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First YorkLife Festival supports local entertainers as city recovers from pandemic

The first ever YorkLife festival hit the streets of York this April, celebrating and supporting local talent in the wake of the Covid pandemic.  

The free event ran over the first weekend of April and was hosted by council-owned company, Make It York – who wanted to show off the range of performers in the city, from street musicians to local community groups.  

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director of Make it York, said: “YorkLife is a celebration of local York talent and culture.

“We want to really celebrate the sense of community in York.”

The festival featured over 30 different acts including musicians, performers and comedians – and aimed to support the city’s recovery from the Covid pandemic.  

Harqirit Boparai, from York Music Venue Network, who managed the main “YorkLive” stage, said: “It has been really difficult, the past couple of years. 

“The pandemic really made us more determined and focused on trying to keep putting on good music in York, whether that’s with local bands or touring acts.” 

Headlining the main stage were York-based band The Howl & The Hum, who were supported by a host of other local talent.

Singer, Marnie Glum, was amongst those musicians who played the main stage at the festival, an experience many had missed during lockdown. 

After finishing her set, she told Yorkshire Voice: “The live music industry is still struggling to get back on its feet after Covid restrictions, so I’m very grateful to the whole team that put together YorkLife.”

There was also praise for organisers who made the event free. 

Marnie added: “So many people are struggling financially. It’s crucial that music stays accessible to everyone while still paying artists fairly – so putting on such an exceptional free entry event is exactly what York needed.”

Visitors could also take part in a range of other activities, such as circus workshops, face painting, or learning about the Viking history of York.  

Antony Atlee, from the JORVIK centre, who also goes by his Viking name “Aelfric”, thinks it’s important that people learn about the city’s rich history.  

He said: “It’s obviously good, with YorkLife festival, to look at the past of York – it helps bring people into the city. 

“I think that’s one of the greatest things about York itself, it’s one of the oldest, most historical cities in the country.” 

YorkLife Festival-goers gathered on Parliament Street

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