Hidden Gems of York

Visitors to York will know all the city’s main attractions—Jorvik, the Shambles Market, York Minster.

But what happens when you go off the beaten track? Are there any lesser-known locations you should know about?

The answer to that is a resounding yes!

York is an exciting and diverse city with something to offer everyone, which is why it’s such a popular place to live.

Whether you’re interested in the great outdoors, the latest festival or spending time with others, York can help you make that happen.

We’re a York estate agent that’s extremely proud of our city and its surrounding areas.

To help you better learn about York, we’ve put together this list of York’s hidden gems that shows you how diverse and exciting the city truly is.

Community Projects

person putting soil into plant pot

York residents are known for their community spirit and are working together to do great things.

The community projects are great examples of the positive, engaged community York has to offer.

York Student Cinema

Run by students (but open to everyone) York Student cinema is a great option for film buffs.

Operating out of a lecture theatre in the University of York, the cinema boasts full surround sound, digital projection and low prices for all its patrons. The cinema shows a mix of blockbuster hits and old favourites, making it ideal if there’s a hit film you’ve missed out on.

Learn more about the cinema here, and browse its full schedule here.

Bishopthorpe Sport and Social Club

Established in 1946, Bishopthorpe Sport and Social Club offers plenty of opportunities to socialise. A particular point of pride is their real ale; it’s won them CAMRA’s York Club of the Year award for three years running.

Visitors can enjoy football on one of two 50″ HD TVs (or a 120″ projector screen depending on popularity) or settle scores at the snooker table. There’s also a newly refurbished function room onsite, with a licensed bar, stage, PA system and projector setup.

For more details on the club, click here.

Edible York

Edible York is a series of community projects around the York area. Their aims include the promotion of locally grown food, improving life for York residents through community gardening, and using food for the benefit of local residents.

Notable schemes include the York Patchwork Orchard which now produces 20,000 pieces of fruit each year and York Edible Schools which aims to get more schools growing food onsite. There’s also a range of public veg beds, which flourish thanks to a body of volunteers.

You can learn more about their range of projects at the official Edible York website. 

York Open Studios

If you’re an art fan, this event is an excellent choice! York Open Studios is an annual community arts event focused on artists living and working in the York area. It’s the perfect opportunity to get a better understanding of York’s art scene.

While some artists will exhibit their work in shared venues, others will actually invite the public into their workspaces. You may even be able to enjoy an “Open Studio” experience, where artists will show you their tools and materials, or even demonstrate their craft! Whether you’re interested in painting, sculpture, ceramics or something else entirely, you’re in very good hands with York Open Studios.

To learn about the latest events, visit the York Open Studios website.

Away from the major tourist attractions, York residents are working together to do great things. It’s a great example of the positive, engaged community York has to offer.


piano keys

York hosts several annual festivals, which celebrate its rich historical and cultural background.

There are also several smaller, more unusual events, some of which are very new to the city.

York Early Music Festival

Taking place in Walmgate, this event is a celebration of classical music written before 1750. It mixes together many different ingredients, including musical performances, historical venues, talks and illustrated lectures. It’s a rare opportunity to get to grips with both musical history and the history of York itself.

2019’s event runs from Friday the 5th to Sunday the 13th of July. It opens with a production of L’Orfeo, an opera first performed in the early 1600s. It closes ten days later with the International Young Artists Competition, a biennial event for young people with a love of early music.

If you’re looking for a music event off the beaten track, this festival is the perfect choice!

Learn more about this event at the NCEM website.

Dark Skies Festival

Most of us like to look up and see the stars, but light pollution can make that difficult. In urban areas, you can expect to see about 20 stars on a clear night.

Fortunately the North York Moors National Park is here with many more stars, and a festival that’s perfect for stargazers.

Running from Friday the 15th of February to Sunday the 3rd of March, the Dark Skies Festival celebrates astronomy and nature under some of the UK’s darkest skies. 2019’s festival focuses on the moon, in honour of the first moon landing 50 years ago.

