Cashing in on our weird and wonderful coast – join Stormtroopers in Scarborough, ride with Harry Potter and explore Dracula territory

Two-day convention Sci-Fi Scarborough takes place at the Spa Complex in April
Two-day convention Sci-Fi Scarborough takes place at the Spa Complex in April

Sci-fi in Scarborough, Dracula in Whitby and smugglers in Robin Hood’s Bay – Yorkshire’s tourism chiefs are tapping into our weird and wonderful legends and magical setting to to enchant visitors to our coast.

The project called Curious Coast aims to capitalise on all things weird and wonderful about our part of Yorkshire.

“We’ve never needed magic more in our lives, and the Yorkshire Coast is one of the very few places left in the UK where you can still find it,” said Janet Deacon, tourism and corporate marketing manager for Scarborough Borough Council and area director for Welcome to Yorkshire.

“In its timeless and unspoilt landscapes, there’s a chance to encounter the Wyld in all of its magnificent and untamed glory.

“Authors like Bram Stoker, Lewis Carroll and JRR Tolkien drew on this region’s rich legacy to create new myths, but the magic is not just confined to the realm of story-tellers.

“It’s woven into every aspect of Yorkshire’s Coast’s cultural life - its food, art, music, heritage, and above all its passion for the curious and the strange.”

Throughout the year curiosity seekers will be able to:

Download new free audio tours, which take visitors on a journey through the strange and supernatural, revealing myths and legends unique to the Curious Coast.

Based in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey the digital tours – part of a national initiative exploring Epic England - have been created by GeoTourist, an open source platform and app that delivers audio tours to real-time visitor locations and provides an immersive audio guide of their current location.

Discover how Whitby Abbey has become a world-famous icon for the wondrous and weird, the holy and unholy in English Heritage’s new £1.6m visitor centre launched at Easter.

In the town’s new museum, discover how Whitby’s enchanted stones – jet and amber – have been sought after for millennia for their magical powers, from Romans to royalty, and see the world’s largest piece of jet; in traditional workshops, see master craftspeople creating unique jewellery inspired by local myths and legends from Alice in Wonderland to Gothic Fantasy, from gemstones sourced from Whitby’s beaches!

In spring, Alpamare water park will launch a major scheme – unique in the UK - to recreate Scarborough’s healing spas for the 21st century.

Meet local ghost whisperers, myth-makers and guides to the mysterious and mystical. While visitors can enjoy chills and thrills a-plenty, local experts can also shed light on the important role that myth and legend can play in our lives today, helping us to navigate the world around us. Or simply help us re-connect with the natural magic of Yorkshire’s magical landscape, on beach or star-gazing safaris.

Encounter extraordinary collections of curious artefacts in local museums, including witch-posts, giant sea-monsters, an 11,000-year-old shaman’s headdress to invoke the gods, archives of sailors’ superstitions, and the macabre Hand of Glory.

Hear the ancient sounds of sea-songs and sea shanties that draw on local folklore and are experiencing a revival along the Yorkshire Coast; or take part in annual boat blessings at local SeaFests, in honour of the ancient fishing industry.

Explore the distilleries and breweries inspired by local legends or using magical ingredients, from sacred spring water to healing herbs; eat fish and chips with a spook; or taste time-honoured recipes blessed by grandmothers, including a cake that proved irresistible to dragons.

See how the seaside has become a shrine for Steampunks, sci-fi fans, and Goths, celebrated in its year-round major festivals and attractions.

Take a magical steam train ride along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It’s famous for its starring role in the Harry Potter movies, but also journeys through the legendary realm of Wade the Giant, epic war-hero of Viking and Saxon sagas.

Janet Deacon adds: “In a world where many of us are struggling to cope, the Curious Coast is a welcome escape from the everyday - a chance to let our imaginations free, re-connect with the natural magic of our world, celebrate the power of the human spirit, and reclaim our lives. It’s a magical uprising that we hope will inspire people!”

There are also plenty of curious places to stay, along the Yorkshire Coast, whatever the budget: sleep in Lewis Carroll’s holiday home – now a luxury boutique hotel, La Rosa; enjoy birds-eye views of ‘the Town that Time Forgot’ from Raven Hall; have a private view of Whitby Abbey’s gothic arches or stay in a smuggler’s cove with its own hobgoblin, with the YHA; or camp out close to the wyld, amongst Britain’s starriest skies.