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York St Nicholas Fayre (York)

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2 Reviews

4 Day Christmas Market in York, UK.

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    2 Reviews
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      07.01.2009 21:07
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      very busy so get there early

      The st nicholas fayre takes place every year in york normally at the end of november.

      This market is fairly large with most of it spread down one street with farmers market placed at the top. There are normally a lot of people at this market and it can get very busy. Because the farmers market is placed at the top in a square it is packed. For this reason you cannot see a lot and often get shoved and pushed around.

      The main market isnt as bad as that and there are some nice looking things for sale. This part of the market is mainly crafty with mainly decorations for sale.

      The downside to it being busy it the queue for the toilets. They were massive and no one could believe the size of the toilet queue in the nearby marks and spencers. So dont leave it till the last minute if you need the loo.

      Run in conjunction with the st nicholas fayre is a medievial event in barley hall. We would have visited this however we couldnt find the place!

      If you want to get the best out of the market my advice would be to get there early so that the stalls are less picked over and its less crowded. Oh and to wrap up warm as its normally freezing!

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      08.12.2008 10:03
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      York's biggest Christmas market

      The St Nicholas Fayre is one of many different Christmas markets that takes place in York during the festive period. Established back in 1992 it is the largest of them all and attracts the greatest number of visitors. It takes place over a four day period during either the last weekend of November or the first weekend of December. The 2008 event took place between Thursday 27th November and December 1st. Having just been to this market I thought that I would share my experience with you.

      I arrived about 1pm although it is open from 10am until 5.30pm but I wanted to experience it both during the daytime and also after it went dark when I expected that everything would be illuminated. I have been to several small Christmas markets but my only experience of a large Christmas market is the one in Lincoln. This market continues until about 10pm and I find that it is always at its best after nightfall.

      The first thing that I discovered about St Nicholas Fayre is that is spread over several different locations. There are a large number of stalls on Parliament Street but there are also other markets scattered about too including one in the old Barley Hall.

      It was cold and foggy so I was quite looking forward to a bit of festive fun but unfortunately I came home somewhat disappointed. It wasn't that the markets were a bad experience it was just that they didn't live up to all that I expected them to be. In hindsight I guess that I have been spoilt by Lincoln's Christmas Market which in my opinion is far more intimate and festive.

      The crowds at York were also too much for me, I expected it to be busy but it was absolutely impossible to get near to a lot of the stalls and it certainly wasn't possible to just stroll around and browse with people pushing and shoving from every direction.

      There are stalls in almost all of the squares that you pass. The goods they were selling ranged from arts and crafts and clothes to locally grown food and of course there were hot dogs and mulled wine but sadly there was nothing that made me stop and say "wow" as I am afraid that what they had on offer I had seen before, indeed I could find 90% of these stalls every week of the year in my home city of Sheffield should I wish.

      I had expected to find children singing carols and traders dressed up in traditional clothes but the ones in the squares were mostly wearing jeans and trainers and the only children were the ones with their parents that were becoming restless in the cold. When darkness came the odd fairground ride was illuminated but there didn't seem to be a vast amount of other lights and it didn't really feel like Christmas, except for the crowds.

      Maybe I have been a little bit harsh as I did enjoy the medieval markets in the Barley Hall and the traders there were dressed for the occasion but again the crowds made it difficult to get near and so I didn't hang around as long in there as I would have liked to. Unlike the majority of the rest of the market which is free there is an admission charge to enter the Barley Hall (£2 per adult, £1 per child) but the stalls are still pretty much more of the same with a little bit more of an emphasis on craft stalls. The 15th century Barley Hall however is a fascinating place so if this gives you an excuse to pay it a visit then it is well worth the admission charge.

      So in summary I am glad that I went to St Nicholas's Fayre but I wouldn't be in any great rush to go there again. I love York and its narrow medieval streets are the perfect setting for such an event but I just felt that it wasn't intimate enough to make it that extra bit special to make me want to return. I understand that there are sometimes carol singers but they were nowhere to be seen during my visit so maybe I was just unlucky or maybe I missed something amazing on a street that I didn't find but with the crowds and all of the other high street shops doing their business as usual it felt more like Christmas shopping in any other city in Northern England (Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester) rather than a special annual event.

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