Events

Finalists Announced for Visit York Tourism Awards 2024

Finalists in the Visit York Tourism Awards, sponsored by LNER, have been revealed today. Celebrating the best in tourism, hospitality and culture, finalists will go head-to-head to win one of 16 trophies in a glitzy ceremony on Thursday 14th March 2024 at York Racecourse.  

Eligible winners across a number of categories will be automatically put forward to the national Visit England Awards for Excellence 2024 to compete for the crown of the country’s best. York has a strong record of national glory, with Middletons Hotel’s General Manager, Adam Wardale, taking the national Unsung Hero Award in the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2022, and The Dovecote Barns a silver runner-up in the Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year in the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2023. 

New categories for 2024 include The Best of York Award, and Independent Business of the Year. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director of Make It York, said: “We’ve had some really strong applications this year, across the board. A huge congratulations to our finalists who have been announced today, and who have demonstrated excellence in their sectors. The Visit York Tourism Awards celebrate the countless organisations who work tirelessly year-round to deliver the best experiences for visitors and residents, we look forward to celebrating their successes and achievements at the ceremony in March.” 

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “We are proud to support the Visit York Tourism Awards, helping to celebrate the individuals and businesses that continue to work hard to make York such a great place to visit. From historic sites to wonderful places to eat and stay, the city has so much to offer and is one of the most popular destinations on the LNER route.  Congratulations to all those who have been selected as a finalist.”  

Tickets for the glittering awards ceremony event on Thursday 14th March 2024 are available from today. Book your tickets here. (Tickets cost £75 plus VAT for Visit York members, or £70 plus VAT when booking a table of 10. Tickets cost £95 plus VAT for non-members). 

More information about the Visit York Tourism Awards can be found at visityork.org/awards 

Visit York Tourism Awards Finalists 2024:  

B&B and Guest House of the Year 

  • MonkBridge House 
  • The Bar Convent Guest House 
  • The Fat Badger, York  

Business Event Venue of the Year (sponsored by Business Enterprise Fund) 

  • The Guildhall, York  
  • City Cruises 

Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year 

  • Flaxton Meadows 
  • Wigwam Holidays Ball Hall Farm 
  • High Oaks Grange 

Experience of the Year (sponsored by LNER) 

  • Sharmini’s Inspirational Indian Cuisine 
  • The Bloody Tour of York  
  • The Deathly Dark Tours 
  • The Wizard Walk of York 

Large Hotel of the Year (sponsored by Streamline Taxis) 

  • Middletons Hotel 
  • Moxy York  
  • The Grand 

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year (sponsored by Ward Hadaway) 

  • The York Dungeon 
  • National Railway Museum 
  • The Web Adventure Park  
  • Yorkshire Air Museum  

New Tourism Business Award (sponsored by PPS Essentials) 

  • Hart Lake Escapes 
  • The Wizard Walk of York 
  • Hocus Pocus Tiny Hotel 

Pub of the Year (sponsored by Hunter Gee Holroyd) 

  • The Lime Tree Inn  
  • The Fat Badger, York  
  • Social 8 Lounge 
  • The Drovers Arms Restaurant and Country Pub 

Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year 

  • 101 House At The End 
  • Roomzzz Aparthotel York  

Small Hotel of the Year (sponsored by booking.com) 

  • The Pheasant Hotel 
  • Clementines Town House 
  • Hocus Pocus Tiny Hotel 

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 

  • The Bar Convent Heritage Centre 
  • World of James Herriot 
  • The Hole in Wand 
  • York Army Museum 

Taste of England Award (sponsored by Fowlers of York) 

  • Legacy at The Grand 
  • Fish & Forest 
  • Ate O’Clock 

The Best of York Award* (sponsored by York St John University) 

  • The Wizard Walk of York 
  • Millers Fish & Chips 
  • The Bloody Tour of York 

Independent Business of the Year* (sponsored by Clarion Housing Group) 

  • Avorium 
  • The Deathly Dark Tours 
  • The Wizard Walk of York  
  • Breezy Knees Gardens 

Event, Festival or Cultural Experience of the Year* (sponsored by North York Moors) 

  • Christmas at Castle Howard 
  • Hallow Scream at York Maze 
  • York Pride 
  • York Mansion House 

Retailer of the Year* (sponsored by York BID) 

  • York Gin 
  • Love Cheese 
  • The Potions Cauldron 

* These categories are local awards and not eligible for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 

ENDS 

For more information: 

Brittany Guymer 

Communications Executive at Make It York 

Comms@makeityork.com 

Notes to Editors: 

About Make It York  

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, Shambles Market and festivals and events. 

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand  

Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. 

