Make It York News

York’s St Nicholas Fair Christmas Markets cancelled for 2020

Make It York and City of York Council have today announced that York’s St Nicholas Fair will not be going ahead this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Following the announcement that the government’s three-tier restriction system has resulted in York being added to the ‘medium’ alert level, and with Covid-19 infection rates rising above the national average, this has resulted in a change to city-wide celebrations, including the city’s Christmas market. 

Whilst the markets will not be going ahead as planned this year, Christmas is certainly not cancelled. Make It York and City of York Council will be working together with partners and businesses across the city to ensure Christmas in York remains a magical and unique experience for local residents.  

The focus for the city’s festive marketing activity this year will now aim to encourage a sense of community, shopping local, and supporting our local traders – recognising the individual and unique offers of York’s businesses who have worked so hard to continue keeping the city safe.   

Make It York and City of York Council will work closely alongside partners to support and promote the city’s retailers, hospitality and attraction businesses, promoting York in line with public health and Government guidance as a safe place for people to visit responsibly.   

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said:

“It is with deep sadness that we’ve had to cancel the 2020 Christmas market. This decision has not been taken lightly and we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with City of York Council and the Safety Advisory Group to consider all possible options and look at ways to run a safe event.  We know how important this event is for the city however, our paramount priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of our residents, visitors, traders and the city as a whole. Safety considerations must come first, and the decision to cancel this year’s physical event is in line with the latest public health advice in this area.  

We understand the impact this will have on local traders, retailers and other hospitality businesses across the city and we will be working hard to support them over the next few months and promote the unique festive offering that the city has.  

Plans are underway for a virtual Christmas market hosted on the Visit York website which will celebrate the outstanding diversity of local traders, retailers and businesses across the city and allow people to experience a taste of what York has to offer from the comfort of their own home.     

We are also developing plans for ways to promote York as a warm and welcoming place for residents to explore and enjoy over the festive season, working alongside City of York Council and other partners across the city to implement this activity. 

We are already looking ahead to 2021 and planning for how we can work with City of York Council, and our traders and businesses across the city to bring the Christmas market back.”  

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, said:  

“This is of course extremely disappointing, but public safety has to be at the heart of every decision.  And while the way we celebrate has to be a little different this year, York will always be magical at Christmas.  

The city’s fantastic businesses and responsible residents have already risen to the massive challenges of 2020. By continuing to work together we can protect the people and places we love while giving our residents and businesses a special festive season.” 

Andrew Lowson, Executive Director of York BID said:

“There is still so much to enjoy in the city – the BID have started to install the 15km of lights which transform our beautiful city over the festive period, and our local businesses are making preparations to offer a quality festive experience in a safe and controlled environment. We hope that people will continue to support local businesses and soak up the unique atmosphere found in York at Christmas time.” 

Martin Bradnam, Chair Person of Hospitality Association York, said:

“I feel Make It York’s approach to the Christmas Market was bold and forward thinking in both supporting York as a tourism destination, but also local business from retail to hospitality. The planning was collaborative, and detailed and its approach with public safety as a core pillar was sensible. The could have been the only Christmas market in operation this year in the UK. Whilst it is really disappointing that the market has now been cancelled, this is in the interests of public safety and is the right thing to do, in line with current Government guidelines at the current time”

More information about York at Christmas can be found here: 


Notes to Editor 

Make It York  

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment. 

One of Make It York’s strategic aims is to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to support business growth and innovation across a range of business sectors, such as financial & professional services, rail and high value manufacturing and to stimulate greater inward investment. 

York Business Week makes a virtual return for 2020

9 – 13 November 2020 

As York and its business community look ahead to recovery post Covid-19, York Business Week will be making a virtual return for 2020, for its 10th year.  With an overarching theme of ‘Build Back Better’, the week-long programme will focus on economic recovery across York’s key sectors, inspiring growth and offering opportunities to spark creativity and innovation. 

The week-long event is organised by Make It York and hosted in conjunction with City of York Council, York & North Yorkshire LEP, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Federation of Small Businesses, York BID, the University of York, York St John University and the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.  

