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News release - Issued by Make It York

York Winter Lights Drive Visits to the City

York’s Winter Lights have been hailed a resounding success and have helped drive visits to the city during the off peak tourism season. Visits to attractions and hotel occupancy levels were all up during November and December and the new lighting has proved popular with both visitors and residents alike.

The city’s magical Winter Lights experience, using over 160,000 LED lights, has seen York awash with lights in white and warm white, creating a beautiful and magical atmosphere in keeping with its architecture. York Bar Walls are the most complete examples of medieval city walls still standing in England and the main gatehouses or ‘bars’, Micklegate, Bootham, Monkbar and Walmgate have been transformed into shining gateways for the second year in a row.

From November to December there was a 13.2% increase in rail journeys to the city (19 November – 23 December). At the same time footfall into the city was up by 1.3% year on year, bucking the national trend, and coach bookings were up by 8%. In 2017 visits to attractions were 5% higher year on year and in December, visits were 15% higher than in December 2016, with those attractions with Christmas events and exhibitions benefitting the most from these extra visitors. Meanwhile the very latest footfall figures released in January show a 3.4% year to date increase.

York Business Improvement District (BID) and Make It York, the city’s Destination Management Organisation, joined forces to roll out the city’s best ever winter and Christmas lights display and the winter lighting will continue to the end of February.

Sally Greenaway, Head of Visit York, a part of Make It York, said: “The winter months are a vital time of year for local businesses and the tourism industry and we’re delighted the winter lighting scheme has been so popular. Now that the festive season is behind us it is crucial York continues to attract visits during the traditionally quieter months and the Winter Lights scheme has added a new dimension, drawing in shoppers and visitors to enjoy the city lit up by night.”

Andrew Lowson, Director, the York BID said: “The York BID in partnership with Make it York put a large investment into both Christmas and Winter Lights for 2017/18. The Winter Lights will continue right up to the end of February to brighten up the city during the dark winter months. Feedback has been very positive and the Bar lighting means that whichever gateway you pass through into York, you can see these beautiful structures in all their glory.” The York Winter Lights display also illuminates York’s trees and includes street lighting too.


Notes to Editors:

For further information, please contact:

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

Elliot Sawyer
Operations Manager
York Business Improvement District
Tel: 01904 809 970

York Business Improvement District (BID) and Make It York, the city’s Destination Management Organisation, rolled out the city’s best ever winter lights display, consisting of:

  • 15km of lights (if laid end to end)
  • 160,000 individual LED lights
  • llumination of bridges, lamp columns and buildings

And for Christmas:

  • 100+ 4ft Christmas trees with lights
  • 25+ real trees with lights

Bootham Bar
Although much of Bootham Bar was built in the 14th and 19th centuries, it also has some of the oldest surviving stonework, dating to the 11th century. It stands almost on the site of porta principalis dextra, the north western gate of Eboracum.

Monk Bar
This four-storey gatehouse is the tallest and most elaborate of the four, and was built in the early 14th century. It was intended as a self-contained fort, and each floor is capable of being defended separately. Monk Bar houses a museum called the Richard III Experience and retains its portcullis in working order.

Micklegate Bar
The southern entrance to York, Micklegate Bar, is a four-storey-high gatehouse. Its name is from the Old Norse 'mykla gata' or 'great street', and leads onto Micklegate. 'Gate' is Norwegian for 'street' remaining from Viking influence in York. It is the traditional ceremonial gate for monarchs entering the city, who, in a tradition dating to Richard II in 1389, touch the state sword when entering the gate.

Walmgate Bar
Walmgate Bar was built during the 14th century, although the inner gateway dates from the 12th century. It was originally called Walbegate, the word Walbe possibly being an Anglo-Scandinavian personal name. The Bar's most notable feature is its barbican, which is the only one surviving on a town gate in England. It also retains its portcullis and 15th century oak doors.

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

About York BID
The York Business Improvement District is:

  • A business led partnership which aims to deliver improvements to the centre of York;
  • Voted in by businesses (in York’s case 76% majority)
  • Not local authority led; schemes and programmes are in addition to services provided by City of York Council
  • Funded by a modest levy which goes into a fund to be spent on improving the centre of York
  • Now one of 200 operational BIDs across the UK including Leeds and Sheffield

The consultation with businesses identified demand for particular improvements across the city and from this a prospectus was produced with four identified areas of focus; 1) Cleanliness & Environment; 2) Safety & Security; 3) Events & Festivals; 4) Business Support. The BID prospectus was distributed to businesses across the BID area in preparation for a ballot that was held in November 2015, with 76% voting in favour. The current BID area includes the streets in City Centre and the areas of Micklegate, Walmgate, Fossgate, Gillygate, Goodramgate, Lord Mayor’s Walk, Monkgate, Foss Islands as well as Paragon Street and part of Fishergate.