Summer in the City

Your guide to visiting York between now and September

Welcome to your yu magazine summer special, connecting you with your York alumni community in over 180 countries across the globe. It’s been said that student summers are among the best of your life. Remember that feeling of freedom after finishing your last exam for the year, and having nothing but freedom ahead of you for the next three months?

Well the hazy, lazy summer days of student life may have passed, but the sun still shines on York and there’s plenty that’s new to explore. So whether you’re planning a weekend city break or a week-long family adventure, here are our top tips to see and do in your University city this summer.


June sees summer stride into the city, soaking York’s city walls, its cobbles and pavements with a brightness to lighten any soul. And as the days get lighter, why not enlighten yourself by Imagining the Impossible as part of the York Festival of Ideas (on now until 17 June)? With over 150 free, accessible and engaging events to cater for all interests, and big-name speakers, this year’s line-up is looking like the biggest and best yet (and for a more comprehensive rundown on this year’s Festival, you can get an exclusive peek at some of the highlights here).

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre

June also sees the unveiling of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre (25 June-2 Sept), a replica Shakespearean playhouse that will play host to four of Shakespeare’s classic plays across the summer months. The University of York have played a vital role in getting this venture off the ground, providing key academic and research assistance to inform these wonderful productions. Booking is open now and tickets are selling fast, so why not read our exclusive insight into the event and get your weekend away in the diary?

But if you’re after a party, then York Pride (9 June) is the place to be. The festival is one of the UK’s fastest growing free Pride events, complete with a parade through the city, an impressive lineup of acts and an afterparty to be proud of. Main proceedings take place at York Racecourse and the event is suitable for all the family. What else could see in the summer in better style?


Proceedings at York Racecourse (or the ‘knavesmire’ as locals refer to it) don’t slow down as UK schools break for the summer. Mid-July sees its biggest race meeting as thousands gather to witness the 59th asking of John Smith’s Cup (13-14 July). Race meetings always offer an electric atmosphere to the City of York, and this race meeting will be no different. Later in the month (27-28 July), music legends Sir Tom Jones and Boyzone take to the Racecourse to entertain the crowds, and there are still tickets available if you want to be among them.

If you’re looking for more culture, then look no further than the Great Yorkshire Fringe (19-29 July). For ten days, the city centre will be overcome with some of the country’s biggest comedians and theatre acts, including Stephen K Amos, Rachel Parris, Omid Djalili and Michael Palin, alongside York student improv troupe The Shambles, and graduate companies including Squabbling House Theatre. There’s something for everyone, and it offers a great teaser to the world’s biggest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – just a two-hour train journey from York! That makes us a great detour en-route, no?

On campus, July sees ‘academic Christmas’ grace Heslington West as we welcome the 4,500 graduates of the Class of 2018 into the York alumni community (25-28 July). If you’re celebrating with a friend or family member who is graduating from York this year, then why not pop by our stand and say hello? We’ll have our photobooth on-hand, and plenty of treats for our latest graduates, so bring the family along and say hello!


If you’re visiting York with the family, then York Maze (14 July-3 Sept) should also be a go-to destination. It’s the largest maze in Britain, the size of 8 Wembley football pitches, and every year it’s stunningly re-designed to create fun day out for the family. Last year’s maze was Star Wars themed, but beyond the maze there are plenty of attractions to keep everyone entertained.

If maze walking isn’t your thing, and you prefer to get places slightly quicker, then the York 10k (5 Aug) is for you. Take in all the city’s sights on this flat route, and get moving to run for fun or to raise funds for your favourite charity. With a flat route, the memories of your student days and thousands of spectators cheering you on, what more could you ask for?

Tom and Sam, Co-Founder of Spark:York

After finishing your run, or maybe if you’re dropping into town for the August Bank Holiday weekend, there are few places better to relax than Spark:York. This brand new local business haven’t opened its doors in April, and it’s absolutely thriving. Don’t let the shipping containers fool you, Spark:York is slick, polished and makes a wonderful space to while away the day…and night! (And even better, it was set up by a York alum! Read more about founder Sam Leach here.)


If you’re a sucker for a late summer break, then the good news is that York doesn’t usually freeze over until October! And even better than that is the city’s annual Food and Drink Festival (21-30 Sept). For ten days, York’s city centre is overcome with mouthwatering smells and more samples than you can shake a cocktail stick at, and Parliament Street crackles and pops with the sounds of freshly made food, much of which is sourced from local produce.

But as summer draws to a close and we turn our attention to autumn, why not think about heading back to school? If you loved your time at York and want to get back to learning with us, distance learning could offer a flexible way for you to obtain a postgraduate qualification regardless of where you’re studying in the world. Want something less formal? Then why not try out a MOOC (that’s a “Massive Open Online Course”)? These short, sharp, digitally delivered courses are open to all, and offer an insight into some truly fascinating subject areas. Kyla Holt has more on MOOCs and other ways to connect digitally with York here.

So there we have it, just a few highlights of the York summer calendar. There’s plenty more where that came from, though, so if you are interested in visiting York then drop us a line! We’ll be glad to give you some suggestions of things to do and welcome you back onto campus – it’s somehow managing to simultaneously change and stay the same!

But until then, make sure you explore some of the latest articles on yu magazine – there are some incredible things going on at your University.