Finalists Announced for Visit York Tourism Awards 2024 Read More »

York chosen as one of the host cities and venues for the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 

From one exhilarating Women’s World Cup to another, there are exactly two years to go until women’s rugby returns to York, as the city is chosen as a co-host and venue for the Rugby World Cup 2025.  

World Rugby and the RFU, with support from the UK Government, have confirmed that York and York Community Stadium will be one of the eight host cities and venues that will provide the stage for the biggest-ever celebration of women’s rugby. 

Kicking off on 22 August and concluding with the Rugby World Cup final, on 27 September, the 10th edition of the showcase event has accessibility as its core and will be the most accessible games to date. The countrywide format means an unparalleled opportunity to see, engage with, and support the stars of the women’s game. 

Following a competitive selection process, the final roster of host cities and venues reflects the tournament’s core mission of growing the sport, taking rugby across the country and engaging with diverse communities. All will provide a family-focused festival of rugby.  

For the first time ever, the elite women’s rugby tournament will be hosted across eight venues and cities around the country with 16 teams competing to be crowned world champions. 

The biggest-ever celebration of women’s rugby – the host cities and venues  

  • Brighton and Hove – Brighton and Hove Albion Stadium 
  • Bristol – Ashton Gate 
  • Exeter – Sandy Park 
  • London – Twickenham Stadium 
  • Manchester – Salford Community Stadium 
  • Northampton – Franklin’s Gardens  
  • Sunderland – Stadium of Light  
  • York – York Community Stadium 
      

While the full match schedule and ticketing details will be announced next year, the milestone two-year celebration and confirmation of dates and venues provides the ability for fans across England to start to plan their Rugby World Cup 2025 experience.  

Canada, England, France and New Zealand have already qualified for Rugby World Cup 2025 after finishing in the top four of RWC 2021, with the remaining positions to be filled via World Rugby’s new women’s international 15s tournament, WXV, and regional competitions in 2024. 

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Following the record-breaking success of Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand, women’s rugby has built an incredibly strong foundation and as one of the fastest growing sports in the world, RWC 2025 is set to take the game to the next level as the biggest celebration of women’s rugby with fans and players very much at its heart.  

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with all our partners as we strive to deliver a world-class and historic event that will leave a lasting legacy, both in England and around the world as we aim to inspire millions of new players and fans and continue to grow the game we love.” 

Councillor Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council said: “I want to thank all the partners involved in our successful bid to host the Women’s Rugby Union World Cup. It is fantastic that once again York will play host to a world cup, with world-class female athletes living and playing in the city for a number of weeks. 

We see time and time again the impact sport can have on people’s lives. This is demonstrated by the legacy of the Rugby League World Cup held in the city last year, and also the recent successes of the Lionesses in inspiring a new generation. Sport brings people together and can be great for our physical and mental wellbeing. We hope this tournament is a catalyst for increased participation at any of our fantastic community clubs.” 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director of Make It York, said: “We are absolutely delighted that York has been chosen as one of the host cities for the Rugby World Cup in 2025, and that we’ll be welcoming such fantastic international teams to our city for the tournament. This will be such a key event in the city’s calendar and really showcase York on the international stage with a sport that is forever growing in popularity. We look forward to working with the Rugby World Cup and local organisations across York to make this a fantastic celebration of women’s sports, that both residents and visitors can enjoy.”  

Glen Coultish, York RUFC Junior Chairman, said: “York Rugby Union are delighted to be playing a part in the Women’s Rugby Union World Cup. The timing is perfect as this season we have dedicated to growing the girls section to 80 plus girl players. The opportunity to see world cup squads play and train is fantastic for the whole club.” 

Cat Tottie, Manager at York RI Women, said: “Women’s rugby has grown fast in recent years – when the Roses packed out Twickenham last year we proved the sport wasn’t just for the boys. As someone who didn’t start playing until I was an adult, I hope the Rugby World Cup coming to England will inspire a new generation of girls to look at our amazing sport and think – I want to get on pitch and be just as strong and fast as them. 

From grassroots teams to Premiership, the community that comes with women’s rugby is infectious, and there is no better time to start playing than now.  And anything you can do to plug girls and women to start playing at York RI would be fab – we are recruiting now!” 

Notes to Editors: 

The women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 is supported by its official partners Mastercard, Capgemini and Gallagher. 

The Rugby World Cup Impact Programme, delivered by the RFU in partnership with the UK Government and Sport England, will create opportunities for females across all levels of the game through its volunteer, coaching and internship programmes. 

 WXV | Official Site (wxvrugby.com) 

For more information, please contact: 

Brittany Guymer, Communications Executive at Make It York  

Comms@makeityork.com 

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

York chosen as one of the host cities and venues for the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025  Read More »

Visit the ‘City of Dreams’ at York Ice Trail 2024: Dates and Theme Announced 

York Ice Trail organisers, Make It York, are pleased to announce that plans are underway for the family-favourite event to return to the city on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th February 2024.  

