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Events in July

Bark Endeavour, Whitby © Endeavour, Whitby ©

Make the most of the long, sunny days this month. As the weather warms up, so does the calendar of open-air events, from music festivals to traditional country shows. It's also the start of the school summer holidays, so there’s a jam-packed calendar of events coming up to look out for, including ParkFest, ourever-popular free family fun day marking the start of the UK’s National Parks Week.

Find more walking challenges, cycling and mountain biking, and fell and road running events listed in our Enjoy Outdoors pages. Foodie fans should check out farmers' markets in and around the North York Moors.

Family fun | Music, festivals & performing arts | Other great events & exhibitions

You can also search for events by date here, which includes a list of our free guided walks for the month or book online.

Sea the Sheep

Sea the SheepHelp us find our missing sheep! If you're visiting the area anytime between 1 July and 31 August, take part in our fun challenge and keep an eye out for at least 50 sheep with a difference!

Look for our favourite woolly friends from toy lambs to life-size sheep. You’ll find them in gardens, on window sills, on the coast, in country houses and castles, and on the moors. 

They’ll all be decorated with a seaside holiday theme. Expect to see sheep in a bikini, smuggler sheep, shell-encrusted sheep and sheep with suitcases and sunhats! 

When you see them, take a picture, make sure you use #SeatheSheep and share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. How many can you spot?

Festivals, music events and performing arts

Marking 250 years since James Cook set sail on HM Bark Endeavour to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun in the Pacific Ocean, the Captain Cook Festival (6-8 July) in Whitby and Staithes will include a weekend of discovery and entertainment for the whole family. Incorporating Whitby Sea Festival (5-8 July), the annual celebration of the Yorkshire Coast's connections to fishing, the sea and maritime heritage, which sees the UK's largest gathering of sea balladeers, shantymen, pirates, folk musicians and singers. Don't miss Eye of the Wind - A Folk Opera by Richard Grainger (5 July) telling the story of James Cook and the famous voyage in drama and song.

Pack your picnics, chairs (and a brolly), and sit back with this year's outdoor theatre offerings in spectacular settings! Head to Scampston Hall (1 July) for a fresh and vibrant take on Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer's Night Dream', while at Pickering Castle (6 July) and Mount Grace Priory (20 July) there's a highly imaginative adaptation of Robin Hood and His Merry Men with swordplay, song, music and dance. See a  performance of Sense & Sensibility at Nunnington Hall (20 July) and later in the month Illyria Theatre are performing The Pirates of Penzance at Ryedale Folk Museum (26 July).

There's also a rare change to catch the immersive The Great Gatsby at Castle Howard (11-15 July) where the rooms become part of the story and one-to-one encounters between actors and audiences are expected.

York's first Bloom! Festival (5-8 July) extends beyond the city's boundaries to Helmsley Walled Garden for Make it with Flowers, using fresh cut seasonal flowers from the garden to make your own arrangement.

There's some great music festivals to take children to this month, all go to great lengths to be family-friendly. Staxtonbury Music Festival, Manor Farm, Staxton (6-8 July) and Deer Shed Festival (20-22 July) at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, where this year's theme is Making Waves with plenty of wild time for the kids; expect music, workshops, art and science too.

The 36th Ryedale Festival (13-29 July) is one of the cultural highlights of the year, welcoming performers from all over the world for concerts and arts events in spectacular and historic houses, churches and theatres throughout this part of North Yorkshire.

Jazz is celebrated at both Burton Agnes' Jazz & Blues Festival (13-15 July), and at Ryedale Jazz, which returns to Pickering for a sixth year (22-28 July). 

The 19th SeaFest Maritime Festival (20-22 July) at the West Pier on Scarborough’s stunning South Bay, will see three days of great food, drink, cooking demos, an arts marquee, family activities and plenty of free live music.

