Best accommodation in York city centre
This blog is for you if you are looking for York accommodation and are a couple who are…
- Eloping to York
- On a romantic getaway – anniversary etc
- Visiting family/ friends
- Scouting York as a venue for something… a wedding, to live here etc
- Planning a weekend break in York
I’m going to make some assumptions!
- You will be sharing a bed – and only need one bedroom
- You plan to stay in York city centre
- You are travelling as a couple – with no other guests, children or dogs
Summary of best places to stay in York
If you don’t want to read the whole article, and just want the best of York accommodation, here is a quick summary of my top picks for the different types of accommodation in York FOR COUPLES. Read on for a full list of your options of York hotels and self-catering accommodation in York.
- Best contemporary luxury hotel: The Malmaison – Luxury and stylish with good location, but not ridiculously expensive
- Best luxury hotel: Gray’s Court – expensive, but amazing!
- Cheapest hotel in York city centre (approx £50 per night): Travelodge central – Micklegate
- Best budget hostel: The Fort (good location for price, cool decor)
- Best self-catered holiday let (expensive): The Coffee Yard Apartment
- Cheapest self catered accommodation: The Falcon Tap (approx £70 per night)
- View all the best prices here for a quick comparison.
There are plenty of options when it comes to finding York accommodation for couples in the city centre. The first question to answer is if you want a hotel in York, or self-catered accommodation in York.
Hotel or Self Catering?
Pros of staying in a hotel rather than self catering
- Service – There are people on hand to look after you! Often hotel stays include a breakfast, you’ll have someone at the reception desk to help with any issues and offer advice on where to go, hotels are easy to locate, your room will be cleaned in the morning, hotels have lots of facilities on site such as a restaurants, bars, often spas etc. you can have room service if you wish.
- Reliability – Hotels are tried and tested by hundreds of visitors each week, so they generally have things sorted! If something goes wrong, they know how to deal with it swiftly.
- No surprises – you know what to expect with a hotel. You can pretty much guarantee towels and toiletries will be provided, along with tea and coffee facilities. And it would be unusual if there wasn’t a biscuit included too! With independent airbnbs, each one will be slightly different.
- Price – a luxury hotel stay is actually cheaper than a luxury self catered stay in York (before factoring in eating out vs cooking in your apartment)
Cons of staying in a hotel rather than self catering
- No kitchen – sometimes, especially for people with special dietary requirements, having access to a kitchen is essential
- Spaces are communal in a hotel – although there are often cosy communal hotel lounges if you want your own private living room you’ll have to opt for a suite.
- Less freedom – Not all hotels will allow you to receive a takeaway to the hotel, or take food to your room
- No surprises – most hotel rooms are pretty much the same – so if you want something different, chances are you won’t find it in a hotel.
- Privacy – although you can put a do not disturb sign on your door, three will always be someone around. You can’t really come and go without being seen.
Hotels in York
Luxury Hotels in York
There are actually only thirteen 4/5-star hotels within York city centre. I have scoured their websites and read the reviews. I’ve even tried a few of them out! Below the table of all 13 hotels, I have given my recommendation of the best 5 to choose from.
The table below shows a summary of all the 4 and 5-star hotels in York city centre.
|Hotel Name||Price per night for standard double (with no breakfast)||Car Parking and location||Summary – does it feel special?|
|Lamb and Lion||£152 per night weekend, |
£107 per night midweek.
|2 mins walk from York Minster|
14 mins from the train station.
|An Inn adjoining Bootham Bar with 12 rooms.Very central location. Rooms are quirky, but no carpet, and as they remain authentic they lack the cosy luxury feel of more contemporary hotels. It’s an old building so naturally has more character than some of the modern built hotels. The beer garden backs onto the city walls – a lovely location.|
|Dean Court||£278 per night weekend, |
£161 per night midweek.
