Yorkshire’s cities and market towns turn on the tinsel for a fine festive time - here’s where to wander, shop and feast...

Great British Life: Ripon Cathedral at Christmas. (c) NewsquestRipon Cathedral at Christmas. (c) Newsquest

Christmas 2023 in Ripon

Festive Feeling: Known as the Cathedral City of the Dales, a visit to Ripon this Christmas will be truly magical. The Christmas lights will be on while you wander the pretty cobbled streets that twinkle under fairy lights leading you to the tree at Ripon Cathedral.

Shop: With plenty of independent shops it’s the perfect place to pick up a present or two. The Ripon Bookshop is always welcoming and find stylish interiors gifts, baubles and more at The Castle. Pick up tasty treats at Vanora’s Bakery and find a cyclist’s heaven at Moonglu. A short drive away at English Heritage Fountains Abbey there’s a lovely gift shop too.

Do this: See Ripon Cathedral Choir sing alongside the renowned St Cecili Orchestra for a spectacular Christmas concert. December 17, 5.30pm

Christmas 2023 in Hebden Bridge

Festive Feeling: The town will be twinkling with lights and a Christmas tree lit up in all its festive glory. Lots of eating places and some outdoor seating – all with a friendly atmosphere.

Shop: Shop Hebden Bridge is packed with an eclectic mix of independent shops. Totally Awesome is bound to have the kids’ Christmas wish list in stock. The town centre is home to everything from chic boutiques to Goo cheese shop, book lovers’ favourite The Book Case in Market Street as well as Hope Gallery and the extensive Heart Gallery in market Street which has gifts galore.

Do this: Love a market? Hebden’s offers a mouth-watering mixture of produce, from home-made pies and pastries to cheeses, fish and locally-reared meats. The small, buzzing market can punch way above its weight for quality and unusual produce. The Market operates Thursday (General Retail), Friday (Preloved and Second Hand), Saturday (Arts and Crafts) and Sunday (Local Produce).

Great British Life: Street theatre in Malton as part of the festive celebrations. (c) Be Amazing ArtsStreet theatre in Malton as part of the festive celebrations. (c) Be Amazing Arts

Christmas 2023 in Malton

Festive feeling: One for the gourmets. Yorkshire’s ‘food capital’, Malton pulls out the stops when it comes to festive fayre.

Shop: A town of happy independents – not just food. Kemps General Store is the place for books and lovely cards and gifts. Homeware devotees will swoon at Hare & Wilde Discover quirky artisan shops in The Shambles – and even a cricket bat maker, Nick Nixon.

Do this: A huge two-day Christmas Festival is the shopping event of the year with a giant number of festive food, non food stalls and present ideas. Expect a fabulous weekend of festive fun in and around Malton’s picturesque Market Place. Delicious food, festive gift stalls, street food, live music and family entertainment. December 2&3. 9am-3.30pm

Christmas 2023 in Harrogate

Festive Feeling: A big hit with locals and visitors alike, the spa town’s famous Christmas Fayre returns with festive shopping opportunities and merriment over 17 jolly days from December 1-17. An eclectic mix of local traders and traditional European Christmas stalls will take over the pedestrian areas of Cambridge Street and Market Place in the town centre.

Shop: Take a stroll into nearby Valley Gardens where Little Bird will be hosting their Christmas artisan market on Saturdays and Sundays from December 2-17. A fabulous selection of arts and crafts, delightful decorations, festive treats, and unique gifts will be available to shop from 10am-5pm on Saturdays and 10am-4pm Sundays. Venture away from the market to discover the town’s exciting independents such as Jules B for a luxurious treat or Sophie Likes for a special gift.

Do this: Hop on a new open-top sightseeing bus running weekends of the Harrogate Christmas Fayre in addition to the free Candy Cane Express road train. Passengers will be given a unique view of Harrogate from above alongside an on-board guide pointing out landmarks. The bus will leave approximately every 20 minutes from Montpellier Hill, Crescent Gardens, Cheltenham Parade, the Bus Station and West Park. Tickets cost £1 for adults, while up to three children aged under 16 can travel for free with each paying adult. visitharrogate.co.uk/christmas 

Christmas 2023 in Ilkley

Festive Feeling: Idyllic Ilkley will be adorned with lights, dazzling decorations, and magical markets.

