Whitby Goth Weekend is a twice yearly celebration of everything alternative. Set in the picturesque English town of Whitby, in has been running for over 20 years and attracts thousands of people from all over the world.
It wasn’t until we started trading at the event that we realised what a unique experience it really was. While we get our pop-up shop ready for another year of trading, we have created this guide to ensure you get the most out of your Whitby Goth Weekend!
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK.
Back when we were WGW virgins we faced the biggest dilemma any visitor to the famous weekend will have to face in their mortal lifetime… “What on earth do I wear?!”
Is it strictly an all-black affair? Am I not a real goth if I wear pink? Will the real goths see through my outfit and chase me out of Whitby?!
Take it from the company whose clothing is so colourful it could give you migraines - WGW is possibly the most friendly and accepting crowd we’ve ever encountered. Whether you are a full-time Deity of Darkness or just want to come along for the experience, you will be welcomed with open arms. There’s no need to try and cover your fake tan in white make up or memorise The Cure’s back catalogue, (unless you really want to) - just be yourself!
Whitby does seem to drown in a sea of black lace, top hats and corsets during this weekend but you’ll find creatures of all colours parading the harbour. WGW is not a place to worry about fitting in, in fact, it is the opposite! Ask 10 WGW goers what they think it means to be goth and we bet you get 10 different answers. The bottom line is - wear whatever the hell you want, it’s the attitude that counts. Unless what you want to wear is crocs… then perhaps we’d ask you to reconsider.
BRING A MAGICAL FLASHY BOX
Even if you are the most seasoned WGW veteran you will undoubtably see something so unique that you’ll have to take a picture just to prove it actually happened. From goths playing mini golf in the sun to outfits crafted entirely from balloons - you’ll find it here and you won't want to forget it.
Here’s a quick photography etiquette guide which will keep you in good standing while taking pictures.
Always ask permission to take someone’s photo.
There’s nothing worse then someone popping a camera in your face and blinding you without warning while you're trying to eat your fish and chips. Goths aren’t animals in a zoo, a polite ‘Do you mind if I take your picture?’ should precede every photo of a stranger. Most of the time, your new friend might even pose for you if you’ve asked nicely! And if they say no? Respect it, and move on.
Don't take photos of people posing on graves.
When you get caught up in your excitement it’s easy to forget people live in Whitby all year round. The graves you or your model are standing and posing on hold the remains of someone’s loved ones. It is highly disrespectful and gives WGW a bad name to the local residents. Plus, it's common knowledge that if you pose on a grave during Whitbt Goth Weekend, the ghost of the deceased will come back to your hotel to you haunt you each year. Don't do it!
BUY A TICKET TO THE MAIN EVENT
Whitby Goth Weekend is a ticketed event. While there’s no reason you can’t come and stay in Whitby during the weekend and take part in the free activities, we would highly recommend actually buying a ticket and going to the Spa each evening. Here’s why!
The music is awesome.
After the daytime crowds have left and the traders pack up, the Spa transforms into a buzzing hive with an electric atmosphere. You’ll meet like-minded people, consume lots of shandys and dance the night away with your new best friends. Those sneaky organisers always manage to get a musical line-up that has something for everybody. Goth, metal, new romance, old, young or middle aged - there's no way you can't enjoy it. The weekend's past guests have included The Damned, The Last Cry, Altered Images, Doctor and the Medics, Fearless Vampire killers, Therapy?, Lene Lovich Band, New Model Army, The Birthday Massacre, Wayne Hussey and loads more. An extra tip is to leave your pre-conceptions at home. Some of the best bands we’ve experienced at WGW have been complete wild cards. Watch them all, and you may just be surprised!
It’s the perfect place to meet your favourite band.
The bands and artists can always found wandering around the event or selling merchandise at their tables. Bring cash, a camera and some cleavage to sign, and they’re yours! What other event gives you the opportunity to party the night away with your musical idols?
You’ll be supporting the next WGW
Whitby Goth Weekend only exists because it was started by Jo Hampshire in 1994. It’s never been sold out, commercialised or cheapened. To date WGW has raised £43,612.70 for the Bat Conservation Fund. It still remains true to it’s original ethos (you’ll find plenty of goths who have been going every year since 1994!) and if that wasn't enough incentive already, it’s still under £70 for a full weekend ticket! Woo!
THE BIZARRE BAZAAR
Shoppers, rejoice! There are over 120 stalls of alternative traders across Whitby during the special weekend and we guarantee you will need to buy something from every single one of them. It is a unique shopping experience that offers a plethora of hand-made, unique gifts that you won’t find anywhere else. From fudge to Frightlings, you can do all your birthday, Christmas and wedding shopping for the whole year in one weekend! Just don’t forget to make sure you have enough money left over to treat yourself. After all, you deserve it after walking around in those stilettos all day. Get something nice for the wife too.
