One of York’s newest family attractions, The Wizard Walk of York, has been showered with five-star reviews since it launched early in 2022. In fact, it’s even won the Little Vikings Award 2023 for Best Tour of York, as voted for by our wonderful audience! Unlike the various ghost tours, river tours and bus tours that York has to offer, the Wizard Walk of York is firmly aimed at younger children, so we hopped on our brooms to see if it was as spellbinding as the reviews suggest. We took along a selection of young wizards aged 6 to 10 and they really enjoyed it. Here’s why we’d recommend it for families looking for something fun to do in York with kids.
1. The Wizard Walk of York is ideal for children
There’s no shortage of ways to see York; in fact, the city’s brimming with tours and trails, from ghoulish ghost tours to river cruises, walking tours and bus tours. Aside from the Little Vikings I Spy Trail – our Sunday Times recommended free walking trail of York – there are very few that are aimed squarely at children, but the Wizard Walk of York definitely is.
The Magic Hatter – the man beneath the wizard hat – has been entertaining children in York for years as one of the city’s most popular birthday party entertainers. He’s brought his skills and knowledge to this new venture, so parents can rest easy knowing that the content and delivery will be spot on for a young audience. No need to worry about nightmares or inappropriate content: it’s all perfect for children. Phew. There’s no age limit in either direction, but we’ve been twice, once with a group of 7 year-olds for a party and again with some slightly older children, and each time the whole group has been entertained. There are probably more giggles from the 5 to 9 year-olds, while 10+ year-olds may emit more groans, but it entirely depends on the child.
2. It’s perfect for Harry Potter fans
York is well known for its (actually quite dubious) Harry Potter connections, so the Wizard Walk’s theme is ideal for young Harry Potter fans. Although this isn’t a Harry Potter tour, and you’ll enjoy it just as much if you’re not familiar with the boy wizard, there are enough references to the books and films along the way to please anyone who turns up to the tour in a Hogwarts cape or a Gryffindor hoodie. There’s no dress code – plain-clothed muggles are very welcome – but it’s a good opportunity to dust off the stripy tie and round glasses that have been lingering in the bottom of the dressing up box (or if in doubt, just draw a lightning scar on your child’s forehead with eyeliner – it works for us). Along the way, you’ll also take in York’s famous Shambles, which was once thought to be the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley. It turns out that it wasn’t (boo), but that doesn’t take the magic away from walking down one of the country’s most atmospheric medieval streets.
3. It’s truly magical
The tour lasts around an hour – the perfect amount of time for young children – and the premise is that you’re helping the wizard to find a selection of creatures on his list, from owls to snakes and mice. Along the way, there are jokes and silliness galore which had our group laughing non-stop, but it’s the tricks that were jaw-dropping. A frog appeared from nowhere, a wallet set on fire and a tethered rat jumped from one rope to another. Even the most logical adults were bemused and impressed, and the kids LOVED it.
4. You’ll see some of the sights
Although the Wizard Walk of York isn’t a sightseeing tour as such, it does take in some of the major sights and prettiest streets in York, from the Shambles to York Minster, High Petergate to St William’s College, not to mention the legendary Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate. There’s not a huge amount of walking involved, and anyway children won’t notice that they’re walking as there’s so much to look at along the way. The tour ends just around the corner from King’s Square and the Shambles, so you can go back and explore Diagon Alley at your leisure if you like.
5. It’s entertaining for everyone
York has activities for children, activities for adults and family activities, and this is definitely one for the whole family. The wizard does a brilliant job of getting everyone involved (but not too much audience participation, thankfully) and keeping them engaged all the way around. We found that it was fun for everyone, and something that we were all talking about afterwards (trying, and failing, to work out how the tricks worked!). It’s an excellent activity to do in York with children, and we’d highly recommend it.
Good to know
- If you’re planning a birthday party, it’s worth knowing that you can book an exclusive Wizard Walk of York all to yourselves! We’ve been on one with our youngest and it’s great fun, with a little extra sprinkle of magic for the birthday child. It can also be booked for school groups too.
- You need to book your tickets in advance through the Wizard Walk of York website – don’t just turn up!
- Dress for the weather (waterproof cloak and pointy hat optional)
- York can get very busy during peak times (weekends, school holidays) so bear that in mind if you aren’t keen on crowds
The Wizard Walk of York runs on selected dates during school holidays and in term-time. Visit the website for the latest dates, and find more wizard-related things to do in York here.