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Since the time of the Romans, York has been a place for great evening entertainment, and while today pagan festivals are no longer the mode, the city remains lively after dark. The four theatres in the city offer a wide range of plays. The York Theatre Royal at St. Leonard’s Place is set in a 260-year old building and puts on performances year-round. The Grand Opera House on Cumberland Street is the county’s biggest operational theatre and often goes on international tours. Besides drama, it also does dance, comedy, and music performances. The Friargate Theatre, home of the Riding Lights Theatre Company, is smaller and offers more eclectic fare just off Clifford Street. The smallest theatre is The Joseph Rowntree which is a thriving hub for many of the amateur theatrical groups in York.
For movies on the big screen, there is a large out-of-town Vue cinema complex for popular blockbusters, a 5 screen, reasonably priced Reel on Blossom Street, and centrally there is the bustling City Screen, with 3 screens showing all the latest releases, as well as Kids Club on a Saturday and the occasional art film.
The number of bars and pubs in York is simply astounding, with something for every taste. York is fast getting a reputation as the real ale pub capital of the UK, with a recent survey highlighting over 240 different beers on tap at any one time. Little wonder when you consider that there are 5 breweries situated in and around York. The experience starts when you arrive at the railway station, with the famous York Tap situated on platform 4 and serving 32 beers on draught.
There are several areas in York, each with different nightlife experiences. If partying is your thing, then the Micklegate area of the city is where it's at with a whole area centred around Micklegate and Rougier Street and Ouse Bridge dedicated to decadence. There are pubs, bars and night clubs open until around 4am.
The Coney Street area of town (just over Ouse Bridge) has around 11 bars over a 3rd of a mile pedestrianised stretch and is home to lively riverside bars by City Screen with riverside views and veranda's as well as late night bars that open to 3am in New St and extends right up at Lendal.
Probably the most upmarket area for drinking is the The Quarter - a stretch from Goodramgate running down to and encompassing the Swinegate Quarter and its surrounds - Grape Lane and Little Stonegate as well as Stonegate - through the little passageway past Barley Hall. There are late night clubs, classy bars, real ale pubs, latin bars and cocktail lounges in this area spanning a walk of around 0.4 mile in all from end to end.
There is live music most nights of the week and is listed in the local press. There are 3 main gig venues - The Barbican, which is the largest concert arena in York and has international artists and events such as UK Snooker Championship. The Duchess is a smaller venue holding around 500 people but has an impressive gig list more or less every night of the week and just down the road is Fibbers for small indie gigs. There are well known pubs for music - jazz at The Pheonix, Kennedy's and Olde White Swan; rock and blues at Maltings, Stone Roses, Roman Baths, Victoria Vaults; folk at the Maltings and The Black Swan; open mic nights at The Habit, Waggon & Horses and The Graduate. There are too many pub quiz nights to list - suffice to say that you can use a search engine to find one on the night you're in town.