For 51 weekends of the year, York is all geared up for the tourists. Or so some would have you believe.

But there is one weekend, at least, when the locals come first.

Amazingly, the York Residents Festival is 25 next weekend. And to celebrate, this year’s event - in which York residents get to explore the city’s museums and attractions for free - promises to be bigger and better than ever.

There will be more than 100 attractions, events and offers during the course of the weekend, which is designed as a ‘thank you’ to the people of York for the way they look after (or put up with) the city’s 6.9 million visitors every year.

Fancy a tour of Gentleman Jack locations, anyone? Or how about a free, 30 minute Ouse cruise?

Or would you rather go behind the scenes at the Grand Opera House? Or climb to the top of York Minster’s central tower?

Then the Residents Festival is here to help. Just get yourself a valid YorkCard or York student card and you can do all these things, and many more, for free.

In addition to countless old favourites (the Minster, the Castle Museum, Jorvik and Fairfax House, anyone?) new additions this year include a Brew York Brewery Tour (with a free local craft beer sample) and a joint exhibition between York Explore and York Mansion House looking at planned developments in York that never came to be - including a pair of wonderful art deco public swimming pools.

This year will also see the projection of a new community film exploring the past, present and future of the Castle Gateway area onto Clifford’s Tower. And as if all that weren’t enough, York BID will be giving away no fewer than 400 York Gift Cards worth £5 each. These can be redeemed at participating cake and gift shops, and will be handed out to the first residents to arrive at the Visitor Information Centre at 1 Museum Street over the weekend, until they run out.

Full details of all participating attractions and Residents Festival events and offers can be found at

But here are a few highlights...

Bar Convent, Saturday January 25, 10am-4pm

Find out why the convent was established in secrecy, who protected it from the mobs and what happened the night the Luftwaffe came. And don’t miss the 18th century chapel and priest hole. Disabled Access.

City Cruises York. Cruises depart from King’s Staith every hour between 11am and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26.

Enjoy a different view of York on board a 30 minute city cruise, with a captain’s live commentary. Offer subject to river conditions. Partial disabled access

Clifford’s Tower, 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26.

The iconic remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror is one of York’s most historic sites. Climb the steps and enjoy spectacular 360 degree views of the city. No Disabled Access

Fairfax House, Castlegate, 11am-4pm Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26

Go behind the scenes, and experience Fairfax House as never normally seen during its deep-clean winter hibernation. Learn what makes this house tick and discover how we care for and conserve this Georgian York treasure. No Disabled Access.

Fishergate Postern Tower, junction of Piccadilly and Lead Mill Lane. 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26.

Climb the spiral staircase of this early Tudor tower, work the model portcullis and find a garderobe, masons’ marks, re-used roof beams and displays, including brand new replicas reborn from fragments found in a recent dig. Partial disabled access

Holgate Windmill, Windmill Rise, Holgate, 11am-4pm Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26

Come and see York’s only surviving windmill, built in 1770, now restored and in full working order. We will be celebrating our 250th Anniversary year in 2020. Stoneground wholemeal and spelt flour milled here is available to buy. No Disabled Access.

National Railway Museum Road Train, Leeman Road, 11am-4pm Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26

Hop on board the road train for a free ride from York Minster to The National Railway Museum. Offer applies only to journeys from York Minster. Disabled Access.

York Castle Museum, 9.30am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday January 25 and 26

From a famous Victorian street to infamous criminals and cutting-edge costume collections, history comes to life at the award-winning museum. Don’t miss the chance to see the touring exhibition Museum of Broken Relationships from Zagreb, Croatia.

Stephen Lewis


Residents must show a valid YorkCard or York Student ID Card to gain admission at participating venues to to take advantage of offers.

A full list of businesses which accept the York BID gift card is at