Foodies can enjoy the fifth Saltburn Food Festival (29 July) which boasts a 80+ stall street market with live cookery theatre, festival fringe, outdoor dining areas, street theatre and live music and more.

Family events and activities

There's great things going on to keep everyone entertained in the North York Moors this summer. Take your pick from some of these highlights:

  • Let's Go Fly a Kite at Whitby Abbey (1 July) and at Castle Howard (28-29 July)
  • Captain Cook at Whitby Abbey (every weekend 7-29 July except 14/15) - see a Time Will Tell theatre play transporting you back to an age of exploration and discovery, marking the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's first expedition to the South Seas.
  • Dalby Forest Explorer Day (8 July) - meet plenty of experts, displays, demos and hands-on activities. Learn about the Anglo-Saxons with The Yorkshire Companions. See birds of prey with Whitby Falconers.
  • Slingsby's popular annual Duck Race and Family Day (14 July) sees 100s of ducks released into the beck at 2pm, along with a gladiator duel, coconut shy, BBQ, face painting and more.
  • Sea kayaking for beginners (14 July) for anyone 14 years and above. Paddle a sea kayak from Runswick Bay, watch seabirds and discover rockpool life along the way.
  • Hands on History - Knights and Princesses at Scarborough Castle (daily from 21 July except 28/29 July). Storytelling, mini jousting and dressing up.
  • Active Day (23 July) enjoy orienteering, shelter building and crafts at Yorkshire Arboretum.
  • Creative Arts Day (24 July) make a story stick, meet a tree, crafts and poetry at Yorkshire Arboretum.  
  • Beast Day (25 July) join a minibeast hunt, decomposition activities, art, outdoor music and crafts at Yorkshire Arboretum.
  • Woodland Wizard Day (26 July) wand making, magic hats, magic potions, magical drinks and more at Yorkshire Arboretum.
  • Ravens and Robins (26 July) - See experts identifying and ringing birds at Ravenscar. 
  • Family Sports Day at Dalby Forest (26 July) - free event, come and try cycling, netball, golf, volleyball, soft tennis and a climbing wall 
  • Canoe adventure with National Trust and East Barnby Outdoor Centre (27 July) for anyone 14 years and above. Paddle along the River Esk from Ruswarp to Whitby and watch wildlife along the way. Booking essential.  
  • Lunar Eclipse Moonlight Swim (27 July) at Helmsley Open Air Swimming Pool.
  • Abseiling Adventure at Roseberry Topping (29 July). Booking essential for this taster session. 
  • Hidden Horizons Fossil Hunting at Runswick Bay (30 July). Booking essential.  
  • Go rock pooling at Robin Hood's Bay with the National Trust (30 July) and again with our Education Team (31 July), and learn about amazing anemones, crazy crabs, funny fish and more. Booking essential for both events.
  • Owl Day with Natural England (31 July) at Scampston 
National Parks Week (23-29 July)

We're one of 15 UK National Parks and every summer we join together to celebrate! One week of events, two festivals, tons of fun! And it all kicks off with ParkFest (22 July), our family fun day and the biggest event in the North York Moors National Park's calendar, before finishing with MoorFest (29 July) at Sutton Bank National Park Centre, our annual celebration of country life, culture and heritage!

There's also a week of family-friendly activities, walks and experiences, from archery, smugglers' treasure hunt, hungry caterpillar's party and geocaching! Browse our full list of events. There's plenty for children and families to do, so come to our National Park Centres at Danby and Sutton Bank and try something new.

Other great events and exhibitions

There's a rare opportunity to see inside the amazing hidden gem of Scotch Corner Chapel, near Sutton Bank on 1 July. Come along and talk to the relatives of artist and sculptor John Bunting, who built the chapel.

Botton Village Summer Fete (1 July) has lots going on too, from open farms, children's activities, hay rides, spike the hedgehog, craft market, lots of their wonderful homemade produce including organic meat and cheese, live music and barbecue. It's free admission too and a pick-up service will be available from Danby Railway Station to coincide with trains.

