Issued by: Pyper York on behalf of Visit York
Issue date: 20 September 2019

Unique experiences sit at the heart of a new campaign to attract more people to the city of York, as tourism chiefs invite visitors to uncover secret venues and tours that even life-long residents will not have seen.  Only In York 2019 is set to reveal unseen, unforgettable and unmissable experiences to attract new and returning visitors alike.

“York is a city which attracts domestic and international visitors all year round, but with 2,000 years of history, even regular visitors will find unvisited corners and astonishing encounters, whether they come to explore the city’s heritage or its new reputation as a global hub for media arts and innovation,” comments head of Visit York, Paul Whiting.  “Alongside an incredible programme of events and festivals – some long established, some brand new – and the attractions for which York is really well-known, we want to signpost people to places that are often hidden or overlooked, but provide a unique experience that they can’t wait to share with friends and family when they get home.”

Only In York experiences are diverse, ranging from a visit to the 1960s Cold War Bunker built underneath a York housing estate, to searching for the rare tansy beetle, taking a selfie at the shortest street with the longest name (Whip-ma-whop-ma gate) and walking the longest medieval town walls in England. 

Some of the experiences add an extra dimension to places that people may already consider very familiar, but which take visitors on a surprising behind-the-scenes journey – offering a unique, and unexpected insight into well-known spaces. 

“Going behind the scenes at York Minster is an absolute revelation – there is almost a Hogwarts-esque magic when hidden doorways are revealed that take you up to spaces that you never even realised existed – like the Mason’s Loft, which sits above the vestibule leading from the Minster into the Chapter House,” adds Paul.  This space, which had its own fireplace and garderobe (toilet), has one of the finest ‘scissor braced’ timber roofs in the country, as well as a fascinating plaster-of-Paris tracing floor, illustrating the procedure of masoncraft.

Another local landmark that can be explored from a unique perspective is the 18th century stately home, Castle Howard, with special tours that take visitors up into the famous crowning dome, which can be seen from miles around.  A doorway off the Great Hall leads up to the Dome 70 feet above the Hall floor and immediately beneath the masonry dome, which was restored following the devastating fire of 1940. 

The ‘Behind Closed Doors’ tour also includes other areas not normally open to the public, including the vast West Wing basements and family bedrooms, whilst giving visitors an insight into how the Howard family have worked tirelessly for generations to keep the house in such beautiful condition.

At the National Railway Museum (NRM) visitors are transported to another era to enjoy a decadent award-winning afternoon tea, including traditional Yorkshire scones, homemade cakes and loose-leaf tea, aboard the beautifully restored Countess of York train carriage.  Other special opportunities for visitors at NRM are expert talks about the items on display, including the only bullet train outside of Japan, the record-breaking Mallard and royal carriages that demonstrate just what it was like to travel like a monarch.

Only In York experiences are not limited to places to see, but also to the welcome from people in the city, combining Yorkshire warmth with a passion and unrivalled knowledge of the city.  “For a truly unique Viking experience, spend time chatting to the costumed team at JORVIK Viking Centre – each and every one has a remarkable knowledge that goes well beyond an average tour guide, with many of them spending years studying and exploring Norse traditions and culture,” adds Paul.

And the ultimate experience that includes secrets, incredible local knowledge and the next generation of York-based traditions?  The Bloody York Gin Tour, led by award-winning guide, Alicia Stabler as Mad Alice.  Definitely a tour just for adults, this blood-curdling, history-filled, two-hour walking tour round the city of York mixes horrible history with a taste of restorative York Gins along the route.

In 2019, visitors travelling to York with LNER East Coast Mainline are amongst the first to experience LNER’s new state-of-the-art Azuma trains, which offer more leg room, improved Wi-Fi, power sockets at every seat, and more space all round.

More details about all of the Only In York experiences can be found at


Notes to editors: 

A zip file containing all the #OnlyInYork images can be downloaded here.

The #OnlyInYork video news release is also available for download:

Only In York 2019 sponsors
Key Only in York 2019 sponsors are: York Minster, York Racecourse, National Railway Museum, Castle Howard, The JORVIK Group and LNER East Coast Mainline.

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, £564 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs

For further media information or photographs, please contact:
Jay Commins
Pyper York Limited
On behalf of Visit York
Tel: 01904 500698