While this historic city has world-class heritage sites like York's City Walls, York Dungeon, The National Railway Museum, York Minster, and the Jorvik museum, there are plenty of fun nighttime activities to do once the sun sets. You might be tempted to grab an early dinner and pint at one of the many traditional English pubs throughout York, but if your second wind hits, here are some of the most fun things to do in York at Night:
Walk down the Shambles Street and Explore Shambles Market (Diagon Alley)
Anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies will instantly recognize York’s most picturesque thoroughfare, and most famous of its many cobbled streets. Shambles Street and market are iconic for their resemblance to the Diagon Alley location in the Harry Potter world. This narrow street has been pedestrianized, making it extremely walkable and comfortable without any car traffic. Shops and pubs are open late, and there are street performers and street food vendors throughout the area.
The Shambles Market has more than 80 stalls where you can purchase fresh produce, baked goods, and other artisanal items. Shambles Street is one of the most vibrant places in York to explore at any hour, but the nighttime vibe is certainly worth checking out.
Grab a Spooky Pint and Dinner at The Golden Fleece
This iconic British pub has been deemed "the most haunted pub in York". Without much context for how haunted other pubs are, this certainly catches your attention. There is a spooky history surrounding the building, and there are informative features throughout the pub detailing the ghost sightings and eerie encounters that have happened at The Golden Fleece.
In terms of food and drinks, there is a nice variety between modern favorites and traditional British pub fare. The Beef & Double Gloucester Pie is an award-winning meat pie that combines rich ale-gravy and buttery pastry to create an indulgent and authentic meal.
The pub’s creaky floors and wooden features create a spooky vibe (dust and cobwebs are thankfully absent) that sets the scene perfectly. The Golden Fleece’s spooky atmosphere is most evident as the crowds thin, and it’s convincing enough that you won’t want to be the only one at the bar for the last call! Regardless of your belief in the supernatural, this is a fun pub to grab a pint and dinner, and the service and atmosphere are excellent.
York Theatre Royal
Having hosted productions for over 250 years, The York Theatre Royal is the oldest continually-operated theater in York, and one of the oldest in Britain. Located right in the city center, this is an accessible venue regardless of where you’re staying in York. There is a wide variety of popular theatre productions hosted here, with plays, comedy, concerts, and community theatre being the most common. Their annual Pantomime event is the theatre’s crowning achievement, but there are dozens of incredible things happening throughout the year. There has been an increasing emphasis on youth productions, which has resulted in more youngsters becoming involved in the thriving local theatre scene.
Having recently undergone a £6million redevelopment, the Theatre Royal has modernized what needed to be fixed, while maintaining the ornate features that made it famous. If you’re into the arts, this theatre is one of the best things to do in York at night.
Find a Cosy Corner At One of the Many Excellent York Pubs
One of the best ways to explore the many amazing neighborhoods of this ancient city is to visit one of the hundreds of traditional British pubs. Some of these are centuries old, and each of them has a distinctive identity that will leave a charming, if not zany, impression. While clubbing and other types of nightlife are readily available in York, the British pub culture is vital to your experience when you visit York to its fullest. These establishments function as community centers more than anything else. Even if you don’t partake in alcohol, the food menus of British pub fare are more than worth the trek to one of these fine establishments, you can even stumble upon some live music. Here are a few of the best traditional pubs in York:
The Kings Arms
This is one of the favorite places for York locals to gather, especially on sunny days. Being located on the river, the views are incredible. Even if the weather is uncooperative, the cozy brick interior and fireplace will make you feel right at home. The Kings Arms has a strict ban on phones, so sitting with a small group over a pint has the potential for a much-welcome social media cleanse.
The Lamb & Lion Inn
Located in the shadows of York's City Walls and York Minster cathedral, this pub is perfectly situated for an early evening pint after touring the neighborhood’s historic landmarks. Even better, this Victorian-era Inn has an incredible beer garden. Their selection of local ales will have the craft beer aficionados wishing they lived next door!
House of the Trembling Madness
This Medieval-themed pub is located in one of the most historic buildings in town, and the first one the Normans built in York. While this is might seem to be half-tourist trap and half-pub, their drink menu features some of Yorkshire’s best traditional British ales. While it may not be the coolest place, the excellent location on Stonegate makes it an easy stop.
Taking the train into town? This pub is located right at the York Rail Station. This is another tavern that has an outstanding selection of local and international beers on draft and the bottle list is even better. The circular bar fosters an inviting and communal atmosphere, especially because most customers are also travelers. The amazing beer menu and inviting atmosphere make this pub the perfect place for visitors who have to check out of their hotel a few hours before they have to travel. The people-watching is as impeccable as the beer selection.
The Phoenix Inn
Located slightly outside the York city center, this beer garden, pub, and music venue can be found by following the York City Walls. The 18th-century interior and candles scattered throughout the space make for a charming location for a quiet drink. Depending on the night, there is live music, and a house jazz band regularly performs. If you’re looking to escape the bustle of the city center for a relaxed evening, this is the place.
