As one year ends and another begins, it is often a time for reflection. To gaze back at seasons past, at achievements, at regrets, and at where it has brought us in the present. Then to look forward to times ahead, to hopes, to plans, and to where it will lead us in the future. As each person does this in our individual lives, so too do the businesses and the projects that keep a city revolving and evolving For these must evaluate too, achieve, regret, hope and plan, and continue to (r)evolve into the new year. So, now that we’re nicely into January, we’ve had a little time at Independent Life to reflect on why we do what we do…..

At a similar time of reflection a couple of years ago, we took the decision to move Independent Life into the wonderful city of York. Having spent several years in Leeds, building il from the ground up to share the city’s independent joys, we noticed a similar yet different independent movement growing in York; the time seemed right to shout about this too.

Yorkshire’s two leading cities are equally attractive and separately unique. Leeds has a renowned vibrancy and diversity which breeds exciting evolving subcultures and a continually great independent scene. It was a perfect place for il to showcase, although less straightforward to become established in an already blossoming community. Now, through our Little Black Book, City Times & Local Life magazine, social media news & updates, and online listings & articles, Independent Life has made good on our original intention of helping to make this already brilliant city better for everybody.

York, on the other hand, is lesser known as an independent hotspot. Whilst universally loved for its quaint charm and historic attractions, it is rarely acclaimed as a modern metropolis. But recently the city has organically developed an exciting array of independent openings; music venues and bars such as The Crescent and Fulford Arms, restaurants such as Skosh and Le Cochon Aveugle, and streets such as Walmgate and Bishopthorpe Road are all examples of this influx of quality. The 2018 opening of fabulous independent hub Spark confirmed a thrilling new York.


All of which, whilst individually successful, felt unrecognised beyond those in the know. A nice secret, yes, but one which deserved to seep out for others to discover York’s independent treasures. As much as the popular city attractions remain essential to continue York’s high reputation, the people and places providing a new burst of life demands attention too and needs a collective voice to make itself heard alongside the other obvious enticements. So, we decided to tell everybody about them.

Over the last year, adapting our Leeds formula in print and online to suit York, we have offered residents and visitors alike the opportunity to discover their favourite York. Streets like Fossgate, areas like Tang Hall, and spaces like Shambles Market – plus many more – each have a unique feel within the city. All feed off each other’s strength in terms of offer, personality, presentation and narrative. The result is a synergy that resonates with the modern urban consumer and marks these areas as destinations.

What makes a destination is this combination of contrasting and complementing elements. York is a city with a strong identity that is wonderfully preserved and essential to its character. But it could be argued that the unfailing popularity of its beauty and history, its pub crawls and race days, have made it impenetrable for a bubbling independent scene. Now, the many amazing happenings are proving quite the opposite. The two things are not mutually exclusive and Independent Life aims to present the city holistically; as one where York’s original charm is enhanced by the independent talent beneath. And one where we can help everybody find the parts that they will love.