101 things to look forward to in York in 2019

20 Jan 2019 @ 6.36 pm
| Entertainment

Famous faces, fabulous festivals and fun for all ages – that’s what 2019 has in store in York.

We’ve put together some of the highlights, which feature a dame and knight of the theatre, sport, art, food, music and comedy. Missed something? Drop us a line.

In the meantime, pop a few of these in your diary.


Residents Festival
26-27 Jan
Loads of great free things to do, plus special foodie offers and unique bargains at the shops too.
275 years of York Theatre Royal
Various dates
York Theatre Royal celebrates its 275th birthday this year. One event to celebrate is the new ‘Royal tour of theatre history’, a trip backstage to uncover its history and secrets. Running until June on Fridays and Saturdays.
Sandi Toksvig Live
28 Jan
Is she a national treasure, or as this show title has it, a National Trevor? Either way her York Barbican show will be huge fun.
Steve Lamacq at the Fulford Arms
29 Jan
The BBC Radio 6 Music DJ comes to the top music pub as part of Independent Venue Week. South coast band Wild Front headline a night of indie tunes.


The Ice Trail cometh
Animalia: Silver Screen Festival 2019
1-9 Feb
This celebration of cinematic masterpieces about Hollywood’s animal acting legends, great and small, is on at Fairfax House – once home to the St George’s Hall cinema.
York Ice Trail
Feb 2
Britain’s biggest outdoor ice trail is back, helping to boost a quieter time of year. This time there will be 50 ice sculptures (one which will be set on fire) and a new climbing wall.
Chinese New Year 2019
2 Feb
Celebrate Chinese New Year at the Mansion House. An array of workshops delivered by the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds and local artist Danny Ha will kick off the Year of the Pig in style.
Knights vs Wolfpack
3 Feb
After an amazing, table-topping promotion season last year, York City Knights kick-off life in the Championship with this mouthwatering clash at Bootham Crescent with Toronto Wolfpack.
Vapnartak War Games
3 Feb
Love your war games? Head to York Racecourse where there are 50 traders, competitions and more.
13-23 Feb
Voted the best musical, Grease is always a crowd pleaser. York Light bring this production to the York Theatre Royal.
Kiss Me, Kate
6 – 9 Feb
It’s time to Brush Up Your Shakespeare for Cole Porter’s ground breaking show-within-a-show – a fundraiser for Joseph Rowntree Theatre.
Peter Doherty. Photograph: Roger Sargent
Holy Holy
8 Feb
Three years after he died, David Bowie lives on through this amazing collobaration featuring Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti. They kick off a national tour at the York Barbican.
Peter Doherty
13 Feb
The Libertines and Babyshambles singer hits Fibbers – and to quote the venue, “Peter Doherty shows tend to be balance on a knife edge with the room descending into tumultuous chaos… you can’t predict what a true rock’n’roll star will do.”
Joan Collins – Unscripted
26 Feb
Global superstar Joan Collins hits York! The Dynasty dame brings her one-woman show to the Grand Opera House.
Madagascar The Musical
26 Feb-2 Mar
Join Alex (X-Factor 2016 Winner Matt Terry), Marty, Melman and Gloria as they bound out of the zoo and onto the stage in this live musical spectacular at York Theatre Royal.
Jorvik Viking Festival
20-27 Feb
The theme for 2019 is The Untold Story of Women in the Viking Age. Running for eight days across two calendar weeks, the programme also includes a music concer and a tattoo artist.
The Wind Tower
Feb 20-27
Can you conquer the tower of wind? Strange question we know, but it’s part of the hands-on half term activities at the National Railway Museum around energy and sustainability.
Savage Satire at Fairfax House
James Gillray’s grotesquely exaggerated and wicked caricatures mercilessly ridiculed Georgian politicians. This exhibition of his work, running from February till June, invites comparisons to today’s politics.


