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December 9 2013 Latest news:
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Tourists are already pouring into York, but what treats does the city have in store for them this summer? Jo Haywood finds out Photography by Joan Russell
Where: York is ideally placed just 20 minutes from the M1 and A1 along the A64 or A59, and is within easy driving distance of Leeds, Harrogate, the coast, the Wolds, Moors and Dales.
Its under two hours from London by train and there are direct rail services from Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and the South West. Its also within a convenient drive of four international airports: Leeds/Bradford; Manchester; Humberside; and Robin Hood Doncaster/Sheffield.
Parking: Theres plenty of parking in the city centre, but its expensive. There are, however, five Park & Ride terminals at Askham Bar, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, Grimston Bar, Monks Cross and Rawcliffe Bar with buses into the city every ten minutes and a set price of 2.50 return.
What to do: Theres the world-renowned Minster; the National Railway Museum; York Racecourse; York Eye; Jorvik Viking Centre; Castle Museum; Shambles; Yorkshire Museum; Museum Gardens the list goes on and on. Basically, a day is never enough.
Seven million people will visit York this year, most of them in the busy summer months when the city streets almost vibrate with life.
And while residents might occasionally mutter about the crowds on Coney Street and the throngs of amateur photographers that circle the Minster and stand 10-deep, camera-phones held aloft, in Shambles, you wont hear anyone complaining about the 443 million annual tourist spend and the 23,000 jobs the industry supports.
Those are average figures for an average year, but 2012 looks like being anything but average for York. Not only is it celebrating the 800th anniversary of its city status, granted by King John in 1212, its also raising a rousing hurrah for the return of the Mystery Plays, which take to a specially-constructed stage in Museum Gardens next month.
So what else is new in this city for all seasons (but especially summer)? Visitors to the Minster can now follow in the footsteps of the Queen, who popped in for a day of jubilee waving in April. They are being asked to enter the great church via the West End as construction work is taking place on the South Transept to create a new piazza in preparation
for when York Minster Revealed, a major 10.5 million stained glass restoration project, is completed in May 2015.
Round the corner at York Art Gallery, Art & Music, a new exhibition
running from June 23rd to the end of the year, showcases 40 works by widely disparate yet equally prestigious artists like LS Lowry, Walter Sickert and Andy Warhol that express an aspect of musicality in oil, prints or ceramics.
Another new exhibition is officially launched this month at Micklegate Bar, the gate through which reigning monarchs have entered the city since the 14th century. The Royal Gateway, created to celebrate the Queens diamond jubilee, explores the pomp and circumstance of regal visits.
Science and innovation are the key elements of a stunning celebration
taking place across the city until August 31st, incorporating more than 60 large-scale, open-air images at pivotal points. York Science & Innovation Grand Tour will highlight the citys global contribution to these vital sectors while telling colourful stories about the amazing people who have made and continue to make it happen.
Looking back as well as forward, York Archaeological Trust is hosting its first ever Yorkshire Medieval Festival in the city from August 4th to 12th, combining falconry and archery with thrilling re-enactments and dramatic performances. And York Civic Trust is mounting its first Views of York exhibition at Fairfax House until August 31st, exploring the changing face of the city from the 17th century to the present day.
All this is, of course, in addition to the usual myriad attractions York has to offer, from the quirky, compact Richard III Museum at Monk Bar to the grand, cathedral-like National Railway Museum.
When York is busy, as it invariably is during the height of the season, its visitor centre is a hive of activity. It now welcomes around 10,000 visitors a week all in search of somewhere to visit, a place to eat,
accommodation for the night or just a brief explanation of where on earth the street name Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate comes from.