£368 per night for a weekend, £250 per night midweek)
|1 minute from York Minster|
12-minute walk from the train station.
|Fantastic location with some spectacular views of the Minster possible. The location and views bring a price tag that I wouldn’t be able to justify for a more basic room in this hotel with no view. The rooms seem to vary greatly in standard – some seem pretty simple, while others are very grand and luxurious. Some have amazing views of the Minster.|
|Judges Lodgings||£205 per night weekend, |
£155 per night midweek
(Price includes breakfast)
|4 minutes from York Minster|
11 minutes from train station
|An impressive Georgian Townhouse in a very central location amongst the pedestrian streets. The property is more impressive than the individual rooms. The standard rooms are cosy, luxurious, and comfy – but lack any wow moments or quirky features. A little bland, but safe. The more expensive rooms have a little more style.|
|Guy Fawkes Inn||£210 per night weekend, |
£107 per night midweek
|No parking, but guests receive a discount at Marygate car park.||The birthplace of Guy Fawkes, this medieval Inn is 30meters from the Minster. The rooms are not cosy, but they are full of history and character. If you are coming to York for its history – this place is perfect. Some rooms have excellent views of the Minster.|
|Grays Court||£240 per night weekend, |
£210 per night midweek.
Lots of weekend dates are booked up already.
Expect to pay over £300 per night for the really impressive rooms.
|1 minute to the Minster, |
13 minutes walk to the train station.
Parking £15 per night on site (must be booked in advance)
|A fantastically historic, elegant hotel. This is the oldest inhabited house in Britain and has been home to so many influential people in the past thousand years. If you want history, and luxury, and a lovely central, though quiet location – this is your place. One of the most expensive hotels in York, but the price is worth it… the rooms are luxurious, elegant and calm. A big bonus is being able to walk about the corridors in this place and enjoy the gardens surrounded by the city walls and overlooked by the Minster.|
|Hilton||£177 per night weekend, |
£121 per night midweek.
|18 min walk from train station 10 minutes from the Minster|
18 min walk from the train station
Valet parking for £25
(The Castle car park just over the road is £29 per day)
|The rooms are contemporary but pretty bland – safe decor. Nothing stands out as a wow moment. Some of the deluxe rooms do have an amazingly close view of Clifford’s Tower.|
|Malmaison||£254 per night weekend, |
£127 per night midweek
|7 min from the train station, 6 minutes from the Minster.|
|TOP PICK My recommendation for a luxury hotel without breaking the bank. Brand new hotel in 2021 so everything is pristine and the decor is fantastic. Has Yorks only rooftop bar. Luxurious and contemporary hotel – though not historic.|
|The Grand||£279 per night weekend, |
£162 per night midweek
|9 minutes from the Minster|
4 minutes walk from the train station
(it is located between the two)
Valet parking at £35 per night.
|This is the only 5-star hotel in York. Doormen, porters, and concierge staff are on hand to help you with anything. If you choose an executive, or above, room you will gain access to places other guests will have to pay for. Spacious, luxurious rooms – not quirky – but you don’t come to the Grand for that. A turndown service is available if requested, and they have upgrades available for in-room luxuries – like flower petals and champagne.|
|Moxy||£203 per night weekend, |
£114 per night weekday.
Books up quite early because it’s one of the cheaper nice hotels.
|8 minutes from the Minster|
19 minutes from the train station
(not a very central location – it’s on the East side of York, but still within the city walls)
|Simple, clean, smart, cosy rooms. Nothing quirky or special, it’s a modern clean comfy room with a big TV.|
|Holiday Inn||£206 per night weekend, |
£103 per night weekday.
|Well, it’s a holiday inn. They are the same everywhere pretty much – so if you want tried and tested with no surprises, it fits the bill. The rooms are simple but cosy. Good central location.|
|Hotel Indigo||£220 per night weekend, |
£101 per night midweek.
|11 minutes from York Minster, |
23 minutes from York train station. Walmgate area (East of the city)
Off-site parking approx. 2 minutes’ walk from the hotel £12.50 per night, (first come first served) cannot be reserved in advance.
