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Events this month

Walkers in the North York Moors National Park Credit in the North York Moors National Park Credit

Embrace spring and two long bank holiday weekends this month, with events and festivals celebrating artisan food, culture and outdoor activities. 

If that inspires you to get out into our great outdoors, we're holding our third Walking Festival later in the month. WalkFest 2017 (27–29 May) features 12 guided themed walks led by expert guides. There's a chance to walk linear stretches of the Cleveland Way or Esk Valley Walk too, with transport provided! See the full Festival schedule for more details.

This month, a giant puppet is coming to Danby... Welcome Wayfarer! (21 May). Join in with our special trail, children's crafts and puppet-making. Create or bring a piece of artwork that shows what you love about the North York Moors for Wayfarer to take with her on her onward travels. Thanks to Arts Council England for funding, find out more about how to submit artwork here.

Find more walking challenges, cycling and mountain biking, and fell and road running events listed in our Enjoy Outdoors pages while there’s a wealth of wildlife, nature and other outdoors experiences waiting to be discovered too. Foodie fans should also check out the growing number of farmers' markets in and around the North York Moors.

See what's coming up in June too or you can search for events by date here or book online.

Festivals and performing arts

Beertown returns to Malton (18-20 May) for a fourth helping, with even more craft beers, street food and live music. Hosted by microbreweries Bad Seed Brewery and Brass Castle in the Milton Rooms, the beer festival will include a preview day on Thursday. All proceeds go to the Ryedale Special Families.

Festival on the Moor's The Great North Folk Festival (26-29 May), takes place at Botton Village, nestled in Danby Dale. This small friendly festival features concerts, craft & music workshops, singarounds and all day acoustic programme, with onsite camping and real ale bar.

The famous Malton Food Lovers Festival (27-28 May) is one of the year's highlights - a food connoisseur's dream, with more than 160 stalls and street food, cookery theatre, cookery school, festival bar, live music and more. This year sees the return of the night market and street food party on Saturday, with Levi Roots and his 12 piece band closing the night on the main stage. 

Other great events and exhibitions

Ampleforth Abbey is running another of its blossom tours (10 May), including a tour of the orchard and cider mill, a tasting session of its ciders and lunch. Pre-booking essential. Marking National Mills Weekend, Howsham Mill will be open on 14 May, with an opportunity to hear about the restoration project and the history of the Mill.

The British Wildlife Photographer Awards exhibition at Nunnington Hall, runs from 13 May through to 9 July. Expect to see some spectacular images from this year's winners while May's exhibitions at the Inspired by... gallery in Danby include printmaker Ian Burke's In Black and White and Diane Todd's love of wildlife expressed in pastels and acrylics in Feather and Fur. Plus our exciting programme of workshops in the gallery continues with artist James McGairy's small-group painting workshops (14 May), a monoprinting workshop on 20 May and machine embroidery (21 May). Booking essential for all.

As part of the This Exploited Land of Iron project, we're running a Community Archaeology Dig in Combs Wood (15-19 May). Come and see an archaeology dig first hand as we find out what the hidden structures in Combs Wood were for, who used them and why. Located just off the Rail Trail by Beck Hole, drop in anytime 10.30am-4.00pm. If you would like to volunteer to help at the dig please contact for further information. All appropriate training will be given.

Head to Grosmont on Saturday 20 May as the oldest independent co-operative in the UK, Grosmont’s Co-op Society celebrates its 150th birthday with a Victorian Fair! Enjoy music from the Goathland Plough Stots, Hawsker Village Band and The Hobos as well as traditional Victorian games and archery, velocipede tin bath rides, archery demonstrations and a chance to have your photograph taken in Victorian costume. They'll be Victorian teas and cakes to enjoy, craft stalls, a display of mining artefacts, a real ale bar and a Yorkshire Gin stall!

Close by railway fans should head to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for its first Behind the Scenes family weekend (20–21 May) for a sneaky peek including plenty of demos up and down the line, including Grosmont.

