decrease font-size reset font-size increase font-size

Major Annual Events in York in 2016

York offers a rich calendar or events celebrating a diverse variety of history, arts and culture. Find details of the major events and festivals here.

32nd JORVIK Viking Festival: 15-21 February 2016

Recognised as the largest Viking Festival in Europe, the annual JORVIK Viking Festival is a citywide celebration of York’s Viking heritage. The festival’s programme of family friendly events, lectures, guided walks and battle re-enactments attracts over 40,000 visitors each year from across the globe, with many returning year after year to take part and enjoy the atmosphere. The Festival is based on the ancient ‘Jolablot’ celebrations from the Viking period, which would have taken place in February, heralded the coming of spring and the end of winter hardships. These 1000 year old celebrations were long forgotten until York Archaeological Trust, the owners of JORVIK Viking Festival revived this lost Norse tradition in the 1980s. Now returning for the 32nd time, the JORVIK Viking Festival has become a firm fixture in the York festival calendar. Going from strength to strength each year with established events including: the Strongest Viking competition, Viking encampments that bring the past to life, specialists talks, crafting & archaeological expert sessions, all leading up to the spectacular finale, where hundreds of Viking warriors take to the field in an awe-inspiring display of Norse storytelling & battle!

Public contact: Call JORVIK Group Reservations on 01904 615505 or visit the website at Press contacts: Jay Commins, email: Samantha Orange, email: Pyper York Limited. Tel: 01904 500698, mob: 07810 546567, website:


York Literature Festival: 10-23 March 2016

In 2016 York Literature Festival will feature a wide range of author-related events, poetry, talks, workshops and so much more. Over 40 events across the city will see York focus on the written and spoken word, with some well-known names heading to York to take part. Some of the examples of the many performances and events taking place in York are poetry competitions, Pennine Poets celebrating 40 years of activity in Yorkshire and biographers David Lough and Francis Beckett discussing 'Politicians and their money', perusing the similarities between the finances of Winston Churchill and Tony Blair. Also, a guided tour of York's places of literary interest will explore locations in York that have inspired authors and York St John Students will present a showcase of their writings. Venues include National Railway Museum, York Explore Library, York St John University and St Peter's School.

Public contact: Follow the festival on Twitter @YorkLitFest or visit Press contact: Miles Salter, email:, tel: 01904 412892.


York Open Studios: 15-17 April & 23-24 April 2016

York Open Studios is a not-for-profit organisation run by a committee of volunteers for the benefit of York residents, artists and visitors. Open over two weekends in the spring, and initiated with the aim of promoting, celebrating and encouraging participation in the visual arts, York Open Studios offers the chance to experience a world of selected artists and makers, discover their passions and inspiration, share their knowledge and support their engagement with the local community. With studios, workshops and exhibitions open all over the city, York Open Studios has become a major event and over the years has introduced hundreds of artists to the public.

Public and Press contact: Anne Hutchison, email:, tel: 01904 422193, website:


Fashion City York: 22-24 April 2016

Fashion City York is an initiative to promote fashion retailing & all the facets of York's fashion industry. From big brands to independent retailers, international designers to home-grown labels, York has something to offer every fashion-savvy shopper out there. Fashion City York is here to help retailers, designers and students promote our wonderful fashion scene with ground-breaking collaborative projects throughout the year. Further programme details available early 2016.

Public contact: Visit website or email


York Horse Races: May - October

York Racecourse, known as the Knavesmire, has been a favourite amongst racegoers since it was founded in 1731. In 2016, 17 meetings combine top class horseracing with world-class facilities to make it a sporting and social occasion for all to enjoy. Even if your horse fails to come up with the goods, it’s a fabulous day out in a beautiful location, a chance to dress up, and jolly good fun into the bargain.

Public contact: Visit or Tel: 01904 620911

Provisional dates for 2016 fixtures:
11th-13th May: Dante Festival
21st May: May Spring Meeting
10th-11th June: June Meeting
8th-9th July: John Smith’s Cup Meeting
22nd -23rd July: Music Showcase Weekend
17th-20th August: Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival
4th September: September Meeting
7th-8th October: October Meeting


York Mystery Plays at York Minster: 26 May–30 June 2016

The 800 year-old gothic cathedral of York Minster will undergo a spectacular transformation in June 2016 to become a monumental auditorium for a much anticipated, five week-long staging of the York Mystery Plays at the Minster. Opening on the feast of Corpus Christi the Plays return to the Minster for the first time since the acclaimed 2000 Millennium production, when over 28,000 people attended the sell-out performances. In keeping with the tradition of the Mystery Plays, the cast will be primarily amateur, with just one professional actor. Volunteers on stage and off will once again be at the heart of the Minster’s production. For full details of the production and how to get involved visit

Public contact: Visit website on Press contact: Leanne Woodhurst, email:, tel: 01904 55724.


Eboracum Roman Festival: 2-5 June 2016

Eboracum Roman Festival will bring York’s Roman history back to life in summer 2016. Further programme details available early 2016.


York Festival of Ideas 2016: 7-19 June 2016

York Festival of Ideas will return with a wide range of talks and events on various topics in June 2016.The festival is now the largest free festival in the UK. Further programme details available early 2016.

Public contact: Visit


York Early Music Festival 2016: 8-16 July 2016

Widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of city’s many festivals, York Early Music Festival welcomes visitors and musicians from across the world to the UK’s premier festival of early music. The 2016 Festival takes the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare as its starting point, with music from the Elizabethan Theatre and pieces inspired by the Shakespearean themes of magic, mystery and the supernatural. Guest artists include: The City Musick directed by William Lyons, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, who will perform in many of the City’s exquisite historical buildings. Tickets on sale March 2016.

