12 Exciting Things to Do in York at Night in 2023
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A thriving, exciting city, York is a historic architectural treasure trove and a stylish destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. York buzzes by day, and the fun doesn’t stop after dark, so if you’re looking for the best things to do in York at night, we’ve got you covered.
While York has more than its fair share of excellent, quirky pubs, you can do most of the things in this post without touching a drop of alcohol (if that’s your preference), or you can try out some of the pubs in York on your way!
14 Unmissable Things to Do in York at Night
I’ve lived in Yorkshire for almost ten years, and I adore York because there’s so much to see and do – even if you’re only visiting York for a weekend break. I’ve used local knowledge to curate this list of awesome things to do in York at night.
1. Sail Away on an Evening River Cruise
One of the best ways to see the sights of York from a different perspective is to take a leisurely evening cruise on the River Ouse.
As you sail along the same river that brought the Romans and Vikings to York, you’ll learn about York’s prosperity as an inland port and the trades that made the city flourish.
The River Ouse floods regularly, damaging property in York. You can see the levels the floodwaters rise to from your cruise boat!
Early evening cruise boats sail at 19:30 from King’s Staith Landing in the city centre, returning an hour later to the same location. The boats are warm and comfortable and have (cash only) bars stocked with drinks and snacks.
Top Tip: If you sit on the top deck, be prepared for less comfortable school-type plastic seats, as the deck is exposed to the elements and has to cope with the vagaries of British weather! Take a coat!
Best Early Evening Cruise in York
⭐️Rating: 4.3/5 | ⏳ 1 hour | ➡️ Book Now
This early evening cruise takes you on a leisurely journey along the River Ouse.
You will see some of York’s main tourist attractions and historical sites from a completely different perspective – and get amazing photos!
Pro Tip: Arrive early for your cruise and enjoy a quick drink in nearby riverside bars while you wait to depart.
2. Take a Spooky Ghost Walk
York is famed as one of the spookiest places in Europe, and it’s not difficult to see why. With a history stretching back over two thousand years, there are plenty of spooky tales of things that go bump in the night (and worse).
An organised ghost trail around the city is one of the best things to do in York at night (especially in winter when your walk will be through spooky, dark streets).
During the tour, your entertaining and theatrical guide will tell you all about the mad, the bad, and the sad whose souls refuse to rest in this ancient city. If you’re looking for fun and quirky things to do in York at night, then booking yourself onto one of these tours is a must-do!
3. Join a Comedy-Horror Ghost Bus Tour
Touring around York in an old Routemaster bus decked out with velvet curtains and spooky lamps is super atmospheric. The best part about the tour is the hilarious deadpan commentary from the guides!
Pro Tip: Grab a seat upstairs to get the best view of the city.
4. Listen to the Huge Bells at York Minster
The bells at York Minster are massive! The South West Tower holds the 4th heaviest set of change-ringing bells in the world. There are 14 bells, ranging from the enormous 3-ton tenor bell to the smallest, known as the treble. When the bells are ringing, you can hear them all over the city!
The bells ring on Sundays, calling people to worship for the 10 am service, just as they have for centuries. It’s a joy to listen to masters of the art of change-ringing, and it’s magical to hear them ring out all over this beautiful city.
Pro Tip: Ringing practice is on Tuesday evenings from 19:30 to 21:00. For the full effect of the bells, stop for a drink in the Guy Fawkes pub, almost opposite York Minster, and revel in the sound,
5. Take Fabulous Photos in Snickelways (Diagon Alley)
With its snickelways (tiny pedestrian alleyways between buildings) and historic buildings, Medieval York is a photographer’s dream location. It almost feels impossible to take poor photographs in this beautiful city, and capturing atmospheric shots after dusk is one of the best things to do in York.
