We all could benefit from letting loose now and again- with exams and assignments always around the corner, it’s important for us to take breaks and remember to appreciate life outside of academics. I think we can all agree that great music taste is an incredibly important part of being a uni student, and as such we can all appreciate live music and concerts. With that said, here are my top 5 places to see live music in York.

1. York Barbican

The Auditorium | York Barbican
Source: York Barbican

Possibly the most well-known place on this list, the York Barbican has a special place in the heart of all York Uni students. Featuring a range of live events from tribute bands to musical tributes and celebrity tours, the Barbican has something to suit everyone. The Barbican is a great way to explore new bands and find some truly hidden gems, or indulge in the biweekly comedy club events. The Barbican is located only a short bus ride from the university, meaning there’s no worry about making it back home or spending loads of time travelling- meaning it’s perfect for you to check out live music often.

Address: Paragon St, York YO10 4AH

2. The Vaults York

The York Vaults Facebook
Source: The York Vaults Facebook

Self-described as a “Grassroots Music Venue”, The Vaults is a completely independent venue dedicated to providing a stage to independent and up-and-coming artists. Based near the city walls and right in the heart of York, The Vaults is a perfect place for anyone looking to expand their music taste and enjoy a few drinks. The Vaults is definitely a top choice for anyone wanting to explore venues and live music that are a little more underground, and as such a great way to meet new people.

Address: 47-49, Nunnery Ln, York YO23 1AB

3. The Basement

The basement is a much smaller venue, located under the Picturehouse cinema near the shambles. In terms of live music, The Basement is home to many independent and smaller artists, and with a seated capacity of 100 – this is a great way for artists and fans to truly connect. On top of this, The Basement also hosts a comedy club, and with the smaller capacity this could be great for anyone just starting out in the open-mic scene. And hey, there’s nothing like watching a movie and enjoying some live music in the same night!

Address: City Screen Picturehouse, St Martins Courtyard, 13-17 Coney St, York YO1 9QL

4. The National Centre for Early Music


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This venue is unlike all the others. Housed in an ancient church, the National Centre takes pride in showcasing underrated music. From folk and jazz music to world music, the National Centre is a great way to explore music in a new light. It also organises the York Early Music Festival every year, allowing for an event where everyone is free to explore the limitless world of live music. The National Centre hosts a range of events, from tribute bands to classical music performances, so there’s plenty for you to explore.

Address: St Margarets Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL

5. FortyFive Vinyl Cafe

FortyFive Vinyl Cafe york
Source: FortyFive Vinyl Cafe Facebook

FortyFive Vinyl Cafe has it all- a cafe, bar, record store, and the live music venue. Whatever your music needs, FortyFive Vinyl Cafe can probably help you out. Hosting independent bands and artists, this cafe-slash-venue is the perfect place to seek out new artists and really get a feel for the live music you can find in York. It also makes the perfect place for students – you can chill in the cafe while you work on your essays, and then go enjoy live music as a little reward. FortyFive Vinyl Cafe is truly the live music version of “work hard, party harder”.

Address: 29 Micklegate, York YO1 6JH

6. The Fulford Arms

The Fulford Arms York best live music venues
Source:Tim Green, Flikr

Another grassroots venue, The Fulford Arms holds up to 150 people so it’s a nice, intimate live music venue in York. They’re open Wednesday to Sunday, meaning you can head there for a midweek gig or start to a Friday or Saturday night out. They also do 10% off drinks with a student ID and have a really nice beer garden to chill in too. The Fulford Arms host all sorts of bands and artists, but they’re usually alternative like punk or metal. However, you’ll also be able to see pop, indie and other genres too.

Address: 121 Fulford Rd, York YO10 4EX

Live music is such an amazing way for uni students to connect, relax, and enjoy the city they study in. If live music is your thing, why not check out our article on the best metal festivals in the UK? Festivals are a great way to expand your horizons and meet new people, and so it’s definitely worth a try for all uni students!