Unique wake venues in York

Celebrate the life of your loved one with a meaningful wake in York.

Enjoy a cruise on the River Ouse, have a picnic at Rowntree Park, or immerse yourself in medieval history in Barley Hall as you celebrate the life of your loved one.

Hosting a wake in York

A wake is an informal event that traditionally takes place after a funeral service and cremation or burial. It’s usually an informal event that involves family and friends gathering to share memories and celebrate the life of their loved one.

Traditionally, wakes would take place at someone’s home, or a community centre or pub, but they can take place anywhere. The people organising the wake may want to honour their loved one by holding the wake at a place that was special to them, such as at the grounds of their favourite football team, for example. 

Also, although wakes usually take place directly after the funeral service, they can be held at any time. They can also be as structured or as informal as the organiser would like. Wake organisers have the freedom to host the event that’s right for them, their family and friends, and their loved one.

If you’re organising a wake in York, there are plenty of unique venues where you can host the event in your own way, from a City Cruises York tour on the River Ouse, to a picnic at Rowntree Park.

Find your funeral director in York who will help you arrange a cremation or burial, and give you ideas for a wake, memorial or reception that's right for you.

Explore your options

If you’re choosing a celebration of life instead of a traditional funeral, you could consider direct cremation. This is where the cremation doesn’t have any attendees, and the crematorium will return the ashes directly to you or your loved ones.

River Ouse Boat Cruise

City Cruises York is a truly unique venue to celebrate the life of your loved one. Their boats are beautifully furnished and totally functional and take you on a leisurely tour of the city. You can privately charter any of their excellent boats in their fleet, including the River Palace.

The River Palace is one of their more modern vessels and is a popular option for private charters, designed and built for the River Ouse by the former owners of City York Cruises York.

The lower deck of The River Palace provides gorgeous views thanks to its floor to ceiling windows, and the forward deck can also be opened in the summer months when the weather is warm. But if it’s cold, you can congregate in the heated lounge, with a fully stocked bar. 

The large, open upper deck is upstairs, and when chartered privately the seating is moved from the usual layout meant for sightseeing, so your guests have more room to mingle. No matter what the weather, a private character onboard the River Palace ensures terrific views of the city and is a way to celebrate the life of your loved one in style.

While the boat’s capacity will depend on the season and what food will be served, The River Palace can accommodate up to 100 people. In the upper deck area, there is more flexibility, as without catering the upper deck can accommodate 100 people while the lower deck can accommodate 50 guests.

Hot food is not served on the boat, but an informal buffet can be arranged. When hosting an informal buffet without entertainment, the upper deck can accommodate 90 guests, but with entertainment it can accommodate 60 to 80 guests.

The boat can be floodlit in the evening, and the upper deck can also incorporate a smoking area at your discretion. There are 2 toilets on board.

Rowntree Park

Rowntree Park is a beloved, 30-acre park in York, and is only a short walk away from the city centre on the banks of the River Ouse. The park has undergone a huge transformation in recent years, following a £1.8 million refurbishment funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund which restored it to its former glory. For an intimate and more relaxed wake with close family and friends, Rowntree Park would be the perfect place to hold a unique wake for your loved one.

The park features an ornamental lake that is home to ducks and geese, and half of the lake is used to sail model boats. The park also features six tennis courts, a basketball court, two table tennis tables, and a skate park. The park is also home to a war memorial, and Rowntree Park Reading Café. 

Rowntree Park is open every day except Christmas Day, and opening times are from 8 am until dusk from Monday to Friday, and 9 am until dusk on weekends. The park is easily accessible, with mostly level paths. Rowntree Park is also easy to get to via bus, bike, foot, or car.

Regular buses run from the city centre to Bishopthorpe Road, and you can access the park via bike or foot by either crossing the Millennium Bridge or travelling along the riverside. There are bike racks at the main entrances to the park. There is also a car park, Rowntree Car Park, on Terry Avenue.

Barley Hall

A hidden treasure in York, Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse that is elegant and brimming with culture. The gorgeous beamed ceilings and magnificent period features make it a truly unique venue to hold a wake for your loved one, that is intimate yet grand. 

Barley Hall can be hired exclusively in the evenings all year around. However, due to it being an authentic, historical building it has narrow stairs and steps between rooms, as well as uneven floors, meaning that there are no accessible toilets and lifts. However, there is an accessible entrance for wheelchair users, and the main entrance door is always open with a member of staff present to help guests enter the building. 

Arrange a direct cremation with Farewill

We can help you organise a cremation service that's right for you. We'll help transport your loved one, handle all the paperwork and hand-deliver your loved one’s ashes to you.

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