10 things you can do on World Goth Day 2021 in Whitby

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Heed your free spirit and live a life less ordinary - that’s the rallying cry for the Yorkshire Coast’s unique Goth Culture.

It's not just goths, but anyone who celebrates an alternative lifestyle - and when better than World Goth Day, which is May 22.

Whitby is still the undisputed UK Goth capital - perhaps of the world - and its daring and vibrant influence extends right up and down the Yorkshire Coast, shaping local fashion, music, art, accommodation, food and drink.

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It’s a place where the imagination can run wild – and it’s been like this for centuries.

Julie Reid and daughter Rebecca.Julie Reid and daughter Rebecca.
Julie Reid and daughter Rebecca.

That’s why Whitby became the world-famous birthplace of Dracula in the first place.

Bram Stoker’s ground-breaking novel has left an undead legacy on global popular culture that has fascinated and terrified ever since, but if Dracula is considered the founding-father of horror fiction and dark fantasy, Whitby is its muse.

Dracula’s not just a thrilling work of fiction, however.

Bram Stoker drew on real life locations, characters and chronicles from Whitby, so we might indeed question what’s fact or fiction

Atmospheric Whitby Abbey
picture English Heritage.Atmospheric Whitby Abbey
picture English Heritage.
Atmospheric Whitby Abbey picture English Heritage.

Ten gleefully eccentric highlights to get you started

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1 The dramatic ruins of Whitby Abbey have enthralled centuries of storytellers from saintly Caedmon’s pioneering poem to Bram Stoker’s devilish Dracula.

The abbey’s origin myth may even have inspired JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, who was a regular visitor to the Yorkshire Coast.

Explore how the abbey has been inspiring storytellers for 2,000 years in the new interactive visitor centre, or try the new virtual Ammonite Quest uncovering the ‘wyrms’ that plagued Whitby’s dragon-slaying saintly abbess, who is now said to haunt the dramatic ruins!

2 Bram Stoker was indebted to Whitby Museum and Library: it was the place that first introduced him to ‘Dracula’, and he wove many of its real-life stories into his writing - you can even see his signature in the visitor book!

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3 Goth finds perhaps its ultimate artistic expression in jet jewellery, and the best place in the world to seek out the precious gemstone is Whitby.

Some of the world’s leading jet jewellers can be seen in action handcrafting locally foraged jet in Whitby’s traditional workshops, making exquisite contemporary designs which often draw on goth culture for inspiration.

4 Join a spirit guide to explore the region’s Otherworld, including Dr Krank from Whitby Walks or the Whitby Storyteller (also walks in near-by Robin Hood’s Bay).

5 Discover artefacts that defy the imagination such as the one-and-only macabre and magical Hand of Glory; witch-posts to ward off evil spirits and the tiny mythical ‘Sea Bishop’ at Whitby Museum. An 11,000-year-old shaman’s ritual mask unearthed during the world-famous Star Carr archaeological excavations, and the mysterious 4,000-year-old Gristhorpe Man, a warrior who was buried in a tree can be round among a treasure trove of weird wonders housed at Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum, the world’s first purpose-built museum.

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6 The world-famous Whitby Goth Festivals are biannual celebrations of The Alternative, with live music featuring some of Europe’s top acts, bizarre theatre shows, fashion and fairs, film-screenings and family events throughout the town, a favourite being the stunning autumnal illuminations among the ruins of Whitby Abbey.

The date of October 29 to 31 for Whitby Goth Weekend is to be confirmed.

7. Whitby’s Krampus Weekend each December, the first event of its kind in the UK, celebrating the darker side of Christmas with a phantasmagorical parade, live music, fantastical art shows and plenty of monster fun. Dates for 2021 tbc.

8. Investigate Captain Cook’s 18th-century Space Mission, as he set out to track the Transit of Venus, in Whitby’s Captain Cook Museum.

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His famous words: “To seek out new worlds, to boldly go where no man has gone before”: became a byline for Star Trek’s fictional Captain Kirk.

9. Try spirits and brews with a magical alchemy: The Lickerish Tooth handcrafts gins and vodka with herbs and spices (natural botanicals) used in cures for the Plague; the Spirit of Yorkshire whisky distillery and Wold Top Brewery use spring water sacred to saints and pagan gods; and the craft breweries of Whitby, Scarborough, Robin Hood’s Bay (Baytown) and Cropton pay tribute to local legends from spooks to smugglers, while using traditional techniques in their brews.

Whitby Brewery’s Goth Festival favourite is Black Death.

10. Even the food is legendary on the Yorkshire Coast: such as the cake that saved Filey from dragons, Yorkshire Parkin, and family-owned Fortune’s Kippers and Bothams Bakery in Whitby which have been using the same time-honoured recipes for 150 years.