York Castle Museum reopens Kirkgate and Period Rooms today for Victorian Christmas season of activities and performances

Kirkgate at York Castle Museum: Reopening today for Victorian Christmas season. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

YORK Castle Museum’s Victorian Kirkgate and Period Rooms reopen today with a fanfare to celebrate Christmas 2023.

The magical Yuletide experience promises activities for all ages, with “something to get everyone into the festive spirit”. 

Wandering through the Victorian street of Kirkgate as Christmas arrives with a sprinkling of festive snow on the historic cobbles, visitors can enjoy the street’s charming period trimmings and peek at historical decorations and objects from the museum’s collection in the shopfronts. 

On selected dates throughout the holiday season Chris Cade’s Ebenezer Scrooge will appear on Kirkgate. A family-friendly re-telling of Charles Dickens’s festive novel A Christmas Carol is included in the general admission ticket, while an after-hours Scrooge will return for adult-only evening performances at an additional cost.  

Chris Cade’s Ebenezer Scrooge: Performing A Christmas Carol during York Castle Museum’s Victorian Christmas season. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Look out too for Cade in An Evening With Scrooge at The Hospitium, Museum Gardens, York, from 6pm to 9pm on December 21, when a finger buffet will be followed by his one-man performance of Dickens’s Christmas tale of redemption, generosity and warm-hearted joy at 7.30pm, concluding with mulled wine and mince pies. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/scroogeyorkvenues/1016640?.

A Victorian green-clad Father Christmas will be on Kirkgate welcoming visitors every weekend throughout December until Christmas. The Father Christmas of that time was known for bringing jollity, talking of food, feasting, games, dancing and songs. Visitors will be welcome to join in and to make their own Christmas card. 

On Sundays, including Christmas Eve, the cobbles will ring to the sound of carol singers singing traditional songs to “bring smiles and warm hearts even on the coldest of days”. 

As well as experiencing the Christmas cheer on Kirkgate, visitors can step back in time as they stroll through the Period Rooms, from a 17th century dining room to a Victorian worker’s cottage. 

Story Craft Theatre’s Cassie Vallance, left, and Jane Bruce with their Museum Mice at York Castle Museum. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

For younger children, Janet Bruce and Cassie Vallance’s Story Craft Theatre will bring cute Museum Mice to life with puppets, games and family fun, followed by a craft activity on several weekdays. 

The 2023 festive season will continue into “Betwixtmas’” with events running between December 27 and January 6 2024, when performances will share New Year traditions and there will be the opportunity to make a New Year’s card ready to welcome in 2024. 

This year’s Christmas offer is part of general admission to York Castle Museum, giving access to the museum, at the Eye of York, for 12 months.  

Victorian Christmas at York Castle Museum runs from today until January 7 2024, included in general admission. To book tickets: https://beta.yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk/york-castle-museum/admission-tickets

Scrooge performances (A Christmas Carol):
December 9, 10, 16, 17, 18 and 23, four shows throughout the day, included in general admission.

A Christmas Carol, adult-only evening shows:

December 19, additional cost.

Father Christmas in Victorian green outside York Castle Museum. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Green-clad Father Christmas:
December 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24, four times a day. 

Story Craft Theatre’s Christmas tails from the Museum Mice and craft activities:
December 11, 13 and 20, 11am and 1pm.

Carol singers:
December 10, 17 and 24, several times throughout the day. 

Betwixtmas activities:
December 28, 30 and 31; January 2, 4 and 6, four times a day. 

York Castle Museum will close early at 3 pm on Christmas Eve and will be closed on December 25 and 26 December and January 1 2024, reopening on January 2. 

A festive scene in Kirkgate at York Castle Museum. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Why the north side of York Castle Museum was closed temporarily: the back story

YORK Museums Trust closed Kirkgate, the Period Rooms and Shaping the Body at York Castle Museum in September after RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) was found in parts of the roofing.

To meet government guidelines, specialist inspections had to be conducted. Now completed, they report the RAAC to be in good condition throughout the site and extra supports have been fitted to meet building regulations.

From today, only Shaping the Body will remain closed for the time being while further work is carried out.

The Prison Cells, the Sixties Gallery and the First World War Gallery were able to remain open.