46 things to do in York in the summer holidays 2015

It's summer… charge! The month-long Jorvik Medieval Festival is a holiday highlight. Photograph © Jorvik

There’s a rumour going round that this year’s summer holiday is not merely a six week break – but an epic seven weeks… Use our guide to keep your young ’uns happy…

Shows

The Great Yorkshire Fringe

Stick Man, one of the family-friendly shows at the first fringe
Stick Man, one of the family-friendly shows at the first fringe

Jul 24 – Aug 2

Various prices

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This could be the start of something big. The Great Yorkshire Fringe hits Parliament Street for ten days. Its huge array of shows ranges from cabaret performances, to stand up comedian Al Murray, to Jamie Campbell’s comedy for kids.

Eight great shows at the first Yorkshire Fringe

The Railway Children

Jul 31 – Sept 5 @ 2pm or 5pm

£17 – £32.50

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An adaptation of Edith Nesbit’s classic comes to the Signal Box Theatre, York Theatre Royal’s temporary home in the National Railway Museum. Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis tell the story of how they became The Railway Children. Time Out calls the adaptation “spirited, inventive, and magical”.

Music Showcase at York Races

Jul 24 + 25 @ 8.40pm – 10.15pm (24), 5.30 pm – 7pm (25)

£10-£158

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It’s not unusual to get very excited by the fact that rock legend Tom Jones will perform at York Racecourse (July 24), followed by Scouting For Girls (July 25). Follow a full day’s racing with some al fresco dancing…

Overheard railway conversations

Jul 18 – Sept 6

Free

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Watch theatre performances at The National Railway Museum based on real overheard railway conversations, as submitted by members of the public.

Love Me Tender

Aug 17-22 @ 2.30pm or 7.30pm

£12-£38

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Musical at the Grand Opera House featuring the music of Elvis Presley, and from the producers of Hairspray, Midnight Tango and West Side Story. “In a small town in 1950s America, a guitar playing stranger rides his motorbike into town…”

Augustines

Jul 29 @ 7.30pm

£12 (or £15 @ door)

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If you’re looking for a bit of family friendly live music, head over to The Duchess to see Augustines. Apt for both an older and younger crowd, “Augustines are quietly becoming the best live band around” – Team Rock.

Egypt: Journey From The East

Jul 18 @ 7.30pm

£10 Adults, £5 Kids

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If you’ve ever wanted to explore Egypt, head over to Joseph Rowntree Theatre to experience the sights and sounds of the pyramid famous country through its traditional, classical, and modern dances.

Bugsy Malone

Jul 22-25 @ 7.30pm (+ 2.30pm on Sat for Matinee)

£14 Wed + Thurs, £16 Fri + Sat

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The classic Bugsy Malone is a no brainer for full family entertainment. Join Roxy and Fat Sam at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre for some gangster fun this summer.

Organ Summer Recitals at The York Minster

Each Sat Jul 25 – Aug 29 @ 7pm

£8

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Music connoisseurs can enjoy the hum of the organ over at The York Minster in special evening recitals, with different organ players each night.

Family fun

Summer matinees at City Screen

Chris Pratt and the toothsome trio in Jurassic World
Chris Pratt and the toothsome trio in Jurassic World

Jul 20 – Aug 27 @ 10.45am

£3

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City Screen will be showing an array of family friendly films Mondays through to Thursdays, including Jurassic World, Spirited Away, and the highly anticipated Minions.

Smarties Mural Design Challenge

Throughout summer @ 10am-6pm

£8.50

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York’s Chocolate Story needs the help of 4-14 year olds to create a huge, smartie-constructed mural this summer… Are you willing to get sticky?

Summer Reading Challenge

Jul 11 – 25

Free

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With the hopes of breaking a record, libraries across York are challenging children aged five and over to read six books this summer – and a number of prizes are available to the successful bookworms.

Explore activities

Time and Date varies from library to library

Free

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This summer, Explore York Libraries and Archives have made sure that libraries across York have a fun activity on each and every day. From Mad Hatters and #madlibraries to Record Breakers Story and Rhyme Time, there’s bound to be exciting events for all members of the family.

Where’s Jack?

york-dungeon-jack-ripper-2015

Jul 25 – Sept 6 @ 10am – 5pm

£15.95 Adults (16+), £11.95 Kids

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Fancy a scare? Jack the Ripper is leaving his old London haunts and moving into the York Dungeon this summer to give you and your family the fright of your lives.

