Issued by: Visit York
Issue Date:  Thursday 3 January 2019

Visit the 18th century chapel and priest hole at the Bar Convent, explore captivating drawings of York in the city archives, spy the original masons’ marks inside the 500-year old Postern Tower, try on costumes at Friargate Theatre or tour York’s oldest surviving windmill.  This is just a taste of the attractions and behind the scenes tours on offer at the 24th York Residents Festival.  Residents will once again have the chance to explore what’s on their doorstep free of charge with a valid YorkCard or student card, when this annual event, sponsored by Grand Central, arrives on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 January.  During the festival the city’s visitor attractions open up their doors free of charge so residents can turn tourist for the weekend. 

Since the festival was launched over 300,000 free visits have been taken up.  Exclusively for York residents.  There will also be a variety of retail and restaurant offers too, with more eateries taking part, than ever before.  This annual event is organised as a thank you to York’s residents for the warm welcome they give to York’s 6.9 million visitors each year. 

A central attraction at the event will be a four-metre long train made out of LEGO.®  Created by renowned LEGO® architect, Brickthis, aka Steve Mayes, the replica Grand Central Adelante train will take pride of place at York Explore during the weekend.  Made from approximately 30,000 bricks, the Adelante model is four metres long and 30 centimetres high – a must see for train and LEGO® fans alike.  Liam Smallwood, Marketing & PR Executive at Grand Central, said: “We are delighted to be headline sponsor of the York Residents’ Festival in 2019.  Our communities are at the heart of everything we do, and as a UK train operator with its HQ in York, we’re thrilled to be able to showcase our fantastic Adelante LEGO® model as a way of saying thank you to residents and customers of our wonderful city.”

Supporting sponsor, Helen Fletcher, Marketing Manager for York’s Ultra Fibre Optic from TalkTalk, commented: “It’s a pleasure to support an event like this that gives something back to local families and residents. York has such a diverse range of attractions to visit and it’s great that people will have the opportunity to enjoy them. We’ve loved getting to know the people of York as we bring the UK’s fastest and most reliable full fibre internet to homes and businesses across the city. Bringing families together is something that’s close to our hearts and so we’re thrilled to support the Resident’s Festival.”

New in the festival this year are: trampolining at Energi Trampoline Park, bird spotting and tours at York Cemetery, Escape Games by Mindlock, a new walking tour - the Wizard Quest, by Magical Interactive, a tour and chance to peek inside the Grand Hotel’s new cookery school and a new dining tour by Yorkshire Appetite.  Further afield Fountains Abbey is back in the festival and new this year is William’s Den, a brand new family adventure attraction. At Beningbrough Hall and Gardens a special Sounds of Winter experience will offer residents the chance to explore the attraction’s first ever sound trail.

The weekend will be filled with interactive, family-friendly fun and the Visit York team at the Visitor Centre, 1 Museum Street, will be on hand to help residents make the most of the weekend.  Paul Whiting, Head of Visit York, said: “With free entry to our world class attractions and a host of restaurant and shopping offers, this festival is our way of saying a big thank you to York’s residents.  It’s their warm and friendly welcome that helps to draw visitors back year after year.”

30,257 visits to attractions were made during the 2018 Residents Festival and 10,192 residents took part.  The festival is also being promoted to thousands of students studying in the city too, who can take part with a valid York student ID card. The University of York, York St John University, Askham Bryan College and York College are all promoting it to their students.  Pre-booking is required for some of the attractions and guided tours and some venues have limited tickets available – the advice is to plan your visits carefully in advance.  Full details are in the Festival brochure, free from the Visitor Centre.  Check the website for up to date offers or late entries

Residents must show a valid YorkCard or York Student ID Card to gain admission at each venue and for all shopping and restaurant offers.  YorkCards are available from Explore York Libraries - check the nearest at   YorkCards have a £5 admin charge for adults and are free for under 18’s.  The YorkCard also entitles free or discounted entry to a range of leisure facilities and attractions in York throughout the year.  During the weekend First York is offering a 50% discount on their group ticket for up to five people.  To benefit download the First Bus mTickets app and use the code VisitYork50, to secure the ticket for £4.50 instead of £9.  ENDS.

For further information please contact:

Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Communications – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554436

Notes to the Editor

Make It York
Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York.

Key tourism facts:
6.9 million visitors annually, £608 million total visitor spend, supporting 20,300 jobs

Notes to editors:
Grand Central Railway Company Limited is an established train operator which provides direct rail connections from towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East England with London.  Established in 2007, Grand Central celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017. Customer satisfaction levels are consistently high and the rail company has just been named Britain’s best value rail operator for the 5th year in a row.
Grand Central operates West Riding Services between Bradford Interchange, Low Moor, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, Pontefract Monkhill, Doncaster and London.