Discovery Visits


Experience a distinctive mix of discovery visits planned for you by local YMCAs across the UK. Each visit will offer something different, see different cities outside London like Birmingham and Belfast or spend time in the english countryside in East of England and Dulverton, each as fascinating offering lots of culture and history.

You could take the opportunity to visit Scotland’s breathtaking views of wild landscapes, mist shrouded mountains and rolling hills that go on for miles. Visits that include a fascinating history and natural beauty. You’ll get a first hand experience of YMCAs work in the UK and a chance to connect with young people we work with.

Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales CEO, said “YMCA England & Wales is excited to host thousands of delegates from around the world for YMCA175 this summer, in the city where it all began. Sitting alongside the main event, and hosted and organised by local YMCAs, the YMCA175 Discovery Visits are a great way to see the community enriching work which takes place with young people across the country.”

The visits take place both before and after YMCA175 and last between 2-4 days. You can find available visits at  YMCA175’s Eventbrite page.

The visits are an optional opportunity to visit local YMCAs in the UK before and after YMCA175 takes place. These visits, at an additional cost to YMCA175 registration, are hosted and exclusively organised by local YMCAs for YMCA175 delegates and aim to extend contextual knowledge of YMCA’s work, develop skills and expand networks, to advance global partnerships.

If you have any questions take a look at Frequently Asked Questions about these experiences. If you have any questions please email, note that Terms & Conditions apply.

YMCA Ireland Craic & Culture

29 July – 2 August – £490.95

Experience a land rich in history, landscapes and unique in cultural traditions. A trip which gives an informative and first hand experience of Northern Ireland’s history and heritage.

During your trip, you can explore some of the most important areas affected by the troubles a significant part of Northern Ireland’s history, including a visit to Derry City Walls and a guest speakers first hand account of their experience during this time.

YMCA has been a part of Northern Ireland for over 115 years, the trip will enable you to hear from young people past and present and see the impact YMCA has had in the local community.

A visit of Culture in the East of England

31 July – 4 August – £437.65

Close to London, but with some most beautiful rural areas and plenty of UK heritage on offer, East Anglia will make a great Discovery Visit. Taking in Norwich, Cambridge and Essex, you will see three of the oldest YMCAs in the country as well as some great architecture and impactful YMCA work.

See Norwich, proud capital of the area; Cambridge, the historic university city; and Chelmsford, the oldest town in England and county town of Essex.

Part of your stay will include an overnight stop in the halls of world renowned Cambridge University.

The Jewell of the North East

1 – 4 August – £384.45

Explore Newcastle, a vibrant city in the North East of England famous for its world class culture, inspiring heritage and acclaimed architecture and famous for its local Geordie spirit.

From Coast to quayside Newcastle boasts a fascinating and diverse landscape with a culturally rich city with an opportunity to spend time at Newcastle’s stunning beaches.

Highlights include an opportunity to learn to surf and BBQ on the beach, experience youth project SPACE2, and find out about YMCA Newcastle’s newest social enterprise ‘Urban Mushrooms’.

Discover Watford: Home of Harry Potter & cosmopolitan city

1 – 4 August – £224.45

On the outskirts of north London, experience beautiful natural settings of the outer London greenbelt, Watford city centre and some interesting local houses including Bhaktivedanta Manor, which was originally donated by the former Beatles member, George Harrison to the Harikrishna movement.

Watford Palace Theatre which first opened in 1908 gives you the feeling of going back in time and a sense of historical importance. Warner Brothers Studio is also close by and is a must for Harry Potter fans. Fortunately, a visit to the Studio is included in this tour!

The Gateway to London

31 July – 4 August – £416.33

Experience communities in East London, adjacent to where YMCA175 will take place, with YMCA Thames Gateway, named after the famous river that cuts through the centre of the country’s capital.

Visitors and tourists to London may only ever explore the City centre but for those that care to travel further east, a rich in culture and atmosphere. So much of London’s history owes a debt to the East End.

Colourful characters, famous architecture, hidden treasures of changing life over the years.

The Heart of England

31 July – 4 August – £426.99

Experience a warm West Midlands welcome from YMCAs in the Heart of England.

Britain’s second largest city, Birmingham is famous for having more miles of canal than Venice and more public parks than any equivalent city in Europe. It is also home to the world-famous Cadbury’s chocolate factory. The neighbouring ‘Black Country’ – so called because the air was reputed to be black with soot from factories and smokestacks – was once part of Britain’s industrial heartland.

