If it’s a Christmas play, or perhaps just an interval ice cream, which puts an excitable grin on the kids’ faces, then we’ve got just the line-up of performances and family-friendly festive events in York to well and truly keep those grins, well, grinning.


York Theatre Royal

Over at York Theatre Royal, December marks the start of their festive performances; kicking things off on December 14th with The Storm Whale. Based on the award-winning books written by Benji Davies, Theatre Royal’s performance of The Storm Whale brings together a small and intimate cast, using puppetry and charming costumes and set design, to tell the heart-warming story of a boy named Noi and his growing friendship with a whale he finds washed up on the shore.

But that’s not all York Theatre Royal has to offer, following their sell-out run last year European Arts Company returns with Mr Charles Dickens Presents: A Christmas Carol, on December 17th. The performance, which replicates Mr Dickens’ public reading of A Christmas Carol in York in 1858, stays true to Dickens’ original text but uses clever sound and lighting additions to create an enchanting masterpiece. In the beautiful and intimate setting of Grade II listed, De Grey Rooms, audiences are welcomed to meet the author himself, and delve into the spirit of Christmas. Past, present, and future!

Friargate Theatre

Friargate Theatre also plays host to another of York’s Christmas performances. On the 21st December, in this intimate and charming venue, audiences are welcomed to join their heart-warming Christmas performance of The Selfish Giant: A Story for the Season of Christmas. Adapted from Oscar Wilde’s original short story, Riding Lights theatre company deliver an interactive performance and story-telling through music, humour, and puppetry. Riding Lights has an outstanding reputation for delivering memorable performances to family audiences both nationally and in Yorkshire; and we don’t doubt the same will go for their performance of The Selfish Giant. Without giving too much away, The Selfish Giant tells the story of an angry giant who banishes children from playing in his beautiful garden, but for his selfish actions, is soon met with the wise force of nature.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Rowntree Players amateur theatre company welcome family audiences to this year’s Christmas panto, Sinbad. Every year, the Rowntree Players perform a pantomime in December, and this year, the much-loved story of Sinbad will take to the stage at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. Audiences are welcomed to join Sinbad, his brother Gilly, and his mother Dame Tilly as they voyage the five seas in a race against time to stop Abadun, pirate queen from becoming ruler of the world. The story is told alongside loveable slapstick humour, vibrant song and dance, and decked out with dazzling sets and costumes. The performances will run from December 7th – 14th, in a variety of matinees and evening showings.

Treasurer’s House

Families are welcomed to step back in time to Christmas’ past in a visit to the Treasurer’s House this December. Open daily from the beginning of November, all the way to December 21st, the entire house is lavishly decorated for Christmas for all members of the family to be transported back to a glistening 1920’s party. The period rooms throughout the Grade I listed building have been decorated with glorious garlands, twinkling lights and candles, and fruit and floral displays filling the large rooms with wonderful scents. Here, you can quite easily spend a number of hours marvelling at the house in all its festive glory, and explore the magnificent wintery grounds.


Beningbrough Hall

Family audiences are invited to Beningbrough Hall, to join Father Christmas for an unforgettable experience in the historic Victorian laundry, in this year’s Story Time with Father Christmas – Rewashed. Father Christmas has been on many travels this year, and must stop at Beningbrough Hall every weekend in the run up to Christmas to do his washing in the historic Victorian laundry room. In small and intimate groups, Father Christmas will share a brand-new and unique tale to his Yorkshire guests, and every child is able to have a picture with him, give him their Christmas list, and receive a small gift from the man himself to take home and put under the tree. Father Christmas will be making his visits on weekends between November 30th and December 22nd.

Burton Agness Hall

Fear not, Beningbrough Hall is not the only place being paid a visit by the man himself this December. In fact, Burton Agness Hall will be welcoming Mr Claus, Mrs Claus AND Jingle the Magic Elf this Christmas in their festive event ‘An Evening with Father Christmas’. Children will be greeted by Mrs Claus in the great hall, and guided through spectacularly decorated rooms to meet Jingles the Magic Elf, who will be performing a special show of festive magic. Children will then be greeted by Father Christmas himself, and receive a special gift each to take home and pop under the tree. Evenings with Father Christmas will take place at Burton Agness Hall on Saturday’s 7th, 14th, 21st and Sunday 22nd of December.

York Mansion House

In an event which is new to 2019, York Mansion House’s Christmas event ‘The Gingerbread House’ will see the early Georgian style house transformed seamlessly into the festive showcase of the Gingerbread House, at the heart of the magnificent Gingerbread Square. The Gingerbread House is open from November 14th – December 22nd, and truly is an experience for the whole family. From the cosy Historic Kitchens, all the way up to the decedent, glittering State Room, guests will experience a feast for all the senses as scrumptious aromas and scents fill the entire Gingerbread House, in this ultimate celebration of Christmas cheer and feasting. All ages are welcomed to the festive transformation of York’s Mansion House, and children are invited to take part in the magical Gingerbread Trail.