York’s National and International Profile

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York is renowned as a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Make It York ensures that the city is recognised globally as a brilliant place to be, and that York’s culture is at the heart of the celebration of this unique and vibrant city. It is our ambition that York’s outstanding arts, culture and heritage and its status as the UK’s first UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts are championed and celebrated, raising the city’s profile nationally and internationally.

Through York’s Creative Future, the York Culture Strategy 2020-2025, we are working to ensure:

  • Clear positioning of York’s cultural offer within the York city brand
  • The city has a joined-up strategic approach to delivering the Culture Strategy, with residents feeling proud of their city’s cultural heritage and contemporary arts offer
  • Additional leadership capacity attracting new inward investment
  • Working with regional partners
  • Evidence of a tangible increase in the media profile of York’s cultural offer nationally and internationally
  • Economic benefits linked to UNESCO World Heritage Status, dependent on the success of the bid

For more information, please read the full strategy here.

Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience
Yorkshire Day 2020

York’s Major Events

We are very proud to be hosting the following events in York:

Residents Festival

York’s attractions open their doors to the people of the city each January, giving locals the chance to be a tourist in their hometown– for free! Running for over 25 years, the festival is a big thank-you to the residents who give a warm Yorkshire welcome to over 8 million tourists every year.

York Ice Trail

The UK’s biggest outdoor Ice Trail transforms York’s city centre and brings tens of thousands of visitors into the city each February. 

York Viking Festival

The Jorvik Centre’s annual festival invades the city each February half term, and brings the Viking history of York to life! With a range of activities for all ages and the appearance of a Viking ship in the city centre, it’s fun for all the family to learn and play together.

York Festival of

Featuring world-class speakers, performances, walking trails, family-friendly activities and much more, York Festival of Ideas offers a huge range of stimulating and diverse events for all ages and interests – most of them free. Occurring annually in May-June, the festival engages with over 40,000 people each year and partners with over 100 local and international organisations.

York Early Music

Designed to celebrate York’s myriad medieval churches, guildhalls and historic houses through historically informed music making of the highest international standard takes place in July each year. The Festival is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Centre for Early Music’s annual programme and enjoyed by visitors from across the world.

Yorkshire Day

A weekend of Yorkshire-themed events and activities taking place across the first weekend of August, putting York at the heart of Yorkshire Day.

Yorkshire Balloon

This four-day festival at the end of August annually includes a weekend of hot air balloons, children’s entertainment, live music, tribute acts, food and drink, as well as a large funfair. The pinnacle of the festival will be the popular Hot Air Balloon Night Glow, followed by a brand-new firework, drone and laser show! 

York Mediale

An international media arts festival which celebrates York as the UK’s first and only UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. The festival is biennial and tends to fall in the autumn.

York Mystery Plays

A theatrical spectacle performed by the communities of the City of York regularly since their revival in the 1950s. Originally a set of 48 plays performed by the medieval Guilds of York, they illustrate the Christian story from Creation to the Last Judgement. They contain stories of delight, humour, horror, temptation and resistance. Performed every 4 years in a large-scale community production, with smaller community performances and waggon plays on an alternate two-year cycle.

York Design Week

A week of events each October finding creative solutions to systematic problems through play, conversation, collaboration, and by taking a tumble into the unknown. From the city to the individual: how do we think global and act local, be creative, build communities, deepen our democracy, and reconnect with the natural world?

Rugby League
World Cup 2021

The new LNER Community Stadium will host a women’s group game and both women’s semi-finals. The city will also be the team base for New Zealand (Men’s) and Australia, New Zealand, France, Cook Islands (Women’s) teams in October and November 2022 (postponed by pandemic).

Aesthetica Short Film Festival

An international film festival, celebrating independent film from around the world, and an outlet for supporting and championing filmmaking, running annually in November. The festival is evolving into a hybrid experience, with in-person events and an On Demand platform.

Augmented Reality at the Yorkshire Museum, photograph by Gareth Buddo

UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts Designation

York is a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, and as such, we seek to embed creativity in every aspect of making and living in our city – in the economy, in wellbeing and in placemaking. See more information on our UNESCO designation.

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