December Days Out


North Yorkshire has so much to offer this season which can put you in that festive mood on the countdown to Christmas.  

The nearby market towns of Pickering & Helmsley are great place to pick up that unusual gift...but if you want to leave the hustle & bustle of the Christmas Shopping behind, there is still so much to see & do.   I have to put together a list of things to do in the area & the dates of you can catch those Carols at Rievulx Abbey or visit Castle Howard to see their decorations. Or maybe you want to know the best place to see Santa.....


 Be warned some of these places require you to buy tickets in advance, so best to prepare your days in advance.



Places to see Santa


Let's face it, if you are on holiday with a little one, you'll want to see the man in Red

Santa Claus is coming to the…
North Yorkshire Moors Railway!



Santa Special Dates

departing from Pickering Station:


30 November, 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 & 22 December 2019


The North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering


How to Book -

Call 01751 472508 


Santa's Grotto at the Desginer Outlet 



Where: York Designer Outlet


Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a visit to Santa and this year he has a stunning log cabin set at the end of a Christmas tree walk, with his giant-size reindeer and sleigh.


There’s a wrapped gift for every child for just £4.50.

Opening times

£4.50 per child (including gift)

From 18 November to 17 December*
Saturdays 9.30am – 6pm and Sundays 9.30am – 5pm
From 27 November to 15 December Weekdays 11am-5pm
Monday 18 to Friday 22 December 9.30am – 5pm
Christmas Eve 9.30am – 3.30pm

*Please note that the grotto will be closed 20 to 24 November


Castle Howard An Audience with Father Christmas 


There is no better way to capture the excitement of this special time of year for little ones than by meeting Father Christmas.

You can join him and his wizard friend for festive stories, singing and magic tricks in front of the roaring fire in the Grecian Hall.

Tickets include admission, a personalised invitation, an age appropriate gift and an opportunity for photographs.

Each session lasts approximately 40 minutes. Tickets must be pre-booked online.


Additional Information:

Price: £55 per child. £10 per Adult.



Thorton le Dale

Christmas Light Switch on with Santa 

Sat 3rd December 2015


The Village Christmas Lights are switched on the first Saturday in December. This year switch on will be SATURDAY 2nd December 

Santa will arrive at 5pm in his usual unique transport. The Lights will be switched on at 6.00 pm.


However things will be underway from around 4.30 pm. with a variety of seasonal stalls serving hot food and mulled wine in the area around The Green.  This year we are planning a new stall which will offer you the opportunity to play the most unusual games! There will also be the regular musical contributions from the E.A.S.Y. Band and the local school choir. Santa Claus will be arriving at 5pm and will be around for the rest of the evening with gifts for all the children who visit his grotto.


The Christmas tree lights were featured on  BBC news- see the clip. 

Christmas Ice Rink at Helsmley

Where: Black Swan, Helmsley 

When: TBC

Ticket Prices: £6 per 30 mins

This December our ever popular annual skating event will return with pop-up ice rink and outdoor food and drink stalls, overlooking Helmsley’s historic market place which will herald the start of the festive season in this pretty North Yorkshire Market town.

The festive-themed ice rink can accommodate up to 50 skaters at one time, with its smart white picket fence and brightly-lit Christmas trees surrounding it, it is a truly spectacular event and is suited to adults and children alike, resident and non-residents. Opening times are 10.30am until 7.30pm, Friday – Sunday. Booking is not required.

Admission is £7.00 per person (30 minutes), including skate hire. Refreshments including mulled wine, soft drinks, wine, beers and tasty hot and cold snacks will also be available for skaters and spectators to purchase ‘al fresco’ from the pop-up Bar.


Ice factor & Yorkshire Winter Wonderland

18th November 2017 – 7th January 2018 (excluds Xmas Day)


Where: York Designer Outlet or call 01653 619169 for more

Twitter: @yorkshireswinterwonderland


Instagram: @yorkshireswinterwonderland


Selected as one of the Top 10 Christmas Ice Rinks nationwide by

The Sun, The Guardian and The Times 



The FOUR-time award-winning festive event - Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland - returns to York Designer Outlet from 18 November 2017 to 7 January 2018 and it’s bigger than ever!

Home to the North of England’s largest outdoor ice rink – The Ice Factor – and this year it’s 100sqm bigger! With its iconic 30ft high Christmas tree, the rink and its surroundings will once again celebrate the magic of Christmas.

Recently voted York’s Family Friendly Experience, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland will be welcoming new additions to this year’s festivities in the form of an alpine skate hire chalet with rinkside views and a stunning new Polar Express themed Grotto for Santa.

PapaKitchen returns once again offering an après-skate ambience of rustic wooden tables and benches complete with cosy furs, the warming scent of Glühwein and a brand new menu of delicious homemade fare.

With vintage funfair rides dating from as early as 1933, Santa welcoming visitors in his enchanting log cabin, live weekend entertainment and of course Christmas shopping at York Designer Outlet with designer brands for up to 60% less, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland really does have something for everyone.


Festive trips to York



St Nicolas Fayre, York

When:  16th Nov - 22nd December

Where:   Parliment St York

York’s favourite festive market is back and more spectacular than ever before...