YMCA Birmingham and YMCA Black Country are delighted to welcome YMCA colleagues from across the world to the West Midlands

Experience the North West of England: The Wirral, Liverpool and St Helens

31  July – 4 August – £224.45

Experience communities in the north west of England including Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral and St Helens, showcasing unique approaches to engaging with young people local YMCAs support including horticulture and motor mechanics,

These communities are famous for The Beatles, Liverpool cathedral, Liver Bird statues, home to the River Mersey, and greatly influenced by the Industrial Revolution – which itself contributed to the birth of YMCA.

Highlights include a “Ferry Across The Mersey” sightseeing cruise, community meal at YMCA Wirral, attend a Celebration and Thanksgiving Service, watch a local rugby game and tour of YMCA Liverpool’s Dutch Farm Project, including a British Afternoon Cream Tea.

Lakeside to Seaside

8 August – 12 August – £490.95

Based at YMCA Lakeside, which is situated in The Lake District. This is one of England’s National Parks, and home to lake Windermere, which is the country’s largest lake.

This Discovery Visit brings together team building activities, seaside resorts, YMCA projects, and the great outdoors.

This part of England is famous for being the home of Beatrix Potter, the English ‘stick of rock’, kiss-me-quick hats, rolling hills, picturesque countryside, lakes, forests and mountains. It is also the home of the famous English poet, William Wordsworth.

Experience the West Country; Sir George Williams’ birthplace

8 – 10 August – £245.77

Experience the birthplace and region where our founder, Sir George Williams, grew up and worked, in the west country.

Famous for its stunning views across open countryside, sandy beaches, Cheddar cheese and cider, Glastonbury Festival and Arthurian Legends.

Highlights of this Discovery Visit will include visit Sir George Williams birth town of Dulverton, staying at the Beach Hotel, a YMCA run hospitality social enterprise for young apprentices and a tour of ‘YMCA George Williams Centre’, experiencing day camps in progress.

Tour the English Seaside & an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

8 August – 10 August – £245.77

Never more than an hour away from London, experience the beautiful South Downs National Park, the iconic seaside town of Brighton and experience the quintessential villages in the English countryside.

Famous for its English heritage evidence of the earliest inhabitants of England which dates back 500,000 years. The Battle of Hastings took place here in 1066, a battle for the throne of England. Brighton Pavilion was built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV.

Highlights include a visit to the new inclusive sports facility for children and young people, trip on i360 and to Brighton Pavillion (tourist attractions), learn about YMCA campaigning and influencing work.

Enjoy Scotland: Natural Beauty, Edinburgh Fringe & St Andrews

8 – 11 August – £267.09

Scotland is a beautiful country famous for its breathtaking views of wild landscapes, mist shrouded mountains and rolling hills that go one for miles.

A country with a fascinating history dating back to the first century well known for kilts, bagpipes whiskey and of course haggis.

Highlights include a day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a trip to St Andrews one of Scotland’s famous towns with spectacular beaches, the fascinating museums, and a vibrant arts and cultural scene; visit local youth projects including a youth café and experience a ‘Ceilidh’ a Scottish themed evening with traditional food, dance and music hosted in the Glenrothes Community Centre.

The Wales Way

8 – 11 August – £458.97

Take this opportunity to sample Welsh life, meet with Welsh people, find out more about the history of the YMCA in Wales and experience cultural, historical and heritage sites across South Wales.

South Wales is famous for its amazing beaches (Rhossili Beach near Swansea has ranked as one of the best beaches in the world), wonderful scenery, rich history, industrial heritage and famous for Barry Island, featured in the popular UK tv series, Gavin and Stacey.

Highlights include visiting YMCAs throughout South Wales including YMCA Swansea and YMCA Cardiff; formal reception with local Councillors, Assembly Members and Members of Parliament and visit Cardiff Bay, The Senedd – Wales’ Parliament, and landmark Pier Head Building.

Explore London and the Largest UK YMCA

8 – 10 August – £277.75

Just a short distance from central London, St Paul’s Group is now the largest YMCA in the UK, with sites in South West London and East London.

Aptly named after the Cathedral where Sir George William’s is laid to rest, it is made up of local branches across the city. It is situated very close to the palace of Henry VIII, Hampton Palace and also runs an original Lido – an outdoor swimming pool where families would picnic in the sun before easy travel made family holidays more accessible.

Click here for checking our Frequent Asked Questions about Discovery Visits, to help find answers that we may already have answered.

