In early 2020, the following vision statement for the festival was agreed.

York Walls Festival is a weekend of family friendly activities that celebrates the longest city walls in England. Our aim is to create a greater appreciation of the city walls, their histories and the identity they bring to our communities today. We work together to encourage people to explore and enjoy every aspect of the city’s medieval walls and towers.

Our aims are:

  • To engage families and be family friendly
  • To engage with those that may not usually engage with archaeology, heritage and local history
  • To be inclusive and work in partnership
  • To foster appreciation and involvement in heritage through visiting, volunteering and researching
  • To inspire people to develop greater appreciation and valuing of the medieval walls
  • To promote the walls as living heritage, integral to the city’s vitality
  • To promote volunteering as an important part of caring for the city’s heritage
  • To combine the power of archaeology, archives, social history, arts and theatre to inspire and celebrate

For 2020 we want to:

  • Ensure every organisation involved has aligned objectives to benefit family audiences, more volunteer support and appreciation of the walls
  • Spread footfall around the walled circuit
  • Encourage people to explore lesser-known and ‘hidden’ parts of the walls
  • Deliver high quality, memorable experiences
  • Help to support wider city 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 York 2020 Walls Festival, we will continue to focus on engaging the following audiences:

  • Families and children aged 5-16 (walls passport, activity book, trails, live events/hands-on activities)
  • Local communities, working in partnership with existing community organisations
  • Members of local archaeology and history societies, civic societies (via walks and talks, social media)
  • Primary and secondary school pupils and teachers (via schools pack initiative, and children accompanied by parents during festival)
  • Higher education students (via volunteer opportunities, 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 happy to partner with existing community organisations in reaching out to hard-to-reach audiences, including youth aged 16-24, minority groups, lower socio-economic groups and people with longstanding illness or disability.

The York Walls Festival is chiefly a summer residents’ festival, and does not seek to appeal to overseas or domestic tourists. Elements may appeal to independent visitors, who would be welcome to participate; however it expressly avoids engagement with travel trade and tour operators at this stage, as it is essentially non-commercial and focused on York residents.