SNOW is guaranteed in York - on Friday nights in the run-up to Christmas, and on Christmas eve.

Back for a third year, Shambles in York is being transformed into a magical festive scene to welcome visitors, with many of the independent retailers opening later.

As the first flakes fell for the big switch-on last night, with the city's town crier Ben Fry lending his support, children and adults alike showed their delight. 

Phil Pinder, of Shambles Traders Association, said two couples were kissing under the snow flakes soon after he turned the machines on, while children had big smiles on their faces.

"It is great to see that atmosphere, with kids loving it."

Each Friday, between 5pm and 7pm, snow will fall onto the historic shopping street to create a Christmas experience.

"We're making it extra special this year; on Christmas Eve, from 10am until 1pm, there will also be bursts of snow."

Shambles' retailers crowdfunded three years ago to riase £2000 to purchase the snow machines, receiving support from York BID to top up the pot. They have had to buy two new machines this year, again receiving support from York BID.

"It costs a couple of thousand pounds a year to do," said Phil.

"We have got nine machines running from The Shop That Must Not Be Named up to Shambles Tavern. Friday was amazing. it was nice to see everyone.

"It is a simple, popular event. There are not many streets where it would work because they are wide, but Shambles is perfect and it makes it just so magical." 

The narrow, cobbled street dates back to the 13th century, and is now home to an array of shops such as Monk Bar Chocolatiers and the York Ghost Merchants.

Phil who owns The Potions Cauldron, 9¾ Shambles, added: "We are trying to remind locals that Shambles is unique and full of interesting shops so come and support us.

"This year we are also doing it for charity."

Vuisitors are being encouraged to donate £1 to St Leonard's Hospice.

"Hopefully we will raise several thousand for the hospice," said Phil, who is on the charity's fundraising committee.