Yorkshire Dandy at York Fashion Week
1 Mar-3 Nov
A new exhibition at Goddards House and Garden reveals more about the Terry family home and their stories of family life.
Follow the Vikings Roadshow
2 Mar
This collaboration of artists from all over Europe includes actors, musicians, dancers and filmmakers to create a visual celebration of Viking heritage. In the Museum Gardens.
The York Community Choir Festival
3 Mar-9 Mar
The fourth annual festival at Joseph Rowntree Theatre offers everything from pop songs to gospel, from classical and traditional to jazz and songs from the shows.
Yorkshire! Achievement, Grit and Controversy
5 Mar-3 Nov
From 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker to the notorious Gunpowder Plot conspirator Guy Fawkes, discover the faces that have helped create the reputation of Yorkshire. A new art exhibition of pictures from the National Portrait Gallery at Beningbrough Hall.
Aesthetica Art Prize
7 Mar-31 July
Hosted by Aesthetica Magazine, the prize is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world. It offers both emerging and established artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience.
Future Now Symposium
7 – 8 Mar
Another event organised by arts publication Aesthetica, this event includes lectures, discussions and networking for art organisations.
Dara O’Briain
9-10 Mar
Dara has a two-night residency at the York Barbican, focusing his fast-talking, faster-thinking stand-up on our troubled times.
Author Temi Oh is at York Literature Festival
York Literature Festival
15 – 31 Mar
Fact, fiction, poetry and more feature in a packed Lit Fest. Joanna Trollope, Kate Mosse and Alan Johnson are among the visiting authors, and the poetry competition is bigger than ever.
The Remains Of The Day
19 Mar-23 Mar
Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel became a beloved Merchant Ivory film, and is transformed into an exquisite stage play at York Theatre Royal.
York Fashion Week
25 – 31 Mar
There are 50 amazing events in the pipeline, including ex-director of Mulberry Scott Henshall showing his newest collection at the Mansion House.

The Full Monty
27 – 30 Mar
The Bev Jones Music Company are brave enough to bare all in this comedy at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.
Grand Hotel Cookery School opens
A new cookery school is scheduled to open this month at the luxurious Grand Hotel. Sessions will range from £65 for a half-day to full day courses from £145 led by expert tutors.
Ruskin, Turner and the Storm Cloud
29 Mar-23 June
As well as a dozen works by Turner and more than 40 by Ruskin, this exhibition will also include art by their contemporaries such as Constable, John Inchbold and Hubert Herkomer.
Pop at York Minster
29 Mar
The first pop concert at the Minster for at least six years sees singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich perform tracks from his new album Gratitude.
The Story of Kit Kat
Launching in spring, Breaking the Mould: The Story of Kit Kat will tell all about this iconic treat at York’s Chocolate Story. Discover why Kit Kats are so popular in Japan, and why American bars have a unique taste all of their own.


Tuck in to York’s first Restaurant Week. Photograph: Dan Gold / Unsplash
York Restaurant Week
1-7 April
Here’s a tasty addition to the York menu. City centre restaurants will be putting on a week of special deals to tempt us to try something new.
York Blues Festival
6 April
A new event for this year, this all-day fest brings you the best of the blues from far and near – at the Crescent.
York Open Studios
6, 7, 13 & 14 April
York’s annual visual arts festival returns as makers and creators open their doors to the curious and the connoisseur.
100 years of Bettys
Apr 10
Bettys celebrates its centenary in 2019 and is hosting events all year long. This ‘Meet The Chocolatiers’ event is the first listed in York.
The Sound of Music
12-20 April
The hills are alive to York Stage Musicals’ production of this well-loved show at the The Sound of Music.
Hallé Orchestra at York Minster
17 Apr
Sir Mark Elder conducts the world renowned orchestra in Wagner’s final masterpiece Parsifal, which re-tells the ancient story of a ‘holy fool’ made wise through pity and redeemed by a simple act of compassion.
Art Garfunkel
18 April
A genuine music legend hits the York Barbican with An Evening of Songs and Stories.
York Easter Festival
18 – 21 Apr
Expect lots of family fun as the tourist season begins in earnest. There’s a Great Bunny Search running throughout the month too.
York Chocolate Festival
19 – 21 Apr
Dovetailing with the Easter fest, this focuses on the sweet treats York does so well, and includes a specialist market.
York Model Railway Show
20 – 22 April
Go along and see the best in railway modelling at York Racecourse. More than 120 stands are expected.
24 April-11 May
This new show at York Theatre Royal imagines what may have happened at the Queen’s infamous weekly meetings with Margaret Thatcher.
City bow out of Bootham
27 Apr
Barring an unlikely spot in the play-offs, York City’s last match at Bootham Crescent will be against AFC Telford, ending 87 years of history.
Festival of Vintage
27 – 28 April
Everything retro, from classic cars, to musical golden oldies to vintage fashion. All at York Racecourse.


