Taste Ales With A Difference at York Beer & Cider Festival


Organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which hosts a series of beer festivals throughout Britain, York CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival 2014 was held on York Knavesmire (Racecourse) from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th September. The opening times were 5:30pm to 11:00pm on Wednesday and 12:00pm to 11:00pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The main highlight of the festival is that casks of ale from British brewers tapped and ready for tasting are featured. Visitors at the festival can pay cash or use the token system to taste the ale from the casks. Even if you have been to other places in Britain tasting beer at various places, your journey would be incomplete if you have not tasted ale in the half-pint glasses at this festival. Apart from getting a thrill from tasting superior beer, most CAMRA events also feature live music, tasty pub food and pub games so that you can have all the fun that you want while getting immersed in great beers and ciders. The mascot for the York Beer & Cider Festival 2014 event was selected out of many entries and the winning name was Beerwulf. The runners up names were Øl and Aegir.

For visiting this festival, visitors to York can find many budget hotels on Micklegate / Blossom St which are near the venue. However, the nearest are Ibis on the Mount, Premier Inn on Blossom St and Hampton by Hilton on Toft Green. There are many places along the Knavesmire such as Holiday Inn which serve sumptuous breakfast. The Knavesmire Manor is just a 5 – 10 minute walk from the venue. There is a bus stop across the road for ease of commuting into town. The venue is just a 20-minute stroll from York Rail Station. You can either take a taxi from the station or catch bus services 4, 12, 13, 21, 37,843,844 & 845. From York city centre, Stonebow bus stop, you can catch bus services 12, 13, 21, 843, 844 & 845.

The Festival is held in 2 huge marquees at the far end corner of the Knavesmire next to where Tadcaster Rd turns into Mt Vale. It has grown to be the largest event of its kind in the North of England. At the festival, you can find over 400 real ales; over 100 real ciders and an international bar selling a selection of foreign beers (draught and bottled beers including lagers). A selection of English wines and soft drinks is also available at the festival.

For entering the York Beer & Cider Festival, the admission charges are: Wednesday 18th – Public £3, CAMRA members £1; Thursday 19th – Public £4, CAMRA members £2; Friday 20th/Saturday 21st – Public £5, CAMRA members £3. The entry fee is necessary because the cost of putting on a festival of this scale is very significant and admission charges go towards covering just some of the outlay on things such as marquee hire, fencing, generators, toilet facilities, bar equipment & scaffolding.

When you enter the festival venue, you will need to buy a souvenir polycarbonate festival pint or half pint “glass” because real glasses are not allowed as per the licensing conditions. However the cost of the glass will be refunded if you want, when you return it at the time of leaving the festival. You can buy beer only by paying cash as there are no beer tokens. The prices of different types of beer are reasonable and they are priced individually depending on their strength. Beer is also sold in thirds of a pint as the glasses are marked for third and half pint measures as well. A wide range of beers is available at the festival. However, the organisers reserve the right of not selling the beers that are not ready for drinking. Moreover, the range diminishes as the beers get sold out. For 50p you can buy a programme listing all the available beverages.

The York Beer & Cider Festival is a real ale festival and as such you should not expect to find the mass produced brands that are available locally. Only a limited selection of premium world lagers is available at the International Bar. You may also find some British cask lager on the beer bar. The authorities do not allow visitors to bring in their own beer but they can carry soft drinks in plastic bottles. Visitors can find a large variety of different hot and cold foods encompassing cuisines from around the world including vegetarian options. Children under 18 can come to the festival only if they are accompanied by a responsible adult but they will have to leave by 8pm.

The venue has a very large beer garden that accommodates smokers. Moreover, there is ample parking available for bikes. Limited on-street parking adjacent to Knavesmire Road is available for cars but drinkers are advised not to drive to the festival. There is a Park-n-Ride at Askham Bar. You can bring dogs but they should be under control and on a lead at all times. There is a varied programme of live music covering all sessions apart from Thursday night which is being kept as a quiet session. In case of rain, plenty of standing room and seating space in the marquee is available.

In order to get in, you may not need to stand in a queue most of the day except for the opening time. You may expect to stand for about 10 minutes on Friday night. If the number of people inside crosses the safety limit, then the principle of “one out one in” may be followed. No advance tickets are offered and you have to pay at the door when you arrive.

For corporate packages, you need to contact york_beer_festival@outlook.com for more details. For hotels offering discounts to festival attendees you can contact the festival website www.yorkbeerfestival.org.uk or alternatively book accommodation at www.visityork.org/book