6. Step Back in Time at the Roman Bath Museum
A modest little museum tucked away in the cellar of the Roman Bath pub; this is the spot where archaeologists discovered the remains of the original Roman baths in York. Open until 23:00 daily; it’s worth a visit to hear about York’s Roman history – perhaps on your way out for dinner?
Discover the Best Day Trips from York
There are so many fabulous places to visit near York!
Check out the most popular day trips from York here!
7. Go Star Gazing
One of the rather different things to do in York at night is to visit Yorkshire’s spectacular national parks to admire the glorious night sky. While Yorkshire has several excellent places for a stargazing spot. Sutton Bank National Park Centre at Hambleton, North Yorkshire, is less than an hour from York by car.
Yorkshire vet and author James Herriot loved the view from Sutton Bank over the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York and called it the “Finest in England”.
The lack of light pollution in this official Dark Sky Discovery Site makes it a superb place to go stargazing. If you’re lucky, you might even glimpse meteors or the Aurora (the Northern Lights).
Pro Tip: Yorkshire can get cold even in the summer, especially once you’re out on the exposed Moors after sunset. Check this handy guide on what to pack for a trip to Yorkshire.
8. Enjoy a Night at the Theatre
York’s high-quality entertainment venues make it easy to see all the latest shows and some old favourites. A night out at the theatre is one of the most popular things to do in York at night.
The historic Theatre Royal was built in 1744. As popular as ever, there’s a packed year-round programme, including live shows from big productions to fringe theatre, dance, opera, musicals and a world-renowned traditional family pantomime.
Joseph Rowntree Theatre
If nothing at the Theatre Royal catches your eye, the Art Deco Joseph Rowntree Theatre might be more your cup of tea. This community theatre has a special place in the hearts of many people in York and offers a varied programme of plays, musicals and a show-stopping pantomime.
The Grand Opera House
The Grand Opera House building started life as York’s Corn Exchange in 1868. After the Corn Exchange failed in 1902, William Peacock converted the buildings into the 1,000-seat Grand Opera House, which has delighted audiences with an extensive entertainment programme ever since.
Top Tip: Going to the pantomime (or ‘panto’) is a British family tradition. In the winter, it’s one of the best things to do in York at night. Pantos popular, so book your tickets early.
9. Enjoy Live Music and Comedy at the Barbican
The Barbican is the largest music and arts venue in York, attracting some of the biggest sell-out touring acts in the country.
If you enjoy live snooker, the Barbican is the venue for the UK Snooker Championships, and you can also enjoy a diverse programme of comedy, sports, family shows and community events.
10. Attend Evensong at York Minster
Even if you’re not religious, evensong at York Minster is deeply spiritual. You get to soak up the atmosphere, marvel at the vast stained glass windows, sit in the incredibly intricate choir stalls (right next to the choir), and listen to spell-binding singing. It’s one of the most entrancing things to do in York at night.
Pro Tip: Choral Evensong is at 17.15 every day except Sunday, at 16.00. Enter for free from the South Transept door, but do donate when you leave. Excluding restoration and conservation projects, it costs £20,000 daily to keep the Minster open to the public!
Check out the best day trips from York here.
11. Have an Incredible Dining Experience
Food is something that York does phenomenally well, with incredible places to eat for all tastes and budgets. This diversity makes eating out one of the best things to do in York at night.
From fine gourmet dining to hearty Yorkshire fare, delicious street food and everything in between, you will find something for every palate and budget.
Don’t forget to try out Yorkshire pudding while you’re visiting York! Yorkshire food is some of the best in Britain!
12. Settle Into An Atmospheric Pub
There are hundreds of pubs in York – some of them centuries old. These pubs are not bland, run-of-the-mill and operated-by-a-chain but gloriously individual, ever so slightly bonkers, quintessentially British pubs.
Some of the most popular pubs in York’s city centre include:
- The House of the Trembling Madness: unique and medieval-themed
- The Evil Eye: a fabulous gin and cocktail emporium
- The King’s Arms, with its unbeatable riverside location and cosy interior.
