York is a city of contradiction. At first glance, its medieval charm and rural surroundings might suggest a somewhat sleepy pace of life. But while there’s certainly relaxation to be had, beneath the quaint exterior it’s buzzing with activity. You’ll find plenty of world-class and unique experiences, from unparalleled culinary delights to fascinating history and some of the finest cultural offerings in the world. 

It’s the perfect blend of the old and new, and there’s simply nowhere else like it. But you don’t have to take our word for it – not only did Conde Nast Traveller recently name York the best place to visit in the UK, but it also named Yorkshire the third-best place to visit in the world in 2024. And you won’t find a more unique place to stay in York than Lendal Tower.

A crucial hub in Britain’s rail network, York is a two-hour train ride from just about anywhere in the UK. So before you search for flights to exotic destinations for your holiday this year, have a look at what this gem of a city has to offer. Here’s what’s coming up in York in 2024.

Culture in York

York’s connection to the arts goes back millennia. But despite the city’s ancient roots, it also plays host to the avant-garde. 

Until the 21st of April, York Art Gallery is home to perhaps the world’s finest collection of contemporary art. The Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition showcases the winners of one of the most prestigious awards in the creative world. The exhibition features artists whose works have won global acclaim and appeared in galleries such as the Guggenheim in New York, the Saatchi in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

York’s famous theatres, the Theatre Royal and the Grand Opera House, showcase the best of the performing arts throughout the year. Our pick is An Officer and a Gentleman – The Musical, a captivating retelling of the romantic masterpiece. It graces the stage at the Grand Opera House from the 4th to the 8th of June. 

Candlelight Concerts have become a firm favourite among visitors and locals alike in recent years. Concerts feature tributes to iconic pop artists like Coldplay, Adele, Taylor Swift, and Queen, as well as classical names such as Vivaldi and Hans Zimmer. They promise an enchanting experience, and more will surely be announced later in the year. 

Art lovers seeking a more local flavour will love the York River Art Market. It’s held every Saturday and Sunday from the 3rd to the 18th of August and you couldn’t be better placed to enjoy it. Over 30 artists will set up their stalls along Dame Judy Dench Walk, which runs right in front of the Tower. For a wonderfully relaxing summer afternoon, enjoy a stroll along the riverbank, browsing the artwork before turning into the Museum Gardens or savouring something delicious at Star Inn The City, an award-winning restaurant on the Tower’s doorstep.

If you’re in town in early June, you’ll find plenty going on at York’s Festival of Ideas. This year’s theme is ‘The Power Of…’ , a host of eminent guests provide talks, performances, exhibitions and activities from every field imaginable, from art and archaeology to literature and law. All events are free to attend, and you’re sure to come away with an expanded mind.

History in York: Where Past Meets Present

No trip to York is complete without taking in the Minster. This magnificent building stands guard over the city and draws visitors from all over the world. In addition to the daily services and tours, the Minster has some special exhibitions throughout 2024

Light, Glass & Stone explores the story and conservation of the 600-year-old St Cuthbert Window, one of the finest and most significant examples of medieval glasswork in the world. Also, Treasures: Yorkshire’s People and Parishes showcases a collection of unique and cherished objects that tell the story of Yorkshire life over the centuries. If you’ve a head for heights and the legs and lungs for 275 steps, the views from the top of the Central Tower are simply breathtaking.

The National Railway Museum is one of the UK’s most beloved museums, and it currently has a very special visitor. The Flying Scotsman, perhaps the world’s most famous steam engine, is on static display until the summer. It includes an immersive VR experience that brings its incredible story to life and is sure to delight visitors of all ages. Catch it before it returns to touring heritage railway lines in August. You’ll also get the chance to see other iconic engines such as the Mallard (the fastest-ever steam train) and the Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ up close. You don’t need to be a train enthusiast to wonder at the history and innovation behind these marvels of engineering.

The discoveries of Mary Anning reshaped our understanding of the natural world, inspired generations of fossil hunters and helped her blaze a trail for women in science. And from the 14th of July to the 20th of September, a new exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum tells her story, alongside an award-winning fossil display.

Food and Drink in York

York serves up a feast of the finest local fare and global cuisines all year round. But there are certain times when the city becomes even more of a foodie’s paradise.

Chief among those is York Food and Drink Festival, from the 20th to the 29th of September. Simply follow your nose to Parliament Street, where hundreds of market stalls will be tempting you with all manner of culinary delights. You’ll be able to eat your way around the world, one sample at a time. Activities include demonstrations, workshops and taste trails, and entertainment and live music carry on into the evening after the markets close every day.

Countryside around York: Escape the city for a day

While there’s so much to occupy you within York’s famous Roman walls, the surrounding countryside is too splendid not to mention.

The North York Moors are one of Britain’s best-kept secrets. Lesser-known than the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District, but no less beautiful. The Moors are a haven for walkers, with over 1,400 miles of public pathways including the famous Cleveland Way. 

Our recommendation for a walk would be to drive an hour or so to Helmsley, a picturesque market town on the edge of the Moors. From there, enjoy a stroll taking the English Heritage centres, Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey, one of the most important monastic sites in the UK.  You’ll find ample refreshment in Helmsley’s several outstanding pubs and eateries.

To experience the grandeur and charm of times gone by, try the Pullman Dining Train on the North York Moors Railway. Glide through the breathtaking landscape in a heritage dining car pulled by a classic steam locomotive, and enjoy a delicious three-course meal or afternoon tea along the way. A unique and unforgettable way to take in some of Britain’s finest countryside.

The thundering of hooves at Knavesmire

York is home to one of the UK’s premier racecourses, which brings hundreds of thousands of race fans to the city every year. The hospitality suites there offer superb views across the raceground, exceptional service and the opportunity to dress up in your finery. August’s Ebor Festival is one of the biggest events on the British racing calendar, while the October Finale is also a must.

What will you discover in York?

York offers an unparalleled blend of the past and present, and is well worth a trip in 2024. Lendal Tower also combines the old and the new. Beneath the ancient grandeur, you’ll find thoroughly modern amenities that ensure unparalleled comfort during your stay in the tower. Check our availability and plan your visit to the treasure trove that is York.