The theme for York Ice Trail 2024 will transform York into the ‘City of Dreams’ and invite people to dream big and let their creativity run wild.  

The last York Ice Trail took place in February 2023 and was a huge success. Over 40,000 visitors came to the city to view the 36 ice sculptures that lined the streets over the weekend. Research commissioned with Qa Research showed that 9 out of 10 visitors would recommend the trail to family and friends, with 4 out of 5 saying they would want to return for the next Ice Trail. 

The free trail also had a positive impact on businesses in the city, with 85% of visitors eating out or drinking in cafes, bars and restaurant, plus almost 50% were likely to go shopping.  

York Ice Trail 2024 will once again see the ‘coolest’ sculptures line the street of York, all sponsored and concepted by local businesses. UK and Europe’s leading ice specialist, Icebox, will design and create all sculptures for the 2024 trail. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “York Ice Trail is one of the most-loved events in the city for residents and visitors alike, and we’re excited to be bringing it back for another year in 2024. It’s a huge celebration of our city and local businesses, and the concept for next year’s trail will inspire everyone’s inner child, encouraging people to let their imagination run wild.” 

Greg Pittard, Managing Director at Icebox, and Abby Shelton, Marketing Executive at Icebox, said: “Returning to York for the 2024 Ice Trail is a true honor for us. The York Ice Trail holds a special place in our hearts, and we are thrilled to bring this year’s theme to life. Our talented team of ice carvers is eagerly prepared to embark on this extraordinary artistic expedition, pouring their passion into crafting magnificent ice sculptures that will transport visitors to a world of wonder and delight. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Make It York and the remarkable businesses across the city for their unwavering support and trust, which allows us to continue making this event an unforgettable experience year after year!” 

For more information, visit https://www.visityork.org/york-ice-trail  

*Research based on a survey of 270 visitors 

ENDS 

For more information, please contact: 

Brittany Guymer, Communications Executive at Make It York  

Comms@makeityork.com 

Notes to Editors 

York Ice Trail 2024 will return on 3rd and 4th February 2024. York Ice Trail is a Make It York event.

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

Visit the ‘City of Dreams’ at York Ice Trail 2024: Dates and Theme Announced  Read More »

Applications are now open for Visit York Tourism Awards 2024

Entries are now open for the prestigious Visit York Tourism Awards 2024, sponsored by LNER, which recognises and celebrates outstanding businesses and individuals that deliver world class experiences within the city of York.  

The previous Visit York Tourism Awards took place earlier this year in March, where 16 of York’s top tourism businesses celebrated a win at the ceremony at York Racecourse. Winners of eligible categories were put forward to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, which saw The Dovecote Barns winning silver in the Self-Catering Accommodation award category.  

Returning on the 14th March 2024 at York Racecourse for a black-tie ceremony and an evening of entertainment, there will be 17 Visit York Tourism Awards up for grabs including:  

  • B&B and Guest House of the Year 
  • Business Event Venue of the Year 
  • Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year 
  • Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award 
  • Experience of the Year 
  • Large Hotel of the Year 
  • Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 
  • New Tourism Business Award 
  • Pub of the Year 
  • Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year 
  • Small Hotel of the Year 
  • Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 
  • Taste of England Award 
  • The Best of York Award* 
  • Independent Business of the Year* 
  • Event, Festival or Cultural Experience of the Year* 
  • Retailer of the Year* 

There are three new categories for the 2024 awards – ‘The Best of York Award’, ‘Independent Business of the Year’, and ‘Business Event Venue of the Year’.  

Businesses large and small, from hotels to restaurants, attractions to retailers; businesses and cultural organisations across the city are being urged to enter, with the deadline of 25th August 2023, 5pm to submit entries. The awards are free to enter for Visit York members and £150 for non-members.  

Once all the entries are in, a panel of independent judges will decide on the final shortlist, and then winners. The decisions will be made based on a mix of mystery shopping and rigorous analysis against the entry criteria. Businesses can check the eligibility criteria and enter the Visit York Tourism Awards online at https://www.visityork.org/tourismawards

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “The Visit York Tourism Awards celebrate the very best in tourism, hospitality and culture in our city and surrounding areas. There are so many amazing local businesses and organisations that make York a world-renowned city, and these awards are a great way to be able to celebrate all the hard work that goes into providing exceptional visitor experiences. For many years, winning these awards has had huge benefits for the businesses both regionally and nationally, with many awards being automatically put forward for the VisitEngland Award for Excellence.  

With 17 opportunities to take home an award in 2024, as well as the introduction of three new categories to this year, businesses have until 25th August to get their entries in.” 

