71 things to look forward to in York in 2020

1 Jan 2020 @ 10.39 am
| Entertainment

As we enter into a new decade there is a lot to look forward to in York in 2020.

Brand new music festivals featuring starry line ups, the return of festivals we all know and love, fantastic theatre, amazing arts and family fun are all set for the new year. Do you think we missed anything? Let us know by leaving a comment or drop us a line.

Take a look at what’s in store…


The Res Fest is back. Photograph: Visit York
New Year Book Fair
11 Jan
The New Year Book Fair is returning to York Racecourse! Expect to browse through 130 bookdealers offering a large selection of secondhand and antiquarian books and more.
ROH Ballet: Sleeping Beauty
16 Jan
Step into a world of princesses, fairy godmothers and magical spells in this classic ballet broadcast from the Royal Opera House.
The Great Panto Run
18 Jan
York’s first panto trail run! Celebrate York’s fantastic pantomime history in this 5 mile trail run.
York Residents Festival
25-26 Jan
Now in its 25th year, the annual festival to celebrate York Residents is back. Visit selected York attractions for free as well as great dining and retail offers.


Freezing fun for all ages… York Ice Trail. Photograph: Richard McDougall
York Ice Trail
1-2 Feb
Two days of stunning ice sculptures across the city as well as fun activities for all the family.
Once the Musical
3-8 Feb
The smash hit Once is stopping at the Grand Opera House on its first UK Tour. A unique and affecting musical about love and music.
Kinky Boots in cinemas
4 & 9 Feb
The Olivier award-winning musical is being screened into cinemas across the country! Catch it at several cinemas across York.
Made in Dagenham
5-8 Feb
Join this group of seamstresses on their quest for equal pay in this remarkable true story. A fundraising show for Joseph Rowntree Theatre.
York Winter Comic Con
9 Feb
Meet guests from Doctor Who and Star Wars as well as comic creators at York Racecourse. Also attending will be awesome traders selling comics, collectables, art, toys and more.
13-15 Feb
Central Hall Musical Society is bringing the chaos of Chicago in the roaring twenties to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.
Harland Miller: York, So Good They Named it Once
14 Feb-31 May
Harland Miller’s largest solo exhibition to date will be opening at York Art Gallery this February, featuring both new and exisiting works.
The Vikings are back
Jorvik Viking Festival
15-23 Feb
This year the theme is Voyages of the Vikings. Immerse yourself in the legacy at various events taking place around York.
Milton Jones
22 Feb
Join comedian Milton Jones at York Barbican as he reveals the truth about being an international spy – and his disappointing new idenity.
Colin Thackery
29 Feb
Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery is coming to the Grand Opera House to perform his favourite songs as well as his much-loved numbers from the show.
LNER Community Stadium opening
No official date has been given yet for the opening of York Stadium apart from it being early 2020. It was announced that it was being sponsored by train company LNER in November 2019.


York Restaurant Week
2-8 Mar
Celebrate York’s exciting food and drink scene with offers and savings on your favourite city centre eateries.
The York Community Choir Festival
7-14 Mar
A fundraising event for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, this festival is a platform for choirs of all styles from Pop to Show Tunes to Classical. There’s something for everyone!
Ghost Stories
10-14 Mar
Prepare to experience a theatrical experience like no other in this fully sensory and nightmarish show. See it if you dare at the Grand Opera House.
Jamie Cullum
11 Mar
Critically acclaimed musician and songwriter Jamie Cullum will be at York Barbican.
Guys and Dolls
19-21 Mar
York St John’s Musical Production Society takes you into the world of 1930s New York in this musical classic. Find yourself at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre and luck be a lady tonight!
York Literature Festival
19-28 Mar
York Literature Festival is back! Fall into the world of literature and explore the events, talks and workshops that this leading festival has to offer. Guests this year include Melvyn Bragg, Kate Humble, Suzannah Lipscomb and more.
Friends! The Musical Parody
20 Mar
Settle in with your friends Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel as this show at York Barbican lovingly pokes fun at the smash hit TV show.
York Fashion Week
20-27 Mar
A celebration of fashion, creativity and style that features runway shows, lectures, workshops and more.