For many visitors, chilling out or meeting friends in a great pub is one of the best things to do at night in York.
Some pubs, especially those on the city’s outskirts and beyond, are more like cultural hubs. The excellent Golden Ball is a “community co-operative pub” a few minutes from the city centre.
There’s a packed events schedule, with something happening most evenings, from pub quizzes, open mike and vinyl nights, art exhibitions and craft fairs. Check out the current programme at the Golden Ball here.
Where is York?
Historic York is located in North Yorkshire, in the North of England. It is one of the most popular places to visit in England, with Roman and medieval treasures enticing visitors.
How to Get to York
It’s easy to visit York by road, rail and bus.
By Private Car
From London: drive north on the M1, which becomes the A1(M). Exit the motorway at junction 44 and follow the A64 into York. (Approx 4 hours)
From Edinburgh: Take the A1(M) south. Exit the motorway at junction 47 and follow the A59 straight into the city.
From Leeds: follow the A61 and the A658 into York
Parking in York can be VERY expensive, and all car parks near the city centre are payable. The best way to visit York by car is to park at one of the city’s FREE Park & Ride car parks on the city’s outskirts and take the inexpensive bus into the city.
Train to York
York train station is around 30 minutes from the city of York and about 45 minutes from Leeds, where national onward connections are available. Leeds Bradford is the closest airport to Knaresborough, while the nearest international airport is Manchester.
Bus to York
You can catch a bus from Leeds or Harrogate to York, but the train service is WAY better, as it’s faster and around the same price.
If you love the idea of sitting on a bumpy bus for ages as it trundles through innumerable rural villages, you can find all the details on the Transdev website.
Where To Stay In York
York has great accommodation options within the city and nearby. For a hotel close to the city’s main tourist attractions, you’ll want to stay in the centre of York to make the most of the best restaurants, shopping, and nightlife options.
Our favourite hotel in York is the Grand Hotel. This luxury 5 star hotel offers a peaceful oasis of calm and refinement after a day of city exploration. The Grand Hotel is a very short walk from York train station, with fabulous views of the city walls.
➡️ Top Luxury York Hotel: Grand Hotel
➡️ Top Mid-Budget York Hotel: The Dean Court (200m from York Minster)
Is York good for a night out?
Absolutely! York is a fantastic compact city for a night out. One of the best aspects of staying in York and going out for an evening is the proximity of central hotels to York’s nightlife – it’s all within walking distance!
What is open late in York?
York’s Roman Museum is open until 23:00, while most pubs and restaurants also stay open late.
What is nightlife like in York?
York buzzes after dark, with plenty of busy restaurants and bars to enjoy.
Can you walk the York walls at night?
No, the walls are unsafe to walk in the dark, so they are closed at nightfall.
What time does Shambles York close?
The Shambles market is open daily from 09:00 until 1 7:00; however, the streets are open 24/7. The Shambles is one of the best places to photograph in York after dark!
Is it safe to walk in York UK at night?
York is a relatively safe city, with a crime rate is 3.5% below the national average, and 26% lower than the regional average.
Uber and private hire taxis are available to get you back to your accommodation safely, and you should take normal precautions when walking around the narrow, dark streets after dark.
Conclusion: The Best Things to do in York at Night
York at night is a bustling city full of life and energy. From ghost tours to live music venues, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you’re a local or just passing through, check out the spooky streets of the Shambles Market for a taste of history or take an early evening cruise along the River Ouse.
And if all else fails, pop in for a drink at one of the many pubs in York! You won’t regret discovering all the things to do in York after dark.
Find more posts here to help you plan your trip to York:
Is York Worth Visiting in 2023? Best Things to Do & Reasons to Visit
7 Best Ghost Walks in York in 2023 (+ Why You’ll Love Them)
How to spend a weekend in York.
15 Wonderful Things to do in York at Christmas
34 Inspirational Quotes about Yorkshire You’ll Love