Events in Yorkshire

The yearly calendar is full of events in Yorkshire, ranging from huge shows, music events, sporting occasions and cultural gatherings, reflecting the broad diversity of our great county.

A date circled firmly on many a Tyke’s calendar is August 1st, otherwise known as “Yorkshire Day.” Surprisingly this is a relatively new event, revived by the people of Beverley in 1975, as a protest against the creation of Humberside and their exclusion from Yorkshire. The original celebration on this day was historically made by the Yorkshire army regiment in tribute to their brave victory at the Battle of Minden in 1759, part of the Seven Years War against France.

Nowadays the event is used to promote all things “Yorkshire,” and various events are held in places throughout the region. Each year a “host town” is appointed which holds a parade of mayors, councillors and civic leaders from the three ridings. This year it was the small town of South Kirkby near Pontefract who held this honour.


In Helmsley there is a whole weekend of celebrations, complete with a duck races, a cake show and the peculiar sport of “welly wanging.”Further West in Holmfirth there are ferret races and Yorkshire pudding eating competitions, while in York, the white rose flags are carried around the city walls and a “Declaration of Yorkshire Integrity” is read out at each of the four bars. The fact all three of the ancient riding boundaries end at the walls of York mean that this can be read out in all the three ridings, while the fourth, Monk Bar is for the city itself.

The declaration reads:

  • that Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York with these boundaries of one thousand, one hundred and thirty nine years standing;
  • that the address of all places in these Ridings is YORKSHIRE;
  • that all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshire men and women;
  • that any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the aforementioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.

These declarations made this Yorkshire Day 2014



While the entire county comes together on August 1st to celebrate Yorkshire Day there are numerous events in which individual places hold, such as shows, festivals, cultural gatherings, sporting and festive occasions.

The biggest event in the county is The Great Yorkshire Show, held each July at The Harrogate Showground. This is the largest agricultural fair in England and organised by the county’s Agricultural Society. The show holds several animal competitions which are split into twenty categories, such as sheep, goats, rabbits, pigeons and then subdivided into many different classes, which are then judged by an expert in the field. There are also equine competitions, sheep shearing and falconry displays to be enjoyed.

The show has many exhibitors displaying things from farm machinery and vintage cars through to businesses and charities advertising their services and causes. There is also a fairground, food stalls, beer tents and bandstand, where various musical acts perform throughout the three days.

As well as celebrating Yorkshire the region also holds multi-cultural events to celebrate the diversity of the county.

The great Yorkshire show attracts visitors from literally all corners of the world. (image credit:
The great Yorkshire show attracts visitors from literally all corners of the world. (image credit:

The Bradford Festival and mela has a mixture of stalls, entertainment and food from around the world. Held in the city centre park each June it offers a colourful addition to the summer. The renowned International food market has cuisine such as curry, Spanish paella, Polish dishes and French pastries on sale to name but a few. There is also a rich programme of dance, music and art to enjoy from all around the world.

Over in Leeds every August is the Leeds West Indian Carnival which brings colour to the streets of Chapeltown and Harehills. The day starts in true Caribbean tradition with a j’ouvert morning, or pyjama jam’, which is a mini- procession and warm up before the main event. Traditionally this is done in pyjamas or onesies and begins early in the morning.

The main event consists of several parades with costumed dancers behind trucks pumping out soca and reggae music from their sound systems. Visitors can either watch from the side of the street or even join in at the back of the procession. The parade ends up in the park where authentic Caribbean food is sold, such as jerk chicken with rice and curry goat.

The West Indian Carnival in Chapeltown, Leeds is second in size only to Notting Hill Carnival for events of it's kind in the UK.
The West Indian Carnival in Chapeltown, Leeds is second in size only to Notting Hill Carnival for events of it’s kind in the UK.

On the same weekend at Bramham Park is the Leeds Music Festival, which along with its sister event at Reading makes up the second largest popular music concert after Glastonbury. The three-day event attracts some of the biggest names in live music, such as, The Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Eminem and Green Day in recent years.

