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York’s city walls have been here for centuries. So an event in their honour is long overdue.

The very first York Walls Festival is putting that right, thanks to a concerted effort by community groups from across the city.

York Walls Festival
  • Fri Aug 10-Sat Aug 11 2018
  • Various locations
  • Mostly free
  • More details

The festival will begin with a launch event at York St John University on Friday evening, featuring a talk by city archaeologist John Oxley.

Saturday is the main event. It will see a host of guided walks, events and open days across the city centre, giving the public the chance to find out more about parts of the three-mile circuit they might not often visit.

A rare opportunity

Fishergate Postern. Photograph © Harry Mitchell on Wikimedia Commons
It’s a rare day that sees all the towers on the walls open at the same time. For children there will be a York Walls Explorers Trail in which they can collect stamps as they make their way around the city.

There will also be an opportunity for children to build the walls – and other city landmarks – out of Lego. Most events are free. The full timetable is below.

Martin Hetherington from Friends of York Walls is one of the organisers. He said:

  • It’s great to be working with other local groups who are passionate about sharing the city’s heritage with the public.

    Plans are advancing for a York Walls Visitor Centre at Fishergate Postern Tower, and a display there will show progress to date. Our volunteers will be showing off highlights from the city’s archive photo collection too.

Cllr Keith Aspden, in charge of community engagement at City of York Council, said more than a million people take a walk through 1,900 years of history on York’s city walls every year, adding:

  • Last year, the council announced an exciting five-year programme of investment to preserve and protect the medieval walls, which are renowned as being the finest and most complete walls in England.

    Some of this work is already complete, for example at Micklegate Bar, and what better way to celebrate this than opening the walls up to a new festival.

York City Walls programme

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Preview events
What’s happening in the run-up to the big day
w/c Mon 6 Aug
York Explore
An opportunity to view some of York’s archives relating to the City Walls
Friday 10 Aug, 6pm
York St John University
Launch event (ticketed). Lord Mayor Cll. Keith Orrell opens the festival. City archaeologist John Oxley to give a talk on the walls and York 2022 plans
Saturday 11th Aug
The main day – with open days, walks and other events. Most are free!
9:30am and 1:30pm
Bootham Bar
Treasure Trail walk, starting inside the Bar. Simon Mattam, from Friends of York Walls (FOYW), helps you follow walls-based clues - leading to a secret location. Approx. 45 mins
10am – 4pm
Fishergate Postern Tower
Open Day. See inside this 16th century tower, complete with medieval loo. There will be a display of walls photos, 1840 onwards, from the archives.
10am – 5pm
Richard III Experience, Monk Bar (entry fee)
The Jorvik Group attraction will be open with costumed interpreters, games and activities to explain more about King Richard III.
10am – 5pm
Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar (entry fee )
The Jorvik Group attraction will be open with costumed interpreters, games and activities to explain more about King Henry VII.s
10:15am
Fishergate Postern Tower
Guided walk – Fishergate Trail. Chris Rainger shows you historic sites just to the south of the City Walls. Meet at Fishergate Postern. Approx. 1hr.
11am – 5pm
Red Tower
Open Day. See inside this newly renovated tower, winner of a York Design Award. The café will be open. See the outside garden. WC there too.
11:30am
Red Tower to Bootham Bar
Guided walk – Off the wall. Martin Hetherington (FOYW) leads a ground level walk, accessible to all, between the two towers. Approx. 1hr 30 mins.
2:30pm – 4:30pm
York Explore
Map Attack! Investigate some of York Explore’s historic maps, and help recreate the city – and walls – out of Lego! Suitable for 3 to 12 year olds. Free, drop-in session, but children must be accompanied by an adult.