To make the week as accessible as possible to all businesses, all events within York Business Week this year will be free of charge. Topical seminars, thought-provoking workshop sessions, online networking opportunities and the city’s first virtual York Business Conference will offer something for all York businesses from sole traders to global businesses, opening up access to industry-leading insights from the comfort of their own offices or remote working spaces. A special tourism mini conference will be held for businesses across the industry in the afternoon of the first day, as part of the wider Business Conference, to update on the city’s tourism strategy. 

Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York, said: “Many businesses have faced overwhelming challenges in recent months, across all aspects of their operations.  It is important now, in this time of economic recovery, that we look forward as a city, showcase our collective strengths and be ambitious about how we drive growth for the future. Transformational capital schemes like York Central and the Castle Gateway Redevelopment are uniquely placed to give York huge opportunities for medium term economic recovery.   

York has proven in history that it has the ability to reinvent itself and now in 2020, alongside the city’s wealth of business expertise across multiple sectors, we are well placed to reposition York as a business destination of the future. York Business Week is an important annual event in the city’s business calendar which reminds us of our city’s strengths and supports our businesses to build back better.”

Once again, in keeping with the tradition of the week, the programme kicks off with the York Business Conference on the morning of Monday 9th November, welcoming a series of expert speakers sharing their timely insights and how we can maximise York’s sector strengths in this period of revival and renewed focus. Chaired by Make It York Chair Greg Dyke, the speaker line-up for the day includes David Kerfoot MBE DL, Chair of York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Andrew Digwood, President of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Rollits LLP, with further speakers to be announced shortly. 

The focus for this year’s York Business Conference will be on recovery planning for the region’s businesses – looking at the challenges businesses face, how far we’ve come and the work still to be done to ensure the region successfully recovers – including how the EU exit will impact on this. The conference will also offer the first virtual networking opportunity of the week giving businesses the opportunity to connect with new and existing contacts across the city in an informal discussion-led lunchtime session.  

On Monday afternoon a special mini tourism conference will also be held virtually for businesses across the sector to get an update on the progress of the city’s tourism strategy and key milestones. Experts from across the industry will deliver a series of short sessions focused on tourism recovery, along with Make It York and City of York Council. 

Tuesday will offer a carefully curated programme of seminar sessions and workshops focused on the three themes of skills, start-ups and sales. A series of skills sessions will be delivered throughout the morning, with a workshop led by a York skills and education partnership. Despite the challenging business climate, inspiring entrepreneurial innovation remains high on the agenda for the city and start-up seminars delivered by AD:VENTURE will focus on the Early Stage of developing your business, Investment and Growth.  

‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ will tackle a host of relevant issues facing businesses of all sizes, in all sectors with topics focused on wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. Development expert and coach, Michelle Mook will lead a session focus on working remotely and how to keep teams motivated.   Langleys Solicitors LLP will be offering a guide to essential HR matters during lockdown and beyond, including restructuring businesses, mental health during a pandemic and business immigration in light of the EU Exit.  Mark Willis from York Mind will also be leading on a session titled Looking after you: 10 keys to mental wellbeing which will be an interactive session for individuals to help calm their minds in this Covid storm. 

Thursday will focus on the themes of Leadership and Innovation and businesses can choose from sessions throughout the day including ‘Leadership in Lockdown’ with Michelle Mook, and an ‘Innovation in Action’ session led by Dr Jo North from The Big Bang Partnership.  BioVale and York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership are hosting a food waste innovation workshop on 12 November, as part of the wider Circular Yorkshire Month which runs throughout November.  Throughout the day there will also be a ‘Business Growth Hub Pop-up’ with   experts on hand to offer short one to one sessions with businesses on a range of topics – from finance and HR to social media and marketing.  

The week will conclude on Friday with city focus sessions, including the York narrative project and how businesses can use it to tell their own story and promote themselves across the UK and beyond.  

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “Supporting the city’s jobs and businesses is our number one priority. We’ve all worked together very closely together through the covid-19 crisis, ensuring local businesses had the support they need, and bringing a range and breadth of businesses together through virtual roundtables alongside our key partners, to gather the intelligence to inform the city’s recovery plans. 

