In September 2018, the York Mystery Plays will load the waggons and take to the streets to recreate the spectacle of these traditional medieval festivities for their 20 anniversary.

So, what exactly are the Mystery Plays?

The Plays are among the earliest formally developed plays which date back to as early as the fifth century. The Plays focus on the representation of the Bible stories and are often performed in cycles which can last several days. As the Plays developed over the years they centered on the major events within the Christian calendar, from Creation to the Day of Judgment. By the end of the 15th Century the Plays were performed on festival days and often on decorated pageant waggons that moved through the city to allow different crowds to watch each Play through the streets.

There are now only four remaining “cycles” of the Plays left, with York’s being the most complete, (having 48 pageants remaining). In 2018, the Plays will bring 11 of the original Plays to life, with the communities of the City of York coming together to participate and celebrate this historic milestone.

The Plays are of huge importance to York’s cultural heritage, and as one of the last remaining cities to continue to play homage to this tradition, York will draw in spectators from far and wide to this theatrical marvel.

There will be different ways of watching the Plays this year, from traditional waggons taking to the streets where onlookers can catch a section of the Plays or move with them throughout the City, an open area, “The Green”, acting as the perfect spot for picnics and pitching up for the duration, a dramatic immersive fair where spectators will be able to experience the full Medieval drama and “The Stage”, where the audience can experience the Plays from beginning to end in an enclosed location away from the hustle and bustle of the City. Whichever way you would like to experience the Plays, there will be a great sense of theatre and spectacle throughout the City, so make sure to put 9th, 12th & 16th September in the diary!

If you would like more information on the Plays, would like to support the fundraising efforts or would like to partake, please get in touch here.


More information on the York Mystery Plays & collaborations

The streets alive with music
We’re pleased to announce that the Pipe & Tabor Society have arranged their annual meeting in York to coincide with the Plays in September, meaning York will be full of music and musicians!


Our Medieval market
We have joined forces with the Frei Compagnie society to create our first ever Medieval market which will take place in St. Sampson’s Square for this year’s production meaning spectators will be able to take part in a fully immersive experience.


Support from the University
The University of York will also be putting on a series of lectures in the lead up to the Plays, we will make sure to keep you all up to date with what these will be on and how to get tickets once they have been confirmed!


The Plays have been confirmed
We can now announce that all the Plays have been confirmed and the Groups and Companies performing them. You can read all about the Plays and the performers on our website here.


We still need YOU!

We have been working hard to put together the funding we need to make 2018 a success but as a charity our income is relatively small and we make up the balance with grants and generous donations from organisations and individuals.

We have opportunities for both sponsorship of the event, inclusion within our program and individual donations, all of which help towards us creating a year of Mystery Plays to remember!

You can donate through the link below or by cheque made payable to York Festival Trust and posted/dropped in to us at Bedern Hall, Bedern, YORK. YO1 7AL