The Specials
9 May
One of Britain’s best bands has hit 40, and Terry Hall and the gang will blow the roof off the York Barbican as part of their anniversary tour.
Against The Odds – D Day 75
11-12 May
To mark the 75th `anniversary of this crucial moment in our modern history, the Yorkshire Air Museum reenactors will be on hand to explain what life was like here for serving Halifax Bomber air crews as they fought to liberate occupied Europe.
Dante Festival
15 – 17 May
York Racecourse hosts the first meeting of the season, including the Yorkshire Cup.
Turn Of The Screw
21 May-1 Jun
Enjoy this classic spine-tingler at York Theatre Royal, as the ghosts of a country house haunt the children’s governess.
James Acaster
27 May
The award-winning stand-up and Netflix star hits the Grand Opera House with new show Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.
Eboracum Roman Festival
31 May – 2 June
Legions of things to do over the Bank Holiday weekend, as we celebrate our founders in events across the city with military parades, siege weapon demonstrations and guided walks.


York Pride 2018. Photograph: YorkMix
York Festival of Ideas
4 – 16 June
This year’s fest has the theme A World Of Wonder. Featuring speakers, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks and more, most of the events are free.
Driving Miss Daisy
7-29 June
Made famous by the Oscar-winning film, this is an iconic and heart-warming tale of pride, friendship and a changing American society – at York Theatre Royal.
York Pride 2019
8 June
Now a rainbow-coloured, city-wide celebration, York Pride sees a parade through the centre and a riot of fun and entertainment on Knavesmire.
York Taster Festival
8 – 9 June
This is the little brother to the full food fest in September. An assortment of cuisines from Jamaican to Thai, Greek to Indian, will be available to sample.
Ian McKellen
17 June
‘The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage’ – what could be better? At the Grand Opera House.
Acting and anecdotes… Sir Ian McKellen
Bloom! is back
22 – 23 June
Following the success of the inaugural flower festival, a Bloom! offshoot will focus on more tangible and semi-permanent displays.
York River Art Market
22 June-24 Aug
Back for its fourth year, you can browse and buy from local artists displaying their work on Dame Judi Dench Walk next to the Ouse.
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre
25 Jun – 1 Sep
After a glorious summer under the sun of York in 2018, the pop-up Elizabethan theatre returns to Castle car park, with four more of the Bard’s best plays.
Summer Music Saturday
29 June
Watch out for the announcement of the 2019 music act, set to follow Olly Murs or Paloma Faith on to the big music stage after an afternoon of sport at York Racecourse.


An artist’s impression of how the finished York Stadium complex will look
York Stadium Complex opens
We don’t have a definite opening date for the long-awaited new home of York City and York City Knights. But we do know it’ll bring an 8,000 seat stadium, 25m swimming pool, sports hall, IMAX cinema, shops and restaurants.
John Smith’s Meeting
12 – 13 July
It’s party time at York Racecourse, as friends and families enjoy a summer weekend of food, drink and a flutter.
Nicolas Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan
12 Jul – 22 Sep
On loan from the National Gallery, this masterpiece will be displayed at York Art Gallery alongside works by by masters such as Dughet, Bernini and Domenichino.
York Maze
13 July-2 Sep
The perennial summer holiday favourite returns at Elvington. Last year Europe’s largest maize maze had a Jurassic Park theme – what will it be in 2019?
York Dragon Boat challenge
14 July
The York Rotary charity fundraiser sees teams paddle like crazy between two bridges on the Ouse to the strains of the Hawaii 5-0 theme tune. What’s not to like?
Nicolas Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan. Photograph: National Gallery
York Proms
14 July
A rousing picnic concert in Museum Gardens – this year’s guest sopranos are Nick Sales and Jennifer Coleman.
Great Yorkshire Fringe
18 – 28 July
This is firmly embedded as a summer highlight. For the 2019 jamboree of comedy, family shows, music and cabaret, there will be more events spread across the city’s diverse venues.
Music Showcase Weekend
26 – 27 Jul
Back to York Racecourse for two days of music and racing. Who will follow the likes of Madness, The Corrs and Boyzone onto the temporary stage?
Cutting-Edge Fashion, Then and Now
Georgian Fashion: extravagant, excessive, often extreme but always exciting. Find out more at Fairfax House in an exhibition of historic and contemporary fashion.


Countryfile presenter Matt Baker. Photograph: BBC Studios / Pete Dadds
Run For All York 10K
4 Aug
It’s the tenth year of the 10K, described as one of the UK’s most beautiful city runs.
York Walls Festival
10-11 Aug
After a very successful launch in 2018 the festival returns, celebrating the history of our famous fortifications.
York Unleashed Comic-Con
11 Aug
Top guests from the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy, cosplay groups, a life-size dinosaur and more at the York Racecourse.
Countryfile Live
15 – 18 Aug
Castle Howard will host the first Countryfile Live event to be held in the North. The event will include a range of features including the Village Green, the Countryfile Experience featuring the programme’s presenters and the Wildlife Zone.
Ebor Festival
21 – 24 Aug
The jewel in York’s racing crown features Ladies Day on the Thursday, bringing colour and glamour to York Racecourse.
Micklegate Run Soapbox Challenge
26 Aug
The cobbles will clatter to the noise of crazy karts as the Soapbox Challenge returns. Who has the meanest machine in 2019?