Playing trains

Mon -Fri @ 9am – 5pm

Free

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Filled with railway toys of different models, sizes, and colours, the Playing Trains exhibition at the NRM invites children young and old to explore the world of miniature railways…

Chocolate box exhibition

From Jul 15, Wed – Sun

£5 for adults, £2.50 for kids

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Ten years on from the closure of the Terry’s York factory, Goddards (former home of the Terry family) puts on a display of some of its famous packaging. Wonderful old velour assortment boxes and more modern treats such as the Carousel selection, all feature in the Designs Of Distinction exhibition.

17 pictures of wonderful old Terry’s chocolate boxes. Do you remember any of them?

New Ebor Street Feast

Take your appetite to the Ebor street food festival
Take your appetite to the Ebor street food festival

Aug 7-9

£5

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Feast yourself on this new festival on Knavesmire. Organisers are planning to serve up the best of the region’s street food traders and craft alcohol. Expect a huge variety of carefully crafted food and drink, mussels to quinoa, cider to Prosecco.

Hawk eye at the Minster

Jul 19 and Aug 8 @ 9am – 4pm

York Minster admission fees (£10 for adults, free for Kids).

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Thanks to the RSPB, those visiting York Minster’s Dean’s Park will have the opportunity to see, close up, the world’s fastest animal: the peregrine falcon (specifically the pair who keep an eye on the Minster). There will also be opportunities to learn some wildlife-friendly gardening tips, and hear all about the RSPB’S conservation work.

York Maze

Throughout summer @ 6.30pm

£12.50 Kids, £13.50 Adults

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Get lost in a giant Thunderbird at York Maze this summer. And look out for special events, including Mad Hat Day on July 25, and a Beach Party and Barbeque on August 8.

Thunderbirds are grow! York Maze gets the Tracy treatment

Star gazing

Jul 17 @ 8pm-10pm

£2.50

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Fancy starting the summer with a good old star gaze? The York Astronomical Society are welcoming all the family to join in at the Main Hall, York Priory Street Centre for some beneath-the-stars fun.

The Railway Children Challenge

Aug 5 – Sept 6 @ 11am – 12noon

£5

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Follow The Railway Children’s friend, Perks, and his apprentice on an exciting journey around the National Railway Museum. Learn all about signalling and how a steam engine works, plus an exclusive tour of The Railway Children Set.

From Steam to Stage

Jul 18 – Sept 5 @ 10am – 6pm

FREE

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To celebrate summer and The Railway Children performance, The National Railway Museum present: From Steam to Stage. Events include Scale Me (Create your own mini me model and take it on a photographic adventure), and Paper Chase (follow clues around the museum and embark on your own paper chase to uncover the missing parts of The Railway Children’s story).

Yorkshire Air Museum

Various dates 10am – 5pm

£8 Adults, Free for Kids under 5, £4 for Kids 5-15 years old

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The Yorkshire Air Museum have some fantastic days lined up this summer. The Golden Era vintage motorcycle run is on Sunday, July 26, with some of the bikes clocking in at more than 100 years old. Thunder Day on Sunday, August 2 sees the big aircraft fire up their engines.

History

Jorvik Medieval Festival

Try your hand at archery during the medieval festival. Photograph: Jorvik
Try your hand at archery during the medieval festival. Photograph: Jorvik

Aug 19 – 31 @ 10am – 5pm

£7.25 Kids, £10.25 Adults

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Twenty-seven venues, an army of experts, re-enactors and interpreters and nearly 1,000 years of history will feature in this year’s blockbuster Jorvik Medieval Festival. See all the events here.

A taste of York’s past trail

Jul 18 – Sept 6 Every sat @ 10am-4pm

50p per trail

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Find the hidden food related objects at York Castle Museum and discover some fabulous historic food facts linked to York along the way. Rewards may be supplied…

Knights and Naughty Monsters – Little Diggers

Aug 28 @ 10.30am-11.30am

£3

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Hear stories about valiant knights and the monsters they met along the way at DIG as part of their summer Little Diggers programme.

Rich and Poor in Victorian York

Jul 18 – Sept 6 Every weds and Fri @ 12noon – 1pm

Museum entry fee of £10 for adults, and free for under 16s

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What was it like in Victorian York? These Castle Museum talks about living in the city in the 19th century, held in the temperance rooms on Kirkgate, promise to be fascinating.

Henry VIII exhibition

A feast for the eyes… Henry VIII in Barley Hall
A feast for the eyes… Henry VIII in Barley Hall

10am – 5pm

Adult £6, Kids £3

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Visit Barley Hall to learn all about life in York during the tudor reign. Split into four sections, the Power and Glory: York in the time of Henry VIII exhibition will be focusing on Henry’s only visit to the city, in 1541, with his fifth wife Catherine Howard.

