The Cathedral City of York is a highlight on any trip to Yorkshire. The impressive ancient walled city is home to numerous attractions, great restaurants, and charming streets. The town itself receives over seven million tourists annually who don't mind making the trek to Northern England when the sights of York await them.
England is known for its rich musical history as the birthplace of big names like The Beatles, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Elton John, and Rod Stewart. Aside from countless interesting things to do, York, and the surrounding North Yorkshire towns, like Leeds and Wakefield, offer tons of great music festival experiences throughout the year.
As with most English music festivals, then tend to be concentrated in the late spring and summer. Obviously, this is because the weather is much less rainy during this time. Generally though, any outdoor music festivals in the area will go on rain or shine. It's England. If you postponed every event due to mother nature, you'd probably only get to put on a couple festivals a year. Just come prepared with rain jackets and umbrellas if the weather is looking a little sketchy.
When you get to town, make sure you have a plan for your luggage before you head off to any of 2022's best music festivals. Head to a Bounce bag storage in York and let us take care of the suitcases while you dance the night away. Besides, any music festival is likely going to have an issue with you bringing tons of luggage to the event.
If you're wondering about how you're going to get from the center of town to these great music shows, don't fret. We have a guide that will tell you exactly how to get around York so that you can worry about your outfit and beer money rather than the bus. Now, which of these great festivals are you going to attend in 2022?
The best music festivals in York in 2022
York Spring Fair & Food Festival (May 27 to June 5)
While not specifically a music festival, one of the most fun community events in York is the Spring Fair & Food Festival. Along with vintage fair rides and games, festival-goers can sample food from over 40 different vendors and tons of family-friendly activities. On Friday and Saturday, the peak days of the festival, admission will set you back a whopping £7.50, and on non-peak days it's only £5. You'll find this intriguing event is held on the Platinum Jubilee weekend that also happens to be the start of summer half-term. It's easy to get to the Spring fair as well. It's held in the Clocktower Enclosure at the York Racecourse, which is only about a mile outside the York City Centre.
The festival features a main stage where the goal is to showcase the best in local musical talent. This year, with the festival's welcome return, you'll find the live music from the popular Welsh group Old Time Sailors and New York Brass Band a great musical backdrop to the fair. Other performers for 2022 include Y Street Band, Hyde Family Jam, and Huge. There is also a DJ spinning for most of the time when the bands aren't playing. Don't miss this old-timey event if your trip coincides with the festival.
Summertime Live Leeds (June 1)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear some of the top dance music performed by a full orchestra? If so, pop to nearby Leeds on June 1st; you won't have to wonder anymore. In addition to live DJs spinning eclectic dance mixes, you'll also find entertainers mingling in the crowd dressed as a disco ball and the option to have your face painted with glitter. Sparkle is a central theme of this event organized by Classic Ibiza. Add this flash to a great selection of food and drinks and you'll quickly see that there's really something to suit almost every taste at Summertime Live Leeds. It's widely considered one of the best summer parties in Yorkshire.
Tickets for this one-of-a-kind event range in price from £33.42 to £77.42, so most people can easily work it into their budget. If you can get yourself to Leeds City Centre, you can easily take the round-trip shuttle bus to the festival's location at Temple Newsam. If you don't already have your tickets for this year's show, you might be out of luck because Summertime Live Leeds often sells out way in advance. Just remember this one for next year if you can't find a way to score a pair of elusive tickets.
York Early Music Festival 2022 (July 8 to 16)
While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, the York Early Music Festival 2022 celebrates classical music from the 18th century and earlier. The event has been going on throughout the city since 1977, and this style of music pays homage to all the ancient sites around town, like medieval churches and historic estates. Somehow this style of music encouraged by the National Centre for Early Music just feels right in a city as old as York.
This year at the York Early Music Festival you'll find talent like the Gabrieli Consort & Players, the Tallis Scholars, and Paolo Pandolfo and Amelie Chemin making an appearance. This year celebrates the return of Pandolfo and Chemin, the unique and highly acclaimed viol specialists. Among the performances, you'll also get access to various workshops, illustrated information sessions, and even the chance to get up and sing yourself. It's a festival that is great for all the family.
