York has long been a favourite for shoppers throughout the year and it’s not hard to see why. With its ancient cobbled streets and passageways, you feel like you’re stepping back in time – or into a movie set with its very own Harry Potter shop (The Shop That Must Not Be Named). Combine that with sparkling shimmering shop windows displaying their festive-wares (including a dedicated Christmas shop open year-round) and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a day out Christmas shopping.
From the best of the high street stores and high-end designer labels, through to the abundance of independent stores, York is small enough to walk around and take it all in – ticking off everything on your gift list in no time.
For art admirers
For contemporary art lovers, check out the Blue Tree Gallery on Bootham. This small gallery really packs a punch with some seriously gorgeous original art, prints, ceramics and jewellery. And with prices to suit every budget, you’d be hard pressed not to leave with a little gift for yourself too.
For music maestros
If you’re searching for something for a music lover, or just want a little look yourself, a visit to York wouldn’t be complete without popping into Earworm Records, tucked just off Goodramgate in Powells Yard (look out for Chinese Laundry – it’s in the snicket next door). Tiny but perfectly formed, the shop is run by real enthusiasts and is stuffed full onf new releases and second-hand classics, with genres including rock, pop, hip hop, indie, techno, disco, soul, dub, reggae, d&b, jazz…
For the kids
Just around the corner from York Minster on High Petergate, the Little Apple Bookshop has an outstanding collection of children’s books amongst its offering, including signed collectables. So tempting, you could lose a lot of time just browsing the shelves, but it’s a winner for finding the perfect prose to inspire family members of all ages.
Opened earlier this year on Bishopthorpe Road, Noun is a great little boutique store for picking up unique gifts for all the family. Ethically sourced from around the world, the shop has a great selection of quirky homewares, clothing and gifts for kids and adults alike.
Anyone wandering along Stonegate couldn’t help but notice Stonegate Teddy Bears. With a humongous teddy positioned at its entrance, the shop is THE place to pick up a new festive friend for the little ones in your family as it’s packed to the rafters with soft toys of all shapes and sizes.
For something a bit different
Owned by the same team as the Yorkshire Soap Company (and positioned next door), The Imaginarium on Blake Street has to be seen to be believed. Evoking the look and feel of a Victorian curiosity shop, you’re bound to find something out of the ordinary here. It’s stuffed full of inspired gift ideas at affordable prices, including prints, homewares and trinkets that really stand apart.
Snowhome on Gillygate is a great example of an independent which always gets it right. Working with small designers, illustrators and makers, the team creates carefully curated collections of homewares and gifts - you’ll be hard-pressed to walk away empty handed.
For liqueur lovers
With over 600 ales, as well as artisan gin, whisky, absinthe, rum, tequila, cachaça, liqueurs, brandy, The House of Trembling Madness on Stonegate is a must visit if you’re looking to wrap a bottle or two of something a bit different this Christmas. What’s more, if you’re feeling a bit weary from all the shopping, this medieval building, which dates back to c.1180AD, houses an award-winning pub on the first floor, serving a huge selection of beers and the most incredible food out of what has to be the smallest kitchen you’ll ever see.
You can really get into the spirit of Christmas if you check out Demijohn on Museum Street – it claims to be the World's first liquid deli selling the likes of Raspberry Vodka, Gooseberry Gin and cask strength single malt whiskies. What’s particularly appealing is that you can try before you buy, sampling a selection before your top choice is bottled in your chosen piece of beautiful glassware with an optional handwritten message.
For something sparkly
York is blessed with a whole host of different independent jewellers. Whether you’re looking for rings set with emeralds, earrings with diamonds, necklaces with semi-precious stones or a simple bracelet for a stocking filler, two of the best places to head are Stonegate and Petergate, which are both home to a number of jewellers including WERK by TCJ Designs, Bradley’s, Fosters of York and the Pyramid Gallery.