Your complete guide to the York Residents Festival

25 Jan 2013 @ 6.53 am
| Entertainment

york-res-festival-logoIt’s the Res Fes! In fact it’s the very des Res Fes! After 364 days of putting the tourists first, we get a weekend all to ourselves. A bit of city-wide me time.

This is the York Residents Festival. It’s what used to be called Residents First, but everything’s a festival these days (don’t forget on January 31 it’s the Festival Of Thursday).

For newcomers, the Residents Festival is, in the words of Visit York, a thank-you to the people who live here, who “will have free access to many of the city’s leading attractions, be able to explore behind the scenes at places not normally open to the public and take advantage of some great dining offers”.

You just need to wave your YorkCard to take advantage (available from York’s libraries). There’s also money off deals at many York restaurants – scroll down and download the Visit York brochure for details.

So what’s on? Glad you asked…


New this year

Holgate Windmill

holgate-windmill-skyA chance to see the 18th century windmill, now fully restored and working. Visitors should be aware that access is by steep ladders.

Nature tours

Free one-hour guided tours of St Nicholas Fields, the Green Flag award-winning nature reserve, and York Environment Centre, designed with sustainability in mind. Between 11.30am-12.30pm you can also join the reserve Wildwatch Group for lunch while watching and counting birds for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. Light refreshments available.

The Recorder – Workshop and Family Concert

Join the National Centre’s Minster Minstrels recorder ensemble, try out the more unusual members of the recorder family and then join in a performance of Through The Arches of Time by Anthony Purnell. The workshop is open to all recorder players of Grade 1 standard and above. Adults and accompanied children welcome.

Other new events:


Fun for the family

F1 Racing – Premier Karting

f1-kartsCome on all you Sebastian Vettels – pop in for a complimentary 15 lap session. All events subject to availability.

  • Where: F1 Racing, Kathryn Avenue, Monks Cross
  • When: Friday, January 25 11am-2pm: Adults only (+16 yrs); 2pm-4.30pm: Juniors only (10 – 15 yrs – age & height restrictions apply); 4.30pm-6pm: track closed; 6pm-8.30pm: Adults only (+16 yrs)
  • Pre-booking not available
  • Contact: 01904 673555,

Free swim

Both Energise and Yearsley Swimming Pool are offering free swims.


A chance to experience this groundbreaking visitor attraction for free, and experience life in Viking-age York.

Other family events:


History happenings

Fishergate Postern Tower

fishergate-postern-residentsHistorical torch lit tour of the medieval tower built in 1400s and not usually open to the public.

Richard III Museum

Was he a deformed monster, or rather a charmer? Judge for yourself.

Micklegate Bar Museum

As the entrance to the city used by the reigning monarch, the bar is an important ceremonial gateway. In celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee, a new exhibition exploring the pomp and circumstance of Royal visits from the 14th century.

Other historic venues taking part include:


Walks and tours

York Archives & Local History Service

york-archives-residentsWork will start in 2013 on a new £1.6m Heritage Lottery funded City Archive at York Explore so this is your last chance to have a behind the scenes tour of the old Archive before it closes for the move.

  • Where: Art Gallery building, Exhibition Square
  • When: Saturday 26 January, tours will run every half-hour from 9.30am to 12.30pm & 2pm to 4.30pm
  • Pre-booking is essential
  • To sign up for a tour visit the reception desk at York Explore Library, Museum Street

West Offices

An opportunity to see the newly refurbished and extended West Offices building that will become the new City of York Council HQ, prior to opening in March 2013.

The Ghost Trail

Dare you travel back in time and experience the tantalizing terrifying tales of York’s ghostly tradition? We’re sure you dare. You look the daring type.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Guided tours, behind the scenes access and a closer look at your local theatre.

Other walks and tours include:


Sweet treats

York Cocoa House

cocoa-house-truffles-residentsPop into the festival tent where you can create your own chocolate treat or sample some York-made special hot chocolate.

  • Where: Festival Tent, Parliament Street
  • When: Saturday 26 January & Sunday 27 January, 10.30am-4.30pm
  • Pre-booking not required
  • Contact: 01904 675787

York’s Chocolate Story

Twenty-five adult individual tickets and 10 family tickets are available free each day on a first-come first-served basis.


Out of town

Beningbrough Hall & Gardens

beningbrough-hall-residentsThe National Trust’s grand Georgian House is again opening its gates to York residents for free. Visitors will be able to browse for bargain books at a giant second hand book fair. Photograph © Martin Dawes /

Kirklees Light Railway

Climb aboard the little trains for a scenic railway journey from Clayton West to Shelley in the South Pennine foothills.

Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary

Journey beneath the waves and get up close and personal with some of the most amazing creatures of the sea including sharks, rays and turtles to name a few.

Other out-of-town events include: