York Castle Museum


York Castle Museum are family-friendly and we aim to be as inclusive as possible.

Younger visitors can enjoy our hands-on activities that are as educational as they are fun. We also offer a variety of activities, events and workshops available throughout the year with extra special offerings at Christmas time. Please click on the links below for further information.

And don’t forget, kids go FREE! (Up to four children free per one paying adult. Additional children aged 5-16 will be charged at £4.50 per child. Under 5’s are free.)

The YMT Card gives unlimited free entry to York Castle Museum, York Art Gallery and the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens. With just one visit to each site you can save up to £5, and the more you visit the more you save. Our ‘kids go free’ offer applies to cards too, so they’re great value for families. Find out more here.

Click here to view our current leaflet.


Facilities for Families

  • Baby carriers provided free of charge with an area for pushchairs to be stored on arrival
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces, most are wheelchair accessible (please find details here)
  • Visual stories for autistic children and their carers provided online here and during your visit
  • Openings for autistic children and their carers with adjusted audio and visual levels, trained staff, and printed guidance (also suitable for blind and partially-sighted visitors)
  • Activity areas to encourage playful and sensory learning, open daily
  • Volunteers offering ‘Hands on Here!’ opportunities to get closer to our objects
  • Online events listings so you can plan ahead, with Fun for Families and Fun for Under-5’s categories
  • Baby changing facilities in both the accessible toilets
  • Family-friendly café with highchairs available (please see below)
  • A sensory basket available to borrow particularly suitable for visitors with visual impairments or autism (please ask a member of staff for assistance during your visit)
  • Free under 5’s trail available (please ask a member of staff)


Our Family-Friendly Café

Café 68 at the Castle Museum welcomes families and caters for children. They currently offer –

  • Ground floor access with movable chairs and tables
  • Baby changing facilities in the ground floor toilet
  • Free highchairs available
  • Daily kids boxes with healthy options
  • Catering for special diets
  • Outside seating during warmer weather


Christmas at the Castle

Experience the magic of a Victorian Christmas surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the festive season in days gone by. Our recreated street, Kirkgate, will have traditional decorations including original examples from the period, and you can meet costumed characters to hear how the Victorians celebrate this special time of year.

For 2016, we have several special activities and events –

  • A Christmas Mystery – Follow a mystery trail, solve the puzzles, and receive a gift from Father Christmas!
  • Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – An immersive and intimate production of the Dickens classic set on our Victorian street, suitable for older children.
  • Bah Humbug! – A unique family show of ‘A Christmas Carol’ under the garlands of our Victorian street.

For details of dates, times and prices please visit our website here.

Children’s Parties

York Venues offer children’s parties at York Castle Museum with themed activities and decorations based on the amazing toy collection. Parties include a gallery trail, craft activities, themed games, invitations, gifts and outfits, and much more.

Click here to find out more about booking a party.



We offer a variety of opportunities for Pre-School, Primary, Secondary and Further Education.


Museum Monkeys

York Museums Trust provides a range of activities and events for children under 5’s to help them engage with the collections and exhibitions. Sessions take place during term time at York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Museum, or York Art Gallery.

Museum Baby (under two years old) – Fridays, 10am – 11am

Special baby sessions linked to exhibitions, including songs and sensory activities for babies and their carers. Sessions are a mixture of free flow and adult led activities which all relate to the early years Curriculum. A perfect introduction to museums!

Early Years Explorers (two – five years old) – Thursdays, 10am – 11am

Activities for children aged two to five years old which include songs, stories, games and craft activities. Sessions are based on familiar preschool play areas, which are enhanced to help children learn about the museum’ collections and exhibitions through play. Sessions are a mixture of free flow and adult led activities which all relate to the Early Years curriculum.

Charges and advance booking apply. Please click here to visit the Events page on our website for full listings.


Cell Stories Competition

York Primary school children can enter our competition for the chance to win a FREE workshop at the museum PLUS a storytelling session in their school with Mary Passeri.

We want stories of inmates or workers who were here between 1705 and 1900 focusing on their daily life, rather than the crime they committed or the punishment they received. Your story could even give an alternative version of the end of the life of Dick Turpin, our most famous resident, just as you would in our workshop.

Please click here for details or email schoolcompetitions@ymt.org.uk for an information pack (closing date for submissions is 17 February 2017).


Genesis Project

Genesis is an ongoing project that involves York Museums Trust working with young people aged 16 to 24 to encourage engagement with museum and gallery sites and collections.

In 2015, young people were invited to work with experts from Biomation to write, create, film and direct a stop frame animation about Antarctic Explorer Ernest Shackleton’s explorations with inspiration from some of the objects in the York Castle Museum. The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Find out more about the Genesis Project here.