Meander through the magical market stalls of St Nicholas Fair and delight in a truly special shopping experience. Wander inside traditional chalets adorned with twinkling lights and follow the aromas of mulled wine and tempting treats to the new Yorkshire Barn for a taste of yule themed Yorkshire fodder.

Be the first to the fair on Festive First Night, commencing the celebrations across York. The 16 November will see the official opening of St Nicholas Fair and the Christmas light switch-on, illuminating the city and making the medieval bar walls even more magnificent. Scandinavian style stalls will light up the winter days along Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square and The Judge’s Lodging, where the Small Business Christmas Market will be the home of handcrafted gifts, plus there’s inspired presents aplenty in Coppergate. Local flavour will fill York’s famous Shambles Market and Food Court and there’s decorative details on offer at the new Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village. After shopping, take time to relax around a roaring log fire at cosy canvas hang-out Thor’s Tipi, where you can warm up with a hot chocolate or something a little stronger.



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About Christmas at

York Museum Gardens


Thursday 16th November 2017 to Monday 1st of January (except Christmas Day)

Tickets can be ordered from:

Entry Times: 16:45, 17:00, 17:30, 18:00, 18:30, 19:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30

Ticket Prices: Adult £14.95, Child £8.95 , Family £40.00 (2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children)

This winter, see York Museum Gardens like you’ve never seen them before!  From Thursday 16 November, York will welcome its newest festive attraction, Christmas at York Museum Gardens – a magical, after-dark illuminated walk filled with colour, music and the biggest display of lighting and special effects York has ever seen.

The journey begins in a Christmas Courtyard with a vintage funfair ride, UV face painting and delicious festive fare.

Visitors will walk beneath trees drenched with seasonal colour and discover the ‘12 Frames of Christmas’, a rainbow forest of musical trees and a spectacular projection onto the iconic ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.  Along the way children can find hidden Christmas messages in a unique game of UV hide-and-seek.

A specially-commissioned installation by a Yorkshire artist will transform the Museum lawn, and children will be captivated by musical tree stumps at the 14th century Hospitium, Father Christmas in his secret workshop, a display of ever-changing coloured mirror balls and an enchanting 20m tunnel of light.

The walk ends with a dazzling Finale of Fire on the Library lawn, and even the chance to toast your own marshmallows in the Undercroft’s Fire Bar or enjoy a warming mulled wine or hot chocolate

Christmas at Barley Hall

The Lost Traditions of Medieval Christmas Rediscovered
16th November 2017

to 5th January 2018

This is your chance to discover the hidden history of Christmas in medieval York at the beautifully decorated townhouse, Barley Hall.


As today, celebrations during the Christmas period in the Middle Ages were both social and religious occasions. For the wealthier households in the city there were also certain obligations that had to be fulfilled, as a medieval Christmas was not just about family, but about the community too.

Join the lady of the house, Joan Snawsell of Barley Hall, as she prepares her household to welcome the great and the good of York into her home for the festive season. Experience the lost traditions of medieval Christmastide as you sample the fayre on offer to visitors both grand and humble.

Plus, expect to see much greenery and colour as you are transported back in time to explore the beautifully decorated rooms of Barley Hall, each dressed to reflect the different activities that would have taken place in the home and around the city in Lady Snawsell’s time.

This is a unique and colourful Christmas experience in York, so come, make yourself at home at Barley Hall this winter.  The Lost Traditions of a Medieval Christmas Rediscovered is included in your admission price to Barley Hall.

For all details for day trips to York this winter check out this link

Castle Howard Christmas 

Where:  Castle Howard

Visit Castle Howard this Christmas when grand interiors are festooned with a mix of traditional decorations and more modern installations.

Glittering baubles, twinkling lights and flickering candles combine with foliage, fruits, trees and twigs for an unforgettable start to the festive season. 

Gingerbread Castle 
Castle Howard reimagined in gingerbread by contemporary artists Bompas & Parr, renowned for their imaginative culinary creations.

Discover the building and monuments of Castle Howard inspired by the original designs of architect Sir John Vanbrugh, constructed on a vast scale from gingerbread. (On display in the high south which we regret is not accessible to those with restricted mobility. Interpretation will be available.)

Bringing The Outside In 
Take inspiration from the garlands, wreaths and decorations hand crafted by our gardens team from greenery, winter berries and branches gathered from the estate. 

Swags of foliage sweep up the grand staircase, bed heads are adorned with twisting garlands and table tops are dressed with fresh herbs to stimulate all your senses this Christmas. 

Afternoon Tea
Treat yourself to a little festive indulgence with our new Christmas afternoon teas by the crackling fire in our elegant Grecian Hall. (Must be pre-booked. Dates and tickets released soon.)

Live Music
Our halls will be filled with the sound of live music as we welcome back a range of musicians to delight you throughout the festive period. Daily performances will include classical ensembles, jazz trios, choirs and soloists, download the timetable above.

Late night opening

Experience the house as darkness falls and our interiors twinkle with hundreds of candles and crackling fires, before joining carol singers for a festive sing-a-long in the garden. Sunday 18 December only. Last entry to the house is extended to 7pm

Christmas Market 
Discover a selection of handpicked stalls in the warmth of the Boar Garden Marquee, selling a range of unique gifts, crafts and festive foods. Open