Illuminating York 2015: Best bits for kids

shamblesglitterIf there’s one event every year that it’s worth pushing back the kids’ bedtime for, it’s Illuminating York. This fantastic annual celebration of light has been bringing the dark city to life as the nights draw in for 10 years and this year’s festival runs from Wednesday 28th October to Saturday 31st October. There’s a whole host of events, trails and late night openings to mark the occasion (some free, others ticketed), running from 6pm onwards. If that seems a bit late for some children, all we’d say is that it really is an event to remember. We took ours for the first time two years ago (aged 3 and 1) and our eldest remembers it really well. This year we’ll be taking them again, and their baby sister too. At no other time of year will you see the city looking so uniquely beautiful, so it’s not to be missed. And as it’s during half term, there’s no worrying about them being tired for school in the morning!

Top tips to enjoy the night: wrap up warm, grab a trail leaflet from the Visit York Information Centre (Museum Street, opposite the main library) and book a table if you’re planning to eat out. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s Illuminating York that we think kids will enjoy, and they’ll love looking at the streets as they’ve never seen them before too.


It’s night time in the Museum Gardens but not as you know it! The birds are awake and the plants are dancing. Explore the botanical Museum Gardens as you’ve never seen them before. Wander the paths and be enchanted by a feast for the senses as sound and light flash and dance around you in a celebration of the natural world. The artists’ works, using light and sound, transform the gardens in an unforgettable evening.

The Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York – 28th to 31st October 2015, 6.30pm to 9.30pm – adult £6 advance/£8 on the door; under 16 £5/£7, under 5s free – Limited tickets available from the York Theatre Royal box office in person, online or by phone. Limited tickets also available from Visit York Information Centre every evening until 9.15pm

The Shambles YorkDisco down The Shambles

York’s most famous street, The Shambles, will be transformed by the addition of – wait for it – glitter balls! How cool is that? We’re going to be persuading the kids out of the house to see this alone. And it’s free!


trainLocos in a different light at the National Railway Museum

See the National Railway Museum’s fantastic trains atmospherically lit. The cafe and shop will be open, and parking will be free.

National Railway Museum – 28th to 31st October, 6.30pm to 10pm – Free and no need to book

things to do in York with kidsLate night opening and torch-lit tours at York Art Gallery

See the Gallery after night and uncover hidden truths in a mystery tour.

York Art Gallery – Tours 30th October, 5.30pm and 7.30pm; late night opening 31st October 10am to 8pm – Tours £5 and suitable for all ages (lasts an hour), normal charges for late night opening.

magnify-200x200Exploring Light at York Explore

This fun day of activities and talks from artists and physicists focuses on light, including how it’s used in scientific research.

Explore York Library – 31st October 2015 – 11am to 5pm – Free and just drop in

York Cocoa House HogletsLate night opening at Hotel Chocolat

Late night opening at the purveyor of really tasty chocolate from 28th to 31st October until 9pm.



Illuminating York runs in York from 28th to 31st October 2015. For more information, visit the Illuminating York website.

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