We’re very optimistic about the real strengths of York’s key business sectors and very positive about the future. We’re hosting York Business Week virtually this year and have an exciting programme, bringing together local, regional, national and international speakers and businesses to raise their profile and to discuss the current range of issues and challenges including post-COVID recovery, devolution, the opportunities of the knowledge economy, and the EU exit.” 

Executive member for Economy and Strategic planning, Cllr Andrew Waller, said: “Our key priorities through the pandemic have been the health and wellbeing of everyone in York and supporting the city’s varied and vibrant economy. Throughout the pandemic we have worked to support businesses through financial grants and a considerable amount of work went into reopening the city centre, and supporting the return of customers for retail and hospitality. We have recognised the importance to York’s economy of small independent businesses throughout. 

This is an important time for the city’s businesses to come together and get the support and information they need to continue their recovery. We are determined to work with Make It York and other partners to overcome the challenges presented by Covid-19 and enable York Business Week to make a virtual return. The programme offers relevant, timely and responsive information for businesses from all sectors and to help the city with our goal of building back better. It is only by working in partnership across the whole city that we will ensure the future prosperity of York’s economy with a fairer, greener economy with more local options to build new careers.” 

Tickets are available to book for York Business Week 2020 on For the latest updates and additions to the programme over the coming weeks, follow #YorkBizWeek20 on @makeityork Twitter. ENDS 

For further information please contact: 

Katie Parsons – Corporate Communications Manager  

Mobile: 07719 105 089 


Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive 


Notes to Editor 

Principal Partners signed up to date for 2020 include: 

  • York City Knights 
  • University of York 
  • Hentons  
  • Autohorn 
  • BHP 
  • Garbutt + Elliott

New ‘Things to Do in York’ Guide Launched in partnership between YorkMix, Make It York and City of York Council

A new online events guide ‘Things to do in York’ has today been launched by YorkMix, Make It York and City of York Council, bringing together in one place all the events taking place across the city.

With over 350 events currently listed, the site features an eclectic range of activities – from concerts, exhibitions and theatre to charity fundraisers and community events.

The new events listing guide is part of the ongoing tourism recovery marketing campaign devised by Make It York and City of York Council to promote the diverse range of experiences on offer in York and boost the number of visitors and residents coming into the city to explore. With one of the key focuses of the strategy being to engage with residents, the partnership with YorkMix to develop a new online listings guide aims to give local people a clear and simple way to find out what is going on in the city.

Organisations across the city are able to upload their events by visiting:

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Communities, Culture and Leisure said: “York’s cultural offer, whether music, theatre, art or everything in between is second to none. We are blessed with some of the most outstanding, diverse and exceptional performers in the country. The launch of York Mix’s Things to Do guide provides residents with an easy way of quickly finding something taking place near them. By getting involved in local cultural events, we strengthen our community, support our local economy, make new friends and importantly, have fun – which is so important for our mental well-being. I would encourage all residents to bookmark the site and find out about the vast range of experiences and events that are available.”

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said: “Across York there are so many brilliant and unique events going on every week. The new site offers a one-stop shop where residents can find out about everything from bands to new exhibitions or the latest foodie experiences in the city. It’s great too as a promotional tool for business as we all work together to get York’s economy up and running again.”

Chris Titley, Editor of YorkMix said: “York truly punches above its weight when it comes to culture and entertainment. We’ve been covering the city’s arts scene for nine years – and the talent, diversity and innovation of our creative community is a key reason why York is so special.

“We’re delighted to be teaming up with City of York Council and Make It York to launch Things To Do In York, a bigger, brighter and easy to use guide which puts York’s entire culture and entertainment world in your pocket.

“We hope this will enable people to discover more of the fantastic cultural events happening in the city – and help this crucial sector, hit so hard by the crisis, to recover by re-engaging with existing audiences and finding new ones.”