Food festival director Michael Hjort and his young friends. Photograph: Richard McDougall
York National Book Fair
13-14 Sept
Tens of thousands of books line York Racecourse for what is the country’s biggest book fair.
Shrek the Musical
13-21 Sep
It’s a big, bright, beautiful world as Shrek the Musical arrives in York for the first time ever – at the Grand Opera House.
York Race For Life
15 Sep
Thousands of people unite with one purpose – to raise valuable funds for life-saving research, and have fun at the same time – on Knavesmire.
York Beer Festival
18-21 Sept
This grows bigger and better every year. A chance to savour some of the finest ales and ciders, eat great food and listen to live music, all at York Racecourse.
York Food & Drink Festival
20 – 29 Sept
The city is filled with delicious smells as top chefs host live cooking demos. And there are so many new flavours to try from the market traders.


The Yorkshire Marathon. Photograph: Simon Dewhurst
Jonathan Pie: Fake News
4 Oct
The YouTube sensation is back in the city, ready to lambaste the people in power and the journalists meant to hold them account – at the York Barbican.
Jimmy Carr
13 Oct
Jimmy’s brand new show at the Grand Opera House contains jokes about all kinds of terrible things – that’s why it’s called Terribly Funny.
Ben Elton
14 Oct
After 15 years’ absence, the man who redefined comedy in the Eighties is back, bringing his new stand-up show to the York Barbican.
Yorkshire Marathon
20 Oct
A sell-out every year since its launch in 2013, the Yorkshire Marathon is one of the UK’s most popular marathons. And if you don’t fancy the full 26 miles, there’s always the ten-miler on the same day.
Northern Lights at York Minster
24 – 30 Oct
See York Minster in a new light when the cathedral opens its doors after hours for Northern Lights, the light projection and sound installation which will transform the Minster’s Nave.
art& show
25-27 Oct
More than 120 artists show and sell their work at this friendly, accessible and affordable show at York Racecourse.


Romesh Ranganathan
Romesh Ranganathan
1 Nov
The man from A League Of Their Own and myriad other TV shows takes to the York Barbican stage with ‘his most brutally honest show yet’
Aesthetica Short Film Festival
6 – 10 Nov
The mini-movie celebration is back, with wonderful cinema from around the world – plus filmmakers talking about their art.
York Christmas Festival
14 Nov – 23 Dec
York’s most festive city lights up the way to Christmas with fantastic illuminations and the St Nicholas Fair.
Living North Christmas Fair
14-17 Nov
Get your Christmas shopping into gear at this York Racecourse expo, complete with food, drink and music.
Ronnie O’Sullivan. Photograph: DerHexer on Wikipedia
A Victorian Christmas
16 Nov – Dec 31
A favourite event at York Castle Museum. It’s as if one of those traditional Christmas cards has come to life.
UK Snooker Championship
26 Nov-8 Dec
Can Ronnie O’Sullivan defend his crown at the Betway UK Snooker Championship at the York Barbican?


York is getting a Hollywood Bowl bowling centre
York Minster Christmas Concerts
12 – 13 Dec
Always a sell-out, these concerts make it clear that the festive celebrations are on their way.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
13 Dec-4 Jan
We don’t know yet if there’s a post-Berwick panto at the Theatre Royal, but the Grand Opera House gang are ready to put the songs, silliness and slapstick into the festive season.
Bowling centre opens
Hollywood Bowl are bringing a 24-lane bowling alley and mini-golf centre to the York Stadium complex. No exact date but they are ‘estimating pre-Christmas 2019’.

Further afield

Kylie: Coming to Scarborough. And we’re not even joking

Outside of York, the stargazing Dark Skies Festival takes place at the North York Moors National Park from February 15 to March 3.

The Cleveland Way National Trail marks its 50th anniversary in 2019. North York Moors National Park is hosting a series of events, walks, talks, competitions and exhibitions, including a Cleveland Way dedicated Walking Festival in May 2019.

Whitby Abbey is to undergo a £1.6m investment programme, including a newly designed museum, interpretation located at key points around the site and the addition of a small coffee shop.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway will welcome the visit of 60009 Union of South Africa loco in spring. Passengers will be able to travel behind the iconic A4 Pacific, designed by Nigel Gresley, from Grosmont to Pickering during its week-long visit.

And you can see Kylie Minogue at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre on August 1 – Yorkshire Day!