The event closes with the International Young Artists Competition, which is instrumental (pun intended) to the development of young local talent. The International Young Artists Competition features emerging groups and individuals from across Europe and is a great way to discover a new favorite. The prices for each event vary and you can pick and choose exactly which acts you want to see. Generally, for one event you should expect to pay between £30 and £50. Also, if you can't attend in person, the festival offers online events to give you a glimpse into the actual concert.
The List Festival (July 29 to 31)
On the outskirts of Leeds, still less than an hour from York, The List Festival is a unique and certainly eclectic event that only started in 2021. The List Festival truly has something for everyone from DJs to drag queens to disco to house music. The festival aims to be completely inclusive in their attendees as well as their performers. This is a great excuse to gain exposure to types of music you wouldn't normally consider. Because if you hate something, a new tune in another style will be on in a few minutes or can be found in another area of the festival.
The List is held at Wakefield's Yorkshire Scare Grounds, which is normally a scream park. Now that definitely makes for an interesting venue. While you're being constantly entertained, you can sample some of the best street food around and quench your thirst with a cocktail from one of the bars.
A day pass will set you back £60, and they have various packages that include camping if you want to make a weekend of it.
Leeds Festival 2022 (August 26 to 28)
Since York is a relatively small place, the larger music festivals tend to happen closer to Leeds. Leeds is less than an hour away from York making it easily reachable if the music festival is worth it. Such a worthy event is the Leeds Festival held annually in Bramham Park. This year's headlining performers include Bastille, Artic Monkeys, Halsey, and Rage Against the Machine. See - we told you it was worth it!
The Leeds Festival draws people from all over the country, and as a result, tickets are hard to come by. The weekend passes sell out almost instantly, but you can usually still get day passes for a day or two up to a few months prior to the event. A ticket for one day will set you back £94 and the weekend passes are triple that. It's actually somewhat of a bargain, though, because with a weekend pass you get access to over 100 different performers.
Wakefield Live Festival (September 17)
In addition to The List Festival, the Wakefield City Centre hosts a late summer event that draws music and entertainment lovers from all over. Of course, there's music, but you can also see comedians, listen to spoken word poetry, or take in a play as part of the festival. As you may have already guessed, the focus is on live entertainment of all kinds.
Concerts and other performances are spread across the core of Wakefield to maximize the variety on this one special day. It's easy to get from place to place within the City Centre, and perhaps best of all, every performance is totally free. Kids are welcome at most shows as well. So, save September 17th in your calendar and try to get to Wakefield early to get the best seats.
Planning to stay some more days in York?
Although York is a small city, it and the surrounding area offer plenty of great music festivals to keep you busy. But, it would be a shame to visit this Northern English walled city and not stay for a few extra days. We have put together an itinerary on how you can spend three days in York, so you can rely on us for all the planning and just enjoy yourself. Highlights of any visit to York have to include York Minster, a walk around the city walls, a climb up to Clifford's Tower, and Harry Potter fans will absolutely insist on strolling The Shambles, likely York's most famous street.
York also has a bunch of world-class museums, like the York Castle Museum, the York Art Gallery, and the Yorkshire Museum. Additionally, if you're a foodie, you'll find excellent vegetarian and vegan food alongside meat-centric joints as well as some tasty street food that is best sampled while you're out and about sightseeing. Head to a local pub for a classic full English breakfast to fuel you for your day exploring or your time at the music festival. It's an English rite of passage that no one should miss out on. You shouldn't leave York without also touring or cruising on the scenic River Ouse. It provides a unique vantage point of the city and is simply wonderful on a warm summer day.
Whether you are just in town for a music festival or two or plan to stay and get to know York, it's always a fun time in the tourist hot spot that also somehow manages to be welcoming. Leave the bags and the itineraries to us and you can just sit back and relax during whatever time you have to spend in York.