* These categories are local awards and not eligible for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 

ENDS 

For more information: 

Brittany Guymer 

Communications Executive at Make It York 

Comms@makeityork.com 

Notes to Editors: 

Applications for the Visit York Tourism Awards 2023 are open until the 25th August 2023. Finalists will be announced in the Autumn, ahead of the awards ceremony at York Racecourse on the 14th March 2023.  

About Make It York  

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, Shambles Market and festivals and events. 

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand  

Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. 

Applications are now open for Visit York Tourism Awards 2024 Read More »

Giant Tansy Beetle in the Museum Gardens teases York Trailblazers Trail 2024 

A giant Tansy Beetle will be taking centre stage in the Museum Gardens on Wednesday morning (28th June) to tease the exciting new heritage trail that takes place in York in May 2024. 

York-based artist, Wim Standish, will be creating the Tansy Beetle artwork in the Museum Gardens and encouraging residents and visitors to get involved with the new trail, which will run between May-September 2024.  

As part of the wider Trailblazers project in 2024, the Tansy Beetle sculpture trail will appear across the city, with local artists commissioned by community and heritage groups to customise 20 giant Tansy Beetles to tell the stories of York’s greatest and lesser-known Trailblazers. 

Known as “The Jewel of York”, the endangered Tansy Beetle has been chosen as the emblem of the Trailblazer project, reflecting its special status as a York resident given its riverside habitat along the banks of the River Ouse. The Tansy Beetle’s perseverance echoes the rich history of people from York who have blazed trails locally, nationally and globally, leading the way in their spheres of influence to make the world a better place. 

Trailblazers will be an interactive and inclusive city-wide programme of events and activities across 2023–2025, celebrating York’s heritage. Created by York Civic Trust, in partnership with Make It York, Trailblazers will uncover lesser-known heritage stories of York’s people and places, empower new generations to discover the city’s history anew, and inspire people to make history by taking up the mantle of trailblazing into the future. 

York Civic Trust and Make It York are developing and delivering the project together, leading on their areas of expertise within culture, community and heritage in York. A mix of 40 organisations, from small voluntary groups to big institutions, supported York Civic Trust and Make It York’s bid to make Trailblazers a reality. The project is made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players. 

Andrew Morrison, Chief Executive Officer at York Civic Trust, said: “Our project York Trailblazers will be a fantastic opportunity for people to discover and celebrate the heritage stories of people who are important to their communities. The National Heritage Lottery Fund’s support of our project is an incredible boost and will enable the project to reach out to all parts of the city.” 

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York, said: “We’re really excited to be able to reveal the theme of the York Trailblazers trail, and huge thanks to Wim for creating today’s incredible Tansy Beetle artwork. As a powerful emblem of environmental heritage, the 2024 trail’s giant Tansy Beetle sculptures will represent and be unique to York – and we’ll be combining their symbolism with the artwork that’s created on each sculpture, which will represent York’s trailblazing residents throughout history.” 

“We’re incredibly grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and to all the organisations who have come together to support York Trailblazers. This funding will make such a difference and enable Make It York and York Civic Trust to develop a really meaningful celebration of our history and heritage, engaging with residents, schools and community groups.”   

York Civic Trust, working in partnership with Make it York and partners across the city, has been awarded £249,999 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver the York Trailblazers project.  

You can find out more about the Trailblazers project at https://www.visityork.org/york-trailblazers 

Download high-res images here – https://we.tl/t-kh5Xx3HUyT 

ENDS 

 
For more information: 

Livvy Golby-Kirk, Marketing & Communications Officer at York Civic Trust 

events@fairfaxhouse.co.uk  

Brittany Guymer, Communications & Marketing Executive at Make It York  

Comms@makeityork.com 

Notes to Editors: 

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising  
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

About York Civic Trust  

York Civic Trust is a membership organisation open to all who wish to protect and enhance York’s architectural and cultural heritage, to champion good design and to advance the high place which York holds amongst the cities of the world. Founded in 1946, it has the key objectives of “Promoting Heritage—Shaping Tomorrow” at the heart of its work. Since an extensive conservation-repair programme in the 1980s, the Trust has restored Fairfax House on York’s Castlegate to its former grandeur. It is one of England’s finest Georgian townhouses and now a museum and offices of the Trust. 

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Using money raised by The National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.  

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund 

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK. 

About Wim Standish 

Wim paints portraits and murals, locally and internationally, and has spent ten years painting copies of famous ceilings for tourists outside York Minster. He performs as a street artist, ‘cellist, and live video artist. He currently resides in the woods near Castle Howard teaching bushcraft skills to children. 