View the latest events here:

New Tourism Strategy Published to Support Recovery in the City

Following the announcement that City of York Council and Make It York will be collaborating on a plan of activity to support the tourism and hospitality industry, a new strategy has today (11th September 2020) been published outlining more details of the ongoing campaign.

The strategy document includes the key themes, channels and messaging for the activity – which focuses on building confidence in the city as a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors to enjoy, as well as promoting York’s unique character and the diverse range of experiences on offer. The strategy document is available to download here.

The strategy outlines the activity plan for the rest of the year and information about the proposed events coming up. This month, there will be a focus on a ‘Taste of York’ theme showcasing the diverse food and drink offer in the city through championing and celebrating local restaurants and supporting a ‘York Food Festival’ Weekend. The festival will run from 25th to 27th September and will include cooking workshops, demonstrations, a café bar (in conjunction with Macmillan Coffee Morning) and a City Taste Trail. The ‘Taste of York’ theme will continue to run throughout the month and into October with York BID’s Restaurant Week being held 12th-18th of October tying in with this.

Proposals for later in the year include Autumn and festive events to encourage residents and visitors to explore different parts of the city. The campaign will also promote city-wide events and experiences throughout the rest of the year – including York Mediale, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and Indie York’s Treasure Hunts which help to encourage footfall around the city centre.

City of York Council are supporting the campaign with an investment of £100K for targeted marketing activity which will include advertising across print, broadcast and online channels, including social media. New digital content to promote the city, including photography and video are also a key part of the plan – alongside curating the unique programme of events throughout the rest of 2020.

In-depth evaluation of the strategy will be carried out, alongside bi-monthly consumer sentiment research to ensure that there is a robust understanding of the impact of the marketing campaign. This data will also feed into the development of the ongoing activity to ensure it is as effective as possible at supporting the economy during this crucial period. Make It York will host a virtual tourism conference later in the year for businesses in the tourism, leisure, hospitality and retail sectors to update on the strategy’s progress and key milestones, as well as next steps and plans for 2021. More information on dates, timings and how to register will be released shortly.

Elements of the activity outlined in the strategy are already in operation, kicking off in August on Yorkshire Day with a special key worker celebration – a week to thank the incredible commitment of the city’s key workers with offers and discounts from businesses across the city. A new campaign video for Only in York was also launched in August as part of the activity – bringing to life what makes York a unique place to visit and capturing the eclectic and dynamic nature of the city. To date the video has had over 154,000 views across social media platforms, with a reach of over 288,000– with many residents and York-based businesses proudly sharing with their own audiences.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said, “York has a world-class tourism and leisure industry and ensuring its continued success is absolutely vital. Through investment in targeted marketing and advertising activity we are working with City of York Council to promote York’s unique offering in new and creative ways. As outlined in the strategy, this includes supporting events such as the York Food Festival Weekend later this month and creating a series of new experiences, trails and events to draw residents and visitors back into the city to explore. Over the next few months we will also be rolling out targeted print,

digital and broadcast advertising to inspire key audiences to experience York as a staycation destination.

“Working alongside York’s attractions, retailers, hoteliers and the city’s hospitality businesses is key to the strategy’s success which is why are keen to invite businesses to our virtual tourism conference later in the year to discuss our plans for 2021 and the exciting opportunities to work together.”

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure & Communities said: “We have already seen a strong summer with visitors returning to the city. It’s been a really positive start and with York’s tourism sector supporting over 24,000 local jobs it is vital we do what we can to keep this sector buoyant and successful through autumn and winter. Recognising footfall is likely to decrease as the summer holiday period ends, we recognise how important it is to draw residents and visitors into the city to rediscover hidden gems, support our local businesses and enjoy what the city has to offer once more.

“I’d like to thank the whole sector for their support in delivering this plan. It’s only through the hard work of the tourism, cultural and retail businesses and organisations who adapted so quickly to keep people safe, that we are able to confidently shout about how York is safely open for business.”

Read the full strategy document here.


For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager Email:

Notes to editors:

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our four corporate strategic priorities. These are:

· City positioning and profile-raising

· Inward Investment and network building

· Ensuring an exciting city centre

· Delivering the city’s

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