Christmas markets promise so much, but they don’t always deliver. The Harrogate Christmas Market is a hugely popular event attended by people across the UK, but even this Yorkshire Christmas market is missing a few things you should know about.
1. Beer tent
The vast majority of Continental-style Christmas markets offer beer tents. As we wanted an event that is family friendly, we took the decision not to have an area where people would congregate to drink, possibly to excess. That doesn’t mean the market is alcohol-free – far from it – but we felt having the odd mulled wine and fortified hot chocolate stall was preferable to a beer tent, as visitors can wander around the market perusing gifts while enjoying their drink. And of course, there are stalls selling alcoholic gifts that offer samples.
Some Christmas markets go on for weeks, and while that might seem like a good thing at first glance, local residents and businesses probably wouldn’t agree, many of whom don’t wish to put up with crowds, noise, and traffic congestion for such a long period. While it has been suggested that the Harrogate Christmas Market should run for a longer period, this is impractical because of the disadvantages mentioned above, and because our event is run by volunteers.
3. Too much repetition
Unlike a lot of larger markets, the Harrogate Christmas Market limits the number of traders selling similar items. No, not every stall is totally different, but then it would be difficult to find 200 traders all selling completely unique gifts. We ensure there’s a wide variety of products on sale. In addition, we prioritise Yorkshire and UK-made items, with only a small proportion of imported goods, many of which are Fairtrade. This is why we say our market has a ‘Yorkshire flavour’.
4. Unhelpful ambiance
Teams of cheery volunteers we’ve dubbed ‘Market Makers’ continuously roam the market to help both traders and visitors with any requirements. If a seller needs a comfort break, a Market Maker will watch the stall. Should a disabled visitor need assistance, one of our Market Makers will be only too happy to help. Trained volunteers help pedestrians at the crossing and also distribute visitor guides. They are the superheroes of our market!
5. Profiteering directors
It might surprise you to learn that the aim of the Harrogate Christmas Market is not to make money. The market was set up to benefit the town’s businesses by bringing in visitors at an otherwise quiet time of year. It is run on an entirely not-for-profit basis. Any money left over after costs is donated to local community charities, such as:
- Horticap – an enterprise teaching horticulture to people with learning difficulties.
- Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service
- Harrogate International Festivals
- Friends of Valley Gardens – to pay for a new set of gates to one entrance
- The Gilbert and Sullivan Festival
Yes, the Harrogate Christmas Market lacks a few things – which is why it’s one of the most popular seasonal events in the UK. It runs from Thursday, 15th November until Sunday, 18th November. For more information, visit our website.