The festival programme includes both daytime and nighttime events, including forest walks, birdwatching and photography workshops.

You can learn more about 2019’s programme of events here.

York Walls Festival

This event is running for the first time in 2019, and honours one of York’s most important features. First built in 71CE, and reconstructed over the years, the York city walls are an essential piece of York’s history. The York Walls Festival celebrates these walls with a special programme of events.

Things start on Monday the 6th of August with a special exhibit at York Explore Library, where you can view special archival footage about the Walls. Other events include guided walks in the York area, and an open day for the Red Tower, built in the last 15th century.

The festival officially closes on Saturday the 10th of August with a walls-based treasure trail that leads you to a secret location.

Learn more about the event programme by going to the official Visit York page. You can also follow the official Twitter account for more details.

Micklegate Run Soapbox Challenge

If you’re after some excitement over the summer Bank Holiday, we’ve got the perfect event for you!

The Micklegate Run Soapbox Challenge is a family-friendly event, and a great excuse for people to join in some light-hearted fun.

Businesses, charities and community groups create their own soapbox carts, before riding them down the famous cobbled streets of Micklegate.

Racers can win awards for overall speed, as well as design, and all entrants race to raise money for a charity of their choice.

Whether you’re racing or spectating, this is one event we’re sure you won’t forget! This year’s event runs on Monday the 26th of August; for more information go to the official website.

Green Spaces

bench by still pond in wooded area

Of course, sometimes you just want to get away from it all. York can certainly oblige you, thanks to an amazing range of green spaces in and around the city.

We’ve mentioned some of York’s most popular green spaces in a previous article, but here are some more wonderful hidden gems of York.

Bachelor Hill

This site can be found just off Askham Lane in Westfield. It offers grassy slopes and pine trees, with panoramic views of York itself.

It’s also a nature conservation site; so look out for the many different species of butterfly that call the hill their home!

You can learn more about this site here.

Homestead Park

This park was first opened in 1904 by Benjamin Rowntree, a noted social reformer. Today it’s owned and maintained by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and it’s a brilliant park for the whole family to enjoy.

The park is free to enter and covers 14 acres.

Notable features include a wildflower meadow, a pond, a children’s play area and a pop-up café. The park also offers a range of tree-trail walks, and there’s plenty of wildlife to see as well.

Learn more about the park here.

Treasurer’s House Garden

Located in the city centre, Treasurer’s House is a building with a long and complicated history. It’s one of York’s most interesting tourist attractions, but it’s also home to two fabulous gardens.

Visitors can enjoy two gardens, tucked away behind York Minster. While the front garden has plenty of seating and simple architectural designs to admire, the herb garden at the back of the house has plenty of enticing sights and smells to enjoy.

Both gardens have free admission, but they’re closed at certain times of the year.

For further details visit the York Council website.

Fishponds Wood

This Acomb site is located off Rosedale Avenue, and managed by York Council.

Dating back to the late 18th century, Fishponds Wood now provides a sanctuary for many different kind of plants and animals, including beech trees which are over 100 years old.

There’s also a full programme of children’s events during the school holidays. The area is still fed by natural springs, and can be boggy through the year as a result.

It’s nevertheless a charming hidden gem of York.

This is just a small sample of the fascinating hidden gems of York.

If you’re interested in buying or renting in the York area, Quantum are one of the biggest independent York estate agents!

Man looking across York rooftops

We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of York (which is why we like to highlight what makes York such a brilliant city to live in), and we have a wide selection of new houses for sale in the York area.

Our friendly, experienced team will support you through every step of property journey.

If you’re looking for a place to rent, Quantum offers an excellent rental experience. We handpick the housing stock we take on, and we’re completely open and upfront with all our fees.

We even offer property viewings on both Saturday and Sunday, giving you as many opportunities as possible to see our properties.

Browse our properties for sale, take a look at our rental properties here, or call us now on 01904 631 631 to discuss what kind of property in York you’re looking for.

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