Christmas markets are held all over the UK, with visitors flocking to enjoy these festive events. Harrogate Christmas Market has been running since 2012 and attracts 75,000 visitors over four days, which is quite an achievement for a smaller outdoor event. Here are five reasons why Harrogate Christmas Market rocks.
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 many of the stalls are operated by Yorkshire businesses selling Yorkshire-made 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 other events of this nature, Harrogate Christmas Market is run by a group of community-minded volunteers, and any profit is donated to local worthy causes, including the Harrogate Christmas Lights Appeal and Horticap, a charity that teaches horticulture to students with learning and physical disabilities. Incidentally, the official Christmas lights switch-on takes place on Oxford Street from 4pm to 6pm, on Thursday, 14th November.
The market was created to attract visitors to Harrogate during a normally quiet time of year, thereby 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 was to make the market a positive experience for all concerned, so they formed a team of volunteer ‘Market Makers’ (wearing high-vis jackets and sashes), who would roam the site offering help to visitors and stallholders. Ever since our first event, 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 to excess and stay inside a beer tent, the organisers decided to limit alcohol to a few small stalls selling seasonal drinks, such as the Knaresborough 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 also benefits the local hospitality businesses, as visitors go off to have a glass of wine or pint of beer once they’ve finished touring HCM.
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, reasonably priced fun fair attached to the market, with several rides suitable for little ones and the Runaway Train suitable for older children. It’s a great way to entertain bored children. If you enjoy Christmas music, our programme of ‘buskers’ should get you in the festive spirit. There’s no fee to get into the market, so 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 roughly 200 stalls include a great range of gifts, decorations, 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 and buying gifts at the market, then go off exploring Harrogate and do more Christmas shopping.
The Harrogate Christmas Market runs from Thursday, 14th November to Sunday, 17th November, 2019. Opening hours are 10am to 8pm Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 8pm Saturday, and 9.30am to 5.30pm on Sunday. Come along and enjoy Harrogate, with its beautiful Christmas lights, festive shop windows, and a Christmas market with a distinctly Yorkshire flavour. It’s worth noting that the market is very crowded on Saturday and Sunday. If you prefer a quieter time, aim for Thursday morning, or perhaps one evening.