You can see all of the Discovery Visits available to book on YMCA175’s Eventbrite page at We accept payment by all major credit or debit cards. Please note that Eventbrite booking and payment processing fees are included in the advertised price.

Delegates must arrange their own transportation to the starting point of the Discovery Visit, YMCA175 and the local organisers have provided travel advice for each visit. This will be sent with the visit confirmation email. If you have questions please email

In the majority of cases you will need to arrange your own transit from your arrival point in the UK, to your Discovery Visit start location, or from the end location to YMCA175 in London. You can book train tickets via and

YMCAs in the UK and Ireland are made up of three National Movements, YMCA England & Wales (, YMCA Scotland ( and YMCA Ireland, which covers YMCAs based in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (

You can book visits up until Friday May 31, after this booking will close and no further bookings can be made.

You can find out if you need a visa for the UK at, typically you can only apply a maximum of three months before you arrive in the UK. Registered delegates for YMCA175 (registered at will be provided with a visa invitation letter that will cover the length of your stay. If you have questions about visa or your invitation letter please email Please note, Northern Ireland is covered under UK visa jurisdiction, however if you plan to visit the Republic of Ireland, you will need to make separate or additional visa arrangements.

We want all people with disabilities or accessibility modifications to enjoy YMCA175. If you require a modification or have accessibility requirement, please email Please note that ‘PA Goes Free tickets’ are not available of eligible for Discovery Visits.

Local YMCAs have made arrangements for the dates and times provided at the point of booking, if you wish to extend your stay you will need to either make your own arrangements, or contact your local YMCA host.

The host YMCA will cater for food during your visit, this will vary depending on which visit you choose. Some visits will incorporate catering that gives you an opportunity to try local traditional foods. Some visits include meals at YMCA social enterprise business projects (such as YMCA run hotels and cafés), and a community meal with representatives from the local area. Each local YMCA will confirm any dietary requirements closer to the time of your visit (which you can submit during booking of a visit).

Accommodation has been arranged for you by host YMCAs, you will find out more information of the exact location of your accommodation from your host nearer to the time when a full itinerary is provided after booking closes at the end of May. All accommodation is of a reasonable standard including low cost hotels.

The visits have been planned by the host to ensure you get the most out of the visit, this means in most cases there will not be any arranged free time for you during the visit schedule, however planned recreational activities are on most itineraries.

YMCA175 can connect you to local YMCAs by emailing, please include information about what you are looking to achieve from the visit. Alternatively, you can search for local YMCAs in the UK and Ireland by going to (for YMCAs in England and Wales), (for Scotland) and (for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). YMCA Europe and its partners take no responsibility for self-arranged or planned Discovery Visits.

For the majority of the Discovery Visits, the minimum age is 16. An adult must accompany all young people under the age of 18. If you have delegates younger than 16 and are interested in bringing them on a Discovery Visits please email stating which visit you are interest in booking. Please note visits are not suitable for children.

Yes, you are able to confirm the booking of the visit without knowing all the delegates name. This information will need to be provided by 31 May to be passed on to host YMCAs.

All the visits have been planned with the YMCA175 themes and values in mind, it is a way of providing additional local context as an extension of the wider YMCA175 event, giving you the opportunity to connect with other young people, celebrate the work that is done in communities and create lasting international bonds that will inspire further relationships.

By taking part in a Discovery Visit you will get the opportunity to visit at least one local YMCA, and experience its work that is done in local communities. Discovery Visits provide an opportunity to both learn about what YMCAs do within the local communities, while visiting a place you have never been, local tourist attractions, sights, and meeting youth leaders and community members to hear about YMCAs impact. Each Discovery Visit provides a unique experience.

If your Discovery Visit is prior to YMCA175, you must arrange your own transport back to London, with enough time to check-in to your London accommodation and be at ExCeL London at least 1 hour prior to the Opening Ceremony, which starts at 7:30pm. If your Discovery Visit is after the event you will make your own onward travel arrangements.

Generally, the maximum group size is 20 people.

In your order confirmation you would have received a main point of contact for your visit, if you’ve lost this confirmation email please email

If you have any further question please email

Discovery Visit costs include accommodation, travel and catering for the duration of your stay. Please note, it does not include registration to YMCA175 at ExCeL London or (with a couple of exceptions) travel to and from your Discovery Visit start or end location.

Discovery Visits are organised by host local YMCAs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and coordinated by YMCA Europe. Local YMCAs have planned an exciting itinerary of activities for delegates to do and see on your visit. The details of the host can be found on your confirmation email. If you have any issues please email

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