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Culture and entertainment

Whether you want to play, watch, listen or perform, there are lots of ways to enjoy culture on campus. You could spark a lifelong passion or have a once in a lifetime experience, like performing an opera or taking a comedy sketch to the Edinburgh Fringe festival.


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

Battle of the Bands - an annual student band competition.

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

You could also be part of the University Choir which performs every term in venues such as York Minster.

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 on campus
  • The Courtyard and The Glasshouse host our campus club nights three times a term. 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 cheesy pop night
  • The Courtyard also hosts regular fun karaoke nights.

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

Music performance on campus during Freshers' Week.

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. A few highlights include:

  • The Central Hall Music Society is York's musical theatre society. They put on a huge performance every year - previous shows include Anything Goes, Sister Act and Legally Blonde.
  • 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). They have their own black box theatre, known as 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 festival!

Students performing in a Drama Society production.

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, termly exhibitions and trips to art galleries. They also run Wentworth Studios, a creative space for painting, printmaking and ceramics.

Dotted around campus you'll also spot various pieces of sculpture.

York Art Gallery hosts exhibitions by local and world-renowned artists.

  • Our annual Langwith Scott Awards celebrate the art of students, staff and members of the public
  • 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.

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


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 term time. It's the cheapest cinema in York at just £4 per ticket (or £3 if you become a member!), or you could get an annual pass for £30.

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.