Next, head a little out of town to Thirsk’s Birds of Prey Centre, where you can learn about the dozens of species kept here and be thrilled by masterful displays of falconry. Eagles, falcons, hawks, kites, vultures and owls swoop and dive in a mesmerising visit that is safe and fun for all the family.
Of course, one entertainment venue that attracts many folk to Thirsk is its racecourse. Having hosted horse racing in the town for over 200 years, the current course opened in 1923 and remains a regular part of the racing calendar from April to September.
Other nearby events have also brought in the revellers in recent years, in particular a music festival just out of town at Baldersby Park in Topcliffe. Deer Shed is a three day summer extravaganza in a beautiful setting that regularly wins awards for the best family music festival, somehow combining entertainment for the kids without diluting what is always a seriously good line up for the grown- ups.
Back in the centre, as signified by the clock tower rising out of Thirsk’s market square, there are a pleasing selection of shops all serving a purpose for the local community. There’s The Greengrocer, an excellent and enjoyable fruit and veggie, there are quality butchers Johnson’s and H Lee, there are specialist stores of gifts, materials, clothes, books, antiques, flowers and more, plus on a Monday and a Saturday the open air market comes to town.
For a bite to eat and a liquid lunch, you can easily find a English caff here in the daytime; try Bliss Café or Upstairs Downstairs for coffees and cakes or teas and sarnies respectively. And into the evening, Thirsk ventures into further flung cuisines, at the likes of Racha Thai and Fantinos Italian. Though pubs remain reassuringly local, serving Yorkshire ales and traditional atmospheres at Little Three in town and at The Bay Horse in Rainton. Let’s drink to Thirsk.