71 things to look forward to in York in 2016

7 Jan 2016 @ 7.59 pm
| Entertainment

It’s all happening in York this year.

The Mystery Plays are staged at the Minster; it’s curtain-up in April at the all-singing, all-dancing new-look Theatre Royal after a major refit; the city’s TV station is expected to go to air; the Flying Scotsman‘s back on track; and – drum roll, please – we’re getting not one but two Primarks!

So what else is there to pop in your diary for 2016? Well, seeing as you asked…


Look out, it's Ed Byrne
Look out, it’s Ed Byrne
ArcLab: York
Jan 9-16

York’s iconic Robson & Cooper shop on Lendal is transformed into a free pop-up public archaeology laboratory, packed with the most up-to-date technologies

York One-Day Book Fair
Jan 9

Britain’s largest one-day book fair comes to York Racecourse with more than 100 booksellers from across the country selling more than 40K antiquarian, rare and secondhand books on every subject under the sun

Yorkshire Pals Exhibition
from Jan 18

York Army Museum in Tower Street launches its new exhibition, Yorkshire Pals, telling the stories of men who volunteered for service in the First World War

The Kooks
Jan 20

After having to cancel their York gig last year after a band member suffered a family bereavement, The Kooks finally get to play the Barbican

Ed Byrne
Jan 24

The Irish stand-up brings his unassuming show Outside, Looking In to the Grand Opera House and it’s supposed to be really funny

York Community Choir Festival
Jan 28-30

Some of the finest vocal ensembles from York and nearby converge on the Joseph Rowntree Theatre as it hosts this first choir festival

Residents’ Festival
Jan 30-31

Folk with a York Card enjoy free entry into more than 50 attractions and events. New for this year are Jacob’s Well and York Army Museum


King Canute stars in the Jorvik Viking Festival
King Canute stars in the Jorvik Viking Festival
The Phantom of the Opera
Feb 3-6

Following the success of their production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical in 2015, the York Orchard Musical Theatre Company present this mesmerising show at the Jo Ro Theatre

The Witches of Eastwick
Feb 11-13

This story of how the quaint town of Eastwick is turned upside down when a mysterious stranger comes to town is brought to the Jo Ro Theatre by York St John: Musical Production Society

Jorvik Viking Festival
Feb 15-23

One thousand years since Canute was handed the English throne, Jorvik Viking Festival tells the story of this misunderstood king. Highlights include a combat arena in the Guildhall and the ever-popular Best Beard Contest

Les Miserables
Feb 17-27

I Dreamed A Dream… Pick Me Up are staging a youth production of this epic musical at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre – see the stars of the future

Richard Hawley
Feb 19

The former Pulp man has enjoyed a successful solo career, and brings his brooding and wistful songs to the Barbican

The Mousetrap
Feb 22-27

The murder mystery comes to the Grand Opera House as part of its 60th anniversary tour, starring Louise Jameson who, for chaps of a certain age, will always be Leela from Doctor Who

Iconic… the Flying Scotsman in Scarborough, 2004. Photograph: NRM
Iconic… the Flying Scotsman in Scarborough, 2004. Photograph: NRM
Scotsman Season
Feb 26-Mar 6

The National Railway Museum marks the return of Flying Scotsman to the tracks with a series of events celebrating the fame and celebrity of the loco legend: more here

Happy Birthday Beningbrough
Feb 27-Oct 30

Beningbrough Hall celebrates its 300th birthday with an exhibition on the changing fortunes of the grand country house and garden and a mass planting of bulbs. National Portrait Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan has also chosen four portraits of history-makers for the gallery

James Martin
Feb 28-29

North Yorkshire’s favourite homegrown chef brings his Plates, Mates & Automobiles show to York Barbican as part of his first ever UK tour



Paddy McGuinness, hitting the Grand Opera House
Paddy McGuinness, hitting the Grand Opera House
The Terry Women
Mar 2-Jun 26

Discover the stories of the women who shaped and supported the Terry’s chocolate empire in a new exhibition at Goddards on Tadcaster Road

York International Women’s Festival
Mar 4-20

With more than 100 events, including films, music, workshops, crafts, poetry and yoga, this community festival promises to be an uplifting celebration of women’s lives

Paddy McGuinness
Mar 5

Peter Kay’s best mate brings his Daddy McGuinness show to York Grand Opera House as part of a 50-date UK tour

Literary man: Michael Portillo
Literary man: Michael Portillo
York Literature Festival
Mar 10-23

Michael Portillo, Arthur Smith, Val McDermid and Wendy Cope are among the myriad literary names heading to York for two weeks of bookish entertainment

The 39 Steps
Mar 14-19

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller is hilariously recreated for the stage in this smash hit Olivier award-winning comedy adaptation at the Grand Opera House

Richard Herring
Mar 18

Comedian Richard Herring has settled down with a wife and baby. Is he finally happy now? Probably not as he is a staunch York City fan… His new show is at the Barbican

