This week, York goes all medieval on your ass, there’s a dancing mouse, a celebration of Jamaican culture (which doesn’t mention Usain Bolt), and more. So let’s dive in…
1. Middle Ages spread
Yorkshire’s first Medieval Festival – well, the first since medieval times anyway – is organised by the good people behind Jorvik, the York Archaeological Trust. All tied in to the fact that it’s York’s 800th anniversary of becoming an independent city, the week-long event includes all the best bits from the time – archery, birds of prey, banquets – and none of the worst – poverty, bubonic plague, torture. Highlights include medieval markets at Barley Hall, an event for children at York libraries called Jester Laugh, medieval family fun at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the Gods, Guilds and Gargoyles walk around York.
- Where: Across York
- When: Saturday, August 4 to Sunday, August 12
- How much: Varies by event
- Full details at the Jorvik website
2. A mystery no more
‘Spectacular’. ‘Stunning’. ‘Awesome’. The early response to the York Mystery Plays 2012 has been overwhelmingly positive. Although thousands of tickets have gone, there are still plenty left for the greatest story ever told (in the greatest city ever built). And if you watch the cinematic trailer, above, you’ll be buying tickets before you can say Noah and Nellie.
- Where: Museum Gardens, York
- When: Till August 27, 7.30pm with 2.30pm Sat matinees
- How much: Evening: £20-£42; Matinee: £15-£35, concessions available
- Book tickets at the Mystery Plays website
3. Royal time at the bar
Its opening timed to coincide with the medieval festival (see above), the Royal Gateway is a new exhibition at Micklegate Bar Museum. It looks at the ceremonial role played by this fine fortification in welcoming ruling monarchs and other members of the Royal Family to the city over the centuries. That role was reinforced earlier this year when the Queen was met at the bar by the Lord Mayor, as is traditional. See archive video footage, hear dramatised accounts and explore some of the extraordinary tales of pomp and pageantry witnessed at the bar over the years.
- Where: Micklegate Bar Museum, Micklegate, York
- When: Daily, 10am-4pm
- How much: Entry to the museum is free for York residents, otherwise adults £3.50, concessions £2.50, children free with paying adult
- More details at the museum website
4. Board the soul train
Yet another first for York in a year teeming with new events. The York Mystery Soul Festival is six summer nights of hot jazz, gospel and soul music, presented by J-Night and York Theatre Royal. Performances take place in the theatre foyer every Friday and Saturday during the run of the Mystery Plays. This Friday it’s Ruby Turner, best known as the lead singer of Jools Holland’s R&B Orchestra, and on Saturday it’s saxophonist Snake Davis. The bar’s open till midnight.
- Where: York Theatre Royal
- When: Ruby Turner, Friday, August 10, 8pm. Snake Davis, Saturday, August 11, 8pm
- How much: Ruby Turner £12-£20, Snake Davis £10-£18
- More details at the York Theatre Royal website
5. Dancing On Mice
Anyone who has a little girl in the family will know all about the mouse who dreams to be a ballet dancer. Now the star of Katharine Holabird’s books is on stage at the Grand Opera House in Angelina Ballerina: The Mousical. Said to be a magical show, filled with singing and dancing, it sounds like a, ahem, splendid tail.
- Where: Grand Opera House, York
- When: Tuesday, August 7, 6.30pm; Wednesday, August 8, 2.30pm and 6.30pm; Thursday, August 9, 2.30pm
- How much: £13.50-£17.50
- More details and book here
6. Celebrate Jamaican independence
Celebrating 50 years of Jamaican Independence, City Screen has music and Jamaican food available all day long on Monday. Reggae DJs will start spinning vinyl in The Riverside Bar from 7pm and at 8.15 the picturehouse screensthe classic crime drama The Harder They Come (15) starring Jimmy Cliff as an impoverished reggae singer drawn into the underworld. After the film, reggae DJs Alilou and Miss Fabulous will rock the Riverside Bar till midnight.
- Where: City Screen, York
- When: Monday, August 6, 7pm (film at 8.15pm)
- How much: Adults £8.20, students £6.70
- More details at the City Screen website