stage against the befitting backdrop of the stunning C18th Chapel this Christmas.
🧁 Why not also enjoy York’s favourite traditional Christmas lunch in the café whilst you are there? Christmas lunches need to be booked in advance.
🎶 Singalong to some festive music
There are LOADS of brilliant Christmas Concerts and Carol Services happening in and around York this year. Getting singing in the festive spirit together!
🎶 You’ll be greeted by a brass band, then taken on a journey through the Christmas classics with singer Alistair Griffin and a live band. From soul stirring acoustic versions of your favourite carols to Christmas classics from the Pogues, Slade, Wizard, George Michael and more.
📆 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th December 2023
📍 Q Church, 9 Priory Street, York
🎶 York Stage proudly presents a Festive Feast of Christmas songs, ranging from traditional to modern pop, and of course a few musical theatre classics… there really is something for everyone’s musical palate. Get ready for an evening of sensational vocals, featuring a host of York Stage talent accompanied by Adam Tomlinson and his band!
📆 Selected dates from 15th – 22nd December
📍 Theatre@41, Monkgate
🎶 Come and celebrate with the staff and students of York St John University at our annual Christmas Carol Service in the glorious surroundings of York Minster. There will be a performance from our musical theatre students, as well as the chance to listen to readings and sing traditional carols. All guests are invited back to York St John University after the carol service to carry on the festive celebrations with mulled wine and mince pies and time to socialise.
📆 Monday 4th December 2023, 7.30-8.30pm
📍 York Minster, Dean Street, York. YO1 7HH
🎭 Take a trip to the Panto
You’re never too old to enjoy a Panto at Christmas! Crack open the popcorn and sweets and enjoy some classic family entertainment! We’ve highlighted lots of Pantos in York below but and you can find even more over on our Pantos & Festive Shows page here.
🎭 The Blue Light Theatre Company are proud to present their 10th Anniversary Pantomime………..’Nithered!‘ All proceeds go to MND Association York and York Against Cancer.
📆 Performances are 18th, 19th, 24th, 25th and 26th January 2024 at 7.30pm, plus a Matinee on 20th January 2024 at 1pm
📍Acomb Working Mens Club, York
🎭 Join Rowntree Players for another rollicking romp of a Pantomime in 2023. Song, dance and all the traditional silliness that goes with true festive family entertainment!
📆 9th – 16th December 2023
📍Haxby Rd, York YO31 8TA
🎭 York Theatre Royal’s pantomime returns this Christmas! Starring Nina Wadia as Fairy Sugarsnap (EastEnders, Citizen Khan, Goodness Gracious Me), James Mackenzie as the villainous Luke Backinanger (CBeebies’ Molly and Mack) and York favourite Robin Simpson (Mrs Smee in All New Adventures of Peter Pan) as the hilarious Dame Trott.
📆 8th December 2023 – 7th January 2024
📍St Leonard’s Place, York YO1 7HD
🍿Watch a classic Christmas film at the cinema
A classic Christmas film is guaranteed to make everyone feel festive! It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve already seen it – that is all part of the fun! All the cinemas in York screen Christmas films throughout December. You can find out more information about cinemas in York in our handy guide here! There are also some special festive screenings in York which we’ve detailed below!
🍿Choose from a selection of afternoon and evening showings. You can pre-order your festive Hot chocolate with cookie to be ready for you before the screening starts. Enjoy an unforgettable experience that encapsulates the spirit of the season!
📆 1st – 12th December
📍St Saviourgate, York, YO1 8NQ
🍿 Holgate Methodist Church will be screening a popular festive comedy film (rating PG) – we can’t reveal the film title, but it sees Buddy discovering his true (s)elf! No charge but donations for church funds always welcome. Film starts 4pm, doors open 3.40pm. All children must be accompanied.
📆 Saturday 2nd December 2023, 4 – 6pm approx
📍Holgate Methodist Church, Acomb Road, York, YO24 4AE
✨ Enjoy some twinkling Christmas lights
Wrap up warm and enjoy a trip out to see some gorgeous twinkling Christmas lights! We’ve listed lots of fabulous places in and around York where you can see Christmas lights or enjoy a Christmas trail in our Christmas lights guide here.
We highlighted a few very special-sounding light events below too.
