Rock'n'roll gig of the year: The Waterboys at York Barbican on November 13. Mike Scott, guitars turned up to 11, expected a standing gig for his electric rock'n'roll show. When it turned out to be an all-seater, he invented everyone to dance anyway. A dozen in the front row walked out, demanding their money back. He promptly told them he would pay them himself. Stand up and dance, he implored again. Oh, for all gigs to be this exhilarating.

York Press:

John Lydon leading PiL at Fibbers, York. Picture: David Harrison

Most unlikely gig of the year: John Lydon's latest incarnation of PiL at Fibbers in York on September 22. That's butter ambassador John Lydon, as in Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten, playing at a sardine-tightly packed, deeply sweaty, tropically hot music bar in York. Here's Johnny! "B****y hell! It’s only John Lydon at Fibbers!" exclaimed Fibbers boss Tim Hornsby. "I mean, come on, can you really afford to not be at small club show like this?" No, you had to be there.

Bizarre no show of the year: Julian Cope cancelled his Fibbers show in May after taking a dim view of the lighting levels on arrival. Exit Julian in a case of Teardrop Implodes. Thankfully, he later re-arranged the the far darker walled Duchess.

York Press:

Cheers: Al Murray, The Pub Landlord at the Great Yorkshire Fringe

New festival of the year: The Great Yorkshire Fringe, organised by Martin Witts, once of York, now of the Leicester Square Theatre and Museum of Comedy in London, who transformed Parliament Street into a village green with three locations, 130 comedy shows and a Free Fringe from July 24 to August 2. York's biggest festival since the 1988 York Festival will return, even bigger, this summer.

Even-better-than-before festival of the year: In its fifth year, November's Aesthetica Short Film Festival now carries BAFTA Qualifying status and has expanded to a full four days of more than 350 films in 15 locations, with the Grand Opera House, York Explore and the National Railway Museum among the new additions. Director Cherie Federico, the New Yorker shaking up old York, is contemplating adding a fifth day. Go for it. Honourable mentions too for York Festival of Ideas and Miles Salter's York Literature Festival.

Comeback of the year: The re-opening of York Art Gallery in July after its £8 million transformation, giving it 60 per cent more space, including the launch of the Centre of Ceramic Art, showcasing 2,000 pieces from the gallery's Brituish Studio Ceramic collection. Susie MacMurray's golden-glowing new commission caught the eye, as did York artist Mark Hearld's typically playfully curated room.

York Press:

York Shakespeare Project's cast for Henry V

York play of the year: York Shakespeare Project's Henry V at 41 Monkgate. Director Maggie Smales presented Shakespeare's history play as an all-female production staged by the Barnbow Lasses at the Leeds munitions factory in the First World War. Moving, political and potent, it brought new resonance and insight to a familiar work in YSP's best show yet.

York Press:

Ella Bond and John Holt-Roberts in Easingwold On Our Turf's Alice In Wonderland

Community play of the year: Easingwold On Our Turf's Alice In Wonderland in October. York Theatre Royal's outreach programme in Easingwold, Pocklington, Helmsley and Selby peaked with Phil Grainger's promenade and tent production of Lewis Carroll's beloved psychedelic story, which involved a community cast, a brass band and a local furniture maker's exquisite table design for the Madhatter's Tea Party. Watch out for Ella Bond, a teenage talent as Alice, who is sure to bloom.

Touring show of the year: National Theatre's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time at the Grand Opera House, York, in January. Simon Stephens's tremendous adaptation of Mark Haddon's book combined brilliant direction by Marianne Elliott with Ian Dickinson’s disorientating, threatening soundscapes, Adrian Sutton’s uplifting music and Bunny Christie's dazzling designs, all tied together by Joshua Jenkins’s riveting portrayal of a boy with a beautiful mind in constant search of a safe place.

York Press:


Writer Tim Firth, front left, and composer Gary Barlow with the cast for The Girls

Yorkshire's arts event of the Year: Gary Barlow and Tim Firth's musical The Girls at Leeds Grand Theatre in November. The Lancastrian interlopers were made Honorary Yorkshiremen even before their new musical version of The Calendar Girls opened, but it lived up to the hype, surpassing both the stage play and the film. The West End surely awaits; Broadway has sent scouts.

Leading light of the year: That man Phil Grainger again. His series of Concerts By Candlelight in unconventional York locations has produced such memorable nights as Eastbourne singer-songwriter David Ford re-creating his first album, I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I've Caused, solo in the York Guildhall.

By comparison, the annual Illuminating York, in late October, lacked a truly memorable installation under the artistic directorship of Hazel Colquhoun and Andrew Knight. Could do better.

York Press:

Alexander Flanagan-Wright, driving force behind The Fleeting Arms

Inspiration of the year: The Fleeting Arms in Gillygate, York. Led by the Flanagan Collective's Alexander Flanagan-Wright, the York arts community snapped, crackled and popped-up in this impromptu hub of activity. Taking over an empty pub in March to fill it with theatre, music, spoken-word nights, exhibitions, a bar and office space upstairs, it worked so well that it was granted an extension. It concluded with "the party to end all parties", a madly participatory performance of The Great Gatsby, with cocktails, hotdogs, Charleston dancing and a show spread over three floors.

The unexpected yet somehow inevitable event of the year: The York Theatre Royal pantomime in the Signal Box Theatre at the NRM. The YTR's National Railway Museum residency was originally expected to take in only the community railway play In Fog And Falling Snow, the revival of The Railway Children and the delightful rail and travel-themed TakeOver Festival. Once the YTR's £4.1 million redevelopment predictably over-ran, Dick Whittington (And His Meerkat) required a new train of thought: Britain's first ever pantomime on a railway track.

Gone but not forgotten, in memoriam: In 2015, the York arts community bade farewell to actress Ruth Ford, the first woman to play God in the York Mystery Plays; writer and director Chris Green; actor, ghost walk host and The Press reviewer Charles Hunt and international sculptor Sally Arnup.