The best Christmas markets in York to visit in 2021 – Condé Nast Traveller

There is something inherently special about Christmas in York. Perhaps it is the quaint setting of the historical city with its ancient walls, grand cathedral and ramshackle shopping streets, or it may be the magic and mystery of this quirky, bohemian part of Yorkshire. But one thing is clear; the best experiences over the festive season belong to York’s many and varied Christmas markets, which offer everything from first-rate dinner table fayre to high-end gifts for family and friends.
1. York Christmas Market
From Thursday 18 November to Thursday 23 December 2021, St Nicholas Fair is the top Christmas destination in York. Alpine chalets line Parliament Street and St Sampsons Square, selling seasonal food and drink, handmade gifts and sweet treats – making it the perfect place to pick up stocking fillers and more exquisite presents for loved ones. For extra cheer, it is worth paying a visit to Thor’s Tipi on Parliament Street, a pop-up bar in a festoon-lit canvas tent for a cosy mulled wine or two in a distinctly Christmassy atmosphere. The market, one of the longest-running in the country, was recently named third-best in the UK.
2. Sheriff Hutton farmers market
While the city of York does not have its own Christmas farmers market in 2021, there’s no need to stray too far to find one. The beautiful historic village of Sheriff Hutton, about 10 miles north of the city, adjacent to the stunning Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, may only have about 1,000 residents, but shoppers travel from miles around for its farmers market. The market has been cancelled during the pandemic but is back with a fanfare for a special edition on Saturday 12 December 2021, with small stalls inside the village hall and larger ones outside, plus live music. Local artisan produce with a distinctly rural feel is the star here – Ryedale Rare and Native Breeds sells pedigree meats such as rare breed Berkshire pork and Belted Galloway 21-day-matured beef, and Fetlock & Feathers makes homemade gifts from feathers, cartridges and horseshoes.
3. York Minster Winter Village
There is no better setting than the magnificent York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe, finished in the 15th century. The Minster itself is always worth a visit, with its colossal original Medieval stained glass windows – and the venue is hosting special events over the season too. The Minster’s Winter Village takes place at the foot of the majestic South Door, where the cute wooden cabins offer the chance to grab some gifts, including a selection from York Minster. Enjoy a locally produced coffee or hot chocolate and treat yourself to a pulled pork sandwich or Yorkshire bratwurst. The Minster’s first Christmas Tree Festival is also set nearby in the cathedral’s grounds, where about 40 trees are decorated to individual themes by local businesses, schools and charities.
4. Shambles Market
Not to be overlooked is York’s Shambles Market, the year-round market right in the centre of York. Steeped in history, it sells everything from local fruit and veg to fashion, flowers, handbags and shoes, and is the original one-stop shop in a quirky cobbled backstreet square. Over the festive season, traders stock Christmas trees, garden decorations and woolly hats, plus locally made crafts. The Shambles shopping street is a must-see in York and is arguably one of the most Instagrammable places in the UK with its quirky overhanging buildings and cosy narrow streets. Head over to the next-door Shambles street food market, with its outdoor seating area where you can sample some of the best food and coffee in York at budget prices – a favourite with locals.
5. York Racecourse Vintage Christmas
Anyone seeking a nostalgic Christmas can find it in spades at a new Vintage Christmas event at York Racecourse on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December 2021. The event is a variation on its usual Antique Home and Vintage Fair, which sees more than 100 antique dealers and traders descend on the racecourse offering a wide selection of antiques collectables and curios. Visitors to the Vintage Christmas will be able to celebrate the fashions, music and yuletide traditions of the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, with a vintage marketplace, perfect for gifts for those hard to buy for friends and relatives. Guests can book a session with a stylist in the vintage salon, and there is live music on both days, as well as nostalgic displays, a hair parlour, a funfair, classic cars, and even a visit from Santa.

© Condé Nast Britain 2021.


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