Whether you want to play, watch, listen or perform, there are lots of ways to enjoy culture on campus.

Through one of our University of York Students' Union supported societies, you could spark a lifelong passion or have a once in a lifetime experience. This could include performing in an opera, getting cast in one of our drama productions or taking a comedy sketch to the Edinburgh Fringe.


For music-lovers, there are several student societies dedicated to playing and performing many genres of music.

  • Join one of York's biggest societies, the Music Society. They help students play music on and off campus.
  • Start a band with Band Society and take part in the annual competition, Battle of the Bands!
  • Learn to play the drums Brazilian style with Samba York - the bigger the band the better the sound!
  • Audition for one of our many University ensembles including the Symphony Orchestra, the Baroque Ensemble, or the Jazz Orchestra. You can also audition to become involved in the Gilbert and Sullivan Society or the Central Hall Musical Society.
  • You could also be part of the University Choir, which performs in venues such as York Minster.

If you'd prefer a less formal, non-audition ensemble, you could join one these groups:

We also have regular live music and occasional club nights on campus including:

  • Jazz and folk nights at Vanbrugh College. It's also a venue for music lessons and workshops.
  • A varied programme of concerts from folk to classical in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall.
  • The Courtyard and The Glasshouse host our campus club nights. Timewarp at The Courtyard travels back from today's chart toppers through the '00s to the classics of the '90s and '80s, while Marmite at The Glasshouse is a shameless cheesy pop night. The Courtyard also hosts regular fun karaoke nights.

Fun fact: Jimi Hendrix played a gig on campus in 1967! We've named Hendrix Hall after him. If you come to an Open Day you might find yourself attending a talk in there.


York Student Cinema is a student-run cinema on campus that is open to everyone.

They usually show films around three times a week during each semester. It's the cheapest cinema in York at just £4 per ticket (or £3 if you become a member!). You can also get an annual pass for £30, which gives you free entry to every screening. As a member, you will also get a 10% discount on food and drink at the refreshment stand.

West Side Story.
Students performing in West Side Story with the Central Hall Music Society.

Drama, comedy and dance

There are lots of student societies dedicated to performance. Here are some highlights:

  • The Central Hall Music Society is York's musical theatre society. They put on a huge range of performances every year - previous shows include Anything Goes, Sister Act, Legally Blonde and Chicago.
  • Every week the Drama Society (DramaSoc) puts on three performances of a well-known play for their weekend show, and showcases original student writings at their Monday Open Drama Nights (ODNs). You can find them in their own black box theatre, the Drama Barn.
  • Join the Comedy Society to perform improvised comedy, sketches, stand-up and panel shows. They often take shows to the Edinburgh Fringe!

Fun fact: Comedian Harry Enfield is a York graduate!


Express yourself or simply be inspired by the art on offer around campus:

  • The Norman Rea Art Gallery in Derwent College is run entirely by students. They showcase the art work of students and professional artists in exhibitions throughout the year.
  • The Art Society runs life drawing classes, workshops, exhibitions and trips to art galleries. They also run Wentworth Studios, a creative space for painting, printmaking and ceramics.
  • Our annual Langwith Scott Awards celebrate the art of students, staff and members of the public with the likes of weekly art workshops and open mic nights.
  • The Creative Writing Society (also known as York Inklings) provide opportunities to write and share ideas.
  • You can also share your love of poetry with Slam Soc.

Fun fact: The sculpture behind James College is made from bits of the last steam locomotive built in York.

Ideas and inspiration

Our campus is a hub for sharing knowledge, inspiring collaboration and enriching lives.

York Festival of Ideas

Our annual Festival of Ideas features world-class events on campus and across the city, for all ages and interests.


From climate change to robotics, YorkTalks is a day of inspirational short talks about the world-leading research happening at York.

Academic societies

Expand your subject knowledge, enhance your employment prospects and take part in fun activities with fellow students.