|Boutique hotel with plenty of character – there is nothing bland about this place – quirky decor. The bedrooms are not carpeted, which I feel takes away from the luxury slightly – but I’m sure this is a personal preference.|
|The Principal, York||£240 per night weekend, |
£140 per night midweek
|10 minutes to walk to the Minster|
1 minute from the train station
Parking on-site £15 per 24hours and then £3 per hour thereafter.
|Strictly speaking, it’s not within the city walls, it’s next to the train station, only a few meters from the walls. A very upmarket, grand Victorian hotel. The rooms are luxurious and cosy with neutral decor, but lavish touches. The luxury hotel experience continues with porters and concierge staff. Plus you get a tuck box of goodies on arrival in your room.|
|Middletons||£175 per night weekend,|
£115 per night midweek
|15 minutes from York Minster, |
11 minutes from the train station.
Parking is available on site at £10 per night (very cheap!)
|A collection of 5 grade 2 listed buildings set around a courtyard. They have plenty of luxury packages which include extras such as meals and drinks etc. The standard doubles are comfy and cosy, but not particularly special/ luxurious.|
My summary of the best hotels in York
- If you can afford it (the creme de la creme): The Grand or Gray’s Court
- For luxury service at the best price: The Principal
- For history: The Guy Fawkes Inn
- For budget without feeling like budget: Middletons
- A bit special without breaking the bank: Malmaison <- My top pick
Extra note: I was chatting with two couples – one couple was staying at the Principal, and one at the Malmaison. Their verdict was that although the Principal is very grand in the communal areas and has excellent service, the rooms are dated and small, whereas the Malmaison had spacious and luxurious rooms plus great communal areas.
The best of the luxury hotels
When it comes to luxury, service and history, you can’t go wrong with either of these options. But, they both have a price tag to match!
The Grand Hotel
This is York’s only 5-star hotel.
Gray’s Court Hotel
A fantastically historic, elegant hotel. This is the oldest inhabited house in Britain and has been home to so many influential people in the past thousand years. If you want history, and luxury, and a lovely central, though quiet location – this is your place. One of the most expensive hotels in York, but the price is worth it… the rooms are luxurious, elegant and calm. A big bonus is being able to walk about the corridors in this place and enjoy the gardens surrounded by the city walls and overlooked by the Minster.
Parking is £15 per night, and rooms are over £300 per night for the best rooms. Often booked up far in advance in the summer due to couples booking the hotel for exclusive wedding use.
The best York hotel for history
The Guy Fawkes Inn
How I made my final choice/ my recommendation of the Malmaison
I feel like the 4/5 star hotels at the bottom end of the budget, although perfectly adequate, were lacking in sumptuous luxury. I was willing to pay a little extra for something that felt really special. For just a normal break-away, I couldn’t justify the extra price required to get the cream of the crop (if money were no issue I’d have chosen The Grand or Gray’s Court). Although I’m fascinated by history, I felt like I’d have had to compromise on luxury by choosing one of the more historically significant buildings. So for me, the Malmaison was a good allrounder – the location was between the station and Minster (very central), the rooms were modern and luxurious with a little extra something to make it feel special, and price-wise it was pretty much in the middle of the options.
My choice: A 2-night stay in the Malmaison York – in a club room – with dinner and breakfast included
Why did I choose the Malmaison Hotel? It’s a bit fancy, without being way too expensive, plus they have deals which include extras quite often.
- We chose the Clubroom which, in addition to the king-size bed of a normal room, also has a fancy shower, coffee machine, bottled water, bathrobe and slippers.
- If you want you can add breakfasts and evening meals to your stay.
- It is located very centrally – we left our car in Marygate car park (the cheapest long stay car park in the city centre, and only a 9 minute walk away).
- If you are arriving by train, it only takes 7 minutes to walk from the station.
- It’s a well-established hotel chain with plenty of rooms, but it’s a brand new hotel, so everything is in great working order and nothing feels at all dated.
- I like the anonymity you get at big hotels, you can come and go without having to chat with anyone, but there is always someone on hand if you do want any help.
