Let’s be honest; most of us love a Christmas Market. It’s the combination of twinkly lights, rows of stalls selling unique gifts, festive music, enticing aromas from the food sellers, and of course mulled wine that make these events so compelling. But all Christmas Markets are not the same. Many are continental themed, with vast beer tents and traders selling nothing but imported items. Harrogate Christmas Market was deliberately created to be family-friendly and to have a distinctly Yorkshire flavour. Since 2012, this popular event’s ‘mission’ has been to ensure that the Harrogate district benefits directly from the market in a number of ways.
November is normally a quiet month for Harrogate’s retail and hospitality businesses. Indeed, the main reason for starting Harrogate Christmas Market was to help the town’s shops, hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, and bars. Post-market questionnaires have shown that many businesses see a large increase in turnover during the four days of the event. But rather than trying to keep all the visitors in the confines of the market, the organisers do their utmost to encourage people to explore all around Harrogate. One reason you won’t find a bar or beer tent at the market is so that local hostelries don’t lose out.
Local musical talent
In addition to having recorded seasonal music playing around the site, Harrogate Christmas Market offers musicians the chance to showcase their talents and ‘busk’ for an hour. The organisers are very grateful to the many musicians who’ve donated their services for this not-for-profit event. Over the years, market visitors have enjoyed a fantastic variety of acts, such as Gilbert & Sullivan singers, a seven-piece steel band, and even a gang show! The live music goes down well and helps instil a festive spirit to visitors, traders, and volunteers alike.
Harrogate Christmas Market doesn’t charge admission, because it’s held on the Stray, which was given to us all to use freely by the Duchy of Lancaster. This means everyone can enjoy the festive ambiance and beautiful setting. The small children’s fun fair within the market makes a point of setting affordable prices for the rides to help families who may not have a lot of spare cash. Just walking around the market taking in the sights and sounds can be enjoyable. Whether you simply nip in for a mulled wine or do all your Christmas shopping, the event is meant for everyone.
Quite a few visitors who travel from outside the area prefer to stay a night or two when they come for the market. This allows them to experience more of what Harrogate has to offer. From feedback received, the organisers know that people are so impressed with the town, they come back for short breaks at other times of the year. The Christmas market helps to raise Harrogate’s profile and increase tourism.
Harrogate Christmas Market Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation, and although the main purpose of the market is to bring visitors to Harrogate to help the town’s businesses, the extraordinary success of the event each year means that HCM Ltd is left with a significant surplus after costs. This surplus is donated to local charities and community bodies. Over the last seven years, nearly £80,000 has been donated to a range of worthy organisations, including:
- Rotary Club of Harrogate
- Harrogate International Festivals
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Friends of Valley Gardens
- Gilbert & Sullivan Festival
- Harrogate & Ripon CVS
- Yorkshire Air Ambulance
- Harrogate in Bloom
- Local Fund
- Harrogate Christmas lights
Believe it or not, planning for the next Harrogate Christmas Market begins even before the current one is over. Since 2012, the dedicated organisers and volunteers have given up countless hours to ensure the event is a success and beneficial for Harrogate.