York Unlocked Weekend 2023: Explore York’s Hidden Treasures for Free

Photo by Lison Zhao

Booking opens this Saturday, September 9th at 10 am for the York Unlocked Weekend 2023, an event allowing access to approximately 75 remarkable buildings and open spaces in York that are typically closed to the public.

The special event will see the doors thrown open for FREE to around 75 fabulous buildings and open spaces often closed to the public – on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 October. Whilst there are plenty of buildings that you can just turn up and access, advance booking is required for some events and tours.

The exciting programme includes a mix of new buildings and favourites from last year and in 2023 is extending into York’s suburbs and Bishopthorpe. It aims to help both residents and tourists alike to uncover hidden treasures and experience familiar places through fresh eyes.

New highlights include Bishopthorpe Palace, the Archbishop’s Walled & Pleasure Garden, St Peters School, the Terry’s Factory Clock Tower and former HQ, Holgate Windmill, St Mary’s Tower and the Minster Refectory. This year’s also features a special ‘Architecture of the Ouse’ cruise in collaboration with City Cruises and The Big Draw in collaboration with York Army Museum. Collect a sheet and sketch book from the museum and sketch the buildings you’ve seen  -which will be entered into a digital or physical museum exhibition. Favourites from 2022 are also back including the Assembly Rooms, Duncombe Place Masonic Lodge, Guildhall and King’s Manor.

Kathy M King, founder of York Unlocked, explains:

“York is blessed with a rich diversity of building gems and open spaces that all have amazing stories to tell. Maybe you’ve walked past for years on your daily commute and wondered what lies behind the door, or you are new to York and want to learn more about its rich history. This special event enables you to see familiar places through fresh eyes and explore these hidden treasures across one fabulous weekend. Whether you are an architecture buff with a tick-list of specific buildings or a family seeking to see the city in a different light, York Unlocked is guaranteed to inspire, delight and intrigue. Get in fast though – last years bookable events sold out within a couple of hours.”

York Unlocked 2023 follows a hugely successful first year in which an estimated 20,000 physical visits were made to 60+ buildings. Visitors came from York and nearby, regional cities including Manchester, Durham, Liverpool and London and from as far afield as Australia and the USA.

York Unlocked is a registered charity and the event is run entirely by a small team of volunteers supported by the goodwill of building owners and managers. The weekend has also been made possible thanks to kind funding from York BID, Two Ridings Community Trust, RIBA Yorkshire, the York Common Good Trust, City of York, UK Government and Shared Prosperity Fund.

Please visit www.york-unlocked.org.uk for a full list of buildings and events for 2023 and details of properties requiring booking.