Each year the York Walls Festival creates a series of community and family-friendly activities that celebrates the longest city walls in England, and the importance of our shared heritage.

One of the aims is to create a greater appreciation of the city’s ‘Bar Walls’, their history and tales, and the meaning they bring to our resident and visiting communities today.

Our aims are to:

  • engage with families and be welcoming to all festival visitors
  • engage with those that may not usually engage with archaeology, heritage and local history
  • forge links with the local community and community groups
  • be inclusive and work in partnerships
  • foster appreciation and involvement in heritage through visiting, volunteering and researching
  • inspire people to develop greater understanding and appreciation of the medieval Walls
  • promote the Walls as ‘living heritage’, integral to the city’s vitality and identity in the C21st
  • promote volunteering as an important part of caring for the city’s heritage
  • combine the power of archaeology, archives, social history, arts and theatre to inspire and celebrate


For future festivals we will:

  • ensure every organisation involved has aligned objectives to benefit family audiences, increased volunteer support and appreciation of the Walls
  • encourage people to visit sections of the Walls that are less well known
  • reveal ‘hidden’ parts of the Walls, and communicate tales and histories
  • deliver high-quality and memorable experiences
  • support York initiatives such as the World Heritage bid and York Castle Gateway development
  • build on experience and lessons learned from previous festivals
  • Capture feedback and build evidence for investment in conservation, presentation and interpretation



For the 2021 York Walls Festival, we will continue to focus on engaging the following audiences:

  • Families and children aged 5-16 (using the Walls Passport, festival Activity Book, Walls trails, live events and hands-on activities)
  • Local communities, working in partnership with existing community organisations
  • Members of local archaeology and history societies, civic societies (via walks, talks and social media)
  • Primary and secondary school pupils and teachers (via the ‘schools pack’ initiative, and by engaging with children accompanied by parents/guardians during the festival)
  • Higher education students (via volunteer opportunities and internships)


Understanding these audiences is important in raising public awareness effectively, targeting our marketing campaign and ensuring that as many potential participants as possible come and enjoy the festival.

The York Walls Festival aims to be inclusive and have wide appeal. The festival is always interested in partnering with existing community and York-based organisations. In particular we want to engage with hard-to-reach audiences, including young people aged 16-24, minority groups, lower socio-economic groups and people with longstanding illness or disability.

The Festival relies principally on funding and donations to operate, and is run by volunteers.