The Howl & The Hum, Bull and Huge to play Make It York’s new YorkLife festival weekend in Parliament Street in April

The Howl & The Hum: York Life headliners on April 3

YORK’S new spring festival weekend will showcase the city’s musicians, performers, comedians and more besides on April 2 and 3.

Organised by Make It York, YorkLife will see more than 30 performers and organisations head to Parliament Street for a free open event from 11am to 9pm each day with no need to book tickets in advance.

The Saturday headliners will be Big Donaghy’s long-running York party band Huge; the Sunday bill will climax with The Howl & The Hum in their biggest home-city performance since gracing York Minster on May 25 2021.

Both bands will play the main YorkLife stage as part of a programme curated by York’s Music Venue Network, presenting such York acts as Bull, Kitty VR, Flatcap Carnival and Hyde Family Jam.

An array of interactive sessions will be held by York organisations, taking in theatre workshops, instrumental workshops, face painting, comedy and dance performances, plus fire performers and circus acts.

The main stage on Parliament Street will have an open viewing area with a 500 capacity, while a covered stretch tent will hold a York Gin bar and seating area for 90 people with a one-in, one-out policy.

YorkLife is supported by City of York Council’s ARG (Additional Restrictions Grant) funding, which aims to boost businesses impacted by Covid-19. The April 2 and 3 programme has been curated with York residents in mind and to support the city’s recovery from Covid.

Big Ian Donaghy: Fronting Huge on the YorkLIfe main stage on April 2

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities, says: “Our cultural sector is the lifeblood of our communities. There is so much talent in York, from musicians to comedians and poets to performers, which makes our city so vibrant and unique.

“YorkLife is an excellent way to celebrate our home-grown musicians and performers, particularly after what has been a challenging few years for us all. I would encourage residents to join the festival and enjoy the best of York’s own talent.”

Sarah Loftus, Make It York’s managing director, says: “YorkLife is a celebration of York talent and culture, from our street musicians to our community groups. We want to really celebrate the sense of community in York and we’re encouraging residents to join the party and see some of the hottest talent York has to offer.”

Chris Sherrington, from the York Music Venue Network, says: “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to showcase some of York’s amazingly talented artists who have developed their careers across the city of York’s many great grassroots music venues.

“As part of YorkLife weekend, we’re looking forward to celebrating the return of live music to the city and enjoying the wonderful variety of music for one and all. This event has been a true cooperative effort of York’s event industry and creatives and we look forward to working on future events.”

To find out more about YorkLife, head to The full line-up will be announced later this month. 

Bull: Home-city gig for York’s first band to sign to a major label since Shed Seven

Confirmed acts and workshops


The Howl & The Hum; Huge; Bull; Kitty VR; Flatcap Carnival; Hyde Family Jam;  Floral Pattern; Bargestra and Wounded Bear.


Mud Pie Arts: Cloud Tales interactive storytelling;

Thunk It Theatre: Build Our City theatre workshop; 

Gemma Wood: York Skyline art;

Fantastic Faces:  Face painting; 

York Mix Radio:  Quiz; 

York Dance Space:  Dance performance;

Burning Duck Comedy Club: Comedy night; 

Henry Raby, from Say Owt: Spoken poetry; 

Matt Barfoot: Drumming workshop; 

Christian Topman: Ukulele workshop; 

Polly Bennet: Little Vikings PQA York performing arts workshop; 

Innovation Entertainment: Circus workshops. 

Nicolette Hobson and Gemma Drury of Mud Pie Arts: Hosting Cloud Tales interactive storytelling workshops at YorkLife

More Things To Do in York and beyond as Plan B doesn’t stop the Christmas buzz. List No. 60, courtesy of The Press, York

CHRISTMAS shows, Christmas concerts, Christmas plays, ‘tis the season for Charles Hutchinson’s diary to be jolly full.  

Jason Manford: “Exercising the old chuckle muscle”

Busy week for comedy: Jason Manford: Like Me, York Barbican, Thursday and Friday, 7.30pm.

SALFORD’S Jason Manford revives his funny-bloke-next-door schtick for Like Me, his follow-up to “the fun we had on my last tour”, Muddle Class, a show about turning from working class to middle class that played York Barbican in February and October 2018.

“In these trying times, it’s always important to be able to get away for a couple of hours and exercise the old chuckle muscle,” reckons Manford, 40, who has tickets available for both nights at

Meanwhile, Jack Dee’s Off The Telly gig, moved from April 25 2020 to tomorrow night, has sold out. So too have Alan Carr’s Regional Trinket shows on December 18 and 19.

