Complete guide to York Residents’ Festival 2014

21 Jan 2014 @ 11.50 am
| Entertainment

There's fun for all ages at the residents' festival
There’s fun for all ages at the residents’ festival. Photograph: Gareth Buddo /

Click to go to… New for 2014Out of the ordinaryGreat for kidsBehind the scenesHidden historyFresh air funArt and musicCommunity and educationFood deals & discountsOut of town

It’s our weekend. The two days of the year when we get the city all to ourselves – and for free. And the York Residents’ Festival 2014 is the biggest ever staged.

So big, in fact, that it’s difficult to know where to start. So we’ve drawn up a complete guide to what used to be called York residents first weekend, Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26, 2014, to help you plan what you want to see, where and when.

There are 60 free attractions and events, all accessed with a flash of your YorkCard (if you haven’t got one, pop to your nearest library: they’re £3 for adults, free for kids).

Here’s a pick of what’s happening: click on a venue’s name to get the full details. Not included are those generous places where you can get in free with your YorkCard all year round, like the Castle Museum and the Yorkshire Museum.

And to check out every event, go to our complete residents’ festival listings here.

New for 2014

Hidden treasure of Jacob’s Well
A glimpse inside one of York’s secret treasures, the small medieval building in Trinity Lane built in the 1470s as a home for priests. Full story here

Inside the Red Tower
This fortification on Foss Islands Road is opened for the first time in living memory thanks to Friends Of York Walls: full story here

Behind the scenes at Fairfax House
Tour the Georgian house to discover what happens during its winter hibernation.

Stained glass at All Saints Church, North Street
Experts guide you round the world famous church windows and the Lady Chapel

Design your own window at St Martin-Cum-Gregory
Create something unique at the Stained Glass Centre

Get to know the Romans at the Roman Bath Museum
Visit the remains of the bathhouse, see the displays and dress up as a Roman

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Out of the ordinary

The Cold War Bunker in Acomb. Photograph: English Heritage /
The Cold War Bunker in Acomb. Photograph: English Heritage /

Bell ringing at St Martin’s Church
Have a go with the team and climb the tower to see the clock mechanism in the bell chamber

Step down into the Cold War Bunker
This Sixties relic is a chilling and fascinating reminder of how the cloud of nuclear war hung over an age

Or climb up the restored Holgate Windmill
York’s only surviving windmill opens up for the day to relate the miller’s tales

Refresh your wardrobe with the York Clothes Swap
Bring items which are in very good condition and see what you can pick up in exchange

Discover the colourful story behind Fashion City York
A fun, informal evening aimed at putting York on the fashion map

Scare yourself silly at York Dungeon
If you’ve not been for a few years, it’s well worth a return visit, with 11 shows brought to life with a lot of humour by the young cast of actors

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Great for kids

Mask making at York Minster
Create a strange mask or badge based on the cathedral’s gargoyles and grotesques.

Ride back in time with the Jorvik Viking Centre
York’s Viking reconstruction has been visited by everyone from royalty to Sky’s Soccer AM. Here’s your chance to check it out

Get your hands dirty at DIG
The attraction brought to you by the Jorvik team allows visitors to “Dig it, Feel it, See it, Shake it, Find it” like a real archaeologist. Tours run every 30 minutes

Tasty treats at York’s Chocolate Story
Kids of all ages love chocolate. Here’s your chance to enjoy a free tour of one of York’s newer attractions, and make a choccy or two of your own

Be a speed demon at York Motorsports Village
The Monks Cross karting track is offering free ten minute sessions for four to eight-year-olds and £5 sessions for eight years up

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Behind the scenes

See behind the curtain at York Theatre Royal
Thirty minute tours give an insight into this venerable venue’s quirks and secrets

Look round Joseph Rowntree Theatre
Tours and mini shows are on offer at the theatre. Tours run hourly but visitors are welcome any time

Take a peek at the corridors of power at West Offices
Built on the site of York’s first railway station, mosey round City of York Council’s new HQ

Check out the Lord Mayor’s digs at the Mansion House
With a photo exhibition and timed tours of the kitchens (which need to be booked in advance) a great chance to see inside this grand Georgian building

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Hidden history

Inside the chapel of Bar Convent.  Photograph ©  David Smith on
Inside the chapel of Bar Convent. Photograph © David Smith on

Free climb up Clifford’s Tower
The first 100 people each day get in to the keep of William the Conqueror’s castle for free, then it’s £1 per person

The return of York Remembers Rowntree
Explore a selection of new Rowntree activities suitable for all ages, in the beautiful recital room at Bootham School

York’s bloody history at Micklegate Bar Museum
Find out more of the battles that engulfed the city from the Viking invasions to the English Civil War

Catch up with the king at the Richard III Museum
He’s been in the news a bit of late – not bad for someone who died more than 500 years ago. Discover the full story of this royal star

Take a tour round Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the Merchant Taylors’ Hall or Bedern Hall
All three medieval guild houses are free for all to discover at different times during the weekend. At Bedern, the Gild of Freemen will help you trace your family tree

Visit the Bar Convent
York’s hidden gem, established in 1686, with museum and café.

