MORE traditional winter break hotspots might include leading European destinations such as Paris, Milan and Christmas markets in Germany – but one Yorkshire city is hoping to get in on the act and entice more tourists to its historic streets.
A giant red bow was tied around York’s imposing Clifford Tower today as it was announced it will be opening all year round in a move to draw more visitors to the city which it claims to be the most Christmassy in the UK.
Last winter the tower, which stands on a man-made mound and is almost all that remains of York Castle, was opened on weekends only, along with other English Heritage sites, after Government funding was cut.
“Having reviewed last winter’s season and the demand at all our properties, Clifford’s Tower in York will now be open throughout the winter,” said Liz Page, historic properties director for English Heritage in the North.
“We recognise we need to play a full part in supporting York as a year-round tourist destination and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming thousands more visitors to enjoy the best views of York seven days a week over the coming months.”
The city is already popular with festive shoppers but tourism bosses in the city are keen to make York a winter break destination and earlier this year Visit York won cash to back a campaign which aims to pull in the tourists all year round.
Visit York was awarded £666,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to produce campaigns over the next three years to encourage more Britons to holiday in the city.
Its York Wrapped Up campaign aims to promote York as the perfect winter short break destination, positioning it as an alternative to European city-break options.
The campaign is placing particular emphasis on attracting visitors living in London, the South East, the Midlands and Scotland, with posters placed at train stations from Edinburgh to London and throughout the capital and a nationwide advertising campaign being launched.
Gillian Cruddas, chief executive at Visit York, said: “The opening of Clifford’s Tower throughout the winter season reinforces the message that York is the perfect winter break destination with lots of things to see and do across the city.”
She said the tower was a great place for people to immerse themselves in York’s history, “with some of the most beautiful views over the city”.
Last year tourism chiefs in the city said they were confident in staking the York’s claim to being “the most Christmassy city in the UK”, claiming nowhere could beat it for throwing itself into the festive spirit.
Visit York’s campaign aims to boost the local economy by five per cent, an estimated £22 million over the three years, creating an estimated 391 new jobs. The first stage aims to persuade visitors to choose York for a winter break between November and March - in the hope of getting the city’s cash tills ringing in the off-peak season.
The drive follows a miserable summer in which some attractions throughout Yorkshire suffered as a result of downpours. Tourism bosses said indoor attractions across Yorkshire reported a surge in numbers while outdoor tourist activities suffered during the summer’s relentless rain.
Janet Barnes, chief executive of York Museums Trust, which runs York Castle Museum next to the tower, said: “Clifford’s Tower is one of York’s real iconic buildings and, together with York Castle Museum, its presence attracts thousands of tourists to this area of the city.”
Built on a man-made mound, Clifford’s Tower is the principal remaining part of York Castle, for which it served as a keep.
Originally the structure had a roof, but this was blown off in an explosion during the English Civil War, and the ruin has remained open to the elements since then.
It is named after Roger de Clifford, a traitor whose body was hung from the ramparts in 1322.
Clifford’s Tower will remain open daily - except December 24-26 and January 1 - throughout the winter. For more information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/cliffords.