Filey Brigg, seascape, by Rosie Dean at Village Gallery, York

Exhibition of the week: Rosie Dean, Seascapes, Village Gallery, Castlegate, York, until January 22, open 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

SEASCAPE artist Rosie Dean has taken part in York Open Studios for the past ten years. Now she is exhibiting at Simon Main’s Village Gallery through the winter months.

“I feel total peace breathing the ozone, staring out to sea and focusing on the horizon line, sensing all around me and feeling the elements around me, the sights and sounds, the salt in the air. Pure contentment,” says Rosie.

Levellers: Part of York Barbican’s busy week for concerts. Picture: Steve Gullick

Curiosity concert of the week: The Magical Music Of Harry Potter Live In Concert With The Weasleys, York Barbican, Monday 8pm.

POTTY about Potter? Then exit those Shambles shops and head to York Barbican for a night of music from Harry’s films and the West End musical, performed by the London Symphonic & Philharmonic Film Orchestra with the Weasley brothers in tow.

Original actors, magic, star soloists, a choir and the orchestra combine in the debut European tour’s programme of John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicolas Hooper and Alexander Desplat’s soundtrack magical moments, plus selections from the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child score. 

More music in York Barbican’s crammed pre-Christmas diary comes from Levellers, Brighton’s folk-rock stalwarts, tonight and Steve Steinman’s tribute show, Anything For Love: The Meat Loaf Story, on Wednesday, both at 7.30pm. Box office:

Steve Mason: Solo gig at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall

If you seek out one gig, make it: Steve Mason, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, Tuesday, doors, 8pm; start, 8.30pm.

STEVE Mason was the frontman of The Beta Band, cult Scottish exponents of folktronica, a blend of folk, psychedelia, electronica, experimental rock and trip hop.

He first dipped his toe into solo work on Black Gold, his mournful 2006 album under the guise of the short-lived King Biscuit Time and has since released Boys Outside in 2010, Ghosts Outside with Dennis Bovell in 2011, Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time in 2013, Meet The Humans in 2016 and About The Light in 2019.

Presented by All Off The Beaten Track, Mason will play solo on Tuesday. Box office:

The poster for The Arts Barge Christmas Party! at The Crescent, York

Christmas jamboree of the week: The Arts Barge Christmas Party!, The Crescent, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm.

THREE York community musical groups, Bargestra, The Stonegate Singers and The Blind Tiger Dance Band, unite for the Arts Barge Christmas bash.

Bargestra, the 20-piece Arts Barge band skippered by Christian Topman, play jazz, swing, Beatles, ska and more. The Stonegate Singers, a community choir open to anyone, is directed by Jon Hughes, who teaches the music by ear, one part at a time, so that anyone can do it.

The Blind Tiger Dance Band, Arts Barge’s 16-piece Lindy Hop swing band with Rinkadon Dukeboy up front, brings together seasoned professionals and rising young instrumentalists. All three groups will join together to make a 50-piece ensemble for the festive finale.

Recommended but alas sold out already at The Crescent are Christmas shows by Mostly Autumn on Sunday and fellow York band The Howl & The Hum on Wednesday, both at 7.30pm.

Chapter House Choir at the double: Carols by Candlelight, York Minster, Wednesday; Festival of Carols, St Michael-le-Belfrey, York, December 18, both at 7.30pm.

THE Chapter House Choir’s Carols by Candlelight at York Minster has sold out, but a second chance to hear the York choir and its bell ringers comes at St Michael-le-Belfrey.

Tickets for a Festival of Carols are available via Eventbrite,  but do hurry because they are limited in number and selling fast.

Danny Mellor and Meg Matthews in Badapple Theatre Company’s The Snow Dancer. Picture: Karl Andre Photography

Global warming alert of the week: Badapple Theatre Company in The Snow Dancer, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Thursday, 7pm; Green Hammerton Village Hall, December 20, 2pm

GREEN Hammerton’s Badapple Theatre Company has revived artistic director Kate Bramley’s magical eco-fable, The Snow Dancer, for its latest rural tour.

Bramley’s original story blends festive family entertainment with an important eco-message and an original score by Jez Lowe, as actors Meg Matthews and Danny Mellor tell the story of the animals of The Great Wood, who are desperate for a long sleep, but find it too warm because something is awry.