Public contact: Call 01904 632220 or 01904 658338 or visit the website for full programme and tickets at Press contact: Shona Galletly, email:, tel: 07813 796 733.


Great Yorkshire Fringe: 15-31 July 2016

Following an absolute sell-out in 2015, The Great Yorkshire Fringe is back! From 15–31 July 2016, the Fringe will be back for another year of comedy and entertainment. More information to follow. For more information visit

Press contact: Anne Taylor, email:, tel: 01904 500500.


The JORVIK Group's Medieval Summer: 1-31 August 2016

The JORVIK Group’s Medieval Summer takes God’s own County back to the Middle Ages each summer. Organised by The JORVIK Group, creators of the famous JORVIK Viking Festival, The JORVIK Group’s Medieval Summer brings with it a wide range of events and activities for all the family to enjoy. For the whole month of August, locations across Yorkshire that are brimming with medieval history, as well as attractions within York’s City Walls, are hand-picked to host a festival of fun, merriment and engaging historical discussion.

Public contact: Call JORVIK Group Reservations on 01904 615505 or visit the website at Press contacts: Jay Commins, email: Samantha Orange, email: Pyper York Limited. Tel: 01904 500698, mob: 07810 546567, website:


York National Book Fair: 9 January 2016 and 16-17 September 2016

From modest beginnings with just 20 exhibitors at the White Swan Inn in York in 1974, the York Book Fair has grown into the largest rare and collectable books fair in the UK. Held over two days, over 220 of the country's leading booksellers offer a breath-taking diversity of books, as well as posters, ephemera, manuscripts, maps and prints, ranging in price from just a few pounds up to tens of thousands of pounds. Besides booksellers there will also be bookbinders, paper restorers, calligraphers and others in the associated trades’ area.

Public contact: Call 01904 624414 or visit the website: or email: Press contact: Tony Fothergill, email:, tel: 01904 624414. Janette Ray, email:, tel: 01904 623088.

York Food and Drink Festival: 23 September-2 October 2016

York Food and Drink Festival will offer day and evening events from wine tastings, talks and food tastings to cookery demonstrations and hands on workshops in some of the city’s iconic historic buildings. A more detailed programme to be confirmed in 2016.

Public contact: For full programme and tickets visit the website at For more information email or call 01904 635149. Press contact: Michael Hjort, email:, tel: 01904 635149.


World Ploughing 2016: 8-11 September 2016 at Crockey Hill

Incorporating the 66th British National Ploughing Championships and the 63rd World Ploughing Contest. Organised by the Society of Ploughmen, World Ploughing 2016 will incorporate both the 66th British National Ploughing Championships and the 63rd World Ploughing Contest and is being organised by the society by kind permission of Hobson Farming Ltd who are loaning around 500 acres of land to hold the event. Supporting World Ploughing 2016 will be trade stands, demonstrations of modern farming equipment, vintage displays and demonstrations celebrating Britain’s agricultural heritage, craft exhibits, horse ploughing and a host of other events to attract farmers, their families and people with a love of the countryside.

Public contact: Call 01302 852469 or email Visit website on


illuminating York: 26–29 October 2016

Every autumn illuminating York celebrates the transformative power of light in all its forms, from sunlight to artificially generated light – from the flickering flame to the light emitting diode. The festival creates new relationships between people and the fabric of the city – to reveal York, and the way people experience it, in a new light. It also provides a creative context for artists, designers, engineers and the creative industries to collaborate in exploring new ways in which light impacts on people and the life of the city. More details to follow in 2016.

Public contact: For full programme and tickets visit the website at Press contact: Lizzie Forbes-Ritte, Purple Marketing, email:, tel: 0788 4438152.


Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF): 3-6 November 2016

The BAFTA Qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is organised by Aesthetica, an international art and culture publication. The festival was launched in 2011 and takes place annually at the beginning of November in York. ASFF champions outstanding filmmaking talent and expands audience choice by showcasing 300 stunning films from across the world in 15 of the city’s most iconic venues. The films span a diverse range of genres, including advertising, animation, artists’ film, comedy, dance, documentary, drama, experimental, fashion, music video and thriller. 2016 will be the festival’s sixth year and will be celebrated with an even bigger programme of films and networking opportunities that make the festival a must-attend event for all filmmakers and film fans.

Public contact: Call 01904 629 137 or visit the website for full programme and tickets at or email


A York Christmas: York St Nicholas Christmas Festival incorporating the St Nicholas Fair: 17 November–23 December 2016

York St Nicholas Christmas Festival takes place annually, now extended to run from mid-November to 23rd December. The popular St Nicholas Fair in Parliament Street, will run for the full 35 days too, with extended opening times. Snug wooden chalets, dressed with pretty garlands and twinkling lights will line Parliament Street and extend into St Sampson’s Square. Adding to the festive atmosphere, stallholders will be selling a range of gifts including jewellery such as Whitby jet, ceramics, homewares, crafts and Yorkshire produce such as locally made wines and cheeses.

Public contact: Visit or call 01904 550099. Press contacts: Kay Hyde, Head of PR & Communications, tel: 01904 554451, email: Katie Parsons, Senior Communications Executive, tel: 01904 554436, email:


York Early Music Christmas Festival: 9-17 December

York Early Music Christmas Festival showcases beautiful festive music from different parts of the world every December. More details to follow in 2016.

Public contact: Call 01904 632220 or 01904 658338 or visit the website for full programme and tickets at Press contact: Shona Galletly, email:, tel: 07813 796 733.


Please note: We try to keep our information up to date but sometimes things can change. Please double check all details directly on the websites provided.