Bosses at York's Christmas market have responded to claims that the attraction is getting so overcrowded at times that it’s too dangerous for children.

Grandfather Steve Harris sent The Press this picture of shoppers crowded into the pavement between the market and Marks & Spencer in Parliament Street.

The photo was taken at the St Nicholas Fair market about 3pm on Saturday, November 26.

Steve, owner of York minibus firm Anytime Travel, said: ”It was like being on The Tube in London. It was too dangerous for kids.

“If I had had my grandkids with me, I would have left.

“It was very, very slow. I had a guy behind me with his family who really was about to lose it. Quote - to his wife: ‘I am going to barge through this s***, just keep behind me’.

“She replied ‘don’t be silly’.”

The Northern Echo: The crowded Christmas Market in Parliament Street at about 3pm on Saturday, November 26. Picture: Steve HarrisThe crowded Christmas Market in Parliament Street at about 3pm on Saturday, November 26. Picture: Steve Harris (Image: supplied)

Steve said that if a problem developed in the crowd, he felt sure someone would get hurt.

Steps have been taken by market organisers in recent years to reduce the overcrowding, which tends to be most acute on Saturday afternoons.

The number of rows of stalls in Parliament Street has been reduced from three to two, and a trail of Nutcracker statues has recently been created across the city centre to encourage people to explore quieter parts as well as the market.

Sarah Loftus, managing director at Make It York, which runs the market, said: “The first two weekends of St Nicholas Fair coincided with major national sporting events in the city, as well as train strikes.

“This resulted in a significant increase in footfall in the city centre, as well as extra pressure on our roads and bus services.

“We encourage all visitors to plan their journey before travelling, and to use public transport where possible.

“We have a crowd safety officer on site at all times who monitors the number of visitors and queues, as well stewards on-hand to help manage visitor flow.

“There is also a new layout to the market, first implemented in 2021, to encourage easier movement throughout the market.

“We understand that St Nicholas Fair can be a busy event at peak times, especially on weekends, therefore we have integrated designated quieter periods where music will be minimal between 10am to 12pm each day.

“We also have the virtual Christmas market, for those who would prefer to shop with our independent traders in the comfort of their own homes.”

Readers also reacted to Steve's picture on The Press website.

One commented: “We had to elbow our way through the log-jam around one of the street performers on Saturday. It seemed to be caused by a combination of too many people packed into a small space, and a collective loss of common sense and courtesy.”

But another added: “I’m glad it’s heaving, it’s a good problem to have and a lot of places would kill for the turnout we get.

“Saying that, I can’t for the life of me see how anybody could enjoy themselves when it’s that busy.”

St Nicholas Fair is open seven days a week 10am-7pm until December 23.