It’s been a great few weeks to be in York.

The Residents' Festival kicked things off, with York’s attractions opening up their doors, free to local residents.

From walks and tours to experiences and exhibitions, we got an insight into some of the very best venues in the country. Something for everyone. People made their plans then made a beeline to do something different with none of it breaking the bank.

Then this weekend, I joined the throngs clutching my map, and ticking-off this year’s ice sculptures.

Like many, I walked much further than planned, to get a peek of this year’s incredible creations, watching families snapping pictures of slowly melting creatures. Once more, the city buzzed with York residents enjoying a day out in town.

Next weekend the Viking Festival will return York to its more barbarous past.

Our streets will fill with helmets and swords, crafts and tents, as we float between York and Jorvik. Not only the world’s most famed Viking gathering, but one which will entertain local families over the chilly half term.

During these winter weekends, the city feels, looks and is different.

These family-friendly events bring out the best in our city. They draw us together and local people once again find their space.

These events are great for business. Shops and restaurants buzz, as people stop for fuel, and often discover many places they didn’t know were there.

Above all, it’s been great to see children filling the streets. This shouldn’t be just a winter experience, but the new norm.

These family-friendly activities have made York a city for everyone.

The return of blue badge holders, thanks to the Labour council, means that once again all families are being welcomed.

Visitors are essential to our economy and are very welcome.

At times, though, it can feel like local residents are missing, and the city centre doesn’t always feel welcoming to children.

The last few weekends show that with a bit of creativity (and crafted frozen water), families return and the whole atmosphere changes. Stag and hens have not dominated.

As we leave this season behind, we must not leave what was created by York Bid and Make it York, but learn and extend into Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Not only does this remind us of the importance of the arts, heritage and creativity in bringing a place to life, but also how with a bit of thought and attention cities can be a places that welcome everyone.

As Enrique Penalosa, former Mayor of Bogota, once said - and Children’s Advocate, Tim Gill echoed - children are an indicator species for cities.

In the same way salmon show the health of a river, the presence of children shows the quality of our cities.

To make York a more balanced place all year round, there are four things we need to do.

Firstly, we need to get the basics right. Good routes for people to get into town. Toilets that work. Streets that are relatively clean. Activities that don’t break the bank.

This is difficult when budgets are so tight, but also essential if we are to create an accessible and positive place for all residents. It is time for bold, innovative approaches.

Secondly, when upgrading our public spaces, we must focus on bringing life, connection and joy back to our streets and squares. This means creating things to do, to climb over, to lounge on, to explore. Building on the existing strengths of our city, we need a network of inter-generational spaces with places to noisily run around and places to quietly contemplate. Key to this, is supporting our incredible arts, culture, heritage and environmental communities to help make York an exciting place to visit every weekend.

Thirdly, we need to involve everyone. The community needs to be back in the discussion about what the city is and how it’s run. York has to change from a place where things are done for people, to a place where things are done by the people.

Businesses have much to gain from this. By working together to determine the future of our city centre and communities, we can make York an inclusive and exciting place to live, be, move and enjoy.

We have proved that we can create something very different if we want to. It is my ambition to help create a city where all find their place, their enjoyment and themselves. Let’s make York that place every day of every week.

Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central