Summer holidays in York 2017: Best Activities in York City Centre for Kids


Looking for something to do in York with kids this summer? Look no further! From activities in the city to day trips and special summer workshops, we’ve got it covered. Find our pick of the best below.

Fancy a day trip instead? Check out our guide to the best day trips for kids beyond York. And if you’re looking for some fab classes, take a look at our handy guide here. Want to take in a show? Here are the best summer shows in and around York for families.

York MinsterGet crafty at York Minster

Enjoy hands-on animal craft activities at York Minster on Wednesdays throughout the summer (27th July to 3rd September; 10am to 3pm). There will also be special storytelling sessions and fun family-friendly tours of the cathedral on each of these activity days. Take part in a craft activity and earn a sticker towards your Arts Award Discover certificate, in partnership with York Theatre Royal, Explore York, York Army Museum and York Museums Trust. Crafts suitable for 4+ and are £2.50 per participant (standard admission charges apply).

  • 2nd August: Sculpt a clay grotesque
  • 9th August: Make a beautiful butterfly mobile
  • 16th August: Make a fish streamer
  • 23rd August: Design a dazzling dragon puppet
  • 30th August: Make a fierce lion mask

Visit the York Minster website

Dig York Little VikingsDig, delve and explore at Little Diggers sessions at DIG for 2 to 5 year olds

Dig, play and learn at a Little Diggers session at DIG, St Saviourgate on Saturday mornings (10am to 11am,  for 2-5 year olds). The sessions are themed as follows: Saturday 29th July – Norse Myths and Stories; Saturday 12th August – Archaeology of the future; Saturday 26th August – Garden explorers. Book in advance to avoid disappointment. DIG, St Saviour’s Church St Saviourgate York YO1 8NN

Visit the DIG website

Tee off at York Art Gallery Gardens’ miniature crazy golf course

It’s golf, but not as you know it. The Artists’ Garden at York Art Gallery has been transformed into a miniature golf course with some funny, silly and thought-provoking works of playable art. It’s a separate attraction to the gallery itself but why not combine it with the visit to the gallery too? It’s a great place for children. Runs until September 3rd at York Art Gallery, and you can just turn up and play with no need to book. Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EW.

Visit the York Art Gallery website

Go back in time to Viking York at the JORVIK Viking Centre

If you haven’t visited JORVIK Viking Centre since it re-opened, why not?! Book your tickets in advance to bypass the queue (smug alert!) and enjoy a fantastic York experience. Tickets valid for a year too – bonus. JORVIK Viking Centre, 19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT

Visit the JORVIK Viking Centre website

Join Animal Agents, the Summer Reading Challenge at Explore York Libraries (free!)

The Summer Reading Challenge is one of our must-do activities during the holidays. It’s free, fun and a great way to get kids reading or keep them reading over the summer. Sign up in any York library from 15th July. Everyone aged 5+ must red six books over the holidays. They’ll win prizes for each book and a medal and certificate for all six. Under fives can join in too.

Visit the Explore York website

Check out the new Viking Legend exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum

Don’t miss this fantastic new exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum. It’s full of incredible artefacts and has lots of hands-on stuff for children. All three of our kids really enjoyed it, and we managed to spend two hours there without even visiting the rest of the museum. Until 5th November. Yorkshire Museum, York Museum Gardens, York YO1 7FR

Visit the Yorkshire Museum website

Military Menagerie at York Army Museum

York Army Museum’s fantastic new exhibition explores the unique and exciting stories of animals who have served with the British Army, from horses and dogs, to deer and monkeys. Discover animals’ importance to soldiers and to the army as a whole. Look out for the open displays where visitors can handle items, have a go on the interactive touch screen, embark on a children’s trail or have a go at dressing up. Until 3rd September. 3A Tower St, York YO1 9SB

Visit the York Army Museum website

Check out the chocolate exhibition at York Castle Museum

Find out more about the history of chocolate at York Castle Museum. Discover how the Georgians, Victorians and Jacobeans satisfied their sweet tooth, check out the spectacular fizzing sweet machine in the Toy Gallery and find out what’s cooking in the working Chocolate Factory where you can see what it was like to work in York’s famous factories. It runs until 5th January 2018. The exhibition is on at York Castle Museum, Eye of York, York YO1 9RY until 5th January 2018.

Visit the York Castle Museum website

Catch a show at the Great Yorkshire Fringe

From The Scarecrows’ Wedding to The Giant’s Loo Roll and The Amazing Bubble Man, there are loads of family shows at The Great Yorkshire Fringe this year. Check out our handy guide to our pick of the best.


Watch Robin Hood: The Arrow of Destiny at York Theatre Royal (and check out the workshops)

York Theatre Royal’s swashbuckling summer show brings the classic tale of Robin, Maid Marian and the Merry Men to the stage with songs, slapstick and puppets. Don’t miss the Outlaw School workshop before every matinee (7 to 12 year olds). It runs from 4th August to 2nd September 2017.

Visit the York Theatre Royal website

Barley Hall York Little VikingsDon’t miss Poo Day at Barley hall!

Discover how poo is used to solve ancient mysteries and have a go at making your very own replica historic turd! What could be better?

Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th July – 10am to 4pm – Barley Hall, 2 Coffee Yard, York YO1 8AR

Visit the Barley Hall website 

PS. Don’t forget to check out…Our Guide to the Best Trips From York With Kids This Summer

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