York CAMRA’s annual beer festival looks to have found a new home.

The popular event was previously a regular at York Racecourse but with extra racing at the Knavesmire this year, it had to move, with it taking place in St Lawrence Church.

The smaller venue also reflected the changing economics of the event, with the cost-of-living crisis hampering both beer sales and the turnout.

The church venue also avoided the hefty hiring costs of a marquee, which has traditionally housed the largest bar in Europe.


Last year, the festival featured 500 ales and 90 ciders, compared with 230 beers and 40 ciders this year.

This year, it ran from Wednesday September 13 to Saturday September 16.

During the trade session on the afternoon of the first day visitors told the Press they loved the ‘stunning’ new setting of the church, but one or two said they ‘missed’ the larger racecourse venue.

York Camra chairman Chris Tregellis said: “We are very pleased with how the event went and appreciate the church being host. We hope this can be our future venue.”

York Press: The church provided a stunning setting

However, turnout at 3,132 was half previous years, and ten per cent below what had been expected.

This was partly due the event aiming to be an all-ticket event to restrict numbers at the smaller capacity venue in case it became full.

There were also one-or-two minor teething issues caused by the move.

Chris continued: “As the first time at a new venue, there’s obviously lessons to be learnt, to make improvements which we will implement in the coming years to make it as successful as it was at the Knavesmire.”

“We are very pleased with the enthusiasm people have shown at the new festival. We expect it to become more established with each year. We think St Laurence Church will be a great home for the future.”

The matter has still to be confirmed with the church and CAMRA members but Chris doubts the festival will return to the Knavesmire.

York Press: Chris Tregellis with the longest bar in Europe in 2022

Sadly, more beer was left undrunk, with people drinking less per head than previous years.

Chris cites the pandemic and the cost-of-living-crisis changing people’s drinking habits, such as buying more alcohol from supermarkets, who may even use such sales as a loss-leader to draw people in.

“All beer festivals are feeling this pinch. They can’t be quite so gung-ho!” he explained.

Nonetheless, the first such festival in the church still went well, helping CAMRA also attract new members.

“It was a good foundation for the future,” he added.

Father Adam Romanis of St Lawrence Church said: “There was a wonderful atmosphere around the Church for the festival and we are full of admiration for Camra and its work. We are very glad to support it and to have them support us.”