The great thing about Malmaison is they often have offers that suit a romantic break in York perfectly. These vary from time to time, but I took advantage of a 2-night break which included a 3-course meal each on the night we arrived, and full cooked breakfasts (we chose the club room, so the total of this was £356. This was only £40 more each than room alone – which is OK for two breakfasts and a dinner).
Cheap hotels in York
The table above only includes the 4 or 5-star hotels in York. If you are not looking for something luxurious, and don’t mind compromising on comfort in order to secure a cheaper hotel, the following list may be for you.
Parking and breakfast can have a big impact on the final bill of your cheap hotel in York, so I have assumed you are not needing parking or breakfast in order to keep your costs low.
There are 3 Travelodges called “central” in York. The most central Travelodge is Micklegate. Picadilly is also pretty close to the city centre.
If you manage to get a cheap room before they sell out you should be paying about £50 for a standard double per night. 30 minutes free wifi, or unlimited for £3.
There is a 3rd Travelodge called “central”, but don’t be fooled – Layerthorpe is not really in the city centre.
If you manage to get availability you’re looking at about £80 for a standard double room per night. This hotel includes free wifi, but no breakfast or free parking. It’s a good location, just outside the city walls, but it’s near the train station and Micklegate bar – so if you are arriving by train and plan on drinking in Bars on the Micklegate run (York’s most famous pub crawl) this is a good location.
The hotel is split over 2 buildings and only 1 has a lift, so you may have to do lots of stairs. Also, there is no on site restuarant.
The Falcon Tap
This is not a big chain hotel – it’s an independent inn with extra facilities you may not get from a bigger hotel. It’s self catered accommodation really in the guise of a hotel – some rooms have toasters, a hob, oven, fridge and kitchen equipment, so you can certainly make your own breakfast.
Wifi is included.
The Inn is located within the city walls on Micklegate, so a great location for city sightseeing (closer to the train station side of town than the Minster). Prices range from about £70-90 for the cheapest double room.
You could be looking at about £70-80 for a room at the Fort. Unlike the Travelodge, this does include free wifi, but still no parking or breakfast.
Right in the centre of York’s pedestrian zone – excellent for sightseeing and meals out etc. Probably the best cheap hotel in York for location.
This is a room above a pub type of hotel – the reviews look good if you are after a cheap place to sleep. For about £58 you should be able to get a double which includes free wifi. Although not inside York city walls, this inn is just outside, on Heslington Road (the south-east of York – near the Barbican, but the opposite side of york to the Minster, so not best for easy sightseeing.. though only 1 mile walk if you really want to).
One of the reviews mentioned free parking – you’d need to check with them about this.
The Diamonds Inn
Another independent guest house just outside the city walls, this time near Monk Bar (on the east of the city). Simple, basic rooms with wifi. From £63 for a double with a private external bathroom, this place is an OK option if the more central budget hotels are already booked up.
The Bar Convent
I was surprised this was a budget hotel when I started doing this research – I’ve driven past this building many times and assumed it was a big fancy hotel.
It turns out, this is actually still a convent with a community of Catholic sisters still living there. There is an exhibition and a hidden chapel inside the “hotel”. This is England’s oldest living convent (founded in 1686)!
If you are looking for a unique hotel in York that oozes history, in a good location, for a budget price – this is definitely the place to stay!
The standard double rooms are £76 per night… but they have a shared bathroom. You’ll be paying over £100 per night if you want your own private bathroom.
Located on Blossom street just outside the walls near Micklegate bar, this cheap hotel is close to the Premier Inn mentioned above.
Lil’s on the waterfront
A lovely little guesthouse with a restaurant at the edge of the River Ouse right in the centre of town. Standard doubles are £80. The rooms are nice and newly renovated. The location is fantastic – it’s on the same street as York Dungeons, and right near one of the York city river cruise pick up points.
Summary of best Cheap Hotels in York
- Cheapest within the city walls: Travelodge – approx £50
- Best cheap hotel for history: Bar Convent – approx £70 (oldest living Convent in England!)