Jack Dee
Rob Beckett
2 & 17 Apr
A double bill at York Barbican from self-proclaimed ‘Mouth of the South’ due to popular demand.
York Blues Festival
4 Apr
York Blues Festival is back for a second time at The Crescent! Featuring acts such as David Broad, Dori & The Outlaws, Nick Steed Five, Dr Bob & The Bluesmakers, DC Blues, John Carroll, Tim Green Band + Jupiter Blues.
David Baddiel
5 Apr
David Baddiel returns to the stage in his brand new one-man show at the Grand Opera House.
York Chocolate Festival
9-13 Apr
Celebrate York’s sweet culinary heritage and vibrant history with the confectionery and chocolate industry.
York Open Studios
18-26 Apr
Take a look inside the studios and exhibitions of artists and makers living in York.
BANFF Mountain Film Festival
21 Apr
A brand new collection of short films at York Barbican featuring some of the world’s best adventure filmakers and explorers pushing themselves to their limits in beautiful corners of the world.
Jack Dee
24 Apr
Join comedian Jack Dee at York Barbican in his brand new stand-up tour.
The Festival of Vintage
25-26 Apr
Calling all vintage loving folk! The Festival of Vintage will be celebrating its 10th year at York Racecourse this year. Celebrate the fashion, music & style of the 1930’s-1960’s.


Roman soldiers Byron Angel and Graham Harris from the Eboracum Roman Festival. Photograph: Anthony Chappel-Ross
Billionaire Boy
6-9 May
David Walliams’ best-selling story is coming to the Grand Opera House in this amazing new production.
Romesh Ranganathan
10 May
See Romesh Ranganathan at York Barbican in his most brutally honest show yet. Find out what he finds unacceptable and why he thinks trying to save the environment is a scam.
Dante Festival
13-15 May
The first races of the season at York Racecourse, featuring the Yorkshire Cup.
Eboracum Roman Festival
29-31 May
Journey back more than 2000 years in the annual Roman festival. Join six legion armies in parades, military displays, guided tours and family-friendly activities.


Grayson Perry
York Festival of Ideas
2-14 Jun
York Festival of Ideas will return for its 10th year with the theme Infinite Horizons. Featuring world-class speakers, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks, family-friendly activities and much more.

York Pride
6 Jun
Celebrate love with a city-wide parade and stalls and live music on the Knavesmire.
Ghost Hunt at York Castle Museum with Most Haunted
12 Jun
Join Glen Hunt from TV’s Most Haunted to explore the dark and spooky corners of this much loved York location.
Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years
12 Jun-20 Sep
Celebrating Grayson Perry’s earliest forays into the world of art, focusing specifically on art made between the years 1982 and 1994. This exhibition at York Art Gallery will feature some of his work on display for the first time.
York Taster Festival
13-14 Jun
A preview of what’s to come in the Food and Drink Festival in September. Sample food from different cusines around the world and watch live demonstrations.
Little Feet Festival of Children’s Theatre
17-20 Jun
Over four days seven companies will perform a range of shows and activities for children age 0-12 at York Theatre Royal. A great opportunity to introduce your little one to the world of theatre.
York Festival
19-21 Jun
A first for York this year, a brand new music festival is coming to York Sports Club. Spread over three days and featuring musical legends Lionel Riche, Madness and Westlife. Hopefully this will become an annual event for the city.
Jimmy Carr
21 Jun
He’s back once again at the Grand Opera House, telling ‘jokes about all kinds of terrible things’.
Summer Music Saturday
27 Jun
Stay tuned for the announcement of the music act for 2020, but with previous acts being the like of Busted, Paloma Faith and Olly Murs it’s set to be a great day out.


