York isn’t known as England’s City of Festivals for nothing, with many visitors based both locally and from all over the world descending upon this postal address just for its events and festivals. It would be foolish of me to say that upon your visit you will find something to your personal taste and liking to attend by way of the many festivals of York, which is true enough, but you’re better encouraged to drop in and catch a glimpse of some of those events you wouldn’t normally even bat an eyelid at. In other words, there’s perhaps a pleasant surprise waiting for you if you take the time to reward your curiosity!
The official list of the festivals of York will give you a solid base from which to select which ones you’re going to explore, but there are many more festivals on the go, some of which don’t take place annually, which makes them even more of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, the official list includes the Festival of Angels, the Viking Festival, Early Music, Late Music, Multicultural Food and Arts, Horse Racing (or the Ebor Race Meeting, as it’s more affectionately referred to), Mystery Plays, Food and Drink, Chinese New Year, and Christmas St. Nicholas’ Fair Festival.
I feel it pertinent to discuss some of my personal favourites and some of those which are more popular, but no amount of words can do any real justice to how the experience itself is. You simply have to be there to capture the essence of what a York festival is all about…
Taking place in February, this is one of the most iconic if not the most iconic festival of York. Needless to say its appeal comes from its representation of the very rich history of the city, but perhaps what makes this the swansong festival of the city is the fact that attendees of all ages can have a lot of fun here. There’s a lot of dressing up and role-playing – I mean who doesn’t love a bit of mock fighting, but it’s a very educational festival as well which seeks to highlight the importance of the Viking Centre.
York Festival of Food and Drink
The latter part of September each year plays host to the York Festival of Food and Drink, which places a special focus on Yorkshire food, but is balanced out with a drinks programme that is focussed more on wine and incorporates selections from all over the world. Enjoy the many events which include tastings, demonstrations, dinners and markets which run over 10 days. Kids can enjoy some hands-on cooking fun as well…
While they don’t run each year, these Medieval Passion plays were given a new lease on life following the Second World War, but basically this is where the surprise element comes into play because the plays vary between venue-changing formal renditions and traditional plays which are acted out on some floats which cover a lot of ground as they’re carried around the city.
If you’re visiting one of York’s many festivals this year (or next!) check out iknow-UK for great deals on a whole range of accommodation.