- Most central cheap hotel in York: The Fort – approx £70-80
- The best cheap hotel which includes kitchen facilities: The Falcon Tap – approx £70-90 (includes cooker and fridge etc)
Self-catered York accommodation in York city centre for couples
Airbnb, Vrbo, and booking.com offer you the chance to stay in some fantastic locations and have all the freedom and facilities you desire… as long as you choose carefully! Searching on these sites can be tricky because there are very few filters, so I’ve spent some time looking at all the options and I’ve picked out the absolute best self-catered accommodation in York city centre for couples (and broken them down into categories).
- Historic apartments in York
- Romantic self-catered accommodation in York
- Budget accommodation for couples in York
Before you thank me too much, I better tell you that I do earn a few pennies if you book through my links, but my main reason for doing this list is to help couples who are planning an elopement in York (and hope they will book me as their wedding photographer)!
The 4 best Airbnbs in York for couples who want history
This is my favourite apartment in the “historic” category of self-catered accommodation in York city centre. It has wonky floors, loads of old beams, and it’s right next to the Barley Hall – which is a historic medieval townhouse and one of York’s hidden gems. Unlike lots of historic offerings, this one has been renovated in such a clean and simple manner – it’s old, but it isn’t at all dusty or dark!
- Beams, floorboards and windy stairs
- Grade II listed building
- Clean and simple, authentic, excellent interior design
- Amazing location – right next to the historic Barley Hall and a couple of minutes from the minster
- My favourite features – the shape of the doors, beams everywhere, location, bright and clean
- Pricing: £707 for a 2-night stay (Friday and Saturday) in July
The apartment is over two floors – The first floor has a huge lounge area and a gorgeous kitchen. The second floor has a beautiful bathroom and two lovely comfortable bedrooms. The property also has a private courtyard with seating.
Almost the opposite of the first listing – this is full of interest and warmth, a fun eclectic industrial feel. 1 minute walk from the historic shambles.
- Exposed brick walls and timber beams
- Part of a converted mill
- Self check-in using lockbox
- 1 minute from the Shambles
- My favourite features – the property is accessed via the Shambles
- Pricing: £452 for a 2-night stay (Friday and Saturday) in July
Being right in the middle of York, accessed via the Shambles, this is a great place to stay on your weekend break in York.
The apartment is arranged over two floors with a narrow winding staircase.
This 600 year old apartment is often booked up well in advance due to the quirky nature and relatively low nightly price. Perfect for couples wanting something a little less ordinary – there are claims this place is haunted! Not a good choice for the easily scared, or people who may be upset by the taxidermy animal heads mounted on the wall!
- Haunted and over 600 years old
- View of York Minster
- Victorian taxidermy – animal heads on the wall
- Four poster bed with freestanding bath in the bedroom
- Wooden floors (made from Elizabethan ships), beams, and panelling
- Pricing: £350 for a 2-night stay (Friday and Saturday) in July
This stunning 15th century property has beautiful old beams throughout, and a lovely large living area with double height ceiling. The living area is the main feature of the space.
- 15th century
- Located on Micklegate (the most famous pub crawl street)
- Self-check-in with lockbox
- Unique historic features throughout the apartment
- Pricing: £525 for a 2-night stay (Friday and Saturday) in July
The 4 most romantic Airbnbs in York
What makes accommodation romantic? I think it’s all about luxury and escaping your everyday life. When everything is perfect, there are no little distractions or reminders of past arguments. By reducing the stress of everyday life, you can get into the headspace that allows you to be and feel romantic.
This category of places to stay in York are beautiful and luxurious. The sort of place you would see in films and luxury magazines… just what you need for your luxury romantic break to York!
The School house has the large windows and double-level mezzanine space you would expect from a converted grade 2 schoolhouse.
Complete with spiral staircase and walk-in shower (big enough for two) and freestanding bath.
- Great location – 1 minute from the Shambles
- Very stylish with unique features
- Right next to a Tesco for easy snacks!
- Luxury freestanding bath
- Comfy bed and sofa
- Pricing: £540 for a 2-night stay (Friday and Saturday) in July
Absolutely stunning interior design sets this luxurious apartment apart from the rest of the accommodation in York. If some of the modern, quirky apartments don’t take your fancy, this more mature, traditional English country-living style apartment is sure to meet your standards.
