Last year’s Harrogate Christmas Market (2016) saw an estimated 60,000 visitors. As always after the event, traders and Harrogate businesses were asked for feedback, to ensure the event was a success for both. Here’s what they had to say.
“Best market! The organisation and communication with the event team is great. Definitely a wonderful market to work at. I will definitely trade every year as long as you’ll have me!” (Crafty Bubble, M16-17)
“Wonderful! Great music, selection of food and drink and stalls. Thank you as always, for being so friendly and helpful.” (Abundant Glass, M10)
“Such a well organised event with all aspects covered. Great stalls & fabulous atmosphere. Please come and organise all the events we do. Also, so thoughtful to the traders.” (Chi Chi’s, P03)
“Brilliant fair, very well organised by willing, helpful and friendly volunteers. Huge footfall of some lovely customers – so many so that we virtually sold out. We really appreciate the immense amount of effort that goes towards this event by the volunteers.” (Catwalk 100, C03)
Of course, in keeping with every event of this type, the organisers do get some constructive criticism, which is taken seriously. Acting on comments received, the following improvements will be implemented for 2017:
1. All outdoor stalls on grass will be moved back one metre, allowing space for visitors to move off the walkway and browse.
2. More protective matting will be laid under stalls, to help keep mud at bay if it rains.
3. Both marquees will have improved lighting, as will the main footpaths.
4. The whole left-hand side of Montpellier Hill will have suspended parking, allowing more coaches to offload passengers without blocking traffic.
And when unforeseen things do go wrong, HCM’s organisers waste no time sorting the problems.
“…there was a power cut on the Thursday evening, but it was resolved very quickly, which was impressive.” (Red Paper House, C40)
As the Harrogate Christmas Market gets a lot of repeat bookings from traders, the overall satisfaction must be high. But are the businesses in Harrogate happy with the market?
We extended our opening hours to 7pm Thurs to Sat, and increased from four to six hours on Sunday. We offered special offers, food tasters and free mulled wine to customers. …we made at least £2000 more than usual in a week …. We appreciate the splitting of weekends from Knitting and Stitching, as during the year when they did occur on the same weekend, we found it too busy in the shop – sometimes dangerously overcrowded – and know that we lost some custom due to the congestion of people and associated parking etc. I felt it was better to have the market first, as it kick-started Christmas shopping earlier. (Oxfam, Montpellier Street)
“We have the Olde Sweet Shop at 29 Montpellier Parade and felt the market was a great success. The timing is perfect, kick starting the Christmas trade early and not clashing with other events in the town’s calendar. Even the weather couldn’t dampen the spirit of the customers. Hopefully it will continue in its current successful format for many years to come.” (Farrah’s of Harrogate)
“Please pass on my thanks and congratulations to all the team who work so hard to deliver an amazing Christmas market each year, with this year’s being no exception to that. Cedar Court Hotel put an offer out to attract visitors to Harrogate, and linked up successfully with the Lions Club to provide a cup of Mulled Wine whilst visitors toured the Market, and we also teamed up with The Spirit of Harrogate Company to provide Slingsby’s Gin in a deal that allowed the guest to buy a discounted bottle of their fabulous Gin. This attracted over 30 bookings, with over 60 people coming from outside the district to spend money benefiting the three of us in the package, but I’m sure many other businesses too. This generated sales in excess of £4,000, plus whatever they then spent at the Market, and of course in Harrogate town centre. We look forward to developing this offer next year and bringing more people to experience what is fast becoming the best Christmas Market there is in the UK!”
(Simon Cotton, former General Manager, Cedar Court)
Of course, it’s impossible to please everyone. Events like the market do increase traffic. And no one can control the weather, which can impact on footfall. And the following suggestions have been given due consideration.
Some traders want the market to run for a longer number of days, but because of the Stray Act’s strict rules limiting the number of days the Stray can be used for such events, that’s impossible. Some people have suggested moving the market to the Valley Gardens, West Park Stray, or have it dotted through the town. Each of these options has been studied and rejected for logistical reasons or cost. And if it was moved to the Yorkshire Showground, like some have proposed, Harrogate businesses wouldn’t benefit, which was the whole point of running the market in the first place.
It’s also been suggested to hold it later in the year, however it would then clash with Knitting and Stitching, or Country Living, and the organisers know from experience that clashing with one of these large exhibitions isn’t ideal for either event, plus there’s the compounded traffic congestion to consider. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, as they say.
Whatever you think of this event, it’s clear that the dedicated volunteer committee members go to great lengths to consider the needs of traders, visitors, residents and Harrogate businesses alike, when planning this Christmas market with a Yorkshire flavour.