Giant Tansy Beetle in the Museum Gardens teases York Trailblazers Trail 2024  Read More »

Winners of Visit York Tourism Awards 2023 Revealed

On Thursday 23rd March, the winners of the Visit York Tourism Awards were revealed at a prestigious awards ceremony at York Racecourse. The Visit York Tourism Awards, headline sponsored by LNER, celebrates the best of York’s businesses across tourism, hospitality and culture to win one of 16 trophies. 

Hosted by previous Visit York Tourism Award winner Alicia Stabler, also known as Mad Alice from The Bloody Tour of York, and BBC’s Elly Fiorentini, the ‘Tourism Oscars of the North’ sees eligible winners across a number of categories automatically put forward to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2023. 

This year’s winners include Middletons Hotel, who take Large Hotel of the Year, with judges commenting on the ‘high-quality’ hotel and food, as well as praise for ‘team members who deliver great service’. The hotel’s General Manager, Adam Wardale, went on to win the national VisitEngland Award for Excellence in 2022 following his award win for Unsung Hero at last year’s Visit York Tourism Awards.   

Small Hotel of the Year and Taste of England Award goes to Grays Court Hotel and The Bow Room Restaurant, with judges commenting that they were “hard to beat” offering a “unique stay” and “excellent” standard of food. 

Elsewhere in accommodation, The Bishop & The Bison took the award for B&B and Guest House of the Year, with judges praising their “friendly and warm atmosphere” and “luxury”. The Dovecote Barns were awarded Self Catering Accommodation of the Year, judges commented that their “attention to detail shines through” and that “the personal touches were brilliant”. 

Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year was awarded to Wigwam Holidays Ball Hall Farm, with judges commenting that it was a location they’d “come back to again and again”. 

No.1 by GuestHouse, York was awarded New Tourism Business of the Year. Judges praised the “positive attitude of this hotel” and that the “standards of service were excellent”.  

This year’s awards introduced two new categories, including the Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award which was presented to Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens who were praised by judges for their “really outstanding application” and “a peaceful and tranquil environment”.  

The second new award for 2023 was Cultural Venue of the Year, which was won by York Theatre Royal. Judges said they show “an excellent approach and passion for the future potential of theatre”. 

York Theatre Royal also picked up a second award for Event or Festival of the Year with ‘An Evening with Kyiv City Ballet’. Judges commented that the “key here is the event sold out, the money raised for charity, but the biggest result was that the event was held in the first place”. The event raised over £25,000 for UNICEF’s Ukraine Appeal in June 2022. Kyiv City Ballet will be returning to York Theatre Royal on Thursday 30th March for another very special fundraising gala performance. 

Next Door But One CIC took the Resilience and Innovation Award, with judges commenting that “the team should be commended for the adjustments made during the pandemic” and that they deliver “important and valued work”. 

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year was awarded to Mother Shipton’s Cave, with judges commenting that “there was a large focus on cultural and historical aspects of the experience” and that they were “very well communicated”. 

Castle Howard was awarded Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, with judges remarking on the “well-trained and enthusiastic” team members who focused on “providing a positive experience”. 

Experience of the Year was awarded to The Cookery School at The Grand, York, with judges commenting on the “excellent” quality of food and that the experience was “interesting, engaging and interactive”. 

York Gin took Retailer of the Year, with judges praising their “excellent initiatives” across the business supporting “staff, local producers, partners, sustainability and the community”.

Pub of the Year was awarded to The Drovers Arms Restaurant & Country Pub, with judges commenting on the “hard-working and pleasant” team and “good food”.  
 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “A huge congratulations to our thoroughly deserving winners and finalists at this year’s Visit York Tourism Awards. Every single business and organisation nominated tonight is one of the reasons why York has been recognised as such a welcoming place to visit. The Visit York Tourism Awards celebrate the very best in tourism, hospitality and culture; many of our winners tonight will automatically be put forward to represent York at the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence – we wish them the very best of luck!” 

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “York has a huge amount to offer visitors and continues to be one of the most popular destinations on the LNER route. We’re therefore very proud to continue to support the Visit York Tourism Awards which shine a spotlight on the individuals and businesses that work tirelessly to make York a brilliant place to visit. On behalf of everyone at LNER, congratulations to everyone involved in this year’s awards.” 

Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities said: “Congratulations to all finalists and winners who have demonstrated excellence in their sectors across tourism, hospitality and culture. They have all been rightly recognised as providing the very best experiences for residents and visitors to the city. Throughout York there are so many businesses that work hard to make our beautiful city so welcoming and vibrant. A huge well done to all the finalists, and congratulations to the winners for their impressive achievements.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

Winners of Visit York Tourism Awards 2023:  

B&B and Guest House of the Year sponsored by Shambles Market 

Winner: The Bishop & The Bison  

Finalists: MonkBridge House, Westergate House, The Sidings Hotel & Restaurant   

Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year sponsored by Greatest Hits Radio 

Winner: Wigwam Holidays Ball Hall Farm 

Finalists: Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges, York Meadows Camping & Caravan Park  

Cultural Venue of the Year* sponsored by Latimer by Clarion Housing Group  

Winner: York Theatre Royal  

Finalists: York Mansion House, Grand Opera House York, York Barbican  

Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award sponsored by The Fabl  

Winner: Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens  

Finalists: Avorium, Fairfax Corner  

Event or Festival the Year* sponsored by LNER  

Winner: York Theatre Royal – An Evening with Kyiv City Ballet 

Finalists: York Proms, York Maze Hallowscream, Yorktoberfest, York Fashion Week   

Experience of the Year sponsored by Destination Core  

Winner: The Cookery School at The Grand, York  

Highly Commended: The Wizard Walk of York  

Finalists: The Hilt, The Deathly Dark Tours  

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year sponsored by Ward Hadaway 

Winner: Castle Howard  

Highly Commended: North Yorkshire Moors Railway 

Finalists: The York Dungeon, The Web Adventure Park, JORVIK Viking Centre (York Archaeological Trust), The Hole in Wand York  

Large Hotel of the Year sponsored by Streamline Taxis  

Winner: Middletons Hotel – part of Daniel Thwaites  

Highly Commended: The Grand, York 

Finalist: Malmaison York 

New Tourism Business of the Year sponsored by PPS  

Winner: No.1 by GuestHouse, York  

Finalists: 22 Yards Wine Bar & Merchants, Avorium, A Brecks Away Holiday Cottages, The Wizard Walk of York  

Pub of the Year sponsored by Hunter Gee Holroyd  

Winner: The Drovers Arms Restaurant & Country Pub  

Finalist: Valhalla York   

Resilience & Innovation Award sponsored by York St John University  

Winner: Next Door But One CIC  

Finalists: City Sightseeing (Transdev), Yemen Heaven, The Deathly Dark Tours  

Retailer of the Year* sponsored by Fidomoney  

Winner: York Gin  

Finalists: Avorium, Antiques Centre York, The Potions Cauldron  

Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year sponsored by YO1 Radio 

Winner: The Dovecote Barns  

Finalists: Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges, A Brecks Away Holiday Cottages  

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year sponsored by VisiSoft  

Winner: Mother Shipton’s Cave  

Finalists: York Army Museum, World of James Herriot  

Small Hotel of the Year sponsored by Inglis Chartered Accountants  

Winner: Grays Court Hotel & The Bow Room Restaurant  

Finalists: Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, No.1 by GuestHouse, York  

Taste of England Award sponsored by Fowlers of York  

Winner: The Bow Room Restaurant at Grays Court Hotel  

Finalists: Corner Grill House Restaurant, Chopping Block at Walmgate Ale House, The Raj York  

*Visit York only. These categories are not eligible to go forward to the Visit England Awards for Excellence.  

Find out more about the Visit York Tourism Awards 2023 at visityork.org/tourismawards  

For more information, please contact: 

Sarah Foster and Brittany Guymer 

Communications Team at Make It York 

Comms@makeityork.com 

About Make It York: 

Make It York  

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, Shambles Market and festivals and events. 

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand. 

Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. 

Winners of Visit York Tourism Awards 2023 Revealed Read More »

Snooks with Books win public vote to feature in new trail coming to York in 2024 

Almost 2,000 people voted for their favourite character to feature in a new public art trail coming to York in 2024. The votes mean that the bookish Snook, created by Yorkshire artist Sian Ellis, will be the subject of a long form character trail which runs from February 2024.  

Snook is a bookish breed, often found in cosy corners with their faces buried inside the pages of a good book. They’ve been here just as long as even The Norman House (the oldest building in York) but they are a little more hidden away than the historic sights of the city that you are familiar with. However recently Snook sightings have skyrocketed, and it looks like these friendly folk have been enjoying some sightseeing around the city walls. 

Snooks with Books is created by Sian Ellis, a Yorkshire based illustrator and mural artist whose work is playful, fun and full of humour. She is inspired by the bold and the bright, the weird and the wonderful. Sian has created art on a national scale and in a range of mediums, ranging from detailed fine drawing to twelve foot paintings and even a metre long knitted head band for a fibre glass gorilla! Sian has created a number of murals around Yorkshire and has worked on a number of charity sculpture trails across the UK, with which the sales of her sculptures have to date raised over £100,000 for charitable causes. 

Organised by Make It York, with charity partner St Leonard’s Hospice, the trail will see up to 30 Snooks with Books around the city. Each Snook will be sponsored by local businesses, who will be paired with an artist to create a bespoke design for each sculpture. Applications for artists to submit their designs will open in the coming weeks.  

