Block rockin’ beats – A rundown of York’s best music venues

From hidden gem music spaces and big capacity concert halls, there’s a vast array of places to catch live music in York. Check out our low-down on the best in town…

The Crescent

The self-proclaimed independent DIY venue is a box of surprises. Retaining much of its former Working Men’s Club charm the revitalised venue attracts some of the best musical talent the world over. Regular promoters Joe Coates (Please Please You) and Harkirit Boparai (Ouroboros) can take a lot of credit, drawing the likes of Roni Size, Mostly Autumn, Leftfield, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Wave Pictures and the very best up-and-coming talent you haven’t yet heard but will be grateful when you do, to the 250-capacity venue.

Outside of live music, The Crescent also hosts legendary poets, documentary screenings, indie zine markets, comedy and quiz nights, and political rallies and election sorrow drowning sessions. A true gem in York’s live music crown and well worth the short walk outside the city centre walls.

The Habit

When local musicians are playing here, they can usually be found drinking here. That tells you everything you need to know about The Habit.

Live music echoes up and down Goodramgate most nights of the week as it draws travelling talent all too keen to play on the smallest stage in York. Tucked in the front window, only a few feet separating performer, crowd and bar, gigs at The Habit are as intimate as they come. Be warned: there’s only one way to find out what’s on and who’s planned to play. Its gig list is plastered on the noticeboard by the front door. Another good excuse to pop in for a drink!

The Hop

Absolutely banging pizzas with a side order of folk. The Hop on Fossgate knows how to put on a tremendous time. You’ll find more covers than originals here but there’s no shame in that. Always good for a singalong, live bands and acoustic soloists are guaranteed to be booked to play every night over the weekend so in-the-know locals love to pop in. Once you’ve grabbed yourself a social bench seat and placed your order at the bar you won’t ever want to leave.

York Barbican

If you’re after international superstars you’ve come to the right place. York Barbican is the largest music venue in York, meaning it attracts some of the biggest touring acts on the planet and even the UK Snooker Championships. Given the calibre of artist, tickets are on the pricier side but that’s to be expected. Top tip: once the encore has ended head to The Phoenix, an independently-run, award-winning pub across the road for some of the best beer in town.


This nomadic venue is a York institution. Currently found on Toft Green but in search of a new home, Fibbers’ back catalogue includes the likes of The Killers, The Monkees, Stereophonics, Editors, Kasabian, The 1975, The Fall, The Stranglers and just about every other band of the last 25 years. Many a local promoter have also cut their teeth here, pleasing over one million live music fans in the process. The future of The Fibbers brand is currently uncertain with its latest venue due to soon to be converted into residential and office use, however we’re excited to see where it pops up next.

The Fulford Arms

Good pizzas, good beer and a good dose of live music – what’s not to like about The Fulford Arms. This venue is bursting with character as are the bands it books. Up there with the best places to see the latest and greatest in the York music scene, The Fulford Arms proudly boasts a gig almost every day of the week. Worth the short stroll to get there.

Victoria Vaults

The first thing that strikes you when stepping foot in Victoria Vaults is how seriously it takes its music. Half of the bar and available floor space is dedicated to serving those there to catch a band, although it’s difficult to know what to expect as we’ve seen electronic, country, rock and cover bands all grace the stage within the same week. A great atmosphere always awaits even if you stumble upon one of the ticketed nights.

Victoria Vaults is a true champion of live music and has pretty much cornered the market in this part of town. Would recommend ten times over.

Kennedys & Sotano

We like to say that life’s too short for boring bars. Between our two venues we’ve entertainment on top every single night of the week. Upstairs in Kennedy’s there’s open mic night on Thursday, the famous FREAK OUT! Late nite disco on Fridays and our all nighter on Saturdays. Meanwhile, for a super chilled Sunday we slow down the pace with live jazz. Downstairs there’s our resident DJs on rotation and the magical mystery tour that is Ruby Tuesday open mic night hosted by ex-Seahorses frontman Chris Helme. Almost too much fun under one roof!

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