Days out for everyone – from fish and ships to spring blooms and Daleks on the prom

With three bank holidays ahead in May and summer just around the corner, the season for holidays and day trips is in full swing.

Here, we look at just a handful of the events that might take your fancy across North Yorkshire in the coming weeks and months.

If you are organising a major community or visitor event that will take place later in the year, please let us know and we will do our best to include it in a future issue of Your North Yorkshire to let our readers across the county know about it.

North Yorkshire offers a packed and varied summer season, ranging from the Great Yorkshire Show and many other agricultural shows, to festivals such as the Deer Shed and Yorkshire Day events.

This issue, we start our round-up on the coast with the return of the Whitby Fish and Ships Festival.

Fish and Ships Paul Gildroy of The Magpie Cafe prepares for Fish and Ships 2022

Paul Gildroy of The Magpie Cafe prepares for Fish and Ships 2022

Whitby Fish and Ships Festival

The festival, which takes place on Saturday, 20 May, and Sunday, 21 May, celebrates Whitby’s fishing heritage. It will include cookery demonstrations in the seafood kitchen on Endeavour Wharf, featuring local and celebrity chefs, with a special focus on seafood.

Guests include 2022 Masterchef winner Eddie Scott, Simon Crannage from Yorkshire's Grantley Hall, The Magpie's Paul Gildroy, Raithwaite Hall's Phil Akrill and Andrew Nightingale from Hawsker’s Hare and Hounds.

Sea balladeers and shanty singers, including Flash Jack, The Keelers and the Doomfolk, as well as local bands, will entertain visitors. Stalls will showcase local produce and there will be children’s trampolines, face painting and balloon making and walkabout acts, plus workshops, tours and talks.

Big Ideas by the Sea

Along the coast, and also starting on 20 May, is Big Ideas by the Sea, a new cultural festival that will bring to Scarborough some of the best speakers locally and across the UK to talk about big issues related to the environment, climate change and history.

The event aims to become the leading cultural festival in the North of England. Artist Kane Cunningham and former City of York archaeologist John Oxley MBE will focus on concerns facing local communities and people across the globe.

Kane Cunningham said: “We are glad to secure Professor Dan Parsons from the University of Hull who is a climate and environmental expert. He will be there on Saturday morning on 21 May to open the festival lectures. This will lead onto Judy Ling Wong and Charlotte Bonner, who will discuss sustainability in the workplace and in education. We are really keen to attract lots of young people to the day which we are calling Agents of Change.”

John Oxley said: “We are also planning a community archaeological dig in the Old Town of Scarborough. Our intention is to open up a large trench by St Mary’s Church in the Old Town at Paradise Walk. This ‘Time-Team’ style dig over six days will take the festival to communities that would not normally take part in such an event.”

The festival will run until 3 June. 

Sci-Fi Scarborough

Before either of those events, Sci-Fi Scarborough 2023 takes place this weekend, April 22 and 23, at Scarborough Spa, from 10am to 5pm each day.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Sci-Fi Scarborough includes guest stars from the likes of Doctor Who and Star Wars signing autographs and taking part in panel talks, all kinds of gaming, interactive props, publishers, cosplayers, comic book artists, authors, traders, a cosplay competition, a 15-strong Dalek invasion and more.

Tickets are available at Sci-Fi Scarborough.

A Dalek on Scarborough seafront

A Dalek at Sci-Fi Scarborough

Harrogate Spring Flower Show and spring gardens

As the first major event in the national gardening calendar, the Harrogate Spring Flower Show offers stunning floral displays, glorious garden designs and a programme of talks and demonstrations.

The show is on until Sunday, 23 April, at the Great Yorkshire Showground, but garden lovers can stay a while in the Harrogate area to explore incredible gardens as they burst into colour for spring. RHS Garden Harlow Carr is a 58-acre showcase of horticultural excellence. On 29 and 30 April, Harlow Carr holds its first horticultural show of the year, showcasing the best of spring.

The Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park is an award-winning, 45-acre valley garden of woodland and lakes near Masham. It is home to more than 80 contemporary sculptures and a microclimate ideal for growing its 20,000 rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias. Between 25 and 27 April, a botanical illustrations workshop will take place with award-winning illustrator Bridget Gillespie.

Finally, the cherry blossoms on The Stray in Harrogate are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, having been planted to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Walking at RHS Harlow Carr

Walking at RHS Harlow Carr

Mercer Art Gallery exhibition

Also in Harrogate, a major new exhibition in collaboration with Tate and National Galleries of Scotland at the Mercer Art Gallery features art by Turner Prize winner Martin Creed.

Creed was born in Yorkshire in 1968 and rose to fame following his 2001 Turner Prize win, for art installations including the controversial Work No. 227 The lights going on and off 2000, an empty room in which the lights are switched on and off at five-second intervals.

Creed’s Work No. 370 Balls 2004 currently fills the main gallery at the Mercer. The vast installation features nearly 1,000 balls of different scale, weight and texture. Visitors can also see Creed’s iconic neon Work No. 890: Don’t Worry 2008 alongside Work No. 1340 2012, a large-scale wall painting of diagonal stripes.

It’s the first time that the artworks have been exhibited in North Yorkshire – and the first time Work No. 370 Balls 2004 has been shown outside the capitals of England and Scotland.

The exhibition runs until 2 July. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is free. Find out more about the Martin Creed exhibition.

Northallerton’s May Fair

The annual May Fair will take place from Thursday, 27 April, to Monday, 1 May, on Northallerton High Street, with rides, stalls and games. The High Street will be closed to cars, but the shops will be open, so visitors can make a day of it in town.

Northallerton May Fair

Northallerton May Fair

Leyburn Jazz Festival

Taking a peek to much later in the season, the Leyburn Jazz Festival will run from Thursday, 19 October, to Sunday, 22 October, and as the event grows it is looking for more volunteers to help it run smoothly.

The festival includes workshops for young people with world class performers and this year there is an even stronger educational element, adding sessions with composer in residence Paul Edis. Local musicians of all ages will have an opportunity to be part of a community Leyburn Festival Jazz Collective band and perform during the festival, which is part of BlueBoxt, the North Yorkshire charity that fosters musical opportunities and education for young people.

The music is based in St Matthew's Church, with a day of concerts in Tennants Garden Rooms and events at other venues in the town. This year's programme features Jacqui Dankworth, Hot Club du Nord, Paul Edis, Natalie Wildgoose, BBC Young Jazz Musician of 2022 Ben Shankland, and Alligator Gumbo, plus a gospel choir and the Climax Jazz and Blues Band. 

One of the founders, Colin Bailey, said: “There are all sorts of ways to be involved: helping us deal with publicity, developing a Friends organisation – an important new project for this year, ideal for someone who knows the area well. With an event like this, everyone can make such a valuable contribution.”

Find out more about Leyburn Jazz Festival or call or text Alastair McLachlan on 07817 709167.

Find more to do in North Yorkshire

Find out about more events and activities around the county on these council-supported websites:

If you want to tell us about a major event you are organising for possible inclusion in Your North Yorkshire, email