York Proms
4 Jul
An exciting picnic concert right in the heart of York at the Museum Gardens. Details are yet to be announced for 2020 acts, but we can expect stunning musical performances and hopefully a rousing fireworks finale.
York River Art Market
4 Jul-22 Aug
In 2020 the York River Art Market will be celebrating its 5th birthday. Come on down and celebrate with them and browse through unique works of art created by a ‘broad range of established and emerging artists and craftmakers’.
York Maze
11 Jul-7 Sep
In 2019 York Maze revealed their giant maze was an amazing tribute to The Lion King and we can’t wait to see what design it will be for 2020. Prepare to get lost in Elvington this summer!
John Smith Meeting
10-11 Jul
Enjoy some summer fun and party into the weekend with food, drink and excitement.
York Rotary Dragon Boat Challenge
12 Jul
The annual battle on the Ouse is set to return in 2020! Watch teams compete against each other on the water as they try to win trophies such as the Challenge Trophy, fastest Charity team, and of course the Best Dressed Team award.
Music Showcase Weekend
24-25 Jul
Rick Astley will be taking to the stage on the Saturday at York Racecourse, with the Friday music act still TBA. Head down for two days of racing, music and summer fun.
29 Jul-2 Aug
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel is brought to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre stage by NE Musicals York.
Pippi Longstocking
31 Jul-15 Aug
Join Pippi Longstocking, ‘the strongest girl in the world’, on a musical adventure at York Theatre Royal this summer.


The Sentinel Squad assemble for Comic Con… Photograph: Sentinel Squad UK on Facebook
York Unleashed Comic Con
9 Aug
Expect guests from the sci-fi and fantasy world of TV and film, content creators, traders, fun cosplay and more at York Racecourse.
York Walls Festival
15-16 Aug
Celebrate the history of one of York’s biggest historical landmarks with guided walks, talks and other family-friendly activities.
Yorkshire Ebor Festival
19-22 Aug
Four days of ‘sporting excellence combined with fashion and fun’ with some of York’s oldest and most famous races at York Racecourse.
Micklegate Soapbox Challenge
York’s own version of wacky races, watch karts hurtle down Micklegate to victory. Also enjoy live music and street food.


York Book Fair
11-12 Sep
The largest rare, antiquarian & out-of-print book fair in the UK is set to return to York Racecourse in 2020. A literary lover’s dream.
Heritage Open Days Festival
11-20 Sep
Visit some of York’s attractions for free in this festival celebrating history and culture.
York Beer & Cider Festival
16 Sep
Head down to York Racecourse to try a vast selection of beers and ciders, as well as wine, mead, prosecco and gin too. Food stalls and live music completes a fantastic day out.
Kim Wilde
17 Sep
Kim Wilde is making a visit to York Barbican on her Greatest Hits tour, featuring all the hit singles from 1981 to 2020.
York Food and Drink Festival
18-27 Sep
Time to get your foodie on! Watch top chefs demonstrate some live cooking, take part in workshops, sample cusine from around the world and see what the market traders have to offer.
21-26 Sep
You’re the one that I want! A trilling new version of the classic musical is heading to the Grand Opera House in September. Prepare to fall in love all over again with the familiar songs and characters.
York Balloon Fiesta
25-27 Sep
York Balloon Fiesta is set to return! Experience the dazzling display of hot air balloons, as well as a laser and fireworks display, live music and more.


Yorkshire Marathon
18 Oct
Run around the beautiful streets of the city and beyond in this annual race. Choose between the full 26 miles or a shorter 10 mile route.
21-25 Oct
Bringing the best emerging and established media arts talent to York in this international biennial festival.
Chris Ramsey
23 Oct
Catch the Strictly star at York Barbican for his ‘biggest ever’ stand up tour.
The Commitments
26-31 Oct
Based on the BAFTA-winning film of the same name, this musical is a feel-good celebration of soul classics. Catch it at the Grand Opera House.


Ronnie O’Sullivan prepares for another extraordinary shot at the York Barbican. Photograph: YouTube
Aesthetica Short Film Festival
4-8 Nov
Celebrate independent film from around the world with the return of this international festival. This unique event will be jam-packed with screenings, talks and workshops.
Autumn Lights
6-7 Nov
Rescheduled from 2019, this spectacle of light will be illuminating York in 2020. Taking place in Rowntree Park, alongside the illuminations there will also be fireworks, food and drink, fun fair, and more family-friendly fun.
Betway UK Snooker Championship 2020
24 Nov-6 Dec
See the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump as one of Snooker’s Triple Crown events returns to York Barbican.


York Christmas Festival
Take a winter wander through the Christmas markets, stop off for a warm drink at Thor’s tipi and maybe even purchase a festive snack along the way too.