Ghost cellar tours

Throughout the year, Sat – Thurs

£3

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Explore the ghostly history of Treasurer’s House and decide whether or not you agree or not with the late Harry Martindale that our beloved York is haunted…

Richard III: Man & Myth

Until Oct 2 @ 10am – 5pm

£7.50 for Adults, free for Kids

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Explore Richard III, Englands’ most debated king, at the Yorkshire Museum this holiday.

A taste of the past: Quakers and chocolate

Aug 19 @ 6.30pm – 7.30pm

£5 (including museum entry)

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Another special Castle Museumevent, this time exploring the development of York as a chocolate city (includes samples. Yum).

Royals: then and now

Open days until Nov 1 @ 11am – 5pm

£10 for Adults, £5 for Kids

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If you haven’t already, catch Beningbrough Hall‘s collection of royal portraits. Includes internationally important contemporary works by John Wonnacott and Andy Warhol.

Medieval Mischief – Little Diggers

Aug 24 @ 10.30am -11.30am

£3

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Discover who was in charge and how they showed their power in a play session as part of DIGs archaeological adventure programme for youngsters.

Costumes and Characters – Little Diggers

Aug 25 @ 10.30am -11.30am

£3

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Learn all about the different clothes worn in the Middle Ages and even have the chance to dress up in medieval costume.

Jorvik Life Trail

Jul 18 – Sept 6 @ 10am – 4.30pm

Museum admission of £7.50 per Adult, and FREE for Kids

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Find hidden Viking objects throughout the Yorkshire Museum to discover more about everyday Viking York.

Yorkshire Museum special Wednesdays

Weds Jul 18 – Sept 6 @ 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm

Museum admission of £7.50 per Adult, and FREE for Kids

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Meet experts on Viking life with demos and activities to take part in every Wednesday. Events include Coin Striking, Viking Warrior training, and Viking crafts.

Arts and crafts

York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
York Art Gallery. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

Aug 1-Sept 6 @ 11am-1pm and 2-4pm

Free

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After the highly anticipated reopening of the York Art Gallery, it will host a number of arty activities. These include painting and collage making in the studio, along with various other drop in activities for all.

Festivals and fun – Little Diggers

Aug 27 @ 10.30am -11.30am

£3

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Hear what games Viking children played and make a puppet of your own as part of DIG’s Little Diggers programme.

Wire bird crafting

Aug 15 @ 10am-12pm

£35

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Craft your very own small wire birds with professional craftswoman Chris Moss. Take two small wire birds home from Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens, both made of galvanised wire (and so rustproof!)

Willow weaving taster day

Jul 11 @ 11am – 4pm

£45

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Have the chance to make an angel, a hedge bird feeder, and a flower at Beningbrough Hall.

Chocolate box crafting

Every Friday Throughout Aug @ 11am-4pm

£5

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Be inspired by original Rowntree, Terry’s, and Craven’s product packaging, and work with artist Joanne Walton to make your own, inspired from York Castles Museum‘s very own collection.

Music and Merriment – Little Diggers

Aug 29 @ 10.30am -11.30am

£3

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Dance like a noble and create your own musical shaker, over at DIG.

Quilt Museum activities

Aug 12 and 26 @ 10.15am-12.45pm + 1.30pm-4pm

£9

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Activities for 8-14 year olds at the Quilt Museum include tote bag and purse sewing on Auust 12, or for a stitched and stuffed hot air balloon workshop, pop round on the 26th.

Minster summer fun

Crafting fun at York Minster
Crafting fun at York Minster

Jul 22 – Sept 2 Each Wednesday @ 10:30am – 5pm

£2.50

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York Minster will be holding arts and crafts days each Wednesday throughout the summer. Turn up for the activity of your choice, ranging from Marvellous Manuscripts, to Crazy Kaleidoscopes.

Outdoor activities

The Lifestyle Challenge 2015

Throughout the summer

Free

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Back for its second year, North Yorkshire Police’s Lifestyle Challenge is a proactive way for tweens and teens to get involved this summer. Teams think of a project that can carry out over summer holidays (until the start of September), recording all they do in a log book.

York City FC summer course

Various dates in Jul and Aug @ 10am – 3pm

£16 per day

More details (PDF)

Boys and girls enthusiastic about football, both beginners and more advanced players, are encouraged to join the sessions run by York City FC this summer. With venues across York, there’s bound to be one near you.

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