There are several other music events around the region, including Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival which features a whole host of bands, singers DJs and headline acts in the city centre. The 2014 festival featured rappers, Public Enemy, divas, Sister Sledge and chart-topping singer, Katy B. There are numerous venues which host gigs around the city centre, such as Hope Works, the O2 academy and the Octogan to name but a few.

The Beacons Festival, which takes place each August in Skipton, is an outdoor weekend of music, food and art. There are several stages hosting a range of music performers from folk and acoustic artists to DJs and a headline act at the end of each day. There are also many art displays, workshops and an on-site theatre.

Leeds Festival or 'Leeds Fest' as it is affectionately known by regulars is a large scale outdoor music festival held annually on the outskirts of Leeds. much to the dismay of local residents! (image credit:
Leeds Festival or ‘Leeds Fest’ as it is affectionately known by regulars is a large scale outdoor music festival held annually on the outskirts of Leeds. much to the dismay of local residents! (image credit:

If a more gentle music experience is more your thing, then a trip east to the Beverley Folk Festival may be worth a try. This event is held at the town’s Racecourse in June each year and contains several marquees across the site. It attracts some of the top names in folk music, including Billy Bragg, Chas ‘n Dave and Seth Lakeman. The folk festival also encompasses a wide range of styles including blues, acoustic and world sounds. During the festival weekend there are several fringe events across the town’s pubs as well as comedy, poetry, storytelling and craft stalls on site.

The York Mystery plays have been long established in the city since medieval times, when they were performed on waggons in the street to celebrate the festival of Corpus Christi. After the reformation of the mid-1500s this Catholic celebration was abolished by the state and in 1569 the York mystery plays ceased to exist. The tradition was revived some 400-years later in 1951 and performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardens. Some of these early productions featured a young amateur actress called Judi Dench. Nowadays the Mystery plays have returned to their roots, with this year’s performances being staged on waggons at four different locations throughout the city during July, including six hundred volunteers.

Over in Ilkley the highly renowned Literature festival takes place for two weeks each October at different venues around this picturesque town. The event attracts some famous names from the world of literature, theatre, journalism and poetry, including Giles Brandreth, Andrew Motion and Barrie Rutter. There are also numerous workshops and fringe events for visitors to enjoy.

Further north from here the Yorkshire Dales Festival of Food and Drink, held each May, offers a wide variety of culinary and refreshment delights. The food hall hosts a range of stalls from the local area, including Yorkshire hot dogs, locally made ice cream and a good old cup of tea. The drinks tent offers a variety of locally brewed ale and cider, along with wine and non-alcoholic beverages.

Aside from food and drink the festival offers a wide variety of entertainment ranging from cookery demonstrations from local chefs, which take place throughout the weekend in the “Theatre Tent” to guest speakers, jazz bands and Morris dancers in the Richard Whitely Pavilion. In the Livestock marquee local animal and craft demonstrations take place on all days.

The two-week long Swaledale festival is a series of events which take place at venues in the towns and villages throughout the dale. The event features musical performances from a variety of artists, poetry readings, plays and nature walks. The festival usually takes places in May or June and attracts thousands of visitors to the a

How far can you wang a welly!? If 'quite far' was your answer then this might just be right up your street! (photo credit:
How far can you wang a welly!? If ‘quite far’ was your answer then this might just be right up your street! (photo credit:


The Harrogate Spring flower show takes place each April at the Yorkshire showground. It is regarded as one of the largest horticultural events in the UK outside London and attracts exhibitors to its four main outdoor halls from all over the country. There are competitions for the best gardens in several different categories as well as craft stalls, food and outside nurseries. There are numerous competitions, including the “best show garden,” “best flower arrangement” and for the most “innovative display,” amongst others.

The autumn flower show held on the same site in September has a giant vegetable competition with several categories for the largest carrots, marrow and pumpkins. The event focuses also on cooking, with demonstrations on how to use the summer’s produce to make delicious meals. Other awards are made for categories such as best floral art, plant nursery displays and the most decorative apple tree.

