Issued by: Visit York 
Issue date: 28 January 2020

The annual York Residents Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary this weekend (25th-26th January) with its biggest programme of activity to date – with a wide variety of attractions, shops, restaurants and partners around the city providing more than 100 offers exclusively for York residents. The event proved highly popular this year with thousands of residents taking part over the two day festival.

To mark the silver anniversary, Betty’s were on hand to provide a special celebration cake and main festival sponsor Grand Central gave away 500 goodie bags to residents over the two days. The York BID also supported the event by offering 400 £5 York Gift Cards which residents could be spent in over 200 businesses around the city.

Over the two day festival residents once again benefited from free entry to many of the city’s attractions – including JORVIK Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, York Dungeons, a free river cruise with City Cruises and many more. Other popular additions to the festival this year included a Brew York Brewery Tour, a Mindlock Escape Rooms experience and free entry to ‘Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’.

Mark Mattinson, Sales and Marketing Manager, City Cruises York said, “Residents Festival is a great way to give something back to those who live locally and we were delighted to be involved once again this year. It was great to see so many people taking part and we loved welcoming all the residents on board!”

Paul Whiting, Head of Marketing & Communications at Visit York said: “The festival is our way as an industry to say thank you to residents for the wonderful welcome they give visitors to the city throughout the year and we’ve been delighted with how popular the event has been this year. It’s great to see residents exploring the city in a different way and taking advantage of the many special ‘Only in York’ experiences on offer. A huge thank you to all the partners around the city who have come together to make this event such a success.”

Liam Smallwood, Marketing Communications Executive at Grand Central, said “As a proud York company, we were delighted to be headline sponsor of the York Residents’ Festival in its milestone anniversary year. The event is a fantastic opportunity for the people of York to become a tourist for the weekend and discover new places to visit and things to do.

“Tourism is such a vital and thriving part of our city and it’s been great to be part of an event which gives something back to the people who make visitors to our beautiful city so welcome.”

Further events later in the year exclusively for York residents (when presenting a YorkCard or Student ID) include:

  • Free York Minster Tower Trips (8th-9th Feb). Trips begin every 45 minutes starting 9.30am on the Saturday, with the last taking place at 4.15pm. On Sunday the first trip take place at 1.15pm and the last at 3.30pm. More information on how to book is available here.
  • Free entry to Nunnington Hall (13-14th March) (last entry 4.15am)
  • Free entry to Rievaulx Terrace (13th-14th March) (last entry 4pm)
  • Free entry to Treasurer’s House (26th-27th April) (last entry 4pm)

Since the festival’s inception in January 1996, the event has grown from the initial 15 visitor attractions which participated to now having more than 50 taking part. The festival has also been expanded over the last 25 years to include more than 50 discounts on retail and dining experiences.  Since the festival was launched over 333,000 free visits have been taken up with thousands of residents taking part each year.


For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman – Consumer Communications Manager – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 554451

Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive – Make It York
Direct Line: 01904 555680

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:
8.4 million visitors annually, £765 million total visitor spend, supporting 24,000 jobs

Main sponsors: Grand Central
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.

Customer satisfaction levels are consistently high and the rail company was named Britain’s best value rail operator for the eighth time in Spring 2019 National Rail Passenger Survey.

Grand Central operates West Riding services between Bradford Interchange, Low Moor, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, Pontefract Monkhill, Doncaster and London King’s Cross. The rail operator also operates North East services between Sunderland, Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk, York and London King’s Cross. Grand Central will start operating services on the North West between Blackpool, Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham and Wesham, Preston, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes and London Euston from Spring 2020.

Grand Central is part of the Arriva group. Arriva is one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe, employing over 53,000 people and delivering 2 billion passenger journeys a year across 14 European countries. We are part of Deutsche Bahn (DB), one of the world’s leading passenger and logistics companies, and are responsible for DB's regional passenger transport services outside Germany.

York BID Gift Card
A full list of businesses which accept the gift card can be found at