The intrepid heroes in this fairy tale with a furry tail must search for the mysterious Snow Dancer to make it snow if they are ever to sleep. Box office: York, 01904 501935 or at; Green Hammerton, 01423 339168.

York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust’s artwork for A Nativity For York…Out Of The Darkness

Christmas plays of the week: York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust in A Nativity For York…Out Of The Darkness, Spurriergate Centre, Spurriergate, York, December 17, 7pm; December 18, 2pm, 4pm, 6.30pm. A Christmas Carol, Mansion House, York, December 17 to 19, 7pm.

TERRY Ram directs the second York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust community production for Christmas, drawn from the York Cycle of Mystery Plays in the old church atmosphere of the Spurriergate Centre. Box office:

The Penny Magpie Theatre Company, from York, have sold out all three Mansion House performances of director Samantha Hindman’s adaptation of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a version seen through the eyes of modern-day schoolboy Jon, who is gradually welcomed into Scrooge’s redemptive tale. Carols, mince pies, mulled wine and a house tour complete the festive experience.

Freedom is…Johannes Radebe’s debut tour show at at the Grand Opera House, York, next spring

Leaping into 2022: Johannes Radebe, Freedom, Grand Opera House, York, April 12, 7.30pm.

MAKING swish waves with baker John Whaite in Strictly Come Dancing’s first all-male coupling, South African dancer Johannes Radebe has announced his debut tour, Freedom.

Radebe will lead a company of dancers in classic Ballroom and Latin arrangements, scorching South African rhythms and huge party anthems, as he takes you on his journey from growing up in Zamdela, to travelling the world, winning competitions and becoming a Strictly professional.

Leave your inhibitions at the door and get ready for a night of energy, passion and freedom,” he says. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at

York Music Hub shares online platforms to keep young talent on song in lockdown

In sunnier times: York Music Hub musicians playing outside the Spurriergate Centre, York

YORK Music Hub is responding to the Covid-19 lockdown by launching an online sharing site, #YMHShare.

The idea is to build an online forum featuring music making and creativity by the young people of York, celebrating the fantastic talent within the city. 

The site has been put together by Squeegee Design, the York web design company based at Lancaster House, James Nicolson Link, and is monitored and updated regularly with content sent in from families, individuals and groups.

“The #YMHShare initiative is for anyone who had a concert cancelled, a festival pulled, an exam postponed or indeed anyone who’s using this time to work on being musical,” says Molly Newton, York Music Hub’s strategic manager.

“So much hard work has gone into school productions, concerts and all kinds of events, and #YMHShare offers a virtual alternative. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far, as many of York’s young musicians have uploaded digital performances and video-link collaborations, and groups have taken this opportunity to showcase previous triumphs in absence of planned concerts.” 

York Music Hub had two major events cancelled as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic: the Schools Choral Festival in March and the upcoming city-wide showcase Hubfest2020, now in its second year.

Molly Newton: York Music Hub strategic manager

“The Schools Choral Festival usually takes place at the University of York in March,” says assistant strategic manager Craig Brown. “This year would have seen nine primary and five secondary schools perform.

“Hubfest2020 would have built on the success of the inaugural festival last year, featuring 15 primary and eight secondary schools. The festival is a showcase of all youth music within the city; last year’s festival attracted more than 1,000 young people to make music as part of the event.”

The hub’s response to 2020’s cancellations has been to curate the hard work in a virtual space, as young people, families, groups of friends and bespoke online collaborators come together for this initiative, drawing on the many providers and musicians in a “central area of celebration”. Cue #YMHShare, a sharing platform for a “whole host of music making from any and all young people in and around York”, aged five to 21.

“From next Monday (April 20), when school term would be restarting, we’re launching YMH Online Learning,” says Molly. “This will be a dedicated section of #YMHShare where downloadable resources, YouTube live and Zoom music-making sessions will be posted for anyone to get involved with.”

These sessions will kick off with the York Music Hub Zoom Choir, led by York singer and entertainer Jessa Liversidge, the ubiquitous driving force behind so much online singing activity in York and beyond at present, on Mondays at 2.15pm.

Open to any singer aged eight to 18 -18 from York and the surrounding area, the Zoom Choir offers the chance to connect with other singers, take part in fun vocal warm-ups to develop your vocal technique and learn songs in a range of styles: a “fantastic way to wind down and interact with others in these strange times”.

