Things to do in York

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

We all know York – or think we do. Yes, it is of the UK’s most beautiful heritage cities, with its ancient city walls and medieval shopping streets. York’s history, Roman origins, Viking invaders and industrial past is well-covered by museums and attractions in modern-day York, including the Gothic halls of York Minster; the Yorkshire Museum which takes visitors as far as back as the Jurassic era (keep your eyes peeled for the ‘museum ghost’); and York Castle Museum where you can walk down Kirkgate, a meticulously recreated Victorian street.

But look at bit deeper and you’ll find the layers of York aren’t just historical and that this city offers far more than what you think. As the UKs only UNESCO City of Media Arts, York is a vibrant with contemporary culture too with events like the Festival of Ideas, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, and Mediale jockeying for position in the calendar alongside Early Music and the York Mystery Cycle. York Art Gallery‘s collection spans over half a century, and there are more intimate spaces like the Art Of Protest Gallery which focuses on contemporary works, and the Lotte Inch Gallery with its mixed media collection of work from local and global artists. York Theatre Royal offers a mix of new-takes on classics and new writing, often with a community twist – something this matters to York, a city which still holds the social values of its Victorian industrial philanthropists close to its heart.

The food and shopping scene is just as vibrant. Amidst the plentiful tourist-trail tearooms you’ll find lots of independents and innovation including small plates at Skosh, street food at Spark:York and creative vibe at Micklegate Social. And a visit to York wouldn’t be complete without a drink (or sleepover) at the gloriously-named House Of The Trembling Madness, serving an extensive range of craft beers amidst curious taxidermy – or a trip out to ‘Bishy’ (Bishopsthorpe) Road where the locals shop.

Time to reappraise York then. We tend take the train, after all York is home of the railway industry and to the National Railway Museum, and maybe hire a bike at the station to explore that bit further afield. We promise you it’s much more ‘real’, interesting and forward-looking than you might have been expecting.

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