Each year the York Walls Heritage & Community 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.

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

Our aims are to:

  • engage with families, Festival visitors and those who may not usually be interested in heritage, history and community
  • forge links with local community groups, organisations and businesses
  • be inclusive and work in partnerships
  • inspire interest and appreciation in heritage and community including York’s diverse history and the City Walls
  • promote the City Walls as ‘living heritage’ that remain integral to the city’s vitality and identity in the 21st century
  • promote and support volunteering, mentoring, skills-sharing and co-operative working
  • combine the power of archaeology, archival materials, social history, arts and theatre to inspire and celebrate
  • connect with the people and communities of York, Yorkshire and across the globe for the benefit of all
  • be accessible and ecologically responsible

For future festivals we aim to:

  • ensure every organisation involved has aligned objectives to benefit family audiences, increased volunteer support and where appropriate an appreciation of the City Walls
  • encourage people to visit and understand sections of the City Walls that are less visited
  • 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


At the 2021 York Walls Festival we continued to focus on engaging with the following audiences:

  • Families and young people (using the Walls Passport, Festival Activity Book, Walls trails, live events and hands-on activities)
  • Local communities, working in partnership with existing community organisations and volunteer groups
  • Members of local archaeology and history societies, civic societies (via walks, talks and social media)
  • Primary and secondary school pupils and teachers (e.g. 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 effectively raising public awareness, having a targeted marketing campaign and ensuring that as many potential participants as possible come and enjoy the Festival.

The York Walls Heritage & Community Festival aims to be inclusive and have wide appeal. The Festival is always interested in partnering with existing community organisations and individuals. In particular we want to engage with hard-to-reach audiences, including young people up to the age of 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.