If a trip to York isn’t already on your to-do list this summer, take a big red felt tip pen and schedule it in right now. The city is already famous for its charm and history, but this year it’s managed to step things up a notch or two. 2012 is a year of celebration for the UK, and York is bringing something very special to the party: chocolate!
Read on to find out more about the UK’s city of chocolate…
- York’s sweet history
- Your chocolate to-do list
- Experiencing York on the cheap
- Things to do for free
- Where to stay
- Getting there
MoneyMagpie was amazed to discover just how deep York’s chocolate and confectionery legacy runs. The world-famous Rowntree’s, Terry’s and Cravens all started out there, and to this day over one billion Kit Kats are produced in the city (you can literally smell chocolate on the breeze).
With the eyes of the world on the UK this summer it’s no surprise that York has gone all out to showcase its incredible chocolate heritage. The city is also celebrating 800 years of self-government, so everyone is in the mood to party!
March onwards: Chocolate, York’s Sweet Story
The new visitor attraction will be opening its doors on 31 March, and having had a sneak preview Moneymagpie can confirm that it’s well worth a visit. During the hour-long tour you’ll discover the secrets of York’s fascinating chocolate history, and watch as the humble cocoa bean is brought to life. Adult tickets £10, children (5-15) £8. To find out more and book your tickets visit www.Yorkssweetstory.com.
York’s very first Chocolate Festival will come to life this April. The city will be aflutter with a chocolate market, delicious tastings, dinners, workshops and even a Chocolate Party at the top of York Minster (tickets to the Chocolate Party are £12 for adults, £6 for children – unsuitable for under 8s. To find out more and book your tickets visit www.yorkminster.org).
The York Chocolate Trail
You’ll be hard pushed to find a single cobblestone of York that’s not seeped in chocolate history. The York Chocolate Trail allows you to explore this history at your own pace, as you retrace the footsteps of confectionery giants Rowntree’s, Terry’s and Cravens. Download your FREE chocolate trail guide right.
The York Cocoa House
No trip to York would be complete without a visit to the York Cocoa House. This quaint little venue hosts fantastic chocolate making workshops, as well as being home to a lovely cafe serving hand-made cakes and pastries.
Top tip! If you’re in York during the week be sure to treat yourself to a York Cocoa House Afternoon Chocolate for two. For just £10 you and a friend will enjoy savoury chocolate treats, chocolate cake and your choice of drink. Delicious, and a real bargain too.
Invest in a York Pass
If you’re planning to visit even a handful of York’s countless attractions make sure you invest in a York Pass – your purse will thank you for it. The pass will gain you free entry into 30 attractions and access to over 40 special discounts, a massive bargain considering a one-day adult pass will set you back just £34 (a child pass is £18).
There are plenty of wonderful things to experience in York without having to part with a penny. Here’s a round-up of our favourite freebies:
Walk the city walls
Over two miles in length and with a history dating back almost 2,000 years, York’s ancient city walls are one of England’s finest surviving historical monuments. Walking them is a great way to see the city from a whole different perspective – and as you stroll you’ll see fascinating clues to York’s Viking, Roman and medieval past (as well as some great views).
See the Shambles
The Shambles is one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the world, and so walking down it feels a bit like stepping back in time! Packed full of quirky little shops, cafes and restaurants, it was also crowned ‘The Most Picturesque Street in Britain’ by Google – so you owe it to yourself to have a quick gawp and wander over its ancient cobblestones.
All aboard for the National Railway Museum
This museum’s not just for trainspotters! Covering the history of the railway and housing dozens of real-life trains (from steam power to Eurostar) in its huge main hall, the National Railway Museum is great for kids (and of course transport and engineering buffs!).
Relax in the Museum Gardens
Prettily perfect botanic gardens set in the centre of York, the Museum Gardens are an ideal spot for a picnic. Romantic Roman and medieval ruins dot the grounds, and the nearby Yorkshire Museum (though not free) contains some amazing archaeological finds.
Take in some culture at York Art Gallery
The York Art Gallery, also in the city centre, contains some internationally-famous paintings (look out for L.S. Lowry’s paintings of York). There are also regular guest exhibitions, with the likes of David Hockney having been on show last year.
Head over to the Visit York site for a whole host of chocolate-themed hotel offers and discounts. For those of you on a really tight budget, York has a welcoming range of tourist hostels and campus accommodation with prices starting from as little as £16 per person per night.
If it’s a luxurious break you’re after the Dean Court Hotel is offering a 2-night stay for £410 including champagne and a chocolate afternoon cream tea on the second day (offer based on two people sharing, check their website for available dates). Pricey we know, but for somewhere extra special the Dean Court Hotel is a stunning choice.
Moneymagpie travelled to York on the East Coast which operates 72 services each weekday between London King’s Cross and York. Advanced return fares start from just £26 for Standard Class or £79 for First Class (customers travelling First Class can enjoy East Coast’s complimentary food and drinks offer plus unlimited Wi-Fi). Times and fares can be found on the East Coast site or by calling 08457 225225.
As always be sure to shop around for the cheapest train tickets. Check out East Coast first and then head over to The Train Line and Red Spotted Hanky to see if you can find a cheaper deal.