York is set for a major arts festival next September.

The event aims to build up on what is shaping up to be a most lavish New Year’s Eve Ball in the city centre next month.

The events are being organised by Ashley Mason and wife Danielle, who this summer launched their Noble Happenings events company.

Ashley is perhaps better known as a city councillor, who several years ago was the Sheriff of York.

But he also has a background in organising events and once ran a company delivering medical services to events.


Danielle works at the University and has had other roles in the health sector, but has also been involved in fundraising, both as the Sheriff’s Lady and for the Lord Mayor’s Fundraising Committee.

Such varied roles have helped them deliver events, including high-profile balls, banquets and dinners.

As a member of the of the Merchant Adventurer’s Company of York Ashley was instrumental in delivering the guild’s first charity beer festival this summer.

And for the Coronation of King Charles this year, the couple delivered the York Coronation Ball, which was listed by international leisure firm Time Out as one of the best events in Britain. 

Noble Happenings will focus solely on boutique experienced-based events.

York Press:

Ashley said: “There is a real focus on amazing venues, high quality entertainment and wow factors. We want people to be talking about our events for years to come. We have been lucky to attend some amazing events, and know the elements that can transform the ordinary to the extraordinary!

“Our focus will also be on Black Tie events. We know people enjoy getting dressed up for special occasions. Post pandemic people have really focused on experiences, and we have even seen more formal menswear shops opening in York, including Master Debonair on Lendal.”

The Coronation Ball came out of conversations with former Sheriff Suzie Mercer, leading to an event made special with pomp and pageantry, such as the York Guard providing the guard of honour, 20 musicians playing the National anthem and the dressing of the venue.

The event made Ashley realise the potential of the Assembly Rooms, which hosted the Coronation Ball and will be staging the New Year’s Eve Ball too.

He explained: “Experience events need to be about people discovering, people moving around spaces and finding different spaces. Finding that quiet, private corner or that unusual element.

“For us, we will be totally turfing one of the rooms to become an Indoor croquet lawn! A huge factor for new year is location. Being right next to York Minster means people can slip out for midnight to hear the bells ring in the New Year, before returning to the party!”

Tickets cost from £175, with people coming from as far away as the US, as well as across Yorkshire.

York Press: Assembly Rooms  by David Harrison

Ashley said: “People want to dress up and party in style, and there is no grander venue than the Assembly Rooms which we will transform into the most amazing space to party.”

And next September 5-7 the couple plan a major arts festival, inspired by the Henley Festival, with a central outdoor location still to be confirmed.

Ashley said: “The arts festival will be all about different spaces and experience, from watching comedy on a vintage bus, to listening to an acoustic quartet, to viewing displays of visual art, live theatre and enjoying the main act on the big stage. There will be roving interactive comedy acts, a food court, champagne bar and so much more. And it’s all Back Tie. People will get dressed up and enjoy a night out under the stars like no other event they have ever been to!”

In the meantime, anyone wanting tickets for the ball should book using the Noble Happenings website, with Ashley adding ticket are selling fast.

Anyone wanting to collaborate with them on the festival can also connect with them this way.   

As with both events, Ashley and Danielle promise an experience to remember.