Award-winning family performers visit York Minster for pop-up festival

David Gibb

An award-winning musician and a former member of international stage hit STOMP are among the performers visiting York Minster’s first Heart of Yorkshire Festival this summer.

Children’s musician and songwriter David Gibb and ‘TrashBang! Man’ Billy Hickling will both run family friendly workshops as part of the two-month long pop-up festival in Dean’s Park, which opened last weekend.

The popular park has been transformed for the festival, which will include an international stone carving festival, open air cinema and a tipi bar.

A range of new family workshops will run throughout July and August, starting on Saturday 14 July with a willow weaving workshop, where participants can learn the ancient craft skill under the expert guidance of willow sculptor and floristry designer Wendy Bristow of Twigs and Sprigs.

Toddlers can get involved on Tuesday 17, Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 July at special music sessions for under-3s exploring the Japanese Suzuki Method of music teaching with workshop leader Heather Moger.

From 21 July, the Bare Toed Dance Company will bring their popular movement workshops to the park exploring the theme of nature through minibeasts and small creatures (21 July), flowers (28 July) and birds and flight (27 August).

Interactive theatre performance specialists Mud Pie Arts will run multi-sensory sessions designed to empower children and promote a love of books through storytelling, role-play and lots of participation. Workshops include We’re going on a Lion Hunt by David Axtell on 30 July, Jack and the Flum Flum Tree by Julia Donaldson on 6 August and Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis on 13 August.

In August, TrashBang! Man Billy Hickling, who was previously a performer and rehearsal director with international stage hit STOMP, will bring his award-winning TrashBang! workshop to Dean’s Park. Three sessions of the interactive music workshops will take place on Saturday 4, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August, when participants can enjoy transforming everyday objects into percussion instruments.

David Gibb2

The workshops conclude on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 August with award-winning songwriter and musician David Gibb, who will take participants on a musical journey through his imagination, where bears live in the cupboard under the stairs and wolves roam the school corridors. On both days David will run a How to write a song workshop and two performances of his Climb the tree show.

In addition, the Minster’s popular children’s craft activities will take place throughout the summer holidays on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 24 July to 30 August. Activities include making your own stained glass style sun catcher, decorating a canvas bag and creating your own clay animals.

The centrepiece of the two-month festival will be the international York Minster Stone Carving Festival – the first the cathedral has hosted since 2010 – which will run from the 17 to 19 August. More than 70 stonemasons and carvers from across the UK and Europe will showcase their skills during the three-day festival, which starts with the popular annual Stoneyard Open Day, followed by two days of carving in Dean’s Park which conclude with an auction of the pieces created over the weekend.

Throughout the summer, pop-up tipi bar SÓL ÁST, from the team behind THOR’S tipi bar, will provide street food and drinks with a summery vibe. A large outdoor garden and terrace offers visitors the chance to enjoy one of the most magnificent settings in the country, with a drink in hand.

To conclude the festival, the country’s leading producer of open-air cinema, The Luna Cinema, will screen blockbuster films on three dates from the 28 and 30 August, allowing viewers to enjoy a film under the stars with the Gothic cathedral as a backdrop. The films are The Greatest Showman (28 and 30 August) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (29 August).

A range of adult activities are also running until 17 August including willow weaving sessions, urban beekeeping demonstrations and talks from Mike I’Anson, who recently retired from Helmsley Walled Garden.

For full details of all events and activities and to book tickets, visit