English Tourism Week – Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster amongst most popular UK visitor attractions

21st March 2023

York Minster and Canterbury Cathedral have been named among the most popular UK visitor attractions according to the latest figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) at the start of English Tourism Week. 

English Tourism Week – Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster amongst most popular UK visitor attractions

York Minster was one of the 50 most popular visitor attractions in the UK in 2022 while figures show that Canterbury Cathedral is the fourth most-visited cathedral in the UK and one of the top ten most-visited ALVA sites in the South East.

Last year, York Minster welcomed 620,591 visitors for worship and tourism, an increase of 133% on 2021 (266,183) and not far short of the cathedral’s record visitor number of 706,484 in 2019. The increase helped the cathedral to rise from 80th to 49th position in ALVA’s listing.

Barbara George, Director of Visitor Experience at York Minster said:

This is great news for the team at York Minster and a tribute to their energy, resilience and commitment after a tough couple of years. Great hospitality is at the heart of everything we do and it is reassuring that so many people made the journey to York to visit the Minster last year. We will continue to work hard to deliver a world-class welcome for all of our visitors.

York Minster is preparing for another busy year. The Royal Maundy Service will take place at the cathedral on Thursday 6 April in the presence of His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty The Queen Consort. The cathedral’s programme for 2023 includes a summer recital series and a children’s concert featuring the recently restored Grand Organ, an updated exhibition Majesty: Monarchy & York Minster celebrating the Coronation and a Christmas tree festival in December.

York Minster opens Historic Collections for the Coronation

Visitors are also invited to join daily worship and to complete their day with an Evensong service in the Minster’s Quire,  an opportunity for prayer and reflection and to experience superb English Choral Music performed by the internationally renowned Choir of York Minster.

The ALVA figures reveal a positive story of visitors returning to UK sites in strong numbers but demonstrate that many more visitors – including those from overseas – are still needed in order to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The total number of visits to ALVA sites in 2022 was 123.4million, which was a 69% increase on the previous year (73.1 million) but represented a decline of 23% on the 161.2 million visits in 2019 to the top 349 ALVA sites.

In 2022, Canterbury Cathedral saw a 64% increase in visitors compared to 2021, but this is still nearly a third (30%) below its pre-pandemic visitor numbers.

The Dean, The Very Revd Dr David Monteith, said:

“We are thankful that so many people have visited in the past year but are very aware of the ongoing work of recovery – there is a long way to go and much to do. 

“Our volunteers and staff love to welcome visitors and pilgrims. We also rely on them as do so many others in the city and neighbourhood. Visitors help to ensure our community flourishes once more. They help us to continue to be good stewards of this place which so many love and from which so many gain inspiration for life, for faith and for a diverse and cohesive community.

“We have lots of exciting events planned for this year, and hope 2023 will see our visitor numbers continue to grow. Let’s all encourage people to visit.”

Cathedral Treasure, Finalist Number 1 Canterbury Cathedral's Portable Sundial (10th Century) There are 10 finalists in our Cathedral Treasure competition. You can vote for your favourite and you will be in with a chance of winning a copy of Janet Gough's brilliant Deans’ Choice: Cathedral Treasures of England and Wales.

ALVA’s Members are the UK’s most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions.