York is known for a lot of things, but it’s music scene is not one of them. Compared to other cities across the UK, York is definitely lagging behind.

Things have been gradually changing though; more bars are hosting local musicians, more flyers are being distributed across the city for various nights, an increasing number of different genres are being made available to the locals.

As the music scene in general has been growing year on year, so has YO1, York's very own music festival. Named after the postcode area in the centre of the city, YO1 Festival started three or four years ago and has been getting bigger and better ever since.

This year was actually the first time I attended and I was surprised by how much it was like a ‘real’ music festival. It was only a one day event, but there were eight different stages of music, beer tents, food stalls and much more.

Most importantly it had that festival atmosphere. A field full of happy faces, people talking to strangers, an abundance of cider - that’s what makes a festival for me!

Let’s start with the food.

Over the course of the day I ate a ridiculous amount of food.

I started with a pulled pork and homemade slaw roll smothered with barbecue sauce. Yum. Unfortunately this is the only food I got a photo of, as everything else was wolfed down the second I got my hands on it! Nonetheless, I still managed to sample some paella with chicken and chorizo, a hot dog topped with friend onions, some sticky jerk chicken and a slice of chocolate brownie. My trousers were a little tighter than usual by the end of the day, but it was so worth is as everything tasted delicious.

Then there was the fun.

Slides are fun. Bouncy castles are fun. Put the two together and you've got a hell of a lot of fun!

I was over the moon when I discovered that the bouncy slide was not just for children and quickly dragged my friend over to join the queue. It was soon our turn and all I can say if I have not giggled so much in quite a while! I was utterly disappointed when our time ran out, unsuccessfully begging the man in charge to let us have one more go!

Then there was the surreal.

In the middle of this field there was this little white tent surrounded by artificial flowers. Intrigued we headed on over and were instructed by a man sitting outside to go in through a gap in the fabric. We followed the instructions and discovered a small room full of artificial flowers stuck into the ground with a path weaving through them.

As we started to make our way along the path, a woman dressed in a flowing white dress stepped out in front of us, holding a piece of wood with a door knob and asked us to hold it.

She then knocked on the door, waited for us to open it, and presented us with a bunch of flowers.

There was lots of flowers to go around. And a guy doing some strange dance moves thrown in to the mix too.

It was all a little surreal, but good fun! As we were leaving we spoke to a guy outside who told us the performance would be changing every hour, but unfortunately by the time we went back a few hours later they had closed for the day.

And of course there was the music.

Eight stages covering everything from dance to acoustic, indie to reggae, rock to pop, and quite a bit in between.

To be honest, I didn’t actually spend that much time actually listening to the music or having a dance. I was preoccupied by the cider, the food, the bouncy slide, getting lost in flowers, catching up with old friends and making new friends. But the music I did hear was really good and did managed to squeeze in a couple of little dancing sessions.

All in all it was an excellent day out and I would definitely recommend YO1. It has also left me full of excitement for the festival season ahead, though I’ve still got to decide between the many festivals I want to go to this year!

Are you going to any festivals this year?

PS. If you're looking for things to do in the city, check out this post on York Maze too.


  1. Corinne13 May, 2014

    Catherine, I haven't been to the York festival, but it must be something about New York state fests. We went to a Medieval fest somewhere a couple years ago that had a lot of strange acts as well...all fun!

    1. Catherine13 May, 2014

      Little details like this surreal tent can make all the difference :)

  • Becky Padmore13 May, 2014

    Looks like you had a lot of fun! Must try it one day!

    1. Catherine13 May, 2014

      Would definitely recommend it :)

  • Michele {Malaysian Meanders}14 May, 2014

    That white tent with the flowers is definitely surreal, and the food and bouncy slide look incredibly fun. Austin, Texas where I'm from has 2 famous music festivals but I've somehow attended neither one. They both draw such a huge crowd that it's recommended to stay away from that part of town unless you love sitting in traffic.

    1. Catherine20 May, 2014

      Ah, the inevitable festival travel! Would say it's normally worth it if you're actually going to the festival, but can completely understand the need to avoid it if you're not!