Top 10 Festivals In York, England

festivals in york

Located in northeast England, York is one of the United Kingdom’s most vibrant cities. Established by the Romans a long, long time ago, this city (nicknamed Chocolate City) has a lot going for it. It’s got its own rich history (read more about this below), an equally impressive arts and culture scene, great neighborhoods to explore, grand buildings and architecture, and, of course, a whole lot of events, with a calendar populated with festivities all year round. If this sounds like your thing, you should definitely make York a major stop during your UK tour. For a taste of what Chocolate City has to offer, here are the top festivals in York, UK.

1. JORVIK Viking Festival

Jorvik Viking Festival 2012
Source: Photo by user alh1 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Did you know that parts of England were once invaded by the Vikings back in the ninth century? This part of English heritage is celebrated every year at York’s JORVIK Viking Festival, which has been around since 1984! Get to know York’s Norse heritage through its different attractions, such as markets, walking tours, living history encampments, Viking-style combat performances, live evening entertainment, and city-wide events that are open for the entire weekend.

JORVIK Viking Festival

Address: Parliament St, York YO1 8RL, United Kingdom

Website: JORVIK Viking Festival

Takes place: February

Price: General admission is free, tickets for events sold separately

2. York Ice Trail

York Ice Trail 2019
Source: Photo by user alh1 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Also taking place in February is the York Ice Trail, which makes one think that February is one of the best times to go to York. This is a two-day event where ice sculptors unleash their creativity (within the bounds of the theme) and produce spectacular ice sculptures. There are also a couple of family-friendly activities held during the festival, which assures plenty of fun for kids and kids-at-heart. Don’t forget to keep yourself all bundled up and warm, as this is going to be one icy weekend.

York Ice Trail

Address: 1 Museum Street, YO1 7DT York, United Kingdom

Website: York Ice Trail

Takes place: February

3. York Food and Drink Festival

York Festival of Food and Drink 2010
Source: Photo by user alh1 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Now that you’ve had your fill of York’s Norse heritage and finely made ice sculptures in the winter, let’s fast forward to autumn and enjoy some good food and drinks. The York Food and Drink Festival puts the city’s best chefs, cooks, food producers, retailers, and independent restaurants in the spotlight. Aside from the market where you can buy food, drinks, and local food products, you can join workshops and demonstrations to learn a thing or two about the culinary arts. There are also smaller fairs, such as the Gin Fair and the Wine Fair, to check out. The entire event takes place over 10 days, so be prepared to stay awhile to enjoy the entire festival.

York Food and Drink Festival

Address: Parliament Street and St. Sampsons Square, YO1 7DT York, United Kingdom

Website: York Food and Drink Festival

Takes place: Usually held in September

Price: General admission is free, tickets for events sold separately

4. York Fashion Week

York Fashion Week
Source: Pixabay

After some food and drinks, let’s continue your culture trip by dropping by one of the shows taking place during York Fashion Week. Over the course of eight days, you’ll get to meet local designers, patronize local business owners, check out the latest trends by high-street brands, and experience a different side of York’s creative scene. There will be runway shows, as well as workshops if you’re interested in fashion and design, parties, and more. Make sure to don your finest threads and unleash your inner fashion fiend!

York Fashion Week

Address: York YO1 8RL, United Kingdom

Website: York Fashion Week

Takes place: March

5. York Literature Festival

Also happening in March is a celebration of York’s literature and spoken word scene: the York Literature Festival. It first started in 2007 and quickly grew to become one of the most awaited events in the United Kingdom. You’ll get the chance to attend readings and talks, as well as have your books signed by a wide range of authors and writers.

The 2020 festival is already being planned, but just to give you an idea of how big this event is, last year, the York Literature Festival was held over 17 days and featured almost 80 events spread out across the city. Book and literature lovers, you’re in for a treat!

York Literature Festival

Address: York YO1 8RL, United Kingdom

Website: York Literature Festival

Takes place: March

Price: Ticket prices vary

6. York Early Music Festival

There are a ton of music festivals in the United Kingdom (Glastonbury, anyone), but then there’s the York Early Music Festival. Unlike the usual music fest, this one’s dedicated to the fine art of classical music. It’s actually the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom and was established in 1977. For 2020, the theme is “Method and Madness” and will feature the works of Monteverdi and 17th-century English tavern music. The lineup includes violinist Bjarte Elke, Ensemble Voces Suaves, Iestyn Davis, Profeti della Quinta, Dunedin Consort, and a couple of soloists.

York Early Music Festival

Address: National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9TL, United Kingdom

Website: York Early Music Festival

Takes place: July

7. Fossgate Festival [Last event in 2019]

York’s most famous street, Fossgate, has its very own festival! In honor of this widely loved street, the Fossgate Festival has a wide variety of events. There’s some live music entertainment to serenade you as you pop in and out of the local boutiques and shops, hang out at a cafe for some coffee or tea, and interact with locals and tourists. One of the best things about the Fossgate Festival is that, during this special day, the best restaurants and bars in the neighborhood are open beyond their regular operating hours. The entire street will also be closed for the entire day, so you can walk at your own pace.

Fossgate Festival

Address: Fossgate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9TA, United Kingdom

Website: Fossgate Festival

Takes place: Every first Sunday of the month

Price: Free

8. York Christmas Festival

Enjoy the spirit of the holidays and experience York as it’s transformed into a magical Christmas paradise during the York Christmas Festival, a month-long affair. Bundle up, trot up and down Museum Street, bask in the Christmas spirit, and breathe in the air filled with the smell of mulled wine, hot chocolate, and other Christmas goods. This is just one of the many Christmas events you need to check out while you’re in York.

York Christmas Festival

Address: 1 Museum Street, YO1 7DT York, United Kingdom

Website: York Christmas Festival

Takes place: November - December

Price: Free

9. York Balloon Fiesta

York balloon Fiesta 2018
Source: Photo by user alh1 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Another autumn festivity to watch out for is the York Balloon Fiesta, when hot air balloons in different colors and designs take to the sky, making quite a lovely sight! Aside from the hot air balloons, York Balloon Fiesta also features other attractions such as live music entertainment, a funfair, plenty of food and drinks to go around, and even activities for the little ones.

York Balloon Fiesta

Address: York Racecourse, York, YO23 1EX, United Kingdom

Website: York Balloon Fiesta

Takes place: Usually held in September

Price: Free

10. Aesthetica Short Film Festival

It’s time to sit back and relax, this time for a round of well-made short films by some of York’s upcoming and brightest filmmakers. There will be different categories to choose from, as well as panel discussions to check out and other special programs that might interest you if you’re a film aficionado. At the end of the event is the ASFF Awards, where the best of the best are recognized.

Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Address: Aesthetica Short Film Festival, PO Box 371, York, YO23 1WL, United Kingdom

Website: Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Takes place: November

Yorkers know how to celebrate

This is one of the many things you’ll find out as you explore York and take part in one (or two) of its many festivals, parties, and events. Just make sure to pack accordingly (especially if you’re going in the midst of winter) and be game for anything. For more of York, do browse our website to learn more about this one-of-a-kind city.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Born and raised in the Philippines, Vanna is 100% an island girl. During the weekdays, she works as a content editor for a US-based digital marketing firm. And when she isn't in front of her...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore York
Good things are meant to be shared!