Find out the full gory facts with the Bloody History of York Lecture
Join local author Christina Surdhar for a journey through some of the most dramatic events from York’s past

A look round the Cedar Court Hotel
Guided tours every 30 minutes around the hotel which was formally the North Eastern Railway Headquarters

Look round Central Methodist Church
A place of worship since 1840, this Grade II listed building is one of the few chapels of its period still intact

Take a tour of St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel
Built in 1692 and thought to be the earliest load-bearing brick building and oldest surviving nonconformist chapel in York

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Fresh air fun

York Cemetery. Photograph:  © DS Pugh
York Cemetery. Photograph: © DS Pugh

Stretch your legs on the York Walk
Historic streets and snickelways, the city walls, ancient buildings and hidden backwaters on these twice daily tours

Find out more about York Cemetery
Explore the city’s beautiful garden of death, including the catacombs and the listed chapel

Discover the Georgian city with the Exploring York team
The Georgian period began in 1714 and to celebrate the 300th anniversary join the walking tours starting from St Helen’s Square

Guided tours of St Nicholas Fields Nature Reserve
Tours include demonstrations of coppicing and green woodworking skills, and hot drinks are served by a wood stove

Cruise through the city with YorkBoat
These 30 minute journeys down the Ouse, on the hour between 11am and 3pm, come with live commentaries

Spooky walks, courtesy of the Ghost Trail and the Ghost Hunt
Take your pick for a ghoulish stroll through the more macabre aspects of the city’s history

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Art and music

New exhibitions at the Quilt Museum
The museum and gallery re-opens to the public following its winter closure with two new exhibitions

See original works at Kentmere House Gallery
A wide range of original paintings and prints by talented artists from the region and beyond

Play the gamelan at the National Centre for Early Music
It’s hammer time as you try out Indonesian percussion instruments collectively called the gamelan during special workshops

Free organ recital at St Helen’s Church
…and you can also have a go on the organ yourself. Children’s activities too

Concerts featuring the talent from the Black Swan Folk Club
Informal afternoon and evening concerts featuring many local singers and bands

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Community and education

Get linked up with Connecting Communities
Packed with interactive fun filled and informative activities, this event at York St John University links local families with valuable support services and community groups

Learn more about what’s planned Towards a Sustainable York
A chance to find out more about community initiatives and what a difference they’re making, with a social evening to follow

Get your brain into gear at York College
Find out more about the courses York College has to offer and try out a range of taster sessions at the Yorkshire Museum in Museum Gardens

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Food deals & discounts

A free glass of bubbly with Bettys afternoon tea is one of the offers
A free glass of bubbly with Bettys afternoon tea is one of the offers

Many cafés, restaurants and bars are promoting dining deals for the weekend, including buy one, get one free offers, and free starters and puds.

Eateries new to the Residents’ Festival line up for 2014 include Bagel Nash in the Coppergate Centre, Caffe Dell Opera 3 on King Street, Jaipur Spice on Haxby Road, and both Bettys Belmont Room and Fenwick’s Centre View Restaurant.

See a complete list of all participating bars, cafés and restaurants, and check out their deals and discounts, on our Residents’ Festival Food Offer section

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Out of town

Tour the gardens and galleries of Beningbrough Hall
There’s also a book sale coinciding with the relocation of the popular reading room from the stable block into the former library of the house itself

Discover the grounds and gardens at Castle Howard
Yorkshire’s most bonkers stately pile throws open its outdoor areas, including the adventure playground, to the folk of York

Abseil down Brimham Rocks
Experience the thrilling rush of abseiling down a vertical face with Lost Earth Adventures. Taking place at Brimham Rocks throughout the day

Relive the war years at Eden Camp
The award-winning museum will transport you back in time to experience the sights, sounds and smells of life in the Second World War

Take a trip on the Kirklees Light Railway
Travel through the South Pennine foothills aboard a steam train – a three and a half mile journey from Clayton West to Shelley

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