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Whitby goth weekend '23

Whitby Goth Weekend is a biannual, alternative festival which celebrates gothic music, art, and style through a long weekend of coastal events. It also incorporates the Bizarre Bazaar Alternative Market, where you can shop for homeware, clothing, artwork, and any other quirky bits, held throughout various Whitby locations. The Gothic music scene is not ignored neither, with the Tomorrow’s Ghosts Halloween music festival having returned once again after a successful 2022. Headlining Friday was The Mission, followed by Saturday headliners The 69 Eyes, amongst new and upcoming bands. Other activities include ghost walks, paranormal and gothic culture talks, pints, and chips with friends, as well as looking at the wonderous array of black lace, top hats and black eyeliner. 29 years later, it has become one of the most renowned alternative festivals internationally.  

 “The origins of WGW are in a meeting of around forty of Hampshire's pen-pals in 1994. The first meeting was held in the Elsinore public house in Whitby, which, with the Little Angel, continues to be a meeting point during the weekend. Hampshire said Whitby was chosen for its Dracula connections, although probably more so because the connection had already fostered a sense of acceptance on the part of locals and businesses rather than any inherent romanticism regarding the location.”                                                – (

Whitby is home to the ruins of an abbey, which was a Benedictine monastery which was founded in the 11th Century. It is in place of where a previous monastery once existed in 625, which was founded by princess and abbess Hild. Hild ran the monastery for both nuns and priests in a time when gender was highly segregated.

It is also home to Saint Mary’s Church, with eroded, empty graves that belong to the men lost at sea. Sea fog rolls in and lays itself down the 199 steps, concealing what lays above. It is no doubt that this inspired the story for Dracula, which then gave way to inspire Hampshire to create the festival we know today.  

You will see the full variety of goth, steampunk, and fantasy outfits throughout the weekend, with people going to the efforts to produce props and even handcraft their own outfits. A friend of mine described it as “the Goth Met Gala”, and quite honestly, it’s the perfect description. Full ballgowns and suits grace the cobbled stone, as well as wings, headdresses, wigs, face paint and parasols.

Whitby will even announce a pirate weekend in the last weekend of August, as well as the biannual goth weekends in April and October. I can guarantee 2024 will be a highlight of alternative culture, celebrating 30 years of culture in Whitby. All hotels and B&Bs sell out months in advance, so I suggest if you wish to go you plan well in advance.

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