TRAVEL REVIEW: York is a city that wows with a mixture of the iconic and modern

York Minster - library picture. Photo: Visit York (Kippa Matthews)
York Minster - library picture. Photo: Visit York (Kippa Matthews)
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Historic, iconic, stunning and packed with something for everyone......just a few of the ways to describe the stunning city of York.

The towering Minster would spring to mind of most as a world-renowned and must-see asset of York.

But the city offers so much more and caters for everyone from horse-racing fans, to groups of friends and families.

And if you’re lucky on your visit — as I was recently — the destination really comes into its own when the sun is shining.

There is accommodation on offer to suit every budget. But we were booked into the stunning Royal York Hotel — a magnificent building dating back to 1878 with beautiful rooms combining the modern with the traditional, exemplary facilities and an enviable central location.

But before we could check in we decided to visit the impressive National Railway Museum with an incredible array of locomotives and full-sized platform. The venue really does have everything for the train enthusiast, young and old, and is free to enter.

But with the sun beating down we wanted to combine being outdoors with enjoying all York has to offer.

And what better way than on an open-top York City Sightseeing bus tour?

You are able to hop on and off the bus but at the same time take in the likes of the Minster, Clifford’s Tower, the York Dungeons and many more of the city’s historic attractions.

The convenience of being able to grab a bus every 15 minutes from various stops was perfect for my wife and I. It was a fantastic experience complete with informative commentary.

But it seemed on the day we were in York the only place to be was the riverside and the bars that pepper the location.

So, without the kids in tow, we decided to sample that atmosphere and quickly checked into our hotel before heading down to the area that includes The King’s Arms and The Lowther.

The area was thronged with people enjoying a local Yorkshire ale while looking out over the River Ouse as riverboat cruises chugged by.

It really was idyllic and we could ask for no more.

After a couple of drinks it was time to wander into town where locals were only too pleased to advise on places to visit.......after we had called into the famous Stone Roses Bar.

From a food perspective there are countless restaurants to tickle your tastebuds, from chains to independent small eateries.

We opted for the Pavement Vaults with its flavoursome BBQ and smoked offerings — a wonderful choice complemented by a range of craft beers.

After this it was time to wander back to the hotel as the darkness rolled in and York (if this was possible) looked even more impressive under the glow of the streetlights.

Before heading home the following day there was time for a beautiful breakfast at the Royal York, a wander through the historic Shambles with its hotchpotch of buildings and a coffee outside the Judges Lodging.

We were clearly only able to scratch the surface of a wonderful city and are already planning a return visit.

l For more information on upcoming events and attractions in York head to www.visityork.org.

l For prices, availability and bookings at the Royal York Hotel, visit www.hotelroyalyork.co.uk or call 01904 653681.

There are countless other attractions to enjoy in York and what better time to visit than this Bank Holiday weekend or the upcoming school half-term break

Below is also a list of upcoming festivals and events:

York Horse Races: May – October

York Racecourse, known as the Knavesmire, has been a favourite among racegoers since it was founded in 1731. In 2016, 17 meetings combine top class horseracing with world-class facilities to make it a sporting and social occasion for all to enjoy. Even if your horse fails to come up with the goods, it’s a fabulous day out in a beautiful location, a chance to dress up, and jolly good fun into the bargain. Public contact: Visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk or Tel: 01904 620911

Provisional dates for 2016 fixtures:

June 10 and 11 June: June Meeting

July 8 and 9: John Smith’s Cup Meeting

July 22 and 23: Music Showcase Weekend

August 17-20: Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival

September 4: September Meeting

October 7 and 8: October Meeting

York Mystery Plays at York Minster: Running until June 30

The 800 year-old gothic cathedral of York Minster will undergo a spectacular transformation in June 2016 to become a monumental auditorium for a much anticipated, five week-long staging of the York Mystery Plays at the Minster. Opening on the feast of Corpus Christi the plays return to the Minster for the first time since the acclaimed 2000 Millennium production, when over 28,000 people attended the sell-out performances. In keeping with the tradition of the Mystery Plays, the cast will be primarily amateur, with just one professional actor. Volunteers on stage and off will once again be at the heart of the Minster’s production. For full details of the production and how to get involved visit www.yorkminster.org/mysteryplays2016.

York Festival of Ideas 2016: June 7–19

York Festival of Ideas will return with a wide range of talks and events on various topics in June 2016.The Festival is now the largest free festival in the UK. Further programme details available early 2016. Visit www.yorkfestivalofideas.com

York Early Music Festival 2016: July 8–16

Widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of city’s many festivals, York Early Music Festival welcomes visitors and musicians from across the world to the UK’s premier festival of early music. The 2016 Festival takes the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare as its starting point, with music from the Elizabethan Theatre and pieces inspired by the Shakespearean themes of magic, mystery and the supernatural. Guest artists include: The City Musick directed by William Lyons, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, who will perform in many of the City’s exquisite historical buildings. Further programme details available early 2016. Tickets on sale March 2016. Call 01904 632220 or 01904 658338 or visit the website for full programme and tickets at www.ncem.co.uk/yemf.