Shop: Real Food Ilkley will be hosting a special Christmas Market on December 17 where visitors can shop locally produced food and drink along The Grove. Ilkley really is a place to satisfy all your shopping needs – check out friendly Attic and Covet for womenswear or The Grove for books, Bettys and The Yorkshire Soap Company.

Do this: Ilkley Manor House has a unique heritage dining experience this Christmas where you can treat loved ones to a three-course meal from award-winning chefs at Good Food Story, set amidst the Manor House’s historic surroundings. December 19-21

Great British Life: A very festive view of The Piece Hall, Halifax - photo by reader (c) Gordon RatcliffeA very festive view of The Piece Hall, Halifax - photo by reader (c) Gordon Ratcliffe

Christmas 2023 in Halifax

Festive Feeling: Discover the town’s special Christmas story through a variety of free events that celebrate their strong sense of community. Expect cheery singalongs, charity gifting trees, real-life elves, and not to mention the brand-new Christmas lights.

Shop: The Piece Hall is the place to be for all things uniquely independent. All the usual shops will be open and as Christmas is in full swing until the end of December, every Thursday will welcome late night shopping opportunities. Elsewhere in Halifax, don’t miss the impressive Borough Market and seek out Pride & Provenance – a shop full of gourmet hampers and deli delights.

Do this: Book into Salon Perdu Spiegeltent where they’ll be hosting some fabulously festive events throughout the season, from cabaret and comedy to community choirs and classical concerts. thepiecehall.co.uk

Great British Life: Morris dancers get into the spirit of the Dickensian Festival in Grassington. (c) Peter Greenway/Getty Morris dancers get into the spirit of the Dickensian Festival in Grassington. (c) Peter Greenway/Getty

Christmas 2023 in Grassington

Festive Feeling: Discover what Christmas is like in the Yorkshire Dales when you take a trip to the charming village of Grassington. Famed for its recent fame as ‘Darrowby’ in the All Creatures Great and Small TV series, you can revisit the haunts of James Herriot and Co and soak up the festive atmosphere.

Shop: Not only will there be an array of stalls selling plenty of festive fabulousness at the Christmas market, but the village itself is a treasure trove of independents. The Stripey Badger Bookshop is the perfect place to pick up a stocking filler or two.

Do this: Don your best Victorian dress at the Dickensian Festival and join in the merriment by carol singing, dancing, and tucking into a bag of roasted chestnuts. December 2 & 9

Great British Life: In Masham there are plenty of independent stores to discover. (c) Kevin GibsonIn Masham there are plenty of independent stores to discover. (c) Kevin Gibson

Christmas 2023 in Masham

Festive feeling: Lovely market town with a special sparkle at Christmas. Enjoy river walks and a stroll round the square. Welcoming pubs and coffee shops or Where’s There’s Smoke gourmet restaurant. Breweries galore – Theakston's and Black Sheep to stock up on boozy gifts..

Shop at: The Curious Merchant is as inviting with well-chosen treats for the home. Masham Gallery will satisfy arty needs or keep warm at Nearly New Cashmere Co sells immaculate, reconditioned 100% cashmere. Beaver’s Butcher who work with local farmers and the home of award winning Masham Sausage. There’s a lovely gift shop at the spa at nearby Swinton Park

Do this: Enjoy the Christmas Trees festival at St Mary’s December 15-17.


Christmas 2023 in Haworth

Festive feeling: There’s definitely a sprinkling of festive spirit in this super seasonal town which is packed with atmosphere in December.

Shop at: Every weekend in December there is something special going on – with an artisan market in Central Park. There’s late night shopping on December 7 and 21 in the Main Street. On December 2&3, 9&10 and 16 & 17 head for the craft fair in the Old School Rooms, Church Street, Haworth where you can find thoughtful presents for local makers.

Do this: as the big day gets near, on December 23 and 24, enjoy the nativity parade which starts at the bottom of Haworth Main Street at 1pm. christmasinhaworth.com

Christmas 2023 in Thirsk

Festive Feeling: A good market town comes into its own when things get festive – support local businesses and enjoy fresh air as you go.