In a grade 2 listed building that was once a hotel for the traders in Walmgate, this apartment retains some of the quirky features such as sloping floors and old fireplaces whilst providing a premium boutique hotel-style standard of accommodation, with the bonus of having your own living space and kitchen.
- Grade II listed building with some original features
- Comfortable and cosy luxury – decorated to a high standard
- Good location – on the southern side of the city, a few minutes from the Pavement and the Shambles
- The minimum stay is 3 nights
- Pricing: £579 for a 3-night stay (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) in July
Nicely decorated apartment in Rowntree Warfe right next to the river Foss on the eastern side of York. Rowntree Wharf was one of the largest flour mills in Europe at one time, then became the place cocoa beans were brought to York via the river. Now converted to flats.
Although not the most central of locations, it is still only about ten minutes from the city centre sights… and as a result, benefits from free parking. This apartment is not as extravagant as some on the list, but I think it deserves a mention as it’s quite romantic to have a single open-plan space free from clutter and distractions.
- Free on-site parking
- Clean and stylish apartment
- Artistic decor
- Nice extra touches from the host
- East edge of York – about 10 minutes walk to the centre
- The kitchen, bedroom, and living areas are all in one open-plan space
- Minimum of 3 nights
- Pricing: £421 for a 3-night stay in July (Friday, Saturday, Sunday night)
It’s certainly bright! And if you are taking a break because you want to be totally distracted from your normal day-to-day life – this place might just be for you! What better way to create a special mood than in this totally 60/70s retro house!
The location is fantastic – it’s only a few meters away from the Minster, but tucked away in a courtyard, so nice and private. The property itself is over 650 years old.
- Quirky and fun
- Amazing location right near the Mister
- 60/70s theme
- Record player, atari games console, and board games
- Pricing: £400 for 2 nights (Friday and Saturday) in July
Budget Airbnbs in York… the nicest places around £100 per night (or less)
There are a few lovely places to stay within York city centre that fall into the budget category, not because of their standard, but purely due to price. Some of these places really are fantastic, so here is my list of the best budget accommodation in York for couples.
A simple clean and cosy apartment decorated to a nice standard only ten minutes walk from York centre. This flat is located on the northern side of the city centre and comes with a parking permit for on street parking.
- Self-check-in with lockbox
- Parking outside with permit included
- Location – 10-minute walk to the city centre (on the north side)
- Clean, comfortable and cosy flat
- Pricing: £251 for 2-night stay in July (Friday and Saturday night)
Tucked into a quiet location with views overlooking the Church of St. Margaret’s, is this ideally placed one-bedroomed quirky mill conversion within a 5-minute walk of York city centre. Additionally, nearby on Walmgate and Fossgate are a variance of eateries, shops and bars. The interior has an industrial yet cosy feel and comprises a ground floor bedroom with a king-sized bed, a private courtyard and shower room; to the first floor is the living areas with dining space and church views.
- Small, cute and quirky mill conversion
- Private courtyard
- East side of York – 10-minute walk to the centre
- Pricing: £255 for 2 nights in July (Friday and Saturday night)
What to do on your weekend break in York
Here’s a good downloadable pdf map of York City centre
I have written a “done for you” 48-hour itinerary for a weekend break in York on this blog post. It includes a step by step booking guide, which includes times, so you don’t even need to worry about how long to spend at each place – I’ve done it already!
When is the best time to visit York?
As York is a city in northern England, UK, the weather is pretty much like any other British city. You can’t really predict the weather far in advance, so travelling here during a certain month for the weather is a bit risky – it’s best to plan your trip around the various events that go on in York (either to benefit from them, or avoid the busyness they bring).
You may have heard that York floods regularly – don’t let this put you off. The river Ouse is a central feature of the city, and as such York has extensive flood defences, so most things continue to run as normal even when there are floods.