The Whitby Gothic Weekend, runs bi-annually in April and October. It has been a feature of the town since 1994 and runs several gothic themed events including markets, club nights and live music. It is one of the largest Goth events in the world and contributes an estimated £1.1 m to the town’s economy. Much of the festival is based around the town’s nightclubs and entertainment venues, the largest of which is the Pavilion Theatre. Other pubs, which are at the centre of the festival, are The Little Angel and The Elsinore, where the event originally started. The town also has a range of goth-based stalls selling a variety of clothing, jewellery, and accessories.

Yorkshire people have always loved their sport, especially those of a more eccentric nature. The Welly wanging world championships held in the village of its birth, Upperthong (an equally eccentric name) near Holmfirth is held each year as part of its annual gala. The rules are simple; each competitor must throw a wellington boot as far as they can from either a running or standing start. The Championships are split into four categories, Mens, Ladies, U14s boys and U14s girls and several throwing techniques can be adopted, including the “Double handed” and the “between the legs.”

Equally as crazy is the Knaresbrough bed race, held every June. Ninety teams of six runners and one passenger race to complete a 2.4 mile course around the town. It has been held since 1966, when the newly formed Knaresborough Round table wanted a new fundraiser for the community. The event has since become a highly anticipated and popular event around the county. The course starts at Knaresborough castle, where the teams are judged for the best bed design. At 1pm they parade through the town centre in fancy dress. Afterwards the decorations are then stripped off in preparation for the race itself, which includes a 20m swim across The River Nidd and through the castle gorge. The average time for the winners is around 15 minutes and the event generates an estimated £100,000 for charity.

There are also many professional sporting occasions in Yorkshire, most especially in the sport of horse-racing.

The St Leger race was first run in 1776 on Cantley Common in Doncaster and is named after a local army officer and politician in the area, Anthony St Leger. It is the oldest of the five British classic horse races and takes place every September as part of a four-day festival at Doncaster racecourse.

Further north at York’s Knavesmire racecourse is the Ebor festival, a four day event in August. The flagship race of this annual meeting is the Ebor handicap, which has been run since 1843. Along with the racing it is known for its fashion and famous “ladies day” in which there are competitions for the best dressed racegoer and a chance to admire the latest styles of the season.

Over on the coast the Whitby regattta dates back to 1847 and is a four-day extravaganza of aquatic sports. It features rowing, yacht and raft races to name but a few and takes place each August. There are also many other events to enjoy throughout the weekend, including the Red Arrows, a fun run, beach football and vintage car rally amongst others.

Further down the coast the Scarborough cricket festival takes place at the town’s club on North Marine Road. Traditionally the Yorkshire CC, usually based in Leeds take a trip to the coast and play a four-day game plus one day match against another county. The festival has taken place since 1876-and the dates usually in August are firmly marked on many Yorkshire cricket followers’ calendar.

One of the biggest sporting events in Yorkshire is the World snooker championships at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. This takes place in April each year, lasting seventeen days and features the world’s top snooker players battling out for the biggest prize in the sport.

Christmas is a fantastic time to be in Yorkshire with several events around the area dedicated to the festive season. From November Millennium Square in Leeds is lit up by The Christkindelmarkt a festive German Market. It consists of over 40 stalls, selling food, gifts, toys and jewellery. There is also live musical entertainment in the bierkeller, featuring oompah party bands and serving German ale.

Picture: events Leeds German market.jpg


In Bridlington the annual Dickensian Festival sees the stallholders dress up in themed costumes and selling festive wares and food.

Over in Huddersfield the Festival of Light features a series of illuminated displays based around St George’s Square. It takes place in late November and is also combined with the Huddersfield Contemporary music festival, which hosts performances range of world class musical composers at venues around the town.

Whatever the season or occasion there is always a busy calendar of events in Yorkshire which are fantastic occasions for both residents and visitors to the area alike…providing the weather holds!