Businesses and organisations interested in sponsoring a sculpture can contact events@makeityork.com for more information. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “We’re really looking forward to bringing a tribe of Snooks to York in our new character trail for 2024. A huge congratulations to Sian and Snook for winning the public vote, and a huge thank you to our runner-up Christine and Barouse for their support and creativity.” 

Dawn Clements, Director of Income Generation at St Leonard’s Hospice, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that Snook has won the public vote and we can’t wait to see the character appear across the city. The trail will be a fun way to help us engage further with our community, not only educating people about our services but also helping to raise vital funds to support people facing life-limiting illnesses and bereavement. We are proud to be partnering with Make It York to represent hospice care in such a unique way and we are also looking forward to working with new supporters and volunteers.” 

Sian Ellis, artist of Snooks with Books, said: “I am over the moon to be teaming up with Make It York and St Leonard’s Hospice to bring the bookish snooks to York in 2024. After years of hiding in cosy corners with a good book these usually shy creatures can’t wait to come out and explore the city’s streets! I’m really looking forward to seeing how artists from across the region transform each one and excited to see the creative ways that the books that the snooks carry are brought into each design. I cannot wait to see these gentle giants brought to life and hope that families in the city have a wonderful time on their very own hunt for snooks next year.” 

Visit www.visityork.org/snooks-with-books to find out more.  

Snooks with Books win public vote to feature in new trail coming to York in 2024  Read More »

Public vote opens to choose new character trail in York

Larger than life, vibrant and bold characters will guide people through York’s cobbled streets and hidden gardens in a new sculpture trail coming to York in 2024. The chosen character for the trail is down to the people of York, who have two designs to choose from, with a public vote open from today until Tuesday 28th February at 5pm.  

Last year, Make It York put a call out for Yorkshire based visual artists, designers and illustrators to create a unique character or creature, bespoke to the city. The brief asked for artists to design a character or creature that represents the city, something new and something different. There were 75 submissions, with Make It York narrowing it down to two final designs. Will it be the friendly monster Barouse inspired by the city’s rivers and bars? Or the bookish Snook, who can be found hiding in the city’s corners?   

Organised by Make It York, with charity partner St Leonard’s Hospice, the new trail featuring Barouse or Snook will launch in early 2024. Find out more about the two final designs and artists below: 

Barouse by Christine Jopling 

“Barouse” is a friendly monster who has a castellated head and a big droplet of a body. It’s battlement-shaped head is inspired by the bars around York’s unique wall, and its rotund frame is like a drop of water from the River Ouse, which runs right through York’s centre. Bringing together these two important aspects of the City – the walls and the river – in a fun and approachable figure. Barouse is a simple, chunky monster, and its friendly features are created to appeal to humans of all ages.  

About Christine Jopling: Christine is a freelance illustrator based in a little studio, opposite a chippy in Pudsey, Leeds. Working as an illustrator since 1995, she’s still noodling and doodling – happy to hand-letter a wedding reading or a wall, paint British Birds or beer bottles, create monsters or maps, or ink in aliens and armadillos. All of Christine’s work starts with a doodle in pencil on paper, using Indian ink, watercolour, acrylic paint, Posca pens, emulsion paint or maybe a bit of digital scribbling to create the finished thing 

Snook by Sian Ellis 

There are plenty of old buildings around the city that you’re bound to have spotted, from the higgledy piggledy shops along The Shambles to Clifford’s Tower to the city walls, but have you ever set eyes on a Snook? They’ve been here just as long as even The Norman House (the oldest building in York) but they are a little more hidden away than the historic sights of the city that you are familiar with. 

A bookish breed they are often found in cosy corners with their faces buried inside the pages of a good book. However recently Snook sightings have skyrocketed, and it looks like these friendly folk have been enjoying some sightseeing around the city walls. 

Old habits die hard though and you aren’t likely to spot a Snook without a book in its hands. It could be a novel, an anthology or a playbook but it might also be a guide to bird spotting, a family photo album, an instruction manual for building a rocket or a travel diary and sketchbook.  

About Sian Ellis: Sian is a Yorkshire based illustrator and mural artist whose work is playful, fun and full of humour. She is inspired by the bold and the bright, the weird and the wonderful. Sian has created art on a national scale and in a range of mediums, ranging from detailed fine drawing to twelve foot paintings and even a metre long knitted head band for a fibre glass gorilla! Sian has created a number of murals around Yorkshire and has worked on a number of charity sculpture trails across the UK, with which the sales of her sculptures have to date raised over £100,000 for charitable causes.  