✨Let it Glow! Enjoy an unmissable after dark spectacle of lights at RHS Garden Harlow Carr this festive season. See the garden in breathtaking beauty as amazing illuminations light your way on the spectacular Glow trail.
📆 Wednesday – Saturday 22ne November – 30th December 2023
📍Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB
✨A brand-new winter lights trail will see Peasholm Park illuminated like never before. Book your tickets and enjoy this enchanting trail through the park.
📆 15th November through to 23rd December 2023
📍Various locations throughout Scarborough
✨As twilight falls, see the abbey aglow with all the colours of the rainbow. Explore the family trail and enjoy a hot chocolate, it’s time for Music and Lights. Walk beneath the cellarium’s vaulted ceilings and watch the live choirs and bands fill the ruins with festive music.
📆 2pm – 5pm every Saturday and Sunday between 25th November – 31st December (excluding 3 and 10 December)
📍Fountains, Ripon, HG4 3DY
✨Experience the popular York Minster Christmas Tree Festival, set inside the medieval Minster, with 60 trees on display in the cathedral’s stunning Nave, Chapter House and Lady Chapel. Don’t miss our very own York Mumbler Christmas Tree!
📆 Saturday 2nd December – Friday 5th January
📍Deangate, York, YO1 7HH
Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland is back at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet York until Sunday 7 January 2024.
The Ice Factor – the North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink at 975 sq m – has a 30ft high sparkling Christmas tree as its centrepiece, surrounded by illuminated trees, log cabins, the rink side cafe and a viewing platform.
You can also enjoy the funfair with new modern rides including an exciting Twist and Waltzer. There will be 5 children’s rides and game stalls offering prizes every time.
Also new this year is a terrace overlooking the ice rink. The Winter Garden with its heated covered picnic tables offers an alternative outdoor eating area, with The Dog Haus cabin selling a range of hot dogs and festive drinks.
📆 Friday 17th November 2023 to Sunday 7th January 2024 📍St Nicholas Ave, York, YO19 4TA
🍫 Have a chocolate Christmas
If your child is a chocolate lover then why not enjoy a chocolate-filled experience at York Chocolate Story?
You can choose from:
Christmas Family Workshop: Join the skilled chocolatier for a hands-on festive experience. Learn the art of making chocolate-based festive treats, such as tree decorations and candy canes, and create unique designs that you can gift or savour yourself. You’ll also get to indulge in one of our signature hot chocolates.
Christmas Truffle Rolling: Our chocolate truffle-making experience allows for even more time to create your own unique and delicious treats where you will roll, dip and decorate delicious Belgian Chocolate truffles!
📆 1st – 26th December 2023 📍3-4 King’s Square, York, YO1 7LD
🧁 Indulge in a Festive Afternoon Tea
Cake is always a good idea! Treat yourselves to a delicious festive afternoon tea! With yummy Christmas-themed sandwiches, mince pies, gingerbread cupcakes and much more!
Cakes D’Licious, Clifton, York: £25 per person – available in the tea room or to take away and children options are available.
Middletons Hotel, Skeldergate, York: Festive afternoon tea – £32.95 per person
No.1 by Guesthouse, Clifton, York: Traditional Festive Afternoon Tea £30 pe person
Cakegirl – delivery available across York to enjoy at home: £25 per person
Love to Eat, Moor Lane, York – delivery & collection also available: £22.95 per adult, £12.95 per child (Dine-in afternoon tea)
🎄 Enjoy a festive walking tour together!
Join your Blue Badge Tourist Guide for a 90-minute festive walking tour through the twinkling streets of York, the original Christmas City.
Discover the History of Christmas in an extra-special Walking Tour through the Christmas light-bedecked streets of York. Once voted ‘the Most Festive’ city, the medieval streets echo with the histories of Christmas’ past from Roman Saturnalia, Viking Mid-winter Solstice to Victorian Feasts and more recent traditions.
ℹ️ More information here.
🎟 £12 per person/Under 16’s £5 📆 Everyday 24 November to 24 December from 4pm – 5.30pm 📍Tours begin at the Statue of Constantine Minster Yard, just outside the south doors of York Minster and finish on Parliament Street.
We hope you enjoy a festive treat with your tweens and teens in York!