Shop at: Thirsk Farmers' Market ‘s proud boast is that all stallholders are local independent businesses who grow, rear or produce the food or drink on their stall. They're passionate about what they do and it shows. Dec 3. 9am to 2pm On December 17, head to the Market Place for an Artisan Market with locally-produced arts & crafts, food & drink or support Herriot Hospice at its festive shopping night on December 7 at thirsklodgebarns.com

Do This: Feast at an apres-ski style ‘Raclette night’ with live music. Get the festive weekend started with tasty melted cheese over hot potatoes, pickle onions & gherkins - the perfect treat for a chilly winter night. 6pm-9.30pm. thirsklodgebarns.com

Great British Life: Ripley village welcomes festive visitors to its independent shops. (c) Nicky Rogerson Ripley village welcomes festive visitors to its independent shops. (c) Nicky Rogerson

Christmas 2023 in Ripley, Harrogate

Festive feeling: Ripley may be a small village but it’s packed with personality. Coming into its own at Christmas.

Shop: Dip into the Festive Christmas Market is held in the Castle Courtyard of the historic Ripley Castle. Featuring a fine line-up of local and speciality producers and makers, there’s free access to Ripley Castle’s estate grounds and gardens on market days. 10am-3pm. Elsewhere in the village you can stock up at the local butcher, general store, traditional sweetshop gallery and have a gin stater at Harrogate Tipple.

Do this: Take tea in the Castle. A treat in the private Castle Rooms. The log fires will be burning and cake will be plentiful. A perfect pre-Christmas treat on december 16. 12.30pm & 2.30pm. £40, Child (under 13) £20. ripleycastle.co.uk/events

Christmas 2023 in Pocklington

Festive feeling: The picturesque market town is hosting its first European-style Christmas market with a whole host of festive cheer heading its way on December 16 and 17. St Peter’s Square will be home to Swiss style chalets, with live entertainment, a winter wonderland, street food traders and more.

Shop: A Christmas Artisan Market hits Pocklington, Sunday 7 December 7, 10am-4pm Over 20 stalls will be at the last Pocklington Artisan Market of the year, along with the choirs of Pocklington Catholic and Junior School, for some added Christmas cheer. Locally made arts, crafts and foods. pocklingtonartisanmarket.co.uk.

Do this: Join the Mayor to sing carols around the Christmas tree in Market Place, Pocklington. Carols will be accompanied by Woldgate College band, and a local school choir. December 14, 2pm.

Great British Life: Salt's Mill and the thriving community of Saltaire are worth a festive visit. (c) Getty Salt's Mill and the thriving community of Saltaire are worth a festive visit. (c) Getty

Christmas 2023 in Saltaire

Festive feeling: Saltaire is a go-to at any time of the year – a model village of huge personality created by Sir Titus Salt. A great spot if you love indepenet shops and eating places.

Shop: You can get lost in shopping for a day at mighty Salts Mill. It’s a great place to mooch for books, stationery and stylish gifts for the home or stop off at thegallery showcasing the work of David Hockney. The tsreets that surround the mill are full of brilliant independent stores and cool cafes.

Do this: Saltaire Living Advent Calendar attracts visitors from further afield and followers online from across the globe. With its quirky window designs in picturesque settings, this magical event sees windows light daily up throughout the month in houses, schools, shops and churches until Christmas Eve. Anyone in the village can take part, and participants include new residents, children and professional artists and local businesses. It’s a free and joyful festive trail throughout the village. See a map at saltaireinspired.org.uk

Great British Life: A Christmassy view of The Shambles, York. Alexey Fedorenko/Getty A Christmassy view of The Shambles, York. Alexey Fedorenko/Getty

Christmas 2023 in York

Festive feeling: Somehow York manages to feel Christmassy all year round but come December, it’s all the bells and whistles in this atmospheric city.

Shop: There are Christmas shops galore in and around the city centre with lots of independents like Born of Botanics, Yorkshire favourites such as Bronte by Moon. Stonegate and Swinegate are home to a mix of stores hidden amongst medieval and Georgian architecture. For indie shops that off the beaten track, wander along Gillygate and Petergate. Or explore the daily Shambles Market with stalls and street food.

Do this: Sankta Lucia: Festival of Light is an atmospheric, candlelit procession and carol service at York Minster based on the traditional Swedish Lucia celebration. December 11. 7,30pm