” I’m raring to go with the young singers of York,” says online-singing driving force Jessa Liversidge

“I’m hoping to attract young people who are missing the inspiring feeling of connecting with others through song,” says Jessa. “I can’t wait to see who signs up for a Monday afternoon, after a day of doing work at home (or at school); those who would enjoy seeing and hearing other melodious youngsters on screen. All young singers are welcome, whatever their previous singing experience.”

Jessa adds: “How the York Music Hub Zoom Choir evolves and what we can achieve depends very much on who gets involved, and how long the lockdown continues.

“I have all sorts of fantastic songs planned to work on with the group, as well as some lag-resistant experiments, and I’m really looking forward to getting going. After a short, self-taught crash course in Zoom choirs these past few weeks with my adult groups, I’m raring to go with the young singers of York.”

Singing For All @TheHub will take place on Fridays at 11am. All are invited to tune in to these lively singing sessions suitable for all ages, again led by Jessa Liversidge. “We want to get everyone involved and lift your spirits with songs and singing games, from well-known school assembly songs, partner songs and rounds to classic pop tunes and even some new songs to learn,” says Molly. “Tune in every Friday at 11am, live on the York Music Hub YouTube channel.”

Ukulele Stars tuition will be open to all ages on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am, with these fun and interactive YouTube sessions being led by Steven Hawksworth, of Hawkulele fame. No previous ukulele experience is necessary.

Curriculum-based GCSE/A-level Zoom music composition sessions for Key Stages 4 and 5 will run throughout the summer term, led on Wednesdays from April 22 at 11am by York Arts Barge Project co-founder, workshop leader, teacher and bass player Christian Topman.

York Music Hub GCSE/A-level Zoom music composition session tutor Christian Topman

These tutorials will be delivered via Zoom but also will be available every week to catch up on via York Music Hub’s YouTube channel. They are aimed at students in Year 9 to 13 who will need to access the Zoom app to join in with the live sessions. They can contact Christian directly at with any composition ideas 

Those needing more information regarding the sharing site or any of the online sessions should contact

Summing up the importance of music-making at this time, Molly says: “It seems to me that music is our salvation. It’s what we turn to in times of celebration and sadness; it keeps us calm or builds us up, it helps us relax, escape, endure, survive.

“It’s the medium through which we express and share our feelings. As everything stops, the thing that keeps going – and keeps us all going – is music.

“The internet is now flooded with “virtual” responses to current events: isolation compositions; play-off challenges; streamed concerts and Broadway shows; balcony performances and quarantine choirs.”

“It’s our fundamental method of communicating,” says Molly Newton of her love for musical interplay

Molly’s passion for music oozes from her whenever she leads a project or performance. “I was lucky enough to have hugely supportive parents and inspiring music teachers in my youth and grew up believing that anyone can achieve musically, regardless of their perceived ability or intellect,” she says.

“It’s our fundamental method of communicating and I’ve been lucky enough over the years to see hundreds of young people flourish and grow through music-making opportunities.”

Why is music such a good educative tool, Molly? “I’m going to draw from Plato, who said: ‘I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning’.

“However, regardless of how much music can support the learning of other subjects, music is important in its own right in that it’s a fundamental aspect of all societies.

“Music is a truly collaborative subject, a universal language, and learning it enables a global communication with others that transcends borders and cultures. It’s a subject that teaches creative thinking, discipline, confidence, resilience, patience, perseverance, diligence, achievement and joy, to name but a few!”

“As everything stops, the thing that keeps going – and keeps us all going – is music,” says Molly Newton, as she builds up the York Music Hub online sharing forum

In these strange, alien, disconnected days, Craig has noted our power still to be creative and musically resilient. “The #YMHShare site has really embodied a public celebration of the arts,” he says. “Within this feed, we see so much of the appreciation, value and celebrations of music.

“We speak to many of the city’s instrumental teachers, who are continuing to give private lessons through video links, and it is clear that pupils and parents really value the role that music is playing, offering an escape, opportunity of relaxation, or providing a welcome challenge.”

Looking ahead to when musicians can meet up again, how may York Music Hub celebrate? “We’re already planning a ‘Post-Lockdown’ celebration and are hoping that we will be able to bring as many schools, providers and young people together in a truly collaborative and inclusive way,” says Molly.

“Given the uncertainty and challenge we’re all facing, we’re hoping that when this is all over, we will be able to bring people together through music and remind ourselves how joyful it feels to play and sing together.”

Roll on that day. In the meantime, make a home for music at home.