Like many others, we’ve been counting down the days to the 17th May. Since the announcement of the intention to allow venues to reopen, it’s been a new light to reach for in the long tunnel that hospitality has been living through. 

The first tentative step in April to open outdoors was welcome in York’s beer gardens and food terraces, but those without that space have had to wait, and even a month of partial opening presented its own obstacles for venues and customers alike – albeit all impressively hurdled. So it is with excited anticipation that the day has come for the doors to open at York’s cafes, bars, restaurants, museums and theatres, and here’s where we’re heading…


We’ve all had plenty of time to perfect our own coffee making skills and home lunch creations, and let’s face it, the return of the cafe couldn’t come quickly enough. With a renewed respect for the brews and brunches of York’s finest, it’s a relief to return to the cosy snugs and vibrant chatter of these places that do it proper.

In the city centre, the stylish decor and relaxed buzz accompanies fabulous food and drink, showcasing Yorkshire at Mannion & Co. and Brew & Brownie, France at Partisan, and Italy at La Bottega. By the city walls Dyls and The Perky Peacock are a great setting to enjoy their warmth and comfort, whilst out on Bishopthorpe Road, community cafe culture thrives once more at Robinsons and The Pig & Pastry.


If ever there was time for a drink it is now. As a celebration to York’s reopening, or a reward for the toughest of times, it sure is a deserved tipple. Equally, the pubs and bars of York serving us the beers and wines and cocktails deserve our support more than ever before. So let’s raise a responsible glass with the best of them.

With a beer at Brew York, a cocktail at Sotano, or a wine at Pairings; in the laid back cool of Fossgate Social, the community togetherness of The Golden Ball, or the chaotic quirk of House of the Trembling Madness; from the ancient traditional pub Ye Olde Starre Inn to the new modern bar Impossible WonderBar. It’s good to be back. Cheers!


Even if you’ve honed your cooking skills in lockdown, it’s unlikely you’re close to the cuisine coming out of the kitchens in York’s finest restaurants. The York food scene has elevated itself in recent years and its absence has only made our hearts grow fonder.

Fonder for the exceptional modern plates at Skosh and Phranakhon. For the local goodness at The Whippet Inn and The Rattle Owl. For the classic European flavours at Le Cochon Aveugle, Delrio’s and Ambiente. And for the vegetarian delights at Goji and the vegan excellence at The Orchid. Because the way to our hearts, when reunited with the places here, is definitely through our stomachs.


York has some of the best and most famous attractions to visit anywhere, which have of course been closed to the usual throngs of tourists and locals. As their doors reopen, it’s a good time to appreciate how lucky we are to have such unique and incredible sites right here.

The most well known of them all is the Jorvik Viking Centre, telling the story of the city’s Viking history with fun and education. Not far behind, the National Railway Museum is equally attractive for a casual family visit or a trainspotter’s dream. York Castle Museum brings the city’s ancient past wonderfully to life, and you can delve deeper into the medieval heritage at Barley Hall and Merchant Adventurers Hall. And for those who’ve missed an artistic outlet, York Art Gallery reopens at the end of May with a Grayson Perry exhibition and Aesthetica Art Prize.


One thing that many of us have longed for is live entertainment, watched amongst other people. York usually caters so well for such things, with several theatres and event spaces which plan to return with performances for us eager crowds.

Although initially at reduced capacity, it is a treat to attend the plays, dramas, musicals, concerts and comedy at venues across the city. From beautiful big auditoriums York Theatre Royal and Grand Opera House through wonderful community halls Joseph Rowntree and Friargate Theatre, to vibrant gig venues The Fulford Arms and The Crescent; we can’t wait to be safely back in the atmospheres of them all!

Photos: Sotano, Brew & Brownie, York Theatre Royal