Hidden Landscapes continues at the Inspired by... gallery until 16 July, exploring the relationships between objects, collections, landscape and memory. Running concurrently, Northern Territories features the work of two Somerset artists, Sara Dudman and Jenny Graham, showcasing their response to the moors and coast. Join Sara and Jenny for an informal chat about their work over coffee (13 July), booking essential.

One of our standout exhibitions of the year, Teesside University Inspired, opens at the Inspired by... gallery on 19 July and runs through to 28 August feauturing exciting, innovative and engaging work by the University's art students, inspired by the landscape and folklore of the North York Moors and Tees Valley.

If you'd like to get a bit more hands on, there's plenty of arts and crafts courses going on. Our gallery hosts Jane Carlisle Bellerby's one day Silk Art course (7 July), a Mixed Media Art day (14 July) led by Jenny Graham, Acrylic Painting (15 July) with Sara Dudman and Machine Embroidery (21 or 22 July) led by Gill Kirk. Booking essential for all. Elsewhere you can learn how to Carve your Initials into a stone which will then be built into the world's largest stone maze (21, 22 July), under the expert guidance of Fiona Bowley in Dalby Forest.

As part of the Land of Iron project, we're running a Community Archaeology Dig in Combs Wood (3-14 July). Come and see a dig first hand as we find out what the secrets of a Victorian mining and ironstone processing complex buried beneath the woodland. Discover how the people who shaped this landscape lived and worked. Located just off the Rail Trail by Beck Hole, drop in and join the daily guided tours at 11am and 2pm (no tours 8 & 9 July).

Ampleforth Abbey is running its orchard tours (4, 18 July), including a tour of the orchard and cider mill, plus a chance to taste its ciders. Pre-booking advised.

Don't miss the annual Kilburn Feast (6-8 July), where the Lord Mayor, appointed for the day, tours the village in top hat and sash, with his good “Lady” Mayoress (a young man in female clothing and makeup). The weekend's activities also include a popular 7-mile road race, the Mouse Derby, duck race, treasure hunt, street fair, live music and much more.

Join Paul Johnston from Baytown Beers for A Taste of Smuggling (7 July) guided walk and step back in time to 18th-century Robin Hood’s Bay when smuggling was rife before sampling local beer.

Steam engine, tractor and classic car lovers are in for a treat this month, with four events featuring vehicles from a bygone era. Head for Duncombe Park over the 7-8 July weekend, which has hosted the Great Yorkshire Traction Engine Club annual Duncombe Park Steam Rally for more than 50 years. You'll find steam engines and tractors of every kind, shape and size along with vintage cars and motorcycles, fairground rides, trade stands and a variety of live music and children's entertainment. Follow this up with a visit to Roxby Heritage Weekend (14-15 July) for more traction engine displays and vintage vehicles, along with tractor pulling. Enjoy 60's transport legends along with live music at stations along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for its 60's Fest (14-15 July). Finally there's the Tractor and Engine Day at Ryedale Folk Museum (29 July), with many vintage tractors and engines on display, fun family activities to enjoy and a village tractor run. 

The definitive history of Rosedale Railway and ironstone mining lecture programme, Land of Iron: Tales over Tea by leading expert, Malcolm Bisby, comes to an end on 18 July, at Danby Village Hall (YO21 2LZ). Booking not required. Free admission and cake too!

Helmsley Walled Garden is playing host to the National Town Crier Competition (21 July) with more than 20 official town criers representing their towns plus two International Town Criers from Bermuda and Nova Scotia. Watch the colourful parade around the town and see the criers and their consorts in their superb regalia.

The Whitby & District Lions Annual Charity Beer Festival (26-29 July) returns this month too. Based at The Whitby Mission & Seafarers Centre, you'll find plenty of real ales, ciders and perries to sample from local and regional microbreweries, with all proceeds going to local charities.