Overview & description

Marking the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s ­first expedition to the South Seas. Whitby and Staithes are hosting a weekend of merriments and everyone’s on the crew!

Learn how Whitby shaped James Cooks love of the sea sending him off ‑ with success in his sights with him and his crew making a true voyage of discovery. See the splendid tall ships making the centrepiece to the festivities with The Atyla, Pickle and Endeavour in harbour. Nautical tunes will drift from every ginnel with the bandstand and backyard concerts presenting a full line-up.

Get immersed in the spirit of the festival and follow the Tintamaresque sel­fie trail or enjoy a play at Whitby Abbey.

The kitchen food theatre will bring food from the seas with chefs straight from the tall ships and talents from nearby restaurants sharing their tastes and tips–­finishing with Cook’s Cook Off….or maybe a Captain ‘Cookie’ might be more to your taste!...

Film showings - ‘The Man Behind the Legend’

While the exploits of Captain Cook are well documented, much less is known about James Cook the man. In this 52 minute BBC/ABC Timewatch documentary Presenter Vanessa Collingridge sets out on her own voyage of discovery - travelling in his footsteps uncovering forces that drove him to success, and ultimately to his own death.


Three ships will be berthed in Whitby’s Dock End over the weekend. Recently arrived, the replica HM Bark Endeavour - Cooks famous ship is now home where the original was built in 1764.

On Friday 6 July at 10am - the scarlet red ‘Atyla’ from her homeport in Bilbao will sail in, crewed by local school children who will have sailed the vessel from London to Whitby! Accompanied by ‘HMS Pickle’, a recreation of the messenger ship that brought back news of Admiral Lord Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar. The vessels will be open for the public to explore with activities for all the family on board.


Enjoy the view from Captain Cook’s monument, where he stands proud following a £35,000 restoration


  • Thursday 5th July - HMS Pickle spends the night moored offshore.
  • Sea Shanties played around the village including the fantastic
  • Staithes Fishermans Choir.
  • History walks (30 mins) with Bill Hinchley, Sat & Sun, 10 - 14:00.
  • Special Cook Exhibition at Staithes Heritage Centre.


'Whitby in the time of Cook, the making of a great seaman' This exhibition spells out what Cook owed to Whitby as he set out on the First Voyage from Plymouth in 1768. See Stubbsy the 6ft high wicker kangaroo, and the Dingo painting by George Stubbs. Spot a series of boards in shop windows, with pithy excerpts from Samwell's description of Cook's appearance and character. Daily 9.45am - 5pm (last entry 4.30) standard admission.


An exhibition of paintings by Frank Henry Mason, including the original copy of the railway poster featuring the building of HM Bark Endeavour. Special Exhibits also illustrate Cook’s association with Whitby including manuscripts, maps, an illuminated globe and models of the Endeavour and Resolution. Tues – Sun 09.30 – 16.30.


Enjoy a specially commissioned play at Whitby Abbey by Time Will Tell Theatre transporting you back to the 18th century and the age of exploration and discovery. Saturday & Sunday 11am, 1pm & 3pm standard admission.


Follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook and discover the hidden treasures located within the North York Moors. Will you be the next great explorer? Try and uncover all the answers to the clues. Pick up a copy from our National Park centres or Whitby TIC or download the Look Out! Trail here: https://tinyurl.com/nymnp-cook250.


You will be able to enjoy the delights of Cook's Kitchen on both Saturday and Sunday of the Festival. For FREE, you will be able to catch all the gourmet galley action from the likes of Christian Taylor (chef and creator of the street food ‘Taylor Made’) and Andrew Pern (Michelin Star chef) on Endeavour Wharf between 10.30am – 3.30pm.


The live music and action will take place mainly at the Whitby bandstand, Sanders Yard and on the HM Bark Endeavour, including a rare appearance by Hughie Jones from legendary folk group the Spinners. For a complete music programme, please visit the website.


For this special weekend, Whitby Library will be open on Saturday 7 July from 10am – 5pm and on Sunday 8 July from 10am – 4pm. Meet local artists and listen to talks from well renowned authors.

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Facilities available at Cook250 Whitby Festival

  • Child Friendly
  • Food & Drink Available