Vote for your favourite design here by 5pm on Tuesday 28th February. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “We’re really looking forward to bringing a new trail and introducing a new character to York in 2024. Our final two artists have done a brilliant job at bringing the characters to life and we look forward to seeing the winning design in our city next year. We’re really pleased to be working with our charity partner, St Leonard’s Hospice, on this project.”  

Dawn Clements, Director of Income Generation at St Leonard’s Hospice, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Make It York and to be part of this exciting activity. It will be a fun way to help us engage further with our community, not only educating people about our services but also helping to raise vital funds to support people facing life-limiting illnesses and bereavement. We are proud that we can represent hospice care in such a unique way and it’s a great opportunity to work with new supporters and volunteers. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with Sarah and the team at Make It York and, of course, either Barouse or Snook.” 

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities said: “York’s latest trail will add more colour and fun to our beautiful city whilst supporting a wonderful cause. I’d like to thank all artists who submitted their ideas as part of the competition, it was extremely difficult to narrow the excellent submissions down to the final two. The final choice is now in the hands of York’s residents who have the difficult choice between these two fun characters.” 

Christine Jopling, artist of Barouse, said: “I’m so chuffed that Barouse has made it this far, I still can’t quite believe it! It was quite a challenge to come up with something that represents York in a fun, approachable sculpture, but when Barouse popped into my head I thought – “That’s it!” If Barouse is chosen I hope it’s a fun form for the artists to let themselves loose on, and that the sculptures bring a smile to the faces of residents and visitors to York.” 

Sian Ellis, artist of Snook, said: “Since 2019 I have been travelling from my studio in Yorkshire to paint sculptures for trails across the UK. I absolutely love being involved with every trail so to get the chance to design a brand new and unique sculpture design would be an absolute dream come true for me! I would love love LOVE to see the Snooks with Books come to life and explore the city and it would be absolutely brilliant to see other artists unleash their imaginations onto each one. I think it could be such a magical addition for the local community to see them pop up on the streets of York.  My menagerie of painted pals currently totals 17 including gorillas, wallabies, elephants and even a T-Rex, and the sales of my painted sculptures have raised over £100,000 to date for local charities. To be chosen as the artist to design the sculpture for the Make It York 2024 trail would be the cherry on top of my work with sculpture trails so far!” 

ENDS 

For more information, please contact: 

Sarah Foster and Brittany Guymer 

Communications Team at Make It York 

Comms@makeityork.com 

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

Public vote opens to choose new character trail in York Read More »

York Residents’ Festival 2023: Over 100 attractions, events and offers

The annual York Residents’ Festival returns on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January, with some offers continuing all week. Organised by Make It York, sponsored by Grand Central, there are over 100 attractions, events and offers for residents to take advantage of. 

Historical attractions such as JORVIK Viking Centre, York Minster, Fairfax House, York Castle Museum, Barley Hall and The Guildhall will be opening their doors for free to residents across the weekend.  

Residents can also take advantage of free wizard golf at The Hole In Wand, free river cruises with City Cruises and free chocolate tours at York’s Chocolate Story. For theatre lovers, there’ll be an opportunity to go behind the scenes with York Theatre Royal and experience virtual reality with Pilot Theatre Monoliths at York Explore Library.  

There are offers across some of York’s most popular eateries and restaurants, including 22 Yards Wine, Brew York, Ambiente Tapas, Forest and Trio Mezze Bar. Plus, there are a range of special retail offers exclusively for residents at Avorium, The Yorkshire Soap Company, Dean’s Garden Centre, The Hat Shop and more.   

For those preferring to explore the city on foot, there are plenty of free and discounted walking tours on offer. York Photo Walks will be offering free walks with a chance to learn and improve photography skills, while learning more about the history of York. Plus, The Wizard Walk of York will be offering free family-friendly walks that promise to be spellbinding.  

To get involved in Residents’ Festival, please present a valid York Card, student card or identity card that proves York residency. If presenting an identity card, this must clearly state ‘York’ (e.g. driving licence or older person’s bus pass). For the full list of offers for York Residents’ Festival, go to www.visityork.org/resfest. Please note, some venues require pre-booking. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “We’re delighted that we have over 100 attractions, events and offers for Residents’ Festival weekend in January. This is a great opportunity for residents to rediscover some of the brilliant attractions, retail and food and drink offers on their doorstep. A huge thank you to our Visit York members for their excellent offers and to our main sponsor, Grand Central.”  

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of the City of York Council, said: “I’m delighted that York Residents’ Festival is once again back this year. The weekend is a great way to enjoy our city and support our local businesses. There is a lot explore and discover, with I hope something for everyone on offer during this fun-packed weekend of activities. 

“Our thanks go to all the partners around the city who have come together to make sure that over 100 attractions, events and offers are available for residents.” 

ENDS  

York Residents’ Festival 2023: Over 100 attractions, events and offers Read More »

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