Whitby Goth Weekend: November 2016

Whitby Goth Weekend ran from 4th November to 6th November. Accommodation in Whitby was booked up for weeks in advance, and Whitby was not only regular tourists and locals for a couple of days: the goths took over. Nearly every pub, bar and restaurant was jam-packed full of people. Outfits ranged from low key goth (i.e a Hellbunny dress and fishnet tights) to full steampunk gear, and a few people even sported “Day of the Dead” face paint.

The event is free for the most part: the only part which requires a ticket is the music in the Whitby Pavillion. The lineup this year was the following:

Friday night:

Kitty In A Casket


Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic

Heaven 17

Saturday night:

Chasing Dragons

Children On Stun

Skeletal Family

The Mission

On the Friday night, the music started out with much more of a focus on rock (Kitty In A Casket) and ended sounding very 80s (Heaven 17). Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic were extremely flamboyant but sadly only the singer appeared to be performing live. It was obvious that the drums were not in time with the backing track and the backing track kept cutting the singer off when he was talking to the audience. Due to the poor choice of music on Friday night, many people who had bought tickets did not bother to turn up to the Pavilion on the Saturday night. The Pavilion is perhaps a poor choice of venue: it is at least a 10 minute walk from the centre of Whitby and only has small bars, where there were always queues and they even ran out of some types of drink. However, there may not be a venue large enough to hold a decent crowd in the centre of Whitby.

Throughout the weekend, Whitby’s iconic goth shops, such as Venus Trading, stayed open late into the night. Photographers were everywhere, although they largely congregated at St Mary’s church near Whitby Abbey due to the fantastic gothic atmosphere it provided. People in the most creative costumes were mobbed for photos.

Whitby Goth Weekend
Judith Chapman in her handmade skirt and wings outside W. Hamond, for the Gothic Gateway competition, photo by Fiona Stephens

W. Hamond Gothic Gateway

Different shops held different activities. W. Hamond, the original Whitby jet shop, held a “Gothic Gateway” competition for the best photo to win a jet necklace, while inside, Silhouette artist Charles Burns cut small silhouettes for a small donation per silhouette to charity, completely on the spot and without drawing anything, he did it just by looking at the customer.

Charles Burns silhouettes
Three of Charles Burns’ silhouettes, photo by Fiona Stephens

The Leisure Centre rented out one of their rooms to host a number of different stalls selling clothing, jewellery and other services, and cheaper than usual shops too. There was even a stall advertising gothic handmade wedding dresses.

It was not necessary to spend a lot of money to have an enjoyable weekend. In preparation for next year, this is how to save money at the Goth Weekend:

  1. Stay outside of Whitby. Accommodation in Whitby gets booked up months ahead, but getting the train from the moors to and from Whitby every day costs less than £10. There are also bus and taxi services.
  2. If you want to eat at a particular restaurant, book in advance. Abbey Wharf had a wait on Friday night for tables, and on Saturday they had to turn people away for food because they were fully booked.
  3. You don’t have to go for the ticketed music event to have a great time. A lot of pubs have their own sound system, one shop even had a DJ performing throughout the day, and Abbey Wharf had a glam night on the Saturday, which was free.
  4. If you wish to purchase alternative clothing on Goth Weekend, take note of the designer and search for them on Google when you get home. You may be able to find the same thing a lot cheaper.
  5. It’s not necessary to dress up, however it does add to the atmosphere and it’s flattering when photographers and even random strangers approach you and ask for photographs.
  6. Be prepared for the wind and rain.

Overall score for the festival: [8/10]