CROWDS of shoppers have once again teemed through York city centre today, many attracted by the picturesque Christmas market.

With York having gained a reputation as the UK’s most festive city and come second recently in a UK tourism survey, the city's St Nicholas Fair is now attracting thousands of visitors from all over the country.

The destination management organisation Make It York says these visitors bring valuable income into the city’s shops, restaurants and hotels, helping to support a tourism sector worth £564 million and creating 19,000 local jobs.

But as these pictures show, the streets are sometimes proving barely wide enough to contain all the people who want to walk down them.

The overcrowding was particularly acute this afternoon in Parliament Street and Shambles, with pedestrians sometimes reduced to a shuffle by the sheer number of people competing for space.

A huge queue of would-be customers built up around Thor's Tipi bar, and other cafes could not cope with demand either, with one putting out a sign saying: "Sorry we are full. Please queue here and we will seat you as soon as possible."

The packed streets did not worry some shoppers, with Craig Maxton from Nottingham saying: "It adds to the atmosphere." But others felt it was just too busy, with Jenny Roscoe from Manchester saying: "You just can't move in the market."

But one York shopper said it was worse last week, when he got stuck near Marks& Spencers in Parliament Street for almost ten minutes, almost unable to move in any direction.

Dominic Berry, city centre events manager, Make It York, said York had gained a reputation as the UK’s most festive city and the St Nicholas Fair attracted thousands of visitors from all across the country, but safety was Make It York's utmost priority and it was continually monitoring how busy the Christmas market was.

"The layout of the fair has been worked out carefully with the advice and support of the North Yorkshire fire department as well as well as the York Safety Advisory Group," he said.

"We’ve also made changes over the last few years to widen the pathways in between the stalls.

"Though it can be a little uncomfortable at peak times, feedback about the fair has been fantastic.

"The best advice for anyone who wants to avoid the crowds is to visit the fair weekdays and in the evenings."

*What do readers think? Do the crowded streets bother you - and is the prosperity that the shoppers bring worth the hassle? Please tell us your views here, or on Facebook or Twitter.