York. One of the UK’s prettiest, most visited cities. A city full of culture, a city full of great Yorkshire-folk and a city full of places to drink alcohol, coffee and consume live music. This, is the Halfway 2 Nowhere Guide to our hometown city.
Top 5 Venues
A city often missed off tours of all shapes and sizes, York isn’t the favourite for artists when it comes to choosing a place to play. What that means though, is York has a plethora of live music venues that get niche acts, upcoming talent and some of the best old-hats in the industry playing. So where should you be heading if you’re looking for live music in York?
The Fulford Arms
York’s best small venue for promoting new talent, across a range of genres. The Fulford Arms celebrated its sixth birthday in 2020 and hosts a live show on average five nights a week making it one of the top places to discover new artists in Yorkshire. Focusing on championing local talent but getting some quality touring artists too, The Fulford Arms is the place to be for live music. Great beer too with Blue Moon a staple and great guest cask ales on at all times.
Address: 121 Fulford Rd, York, YO10 4EX
Best H2N gig so far: Red Rum Club with October Drift
The Crescent Community Venue
From the outside, this looks more like The Phoenix Club than a live music venue, but this former working mans club has been given love and attention over time and become a great live hub. Not just great for music, The Crescent hosts comedy, cabaret and much more making it a belter of a place to be, every night of the week.
Address: The Crescent, York, North Yorkshire, YO24 1AW
Best H2N gig so far: The Jackobins
The first place H2N ever hosted a live gig, The Basement is a small, 100 capacity venue below a cinema in the centre of York.Just off the main shopping street, the venue is more known for it’s comedy and cabaret clubs but live music really works down there. We’ve hosted some great acts here and seen some awesome shows. With a low ceiling and side on layout, its intimacy makes gigs special and I do love it in there.
Address: The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, 13-17 Coney Street, York, YO1 9QL
Best H2N gig so far: Fatherson with Nieves
The Victoria Vaults
One of the newer venues to host music in the city, it was recently refurbished to allow local talent to perform in a different location. At around 130 capacity, this local pub has great beer and a great atmosphere making it a great place to watch live music. With much of the local gigs lined up by the guys at Vinyl Eddie, you can be sure to have a great night down there.
Address: 47-49 Nunnery Lane, York, North Yorkshire, YO 23 1AB
Best H2N gig so far: The Golden Age of TV with Pavilion
York’s premier venue, the Barbican is the city’s gateway to international and national acts coming to perform comedy and live music. In recent times, the Barbican has seen Ricky Gervais, Kelly Jones, Manic Street Preachers and more play making it a venue with a feast of entertainment. Soulless? Yes. But it offers some of the best acts that can be seen in the city.
Address: Paragon St, York YO10 4AH
Best H2N gig so far: Flight of the Conchords
Top 5 Cafes
If you’re not in a bar in York, chances are you’re in a coffee shop. Whilst known predominantly for its “bar to person density”, the number of coffee shops in the city, seems to grow exponentially each year. Whether you’re eating cake on Lendal at Brew & Brownie, or eating epic scones at Coffee Culture, there are top coffee shops on every street in the city centre. We’ve chosen the five we think are the best right here to help on your search for caffeine.
Opening its doors in 2011, Bison is one of the quirkiest, most friendly cafes in York. Just half a mile out from the city centre, the small cafe serves premium Hasbean coffee origins; with no house blend, you could visit Bison several times and never be served the same coffee but always be served a great one. Known for their Nitro Coffee, served straight from the tap, the team at Bison don’t just make great coffee they try and make the best that coffee can be. At Bison you can also pick up some top bagels and brownies courtesy of Brown & Blond making it ideal for stopping and working or getting a quick takeout.
Address: 17 Heslington Road, York, YO10 5AR
OK so this one isn’t strictly in York; if you visit you can’t just stumble across the Curious Coffee Company as it’s located in Haxby, a few miles outside but it has to be included when discussing the best coffee in York. With their own blend roasted by York Coffee Emporium, they offer all espresso coffees but also pour-over and french press. The coffee is good, but it’s the brownies you return for. Homemade by Eddie the owner, they are the best in the UK and I’ll challenge anyone who says different. The best part, you get to try a bit with all coffees, but you’ll definitely want to go back for more!
