An autumn day out in York

2 women and a man stood on the York city walls. York minster can be seen in the distance.
60 Years

Many alumni will remember the magic of autumn in York. As the leaves start to turn brown and the temperature gets cooler, the historic city comes alive. In honour of our 60th anniversary, we take a look back on our alumni’s favourite things to do on an Autumn day out in York – along with some new suggestions for if you’re planning a trip back.

Cosy up with a coffee and a cake

Autumn term is a time of hunkering down to study, and York Alumni will remember the many afternoons spent in one of York’s cosy cafes – whether you were downing espressos to cram for that exam, or escaping from studying and munching a brownie instead.

There’s no better excuse for a trip back to York than to spend an afternoon cafe hopping and sampling all the delicious cakes across the city. And if you like, treat yourself to a seasonal pumpkin spice latte: autumn in a cup.

“I’ll always remember queueing outside of Brew & Brownie, laughing and catching up with my friends; the food was always more than worth the wait.”


Get a fright at the York Dungeon

Halloween is around the corner and if you’re looking to be spooked, why not make a trip to the York Dungeon? Be prepared to encounter some of York’s more notorious characters. From vicious Vikings to menacing witches, you’ll uncover the city’s darker side of history. 

exterior of the 'York Dungeon' with a sign that reads 'book now to avoid horrible disapointment'

Revisit your favourite bookshop

If you were a humanities student or simply a bookworm, you probably spent a lot of time inside York’s bookshops. Hundreds of students have ventured into York’s bookshops over the years to pour over shelves of literary heaven.

From The Minster Gate Bookshop, with over four floors of books, to the recently opened Portal Bookshop, which specialises in LGBTQIA and fantasy books – York is a treasure trove of independent bookshops, and there’s no better way to cater to your nostalgia than by revisiting them.

“Beside the Minster is one of my favourite York gems, The Minster Gate Bookshop. Stacked with books from floor to ceiling (and staircase to staircase), here you can find just about any second-hand antique book, or a discounted copy of that one novel you’ve always wanted. It’s impossible to leave this shop without a book, tote bag, or tea sample from Hebden Tea next door”


Do a Ghost Walk of York

A sign that reads 'Multiaward winning Ghost Trail. Equity qualified. 7.30pm every night, the Minster. (West Doors)'

With over 2000 years of history, perhaps it’s unsurprising that York is reportedly the most haunted city in Europe. Roman soldiers are said to march the cellars of York Treasurer’s House, and a ghostly apparition has even been spotted sitting in the pews of York Minster!

A ghost tour is the best way to learn about York’s haunted history. As you walk through the winding streets and hidden snickelways, you’ll be treated to chilling tales of restless spirits. Bring your friends and get ready to be spooked.

“On Halloween in my first year at University, me and my flatmates visited York and went on the famous Ghost Walk. It was such a great way to learn more about the City we’d moved to, whilst also having a lot of fun!”


…then drink spirits with the spirits

The five ghosts of 'The Golden Fleece' sign that reads:

Lady Alice Peckett, said to be found roaming the endless corridors and staircases.

Geoff Monroe, located on the third floor.

One Eyed Jack, Mostly sighted in the bottom bar, One Eye Jack is said to be dressed in a red coat.

Grumpy Old Man. Again sighted in the bottom bar, this time crouched in a small alcove.

Small Child. Immediately behind the entrance to the pub is where the youngest of the ghosts has been most commonly sighted.

We couldn’t leave out York’s haunted pubs either. If you ever visited The Black Swan Inn, Ye Olde Starre Inne, or The Snickleway Inn as a student, you may have drank among the spirits of the past. The Golden Fleece, York’s ‘most haunted pub’, claims to have paranormal sightings in each of its rooms. One bar manager dismissed the sightings, only to change her mind when she felt an icy hand running up her spine. A haunted pub crawl is a must if your returning to York!

“I worked at the most haunted pub in York while at uni and there were a lot of stories, most of the people I worked with believed in ghosts. There were weird things that happened like glasses falling off shelves, and shapes caught on CCTV. A landlord, a lady, a young boy, a pickpocket, a pilot all have been seen before”


While not haunted, the Guy Fawkes Inn is also a must on the list. The Inn claims to be the birthplace of famous gunpowder plotter, Guy Fawkes, sitting right opposite the church where he was baptised. But if you’re planning to visit on the 5th November, be warned. As a former property of Guy Fawkes, the building is prohibited from celebrating bonfire night!

Potter along The Shambles

Who can forget this iconic medieval street? Although crowded, it hosts an array of shops perfect for autumn including Hebden Tea Shop, The Shop That Must Not Be Named (Harry Potter themed) and the York Ghost Merchants, which found internet fame for its handmade model ghosts.

Autumn Events in York

One of the ghost sculptures from Ghosts in the Gardens, outside in museum gardens. It is a woman made from metal, translucent so you can see through her.

Ghosts in the Gardens (23rd September – 12th November) – Be sure to make a trip to Museum Gardens this autumn, where you’ll find mesmerising sculptures of ghosts haunting the gardens (and across the city too).

Pumpkin Picking (October) – If you’re around York this October, don’t miss the opportunity to pick your own pumpkin at a local farm. Check out York Mumbler’s blog for a list of all the places to go.  

Hallowscream at York Maze (13th October – 4th November) – Watch York Maze become transformed into a horror festival, with a live-action Haunted House, theatre, and rides. 

York Ghost Week (28th October – 5th November) – Organised by York Ghost Merchants, this week celebrates York’s haunted history by hosting various ghost-themed events, including a model ghost hunt. Find more details on their website.  

Bonfire Night and Fireworks across the city (4th-5th November) – Visit one of the Bonfire Night celebrations surrounding the city and watch fireworks light up the sky.

Do you have any spooky stories from living in York? What were your favourite Autumn days out in the city? Add them to our virtual memory map.

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