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Käthe Wohlfahrt

York

 

A Year-Round Christmas Shop unlike any other. Käthe Wohlfahrt York will take your breath away & leave you feeling Christmassy no matter the time of year.

 

Come with us as we explore more.  Trust us, you don’t want want to miss this…

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A trip to Käthe Wohlfahrt York will melt even the most Grinchy of hearts.  It takes year-round Christmas shops to another level and genuinely brought a tear to my eye.

If I were to summarise, it would be like this – GO!  You will not regret it!

Just a few days prior to my birthday, it felt as if all my wishes had come true when I was treated to a private tour around the store before the day began with Store Manager Helen and Account Manager Pam. Had it not been for childcare duties, they would have found me still in a corner of the store at the end of the day!

Wooden Christmas Tree on display
Soft toys and large Santa figurine for sale in York

unique designs in a unique venue

Setting The Scene

The iconic three-storey timber-frame of Mulberry Hall on Stonegate dates back as far as 1434 and surely was built with these jaw-dropping Christmas displays in mind – they are a match made in heaven!

Pam tells me the store inspired Emma Thompson’s Christmas Shop design for her 2019 blockbuster Last Christmas.  It’s no wonder!

Set across a myriad of rooms and winding staircases, a rabbit warren of festive treasures lays waiting within.

Every space offers a different Christmas décor style.  From wood to glass, metal to fabric and baubles to table top décor, advent calendars to rocking horses, there is truly something for everyone and products at every price point – pocket treats to stunning heirloom pieces and limited edition designs retailing into the £1000s.

The store sells a mixture of products sourced from wholesalers worldwide as well as their own unique Käthe Wohlfahrt designs – marked with a special label and not available anywhere else.

Many of the products are handmade or hand-finished and displays around the store show the sheer number of intricate pieces that are fitted together to make just one single ornament design.

Nutcracker Queens with purple and blue outfits
Pieces Demo display at year round Christmas shop

eye-popping beauty

Bonkers For Baubles

What do you sell the most I asked, ‘Baubles!, was the immediate reply!  Apparently we Brits are indeed bonkers for baubles and the company can barely keep up with demand for these sparkly addition to our trees.
Kathe Wohlfahrt Mulberry Hall York Glass Bauble
Handpainted baubles in York
As we rounded the corner to the largest room in the building, I couldn’t hold back my gasp of amazement.

With a two storey rotating Christmas tree standing proud in the centre and hand-painted mural of York city centre on the wall, the room houses one of the main bauble displays in the store.

Covered from top to bottom in glistening baubles, this is surely why the expression ‘child in a sweet shop’ exists?!  Organised by colour and twinkling under the store lights, the room is simply breath-taking.  Later, I overheard a customer exclaiming that they didn’t know where to look first; I can sympathise!

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a pocket of Saxony in York

Traditional German Delights

Of course, there are plenty of traditional wooden German Christmas ornaments on offer as well – nutcrackers, incense smokers, pyramids (whose sails are powered by the heat of a candle) and Schwibbogen (ornate candle arches).

You can buy your very own replica of Wilhelm and Käthe’s original Saxony music box too*!

The rich history behind each of these products is shared on signs around the store as well as by the friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff.

Many of the designs originate from creations by former miners looking to supplement their income as the mines closed down.

Such heart-warming stories make the decorations even more precious –as if you’re purchasing a piece of history as well as a festive addition to your home display.

Selection of Traditional Nutcracker Dolls
Selection of Traditional German smokers at Kathe Wohlfahrt York

first & foremost a family business

* The Käthe Wohlfahrt Story

It All Started With A Music Box
Käthe Wohlfahrt is a German family-run Christmas shop brand.  Named for the wife of founder Wilhelm Wohlfahrt, the company started almost by accident in 1964.

Wilhelm and Käthe had brought a traditional music box with them from Saxony to Stuttgart when they moved.  This attracted the attention of an American officer friend when he visited for Christmas in 1963.

Eager to gift the officer a music box of his own, Wilhelm tried to find a vendor out of season but found he could only make a wholesale purchase.

Accidental Trader
Once the gift was passed along, Wilhelm sold the remainder of the music box job lot with ease and so discovered an unfulfilled demand. 

He and his wife started selling an expanded range of products at charity bazaars and from their own front room before setting up a showroom first in Stuttgart and then Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

The company has since expanded its portfolio of shops across Germany and into five other countries worldwide and since 1991 has been designing its own Christmas products.

A store still remains in Rothenburg ob der Tauber where the company has also opened a Christmas Village (complete with Christmas museum).

How Käthe Wohlfahrt York Came To Be
Very much still a family business, nowadays the company is run by Wilhelm’s son Harald whilst Harald’s sister Carmen oversees purchasing and design of their unique Käthe Wohlfahrt range.

The Wohlfahrt family first discovered Mulberry Hall in York around 40 years ago.  And it was love at first sight – the magic of the building, its setting within the city and the position of York itself ticked all their boxes for a year round Christmas shop in England.

But it wasn’t until Harald revisited the city some 30+ years later whilst visiting his son at university that he discovered the building was available to lease and the dream could finally be realised.  And so in 2016 Käthe Wohlfahrt York welcomed its first customers.

it needs to be seen to be believed

When To Visit Käthe Wohlfahrt York

It comes as no surprise to discover that stocktake here is serious business.  The store is closed for three weeks in January whilst this mammoth task is underway and otherwise stays open all year round.
Selection of ornaments and tealights in York Christmas Shop
Snowman face for sale in Kathe Wohlfahrt
Be prepared to queue if you visit in the busy tourist season or the last two months of the year.  ‘We’ve been managing customer numbers since well before COVID times,’ explains Pam, ‘to ensure we give our visitors the best experience.’

A word to the wise: do not let the queue deter you; you need to see this store for yourself!

Trust me –you will not regret it!

Spread The Word!

Like what you’ve seen? Be sure to share with your friends.

Let’s sprinkle Christmas cheer far and wide!

Summary

PERFECT FOR: Having your mind blown with Christmas beauty!

FIND IT HERE: Mulberry Hall, 17 Stonegate, York YO1 8ZW

ONLINE: https://www.kaethe-wohlfahrt.com/en/home

DATE OF VISIT: 6 August 2021

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And be sure to tag #jollyfestive in your photos.  We love to see which Christmas activities you’ve been enjoying!

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