Christmas markets are held all over the UK, with their popularity increasing every year. Harrogate Christmas Market has only been running since 2012, yet it attracts 60,000 visitors over four days, which is quite an achievement. Here are five reasons why you should make a point of visiting this Christmas market.
1. It’s a Christmas market with a distinctly Yorkshire flavour
Rather than copying the more common Continental markets with masses of imported goods, HCM prefers to identify with ‘God’s own county’ – Yorkshire. This means that most of the stalls are operated by Yorkshire businesses (many from, or near Harrogate) selling Yorkshire or UK-sourced products. As well as the many outdoor stalls, there is a craft and gift marquee with about 50 stalls selling many unique and hand-crafted items, plus a food and drink marquee selling delectable goodies such as artisan fudge and preserves. And if you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of hot food stalls located around the market.
2. It’s run as a not-for-profit enterprise
Unlike most markets, Harrogate Christmas Market is run by a group of community-minded volunteers, and any surplus is donated to local worthy causes, such as the Harrogate Christmas Lights Appeal. Incidentally, the official lights switch-on is at The Piazza, Victoria Shopping Centre, from 4pm to 6pm on Thursday, 16th November.
The concept of the market was created to bring visitors to Harrogate during a normally quiet time of year, helping hotels, bars, restaurants and the town-centre retail trade. The organisers wanted the market to benefit visitors, traders and Harrogate in general. Their aim is to make the market a positive experience for all concerned, so they formed a team of volunteer ‘Market Makers’ (high-vis jackets and sashes), who roam the site offering help to visitors and stallholders. Many traders have said this service is unique to the Harrogate Christmas Market.
3. There’s no beer tent (and yes, that’s a positive thing)
Rather than encouraging hordes of people to drink too much and stay inside a beer tent all day, the organisers decided instead to dot a few stalls selling alcohol around the market, such as the Harrogate Lions’ mulled wine chalet. This enables visitors to enjoy a fortified hot chocolate, mulled cider, etc., while browsing for gifts at the same time. Having no beer tent therefore benefits market traders, as well as the neaerby bars and pubs.
4. It’s a family affair
The organisers have gone out of their way to make the Harrogate Christmas Market appeal to families. Not only can you visit Santa in his grotto, children can see a couple of his live reindeer. There’s also a small fun fair attached to the market, with rides suitable for younger children. It’s a great way to entertain little ones who become bored walking around the market. And if you enjoy traditional Christmas music, our programme of ‘buskers’ should get you in the festive spirit. And as there’s no fee to get into the market, anyone can come and enjoy the magical atmosphere.
5. It’s just right
Sprawling Christmas markets might seem appealing – until you try to get around all the stalls in one visit. Our 200 stalls include a great range of gifts, food and drink, but it’s small enough to allow visitors to see everything in a few hours. It also means we can keep repetition to a minimum, which doesn’t happen with larger markets. And because it’s not held out of town, visitors can enjoy spending time at the market, then go off exploring Harrogate and do more Christmas shopping.
The Harrogate Christmas Market runs from Thursday, 16th November to Sunday, 19th November. Opening hours are 10am to 8pm Thursday to Saturday, and 10am to 5pm on Sunday. Come along and enjoy Harrogate, with its beautiful Christmas lights, festive shop windows, and a Christmas market with a distinctly Yorkshire flavour.