Whitby has welcomed the Goth community to Whitby for decades. Here are 9 reasons why Goths love Whitby.
Everyone loves Whitby, how could you not? It has everything a seaside town should have and more. Beaches, sunshine (sometimes), shops, ice creams, fishing, crabbing, history, and more. It is a gorgeous little getaway spot visited by thousands every year.
Having said all that there is a group of people who, debatably, love Whitby more than anyone else. They flock there twice a year, at least, and in their thousands, and celebrate everything Dracula, spooky, and haunting that the town has to offer. Who are these people? Well, the Goths of course, and here’s nine reasons why they love this spectacular town so much!
Whitby Goth Weekend
Whitby Goth Weekend is just one of two amazing events that are held biannually in Whitby. It involves a weekend of fabulous alternative music, gatherings of the like-minded, and an amazing display of all things gothic, steam punk, and everything in between meandering down Whitby’s street.
Originally the brainchild of, and still run by Jo Hampshire, Whitby Goth Weekend or WGW as it is now known, for short, usually occurs during the second weekend of April and the last weekend of October. It attracts more than 1,500 visitors from the UK and beyond. Not all visitors to this amazing event are goths or alternatives, ‘normals’ are welcomed as well.
This fabulous event started when a group of around forty pen pals decided that it was time to meet up. They did this in the Elsinore public house in Whitby and a twenty-eight year tradition began. Of course, over the years the WGW has grown and developed into the large event it is today. Whitby was chosen for its connection to Dracula which most, if not all Goths, love the story of!
The Legend Of Dracula
It’s very hard not to be cliched and stereotypical when it comes to the Goths love of Whitby and all things Dracula. It is, however, a common truth, that they love this story and spend time during the Whitby Goth Weekend celebrating it, tracing its steps, and taking fabulous photographs in its locations.
Whitby’s connection to Dracula is probably common knowledge for any fan of the story or visitor to Whitby. However, it is an interesting story and links Whitby further with all things Gothic. I would, for example, be telling you nothing new if I told you that Bram Stoker, Dracula’s author, was staying in Whitby during the creation of his most famous tale and that, that is one of the reasons Whitby ends up featuring in the tale. But why does it fit so well?
Basically, when Bram Stoker visited Whitby, he was already working on a tale set in Austria with the central character being Count Wampyr. This was probably due to the time's favoured literature being tales of foreign lands, eerie castles, and all things Gothic. Unsurprisingly, as Bram Stoker wandered the streets and lanes of Whitby, he found that very vibe there. This was especially true of Whitby Abbey and the Church of St Mary beneath it.
The Dracula Experience is well worth a visit!
A Gothic Abbey And A Haunting Churchyard
Whitby Abbey sits high above the town of Whitby and is the ruin of what was once a great and noble Benedictine monastery during the 11th century. During the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII it was confiscated, its possessions taken and left to fall to rack and ruin. Despite it later falling into private hands, it was never restored and when the owners of the land left the area, it continued to deteriorate. Read the story of the Submerged Bells to get a flavour of the times.
Nowadays, the Abbey is a highly favoured visitor attraction for the Goths who come to Whitby in droves. This is partly due to its haunting description that Bram Stoker gave it in his famous novel but also for its appearance now. In the darkness, the ruins of this once great Gothic building look haunting, spooky, yet still majestic. It is the perfect place to take some spectacular photos that capture the Gothic persona to its max.
The Abbey, however, is not the only reason the Gothic visitors to Whitby climb the 199 Steps that lead up to it. Incidentally, the steps themselves have their own haunting tale, written by Michel Faber, and entitled, aptly, The 199 Steps. No, Gothic visitors also seek out the Church of St Mary’s. This church, though highly interesting inside and out is a choice destination for its graveyard.
The graveyard of St Mary’s contains many interesting and ravaged by time gravestones that just scream out to be photographed with Whitby’s Gothic visitors. They also, interestingly feature in Bram Stoker’s novel with names from them being used in his prose. The name ‘Swales’ for example is used by Stoker for the first victim of Dracula in Whitby, and also on the gravestone of one of St Mary’s eternal sleepers.
Where The Undead Sleep!
Whitby is full of amazing places to stay whilst you are on holiday there and I’m sure Goths love them all. However, there are at least two extra special accommodations in Whitby that makes them love the place more. Both specifically cater to the gore-hounds and dark glamour seeking Goths and make their stay in Whitby just that little bit more special.
Bats ‘n’ Broomsticks is a Gothic and Victorian guest house that embraces fully Whitby’s vampire connections. They cater specifically for the Gothic visitor to this historical town, but also welcome ‘normals’ to their splendid and lushly decorated home. There are only three rooms at Bats ‘n’ Broomsticks but each one contains a four poster bed and all the comforts a Goth could need. Breakfast is served in a candlelit dining room and cooked just as fresh as a vampire likes his blood!