Events and festivals in York
I’m not going to pretend to know the dates of all these festivals, especially with all the rescheduling due to the pandemic, but I’ll give general seasons so you can do your own research if one of these festivals or events appeals to you.
- York residents festival (Late January… avoid!)
If you are not a York resident I seriously recommend avoiding this weekend when planning your mini-break to York! Pretty much any attraction you want to visit will have a special offer so York residents can get in free/ discounted so everywhere is heaving!
- York ice trail (Early February)
Loads of ice sculptures are placed around York for a couple of days and people walk about and look at them. Because the trail covers the entire city, everywhere is busy. It’s a nice event and a good way to see the city (by following the trail route) for free, but if you don’t like crowds, plan around this event!
- Jorvik Viking Festival (February)
If you are visiting York because you like Vikings… this would be a good time to come! At one point hundreds of people dressed as Vikings march from the Minster to near the Jorvik centre with shouting and drums and horns… it’s actually a bit intimidating, but fantastic. Again, it can be a bit busy… especially during the march.
- York races (Various dates between May and October)
When York races are on it is always busier in York – especially on an evening. So if you plan to have a romantic meal in a restaurant… there’s more chance you’ll come across groups of people who have been drinking since very early, and bars etc will be busier, more chance of encountering a fight etc.
There’s actually an app called “York Races Warning” that will tell you when the races are on, or you can simply visit https://www.yorkracecourse.co.uk/ and look at their fixtures page.
- Eboracum Roman Festival (June)
Held by the York museum’s trust, this festival takes place mainly in York museum gardens but there are also parades through the city centre.
- York pride (June)
This annual celebration involves a parade from York Minster to the Knavesmire with plenty of music and dancing along the way. There is a stage and various stalls and fairground rides etc at the Knavesmire.
- York proms (July)
A picnic music event in museum gardens in the centre of York.
- Dragon boat race (late summer)
Over thirty teams battle for the trophy in the dragon boat races on the river Ouse. The race takes place between Scarbrough bridge and Lendal bridge – the stretch of the Ouse at the bottom of Museum Gardens (on the west edge of the city). Probably won’t cause the whole city to be really busy, but certainly, the museum gardens area will be.
- Micklegate run Soapbox challenge (August)
This is a fun one-day event held on Micklegate (Micklegate is a street in York famous for its pubs and bars, so the Micklegate run is one of the most popular pub crawls in the city).
Thousands of spectators line the street and watch the Soapboxes created by many local teams race down the street.
- York walls festival (August)
I don’t think this is a big event – it takes the form of various stalls set up around the city walls where volunteers will provide information and activities relating to the history of the walls. Some of the towers will also be open for people to visit. Certainly not a reason to avoid York due to extra visitors, but might be a nice way to get to know more about the history of York City walls.
- Yorkshire balloon fiesta (September)
The largest balloon festival in the north of England. A three day festival with lots of hot air balloons, music and plenty of entertainment held at the York Racecourse (aka the Knavesmire – about 1.5 miles from the city centre). It’s more of a family event than something you might plan to attend on a romantic break, but you’ll notice the balloons over York, and traffic may be a bit busy on the southern side of York.
- York food festival (Late September)
The York food festival takes over Parliament Street and the Shambles (the centre of York) and is free to go to. It might be a nice way to spend your time, especially if you are foodies, but if you don’t like the crowds… may be best to avoid.
- Heritage open days festival (September)
This is a national festival where lots of historic buildings open up for free – you’d need to check what places in York city centre are included.
- Yorkshire marathon (October)
Starting at the University of York, the Yorkshire marathon route includes some main streets in the centre of the city. It will certainly affect where you can go, so unless you are running it, I’d suggest avoiding this date for a romantic break in York.
- St Nicholas Fair – York Christmas Market (November and December)
York is spectacular in the winter, and the Christmas market on Parliament Street is one of the main parts of it. It’s lovely to wander through the stalls – there are plenty of wonderful things to buy as Christmas presents, and foods to try. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit!
I’m not sure if it happens every year, but there was also fake snow on the Shambles from 5 pm on a Friday evening one year when we visited – it really was magical!