Traders can be found at the Spa Pavillion, (both downstairs and in the Theatre) the Brunswick Centre and the Leisure Centre
No, this isn't a fashion tip, we mean join in with the fringe events! There’s so much to do over the weekend that you’ll hardly have time to mope around looking depressed. Pick up a free copy of the Whitby Goth Weekend guide in the Spa foyer to find the latest list of what to do. Fancy watching a goth football match? A round of goth pool? Or maybe trying out some alternative modelling? You’ll be spoilt for choice!
Come earlier in the week and leave later to make the most of the fringe events that run on longer than the weekend. You'll find Whitby quieter in the days leading up to the event and there's still plenty to do. But remember, don't party too hard on the first night - you have a full weekend of events to enjoy, so pace yourself!
Check out this great link to Whitby's favourite watering holes and goth gathering spots; Whitby Pubs
VENTURE INTO THE SUNLIGHT
It’s no secret that Whitby is beautiful. But did you know it is home to a ruined Abbey that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel? You did? Oh, well then did you know it is also home to a Victorian Science museum?
Stray slightly from the goths (if that's possible) and you'll find some of the sights that make Whitby one of the UK's best holiday destinations.
We recommend checking out Whitby Harbour, the beach, the Whitby Museum, Pannett Park, Falling Foss Tea Garden, the Lifeboat Museum, Captain Cook memorial museum and the infamous 199 steps!
ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR BLOOD?
OK, well, maybe not blood, but definitely some of the best food the UK has to offer. Heed this warning; Book your restaurant tables well in advance! Whitby gets extremely busy during the Whitby Goth Weekend and one thing all goths have in common is they have to feed every evening. Most of the best restaurants will be fully booked or have over an hour to wait for a table. Here are some of our favourites!
DITTO - Posh nosh in a small, intimate restaurant
MARINE - One for the seafood lovers who want something a bit more 'upmarket'
BURGSEYS - Check out their black 'Goth' burger!
THE MOON & SIXPENCE - Relaxed brasserie on the waterfront
HUMBLE PIE & MASH - The name says it all
MAGPIE CAFE - The best fish & chips
YOUR COFFIN OR MINE?
The hardcore WGW crowd will book next year’s accommodation before they even leave the event, so you’ll have to be fast. Most places will be fully booked in advance. Think about location too, as beautiful as Whitby is, do you fancy walking 40 minutes uphill each night back to your hotel? If budget is an issue, think about sharing a cottage or apartment with friends or staying in a hostel. If all else fails and you find yourself homeless, Sneaton Castle often have cosy, budget rooms left, plus you get to sleep in a castle - what’s more goth than that?!
ONE MORE SUITCASE CAN'T HURT...
We know that one of your outfits could fill a suitcase alone, but did you remember to bring some sensible footwear for the beach? Your own pillow cases so your hair dye doesn’t ruin the hotels? Plenty of cash so you don’t have to spend an hour walking to the ATM? Here’s our essential packing list for WGW, and if you think we’ve missed anything important then let us know so we can add them!
1. Sensible shoes. You’ll probably be doing a lot of walking on uneven ground, rocks and sand.
2. A warm coat. It’s England, and you’re next to the sea. Need we say more?
3. Your own towels and pillow cases if you have dyed hair.
4. Babywipes. You should never leave home without them, but for anyone wearing lots of black make up they work much better then soap and water.
5. Cash. The Spa Pavillion has no ATM.
6. Your dog. Did you know Whitby is pet friendly?
Don't worry if you forget something. Whitby's local charity shops always display their goth, alternative and black clothing around this weekend and the Bizarre Bazaar is crammed full of must-have fashion and accessories. If you can't bring something to wear, buy it.
LEAVE THE 'TUDE AT HOME
Perhaps the most important tip on this list, is to treat everyone kindly.
WGW is not a place to point and stare, or laugh and make fun of others. So what if you’ve never seen someone in a gimp outfit being led on a chain? Who cares if you find a man in a frilly dress shocking? WGW is a place for people to escape the social ‘norms’ that dominate the rest of society and for them to be themselves without judgement - even if it is just for one weekend. Try to be accepting of everyone even if you don’t understand them, and remember, what you find weird is another person’s normal. It’s never nice to comment negatively on someone’s appearance, even goths have feelings! So be polite, be open-minded and you never know, you may just unlock an undiscovered fetish you never knew you had.
Everyone, including you, will have a much nicer time if you are kind.
You can visit the official Whitby Goth Weekend website to buy tickets or find our more information.