Shaping the Body: Food, Fashion & Life
Mar 25

Curators at York Castle Museum have been boxing up bustles and cleaning corsets for a major new exhibition featuring fashions that have shaped the way we live, including 18th century bum rolls, 1970s’ punk and even 1980s’ bubble perms

Truth And Memory
Mar 25-Sep 4

The largest touring exhibition of British First World War Art for almost 100 years will go on show at York Art Gallery in 2016

Goodnight Mr Tom
Mar 29-31

The Olivier award-winning production of this modern classic comes to the Grand Opera House, telling the story of Second World War evacuee William Beech

York Channel
Date TBC

Delayed from its 2015 launch date, York’s local TV service is due to launch sometime this spring


Coming soon to a shopping centre near you…
Coming soon to a shopping centre near you…
Date TBC

They’re saying the two new Primark stores, at Monks Cross and Coppergate, are due to open “in spring”, and you can already feel the excitement building…

April 12-14

Two decades of global success since the show first burst into the public’s heart at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin in 1994 and the Irish dancing phenomenon shows no signs of flagging

York Open Studios
Apr 15, 16, 17, 23 + 24

Some of the best artists and makers living and working in a ten-mile radius of York fling open their doors and invited us all in for a good nosey round

All new… York Theatre Royal
All new… York Theatre Royal
Brideshead Revisited
April 22-30

York Theatre Royal is back! After 18 months or renovations the new-look theatre reopens with Brideshead Revisited, a new imagining of the classic Evelyn Waugh novel

Fashion City York
April 22-24

The absolutely fabulous fashion spectacular returns. New for 2016 is the Fashion Village on Parliament Street, a marquee full of local designers plus demonstrations and a catwalk area

Tell Me On A Sunday
Apr 22

Following her acclaimed performances in Oliver! and Calamity Jane, Jodie Prenger hits the Grand Opera House in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical charting the romantic misadventures of an English girl in New York

City of York Triathlon
Apr 24

You’ve only got to swim 400m, cycle 18k and run 5k to take part in the City of York Triathlon – how hard could it be? Very; so stop messing about and get training

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
Apr 26-30

X-Factor winner Joe McElderry dons the coat at the Grand Opera House. Go, go, go Joe!


Lurking in Limbooland – Bill Bailey
Lurking in Limbooland – Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
May 9-10

Take a journey to Limboland with comedian Bill Bailey as he brings his trademark intelligence, wit, whimsy and willow-the-wisp hair to York Barbican

The Machine Stops
May 13-Jun 4

A world premiere production of EM Forster’s classic short story, exploring our relationship with technology. Features a new soundtrack by John Foxx, founder of the band Ultravox

Jason Donavan
May 15

Following his performance in drag in Priscilla at the Grand Opera House last year, Jason returns with a greatest hits show at the Barbican

The Merry Wives
May 17-21

This Northern Broadsides production at the Theatre Royal promises to squeeze every last drop of comedy gold from the bard’s calamitous tale, so prepare to have your funny bone tickled

Back in the Minster – the Mystery Plays
Back in the Minster – the Mystery Plays
York Minster Mystery Plays
May 26-Jun 30

More than 40,000 people are expected to pack out York Minster’s nave for this five-week run of the Mystery Plays. It’s the first time in 16 years – and only the second time in the play cycle’s history – that it’s being staged in the cathedral

Adam Ant
May 31

Hands up (in a Prince Charming fashion) who’d like to see Adam Ant perform the whole of his Kings Of The Wild Frontier album live and at the Barbican? Celebrating the album’s 35th anniversary

BrewDog pub opens
Date TBC

Scottish brewery BrewDog has taken over premises on Micklegate and plans to open a 2,500 sq ft bar this month


Look out, the Romans are coming! Again… Photograph: Paul Crossman / visityork.org
Look out, the Romans are coming! Again… Photograph: Paul Crossman / visityork.org
Eboracum Roman Festival
Jun 2-5

New for 2016, this celebration of York’s founders will quite possibly feature togas and leather sandals

Mister Maker Live
Jun 3-4

Yes it’s true – the man who can do anything with crayons and fuzzy felt, as his legions of young CBeebies fans will testify, will be live at the Grand Opera House

York Festival of Ideas
Jun 7-19

The theme for this year’s festival is Tick Tock and organisers are promising more than 120 inspiring events

Bobby Davro
Jun 7

After reinventing himself as an actor and coming fourth in Celebrity Big Brother, Bobby Davro returns to his first love, stand-up

Dinosaur Zoo
Jun 10-11

How would you like to get up close and personal with a T-Rex? Well, here’s your chance. Cute baby dinos and teeth-gnashing giants will be running wild on the stage of York Theatre Royal