Located near the Shambles Market, this little pub can go unnoticed by the hoards of tourists and visitors, making it a perfect destination for a quiet pint. The traditional British ales are served alongside the burgeoning modern craft beer scene in the UK, so there are definitely plenty of options for excellent drinks. There is an upstairs seating area if you are looking to hunker down for a cozy session.
Visit The Roman Bath Museum
York was once an outpost on the furthest reaches of the Roman Empire. Legionnaires built towers, roads, and other infrastructure throughout Britain during their occupation of the country. Some of the best-preserved remnants of these structures have to be the Roman Baths, and York has one of the best in the UK. The Roman Bath Museum is a small exhibit in the cellar of the Roman Bath Pub in York City Centre. It accurately illustrates how Roman soldiers lived during this fascinating period of British history. It’s open until 11:30 PM, so it’s a fun activity to sneak in before or after your visit to the Roman Bath Pub.
The Bloody Tour of York (Ghost Walk)
If you haven’t noticed, York is a particularly haunted place. While there is so more to this city than haunted pubs and grim alleys, it’s one of the most fun things to do in York at night. Hosted by “Mad Alice” this tour journeys through 2,000 years of York’s bloody history.
This 90-minute tour will detail all of York’s brutal history from the time of the Roman occupation to the Viking invasion of Northern England, to the ghastly misery of the Bubonic Plague’s grip on the city of York. Mad Alice will take you through landmarks, alleyways, and other locations of York’s darkest events. You even get to visit York Dungeon.
This award-winning walking tour is wheelchair accessible. While the tour may be a bit too graphic for young children, teenagers are often the most engaged members of tour groups. There is also enough rich history in the tour that the more curious travelers will find The Ghost Walk to be an essential source of information.
York Art Gallery
The UK Art Scene is certainly not limited to cities like London, there is a thriving industry of galleries in York and the surrounding area. York Art Gallery is the focal point of this scene, and it’s one of the best things to do in York at night. Keep an eye on their calendar, because York Art Gallery hosts numerous events each month showcasing prominent artists and themed exhibits. You never know which local artists will become world-famous.
The Bells at York Minster
The goliath bells at York Minster Cathedral are famous for their size and beauty. They are the 4th heaviest set of change-ringing bells in existence, and the presence of these 14 bells can be felt and heard throughout York. The three-ton tenor bell has an absolutely booming clang that will shake the very ground you stand on.
While the bells are rung on Sundays to call people to mass, the operators practice these bells on certain weeknights from 9:30-11:00 PM. Many locals and visitors gather outside the cathedral to hear the bell-ringer work these unique instruments. The perfect place to hear them is just outside the Guy Fawkes Pub, which is one of the most famous places in York to grab a pint.
Take an Evening Cruise On The River Ouse
The network of rivers that intersect at York’s city center was once central to the Viking longships that prowled the coast of Britain and were able to navigate the rivers inland. The Ouse River and Foss River are now central features of downtown, with excellent views of the city and countryside. The Evening City Cruise sails on weekend nights for tours. You’ll be guided through the city center, with the captain pointing out famous landmarks like York Minster, York Castle, and the history behind each. It’s fun and informative, and if the weather is right, an evening breeze will feel amazing.
It’s recommended to book weeks ahead of time, but there are walk-up spots available as well. While the restaurants in York are too good to pass up, there are snacks and refreshments on board, including an enclosed saloon on the top deck. The tour lasts about one hour, and features live captain’s commentary, which is a refreshing mix of informative and comedic content. There is a strict policy against Hen or Stag (bachelor or bachelorette) parties, which keeps the vibe civil and relaxed. This tour is ideal for small groups, families, and especially date night.
Take The Ghost Bus Tour (If You’re Brave Enough)
If The Golden Fleece didn’t scratch the itch for spooky entertainment, hop on a Ghost Bus Tour of all the haunted and spooky houses, graves, and buildings throughout York.
The conductor is dressed up in a creepy outfit, and the guide strikes a balance between getting your heart racing with grim tales of death and doom and sneaking a few jokes here and there. It’s a fun and efficient way of getting to see the city center and surrounding area, with a spooky twist. If you're visiting York with youngsters, this is one of your best nighttime options.
Comedy Show at the Grand Opera House
Having been restored in the 1980s, York’s Grand Opera House has been hosting a variety of events. One of the most fun productions has to be the comedy program. If you’re out with a group or are looking for a fun date night activity, get the laughs rolling with a stand-up or improv showcase. Touring the gorgeous Opera House is worth the price of admission alone, but the comedy from local and touring performers will have you in stitches.
Whether you’re searching out a cozy nook at your new favorite pub for a pint or exploring all of the most sinister haunted places in the city, there is no shortage of excellent things to do in York at night. The outstanding nightlife and array of activities prove that York does not cease to be a world-class city once the sun goes down. So when you visit York, go explore all the haunted corners and alleys, and let Bounce take care of the luggage!