"sociology & anthropology..." York by iaint

York Travel Guide: 1,770 reviews and 4,453 photos

a top attraction

York must be one of the biggest tourist attractions in England, outside London. On a July Saturday, they were all there - numbers swollen by those in town for the big horse racing meeting that day.

The place has a reputation for being congested at the best of times, but it really was bursting at the seams (especially the pubs, all of which were full of racegoers).

I managed an hour walking around the get the feel of the place, and decided serious sightseeing would have to wait for a quieter time. Frustrating, because my only previous visit had been for a conference, and I only got outside the hotel to go to/from the railway station.

Half my day had been set aside for being a touroid, with the rest dedicated to the sport of kings...so I followed the drunken hordes out to the racecourse.


Looks like the kind of place you can have a lot of fun just exploring up side streets, "off the beaten path".

Having been at a big race meeting in France (Chantilly) just 6 days before, the contrasts were fascinating (this is where it gets all "sociological").

In England, many of the racegoers were mainly interested in getting as much alcohol down their necks as possible. Some never got out of the bar to see a race. By the end, many could hardly walk. In France, alcohol hardly features at all.

At York most of the spectators were "dressed up" as if going to a wedding. Women in high heels and party dresses (many bulging in all the wrong places). Men in suits (often looking as if borrowed from a neighbour). Indeed, the security guy insisted I put my jacket on (instead of carrying it) before letting me into my enclosure. I even saw a kiosk where you can rent a jacket & tie! By mid afternoon, many women had ditched their heels and were walking in bare feet. At Chantilly the French managed to look smart and cool without trying, and people could wear what they wanted (it was 27c, so many were in shorts).


I would certainly go back. However, for both sightseeing and racing I would choose a quieter time!

UPDATE! Back to the city in February 15. Quieter.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:atmospheric...historic...picturesque
  • Cons:swarming with tourists; terrible traffic
  • In a nutshell:if I go back, it'll be off season
  • Last visit to York: Feb 2015
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (1)

  • EasyMalc's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    I hope you found a few quieter moments because York is popular for a very good reason

    • iaint's Profile Photo
      Feb 22, 2015 at 2:47 AM

      Yes, 7-8.30 am on a February Friday seems to beat the tourist hordes!

    • EasyMalc's Profile Photo
      Feb 22, 2015 at 3:12 AM

      The best time to take pictures is when everyone else is indoors I reckon, which usually means it's either dark or bad weather - or both


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