YORK city centre was packed yesterday as shoppers from all over the country poured in - many heading straight for the Christmas market.

Amid a festive atmosphere, pedestrians slowed to a shuffle along a packed stretch of the market near Marks & Spencer in Parliament Street, despite measures to tackle overcrowding problems at peak times.

Some shoppers appeared to be enjoying themselves in the market while others found it simply too busy, with one saying: "It's absolutely rammed - I'm going home!"

Queues also built up outside businesses such as Käthe Wohlfahrt's Christmas shop in Stonegate and Thor's Tipi bar in the market, with another huge queue snaking along Piccadilly almost all the way from the Park & Ride bus stop to the junction with Merchantgate.

Kallum Summerbell messaged The Press with a photo of a queue for the toilets in Marks & Spencer, saying: "Due to no public toilets, everyone from the Christmas market is storming Marks and Spencer’s for a quick wee! Should have been thought about before turning everyone’s Xmas shop into a nightmare."

Sean Bullick, managing director at Make It York, which organises the market, said earlier this month that safety was its "utmost priority" and, following feedback from last year, it had reviewed the layout of the stalls to allow for more people to flow through the market.

He said this included the introduction of a number of break-out areas to reduce congestion, allowing pedestrians to leave the busy areas of the market more quickly.

He also said stewards would be on-site each day to monitor the flow of the crowd and take action as required to move people through to the break-out zones – with additional stewards scheduled in every weekend.

He said other factors which would allow for a better flow of visitors to the market this year included moving street performers out of Parliament Street to other areas in the city and removing the toilet block in St Sampson’s Square earlier this year, which had created more space.

“Our aim has been to ensure that everyone who comes to the market has an enjoyable and memorable visit and we believe these measures will help to improve the overall experience for all residents and visitors over the festive period,” he added.

*Were you in the city centre yesterday - and if so was it heaven or hell for you?