Nevermore, by comparison, is a private room in a private and unique haunted home in the heart of Whitby. The bedroom offered is decorated in a horror/Gothic style with a king size bed and a stunning ornate canopy. All the trimmings that a Goth could need are also found here including a large collection of horror, B movie, and sci-fi DVDs to enjoy on the TV. There is a ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ styled bathroom and breakfast is served in the family dining room which is crammed with taxidermy and creepy oddities. It’s the perfect place for the undead to rest before attending Whitby Gothic events.
Tomorrows Ghosts Weekend
Tomorrows Ghosts is the second and more recent of the two fabulous events that are held with Goths in mind specifically in Whitby. Like the Whitby Goth Weekend, Tomorrows Ghosts is held twice a year, also in April and October.
As well as a weekend full of alternative music and markets selling all things Gothic, Tomorrows Ghosts also host a fabulous film festival and talks with guest speakers that Goths just love. Films range from the classic oldies should as ‘Brides of Dracula’ to more recent releases such as the new Gothic fairytale ‘House of the Gorgon.’
Talk events are also varied with events such as ‘Hammer Glamour and the Secrets of Dracula’. Goths love a bit of Hammer Horror film magic and so team that with the chance to meet the ‘Hammer Glamour’ ladies such as Caroline Munro, Valerie Leon, and Martine Beswick and they are in heaven. ‘Secrets of Dracula’ with none other than Bram Stoker’s nephew Dacre Stoker is just further icing on the Goth ‘great time whilst wearing great costumes’ cake!
A Chance to Be Seen, Admired, And Meet Great People
There is absolutely no denying that Goths love Whitby for its friendly and warm welcome that is extended to them, not only during the Goth weekends but all year round. The people of Whitby and all its visitors, after all, embrace the Gothic charm and history of this fabulous town with open arms.
It is no secret, also, that people love to photograph the weird and wonderful costumes that the Goths are dressed in, and that the Goths love to pose. Photographers flock to Whitby, especially during the Goth weekends and the results, which are fantastic, can be seen easily online. Simply Google ‘Whitby Goth Weekend’ and you will find photos galore of the streets of Whitby and the people wandering them at the time.
Where Did You Get That Hat?
Not only do Goths love wandering down the streets and lanes of Whitby in their finery but they also love to buy their finery there too! Whitby is full of one of a kind, alternative clothing stores bursting at the seams with delectable dresses, terrific trousers, and fabulous footwear.
Whitby is also home to some terrific independent stores that you will not find elsewhere selling everything from lucky glass ducks, not very Gothic I know, but still loved, to everything you need for pagan rituals. Goths visiting Whitby love to shop here for that something different.
Whitby Jet, A Dark Jewel Of A Gem!
It’s no secret that Goths tend to favour, not always, but often, jewellery that is dark, bold and created with the Gothic such as spiders, black cats, bats, and crosses in mind. This makes Whitby a centre for the kind of jewellery that they love as it has the dark and mysterious gem Jet.
Jet has continually mesmerised its wearers, including Goths, for many years now with its jet black colouration and amazing shine when polished. It is sourced from fossilised wood that has lain undiscovered for millions of years with the best samples being found in the much loved Whitby. Read about the history of Whitby Jet Jewellery.
Jet was incredibly favoured by Queen Victoria around 1861 and used in all her mourning jewellery when she lost her beloved husband Albert. No doubt this fact only increases the Gothic love of jet, that sense of love lost and morbid connotations making it all the more appealing.
Nowadays there are many jet jewellers in Whitby creating some fantastic pieces that Goths absolutely love. There is a plethora of necklaces, rings, and bracelets adorned with spiders, their webs, swooping bats, and all kinds of stylised crosses bound to ward even the meanest vampire off!
Vampires, Ghosts, Ghouls, And Lost Souls
Dracula is not the only supernatural tale that Whitby has to offer, they also have ghosts, ghouls and legends galore. From stories of the mystical and magical, tragic shipwrecks, superstition, and burning girls, Whitby has it all and the Goths love it!
There are many creepy tales linked with Whitby including rumours of a set of witches, the demonic screams that emanate through the screaming tunnel, and the hand of glory; a burning candle attached to a hanged man’s hand that aided yesteryears criminals. Certainly not last, and definitely not least there is the story of the burning girl.
According to legend, this tale involves a beautiful young girl who set her hair on fire in a bakers oven whilst trying to get warm in the cold of winter. In agony, she ran from the shop screaming as the flames licked her body and was picked up by the baker who had run from the shop after her. He, the girl in arms, ran through the streets to the infirmary where unfortunately she died in absolute agony. Since then, on cold winter nights, people report seeing flames appear before them with the image of a girl within them. She is said to stare right into people’s eyes and deep into their souls before disappearing again. Behind her, she leaves, the undeniable stench of burning human flesh!