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News release - Issued by Visit York

Record number of attractions and offers for the 23rd York Residents Festival Sponsored by First York

Celebrating its 23rd year, over ninety attractions, eateries and retailers will be on offer for York residents to help cheer up the January blues this month. York 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 the York Residents’ Festival, sponsored by First York takes place on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 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 twenty three years ago over 300,000 free visits have been taken up by York residents.

Organised by Visit York, a part of Make It York, the festival is set to offer free entry to a host of York’s most celebrated attractions, one-off behind-the-scenes access to some of the city’s hidden gems, special events and some fantastic restaurant and retail deals. More retailers are taking part this year too with a range of brilliant discounts. 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 global visitors each year.

The weekend will be filled with interactive, family-friendly fun. Georgian treasure Fairfax House will wake up from its winter hibernation for the weekend and the National Centre for Early Music will host social singing workshops. On Saturday Riding Lights Theatre Company Youth Theatre will open its doors for York residents by offering two different theatre workshops. Also on Saturday, York Explore Library will invite residents to help create a Lego version of York from historical city maps.

Children can play bus driver in a First York bus and enjoy face painting. The Visit York team will be based in Parliament Street, handing out festival brochures, balloons and generally helping residents make the most of the weekend. First York will support the Residents’ Festival again this year and a bus will be in Parliament Street over the weekend. Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director for First York, said: “As one of the major bus operators in York, we’re proud to be supporting Residents’ Festival for another year. Our team will be on hand over the weekend to speak to customers and to also share more information about the launch of contactless payments. Shambles Market will be giving out goodies, and there will be opportunities for pictures in the driving seat of one of the buses. We look forward to seeing you there!” For advice on traveling by bus visit

Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating twenty three years of our Residents’ Festival. 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. As well as our world class attractions, festival programme, superb shopping and gastro scene, it’s the warm and friendly welcome that draws visitors back year after year.”

The festival is being promoted to thousands of students studying in the city too, who can take part with a valid York student ID card. New additions for 2018 include The Gyrocopter Experience at Rufforth Airfield, where you can feel like James Bond by trying out the Gyrocopter simulator. Visits to JORVIK Viking Centre, after its grand re-imagining last year, are expected to prove very popular. Entry will be free for residents from 1pm over the weekend. Also new in the festival are two of the city’s hidden gems; Jacob’s Well on Micklegate and King’s Manor at Exhibition Square. Meanwhile at JORVIK’s sister attraction DIG there will be free tours on the hour from 10am and at Holy Trinity church on Goodramgate free guided talks at 11am and 2pm.

Residents and students can explore some of York’s award-winning out of town attractions too such as free entry to Beningbrough Hall & Gardens and Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum. Other options are a trip beneath the earth’s surface to Lost Earth Adventures in Nidderdale or a wander around the magnificent Castle Howard (Saturday only).

Some brilliant shopping deals are in the festival programme too. Retailers such as Jack Wolfskin and Crabtree & Evelyn will offer an extra 20% off full price items and Bettys Café Tea Rooms will give out a complimentary Fat Rascal to the first 50 customers purchasing something each day. New to the festival, among many others, are The Hat Shop on Pavement and Rainbow Ceramics on Bootham. All retail offers will be online at and look out for signage at retailers during the weekend.

Eateries new to the Residents’ Festival line up for 2018 are:

  • Bill’s Restaurant
  • The Biltmore Bar & Grill
  • Circles Café
  • Partisan

Just some of the retail offers are:

  • Appleton’s Butchers – 10% discount
  • Bradley’s Jewellers - 15% off selected ranges
  • Cuffs & Co – 20% off all standard prices
  • Demijohn – 15% off throughout the store
  • The Braithwaite Gallery – 10% off throughout the gallery
  • The Shop That Must Not Be Named – 10% off throughout the shop

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 Visit York Information Centre at 1 Museum Street. 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.


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