Or how about tackling a new obstacle course, Dirty Hero (20 May) at Newburgh Priory, near Coxwold. Limb, crawl, jump and run through a range of daunting obstacles involving heights, fire, small spaces and freezing water! Take your pick from a ten or five-mile course, and enter as a team or individual.

Scampston Hall plays host to the Pickering Game and Country Fair (20-21 May), a fantastic day out for all the family and a chance to have a go at country sports, including fishing, clayshooting and archery.

One of our standout exhibitions of the year, Absolutely Buzzing, opens at the Inspired by... gallery on 26 May and runs through to 26 June. From a wearable wasp to a buzzing bouquet of bees, and from textile taxidermy bell-jars to millinery moths, designer and milliner Bridget Bailey explores the natural world in a textile spectacle – a fresh take on what is both beautiful and wearable.

May half-term fun for children (27 May - 4 June)

Join Beck Isle Museum 50th anniversary for a day of festivities (27 May), with free admission, games, activities, talks and demos. Hunt for treasures on a great geocaching hunt at Ravenscar (27 May), using a GPS unit to search for clues and goodies along a three mile walk or come and explore the natural world with Nature @ Nunnington Hall (28-29 May), join a bug hunt, make a bird box, snail racing and bird watching.

Find out all about our magical moorland with A Taste of the Moors any time at Sutton Bank (27 May - 4 June) with themed crafts, trails, treasure hunts, walks and talks. Combine your visit with a spot of biking, including round 2 of Sutton Bank Bikes' Kids Time Trial (27 May), with four categories starting from balance bikes; prizes for winners and best fancy dress (bug themed).

Over at Castle Howard, Rusticus brings the garden's statues to life with Myths & Monsters (27 May - 4 June) from thrilling chariot races to storytelling, music, games and activities.

Half-term kicks off at our National Park Centre with our Mammal Tracking Treasure Hunt (28 May) at Sutton Bank and Danby, part of WalkFest 2017. Plus The Moors Centre sees the return of our popular archery sessions (29 May) where The Whitby Company of Archers are on hand to give Robin Hood wannabes instruction. Our wearable art exhibition in the Inspired by... gallery is Absolutely Buzzing and we're joining in the fun with a whole host of creepy-crawly crafts and activities, including the Hungry Caterpillar's Party (30 May), Creepy Crawly Carnival (31 May), Brilliant Beetles and Dazzling Dragonflies (both 1 June). You'll find full details of all these events in our events calendar.

Think you know the story of Dracula? Think again. To truly understand Bram Stoker's gothic icon, you need to hear his tale in the setting of the writer's inspiration, Whitby Abbey and you can do that over the May Day bank holiday weekend (27-29 May) (Performances 11am, 1pm and 3pm).

Step back in time and visit a Roman Camp at Ryedale Folk Museum (28-29 May) where you can see and learn about a soldier’s marching kit and watch the Romans do battle with bows and javelins during the Missile Display. Combine a visit with Hutton le Hole's popular annual Duck Race and cake stall (29 May) sees 100s of ducks released into the beck at 3pm. More watery fun can be had on the National Trust's rock pool rummage at Saltburn on 30 May, where you can learn about amazing anemones, crazy crabs, funny fish and more.

East Barnby Outdoor Centre will be running their supervised Family Activity Days (£40 pp) during half-term. Aimed at 9 to 16 year olds, activities on offer range from canoeing down the Esk, sailing, surfing, mountain biking, climbing, bushcraft to geocaching and orienteering. For details and bookings, call 01947 893333 or see their website.

Download the Gruffalo Spotter app at home, then head to one of the forests at Dalby or Guisborough where Gruffalo and other characters will come to life on the Gruffalo Spotters Trail and augmented reality app. Look for clues which lead to footprint marker posts - point the app and watch Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake and the Gruffalo appear before your eyes.