York's Santa Experience



Our most magical event of the year returns again in 2020!

There is a reason why families return year after year to join us for our City Cruises York Santa Experience, it really is the most magical event on the River Ouse! And tickets for 2020 are on sale now!

Santa clearly works hard all year around and especially in December when he somehow manages to find the time to visit all of the especially well behaved boys and girls before Christmas and he tells us that the City Cruises York Santa Experience is the most unique venue that he visits in the city.

What's new for 2020?

Santa and his team have made a few changes this year, to make sure that we can offer you a secure and comfortable visit, without missing out on any of the fun.

  • You will join Santa and friends aboard the Captain James Cook, our largest boat, meaning that there will be more space for groups to socially distance.
  • Each group will be seated at their own table for up to 6 guests. 
  • There will be a transparent screen between each table.
  • All touch points will be cleaned regularly, staff will wear appropriate PPE, and hand sanitiser will be available around the vessel.
  • Social distancing will be in effect during queuing, boarding and disembarking.
  • Each child will receive an individual colouring and activity pack.
  • Each family group will have an opportunity to spend time with Santa in his grotto area and photo opportunity (no charge for photos - please bring your own camera).
  • There will also be a competition held aboard each cruise with fantastic tourist attraction entry tickets to be won!

Your Santa experience begins as you are welcomed into our Grotto, cleverly hidden away underneath the beautiful Lendal Bridge. Upon entering, the Santa Experience Captain will check all of the children off the special list that we receive from Lapland. If you have any pushchairs, then you are welcome to leave these in the safety of our Reindeer Pen (they will all be away on business with Santa at this time so there will be plenty of room).

You will then be warmly greeted by Santa’s good friend Mary Christmas or Ernie the Elf, who will gladly show you to your reserved seating.

And we can’t tell you too much more about what happens next, that would spoil the magic. But we can guarantee that Santa Claus himself will find his way aboard and the whole family will have the most wonderful time on board our Santa Experience in 2020.

Each child will be hand delivered a personalised present from Santa whilst everybody on board will enjoy refreshments, fun and surprises, making this a Christmas treat to remember.

Your ticket includes:

  • For adults a glass of red or white house wine or a refillable cup of tea or coffee, an apple or mince pie 
  • For kids a soft drink (Fruit Shoot or Capri Sun), a novelty biscuit
  • Present for each child, colouring in sheets and a letter template to write a letter to Santa
  • 50 minute cruise

Cruise Details

Cruise Dates and Sailing Times

2020 Dates:
Sunday 22nd Nov - 1100, 1300 & 1500
Saturday 28th Nov, 5th Dec, 12th Dec & 19th Dec - 11100, 1300, 1500 & 1700.
Sunday 29th Nov, 6th Dec, 13th Dec & 20th Dec - 1100, 1300, 1500 & 1700
Monday 21st Dec - 1100, 1300, 1500 & 1700
Tuesday 22nd Dec - 1100, 1300, 1500 & 1700
Wednesday 23rd Dec - 1100, 1300, 1500 & 1700

Departure Point

Boatyard York
What3words location ///keeps.bucked.daily

*Please note that the Santa Experience is held on our largest boats, and if the river is flowing above it's normal levels there is a chance that the boat will not actually be able to sail. In this event, the Santa Experience will still take place (he can still find his way aboard!) and everybody will still no doubt have a fantastic and memorable time.

Please note that if the cruise does not sail, you will receive a complimentary voucher for a daytime sightseeing cruise to be used at a time of your choosing.

Ticket Prices

November Sailings
December Sailings
Adult (16+)
from £13.00
from £15.00
Child (1-15)
from £16.00
from £18.00
Infant (Under 1) with gift

Infants (0-1): 

Ticket include a personalised gift from Santa but do not include a seat or refreshments. If you require a seat and refreshments for children aged under 1 year old, then a child ticket will need to be purchased.

Important Booking Information:

Very important: In the “Comments box”, please enter the name, age and gender of all children in your party including infants under 1 year old. This means that we can pass these details onto Lapland to make sure that Santa brings an age and gender appropriate gift that is personalised for your little ones.

Online ticket sales end one day before the travel date. If you would like to make a booking for a Santa Experience the following day, please call 01904 628324 and press option 4. We can check availability for you and if there is space for your party process your booking over the phone.


Unfortunately, wheelchair access is not available on our Santa Experience as there are some steps when boarding the vessel.

Independent reviews by feefo
Santa Experience