York Food & Drink Taster Festival
Jun 11-12

Acting as an amuse bouche for the main festival in September, this mini-bite still offers and impressive menu of cookery demonstrations, stalls, events and food-related fun

Our pride's back. Photograph © Duncan Lomax / Ravage Productions
Our pride’s back. Photograph © Duncan Lomax / Ravage Productions
York Pride
Jun 18

Join York Pride Parade as it leaves the Minster at 12.15pm for a sensational sashay down to the racecourse followed by an afternoon of entertainment, fairground rides, community stalls, food, drink and a bouncy castle

Clare Teal celebrates Doris Day
Jun 18

Award-winning jazz and big band singer and popular Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal pays tribute to dear old Doris
92 years young this year)

Apollo Festival
Jun 25

York Sports Club will once again be rocking to the sounds of a host of great local bands, singers and performers, including Chris Helme and covers band The Supermodels among many others

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Jun 28-Jul 9

York Light brings an all-time favourite movie and stage musical to the stage of the refurbished York Theatre Royal


How the fringe transformed Parliament Street in York. Photograph: YorkMix
How the fringe transformed Parliament Street in York. Photograph: YorkMix
York Early Music Festival
Jul 8-16

Fairies, Witches and Ariel Beings make up the fantastical theme of this year’s festival, marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare

Great Yorkshire Fringe Festival
Jul 15-31

The Parliament Street festival of fun is expanding from ten to 17 days in 2016, bringing more comedy stars, more music and more family shenanigans. Founder Martin Witts promises “a non-stop cavalcade of laughs”

Show In The Park
Jul 30-31

Stunt planes shooting fireworks from their wings will fly over Knavesmire as the finale to this spectacular new family festival, which will also include giant monster trucks and a petting zoo. More here


You too could enjoy this winning feeling. Photograph: York Racecourse
You too could enjoy this winning feeling. Photograph: York Racecourse
Ebor Festival
Aug 19-22

Join the York Racecourse fun at the city’s oldest, richest, fastest and most famous race meeting, which combines sporting excellence with fab fashion over four fun-packed days


Saucy, superb… Sarah Millican
Saucy, superb… Sarah Millican
Sarah Millican
Sep 2-4

The wildly funny and cheerfully filthy Sarah Millican brings her Outsider tour to York Barbican for three nights, up from two by popular demand

York National Book Fair
Sep 16-17

More than 220 of the country’s leading booksellers will be setting up stall at the racecourse this year offering books ranging in price from a few pounds to tens of thousands

Gangsta Granny
Sep 21-24

Grand Opera House puts the kettle on for a nice cup of tea as David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny comes to town. She’ll obviously be bringing her own cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake

York Food & Drink Festival
Sep 23-Oct 2

There’s a smorgasbord of talent on the menu the Star Inn The City’s Andrew Pern, professional beer drinker Jeff Evans and Masterchef finalist Sara Danesinn Medio

Ross Noble and his magical mind visit York this month
Ross Noble and his magical mind visit York this month
Sep 23-Mar 19 2017

This exhibition at York Art Gallery will raise questions about the body and ageing, race and gender, touch and texture, surface and skin through painting, sculpture, photography and film

Jimmy Carr
Sep 25

Not one to over-sell himself in any way, the 8 Out Of Ten Cats presenter brings his new show – Jimmy Carr: The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour – to the Grand Opera House

Ross Noble
Sep 27

The nation’s favourite randomist (which is a thing, apparently) dumps his brain at the Barbican in his new show, Brain Dump, a random assortment of nonsense and flights of imaginative fancy


Yorkshire Marathon
Oct 9

The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon returns. Athletes say the run through York’s historic streets offers great PB potential (that’s ‘personal best’ not ‘pub/bar’ apparently)

Illuminating York
Oct 19-22

Those disco glitterballs on Shambles will take some beating, but the artistic directors of the 2016 festival are promising to completely transform the city again in a celebration of all things light, from flickering flames to light-emitting diodes

Professor Brian Cox Live
Oct 18

Prepare to take a dazzling journey through space and time as the softly-spoken scientist who used to be in D:Ream brings his brain to the Barbican


Aesthetica Short Film Festival
Nov 3-6

This multi-genre, BAFTA qualifying festival returns to 15 venues across the city for a four-day film extravaganza, with awards for the best mini-movie in each category

Nov 21-26

Lovingly ripped off from the classic Monty Python film, this delightfully daft musical tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. By Pick Me Up Theatre at the Grand Opera House

St Nicholas Christmas Festival
Nov 17-Dec 23

After the spectacular success of last year’s festival, with ice sculptures and Thor’s Tipi being two highlights, organisers are planning an even bigger and better event in 2016


York Early Music Christmas Festival
dates TBC

this is when the city begins to sound a lot like Christmas. Last year’s festival included performances by the European Baroque Orchestra, Yorkshire Bach Choir and The York Waits

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments, or drop us drop us an email