Address: 8, Haxby Shopping Centre, Haxby, York YO32 2LU
This is a coffee shop that has stood the test of time. In 2011 the cafe was awarded the best espresso in the country, and it hasn’t topped being one of the best in the city. Often using Hasbean, as at Bison, you are guaranteed a smooth, full bodied cup of coffee at The Attic at Harlequins. Available as pour-over, chemex, aeropress, espresso and more; you can learn about coffee beans and how to make a great coffee here. By night you can explore a world of gins and craft beers making it a great all round venue.
With two locations now in the city, there are few places that serve a better coffee and traybake in York. Predominantly serving coffee roasted by Coffeesmiths Collective (they have their own blend), with a range of guests now and again for pour-over methods, this is a coffee-lovers heaven. For coffee-geeks, you’ll notice in their Lendal shop, the Synesso HYDRA MVP, a top barista level machine that allows the team to work with pressure to serve the best tastes possible. Both outlets are fantastic, with awesome food menus to accompany the coffee. We recommend the cold brew, you won’t try a better cold brew anywhere.
Great cafe coffee starts with great beans and at Burr they regularly brew with North Star and Divine meaning they have a strong footing, before a single cup is poured. Importantly though, the team at Burr brew with love and they elevate the beans to the next level when serving. As well as great coffee, they have an extensive food menu, championing brunch basics and sharing platters. It’s a quaint little spot, easy to miss on the high street, but once you’ve been once, you won’t miss this spot again.
Beer – Top 5
York is a small city, but any local will have you know that there is a pub for every day of the year within the city walls. Whilst maybe not strictly true, it is wholly believable; and the number might be impressive, but it really is the range on offer that makes York the beer drinking city it is. From York Brewery pubs, real ale haunts, craft bee Meccas and more, whittling this down to just five was near impossible. We’ve included five different bars and pubs that would always be included in a day session of ours but there are genuinely 100s of great places to choose from – for a definitive list head to Within The Walls.
It’s hard for me to disregard the quality of Brew York as a drinking establishment. Some feel it’s lost its initial charm but as a craft beer lover, I can never complain about a venue in the heart of my home city with 40 keg lines in their beer hall and another 15+ beers in their tap room. It is comfortably the home of beer in York, and if you want to hear more listen to Episode 2 of our podcast with Lee, one of the breweries founders.
The tip of a triangle of pubs including The Swan and Volunteer Arms, the Slip has gone from strength to strength in recent times. With five rotating keg and five cask beers as well as a core lineup including Leeds Pale, Boltmaker and Hackney Hopster, this is a great watering hole, made even better by the friendly locals. One of my go-to pubs in York, this is a great place to spend a summers day, working through the bar sitting in their big beer garden.
Now, this is kind of a controversial choice. Not an independent by any stretch, the Fossgate Tap is part of a chain including Eagle and Child, Duke of York and a range of others, but what makes this one standout, is it is currently the home of Turning Point Brewery in the city centre. One of the most innovative breweries in Yorkshire, Turning Point brought their beers to the Fossgate Tap a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back. Expect cookie dough stouts, strong DIPAs and more from this place!
OK where to begin with this place, or should I say places. There are now two House of the Trembling Madness pubs in York. The best way to describe their new Craft Beer Mansion on Lendal is by taking these words straight from their site:
The Madness Ethos over 5 stories:
Basement – Craft beer shop, selling beers, meads, & ciders, to drink-in or takeaway
Ground Floor – Craft Beer Bar complete with 11 kegs and 3 casks, and Yorkshire-inspired Pintxos
First Floor – Craft Beer Bar with a further 11 kegs, huge range of spirits, full menu including specials
A little further afield…
About 2 miles outside of the city centre, lies my favourite new bar in York. The Crooked Tap, home of Crooked Brewing Limited, is one of the top establishments outside of the city walls. With a range of guest cask and keg beers constantly rotating, as well as a killer beer fridge and bottle shop, this is one of the most diverse pubs in the city. What makes it even more special though, is the bar staff and friendly customers; if you become a regular, the staff there will likely be pouring your first pint the minute you walk through the door. Great bar, great bottle shop and well worth a visit.
Join our email list to get regular news and views about York, breweries and coffee shops nationally as well as live gig listings!