Destination Harrogate – July Update

by Gemma Rio, Head of Destination Harrogate

After an amazing year taking time out with my family, I’m thrilled to be back on board at what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and energetic times of the year for Harrogate and the wider North Yorkshire area.

With midsummer upon us and the school holidays having begun, we’re full steam into events season. We’ve just seen the 20th anniversary of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, a perfect example of a niche event that draws discerning visitors to Harrogate and raises the profile of our destination as a place for exceptional events. The festival also demonstrates the cultural connections of Harrogate within the literary world. As one of our visitor economy pillars, the cultural offer within Harrogate and beyond presents us huge potential upon which we can grow our visitor economy.

Across the Harrogate area, a worthy reputation has been earned for a high quality place that embraces its cultural heritage. The Royal Pump Room has celebrated 70 years of being the town’s museum this year, with new interpretations and visitor experiences. While the beautiful Mercer Art Gallery, once the Promenade Rooms, has hosted diverse exhibitions – from Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed to the new dual exhibition, celebrating Japanese art concepts through ceramics and monoprint artworks. Alongside the cultural visitor offer, our history as a spa visitor destination has provided unique and beautiful event spaces that continue to host events of distinction. From The Royal Hall to Harrogate Theatre and of course, Valley Gardens, which this weekend will be filled with the spectacular music, dance, colourful costumes and fabulous international flavours of Harrogate Carnival.

Carnival is a magnificent, multi-cultural event that returns to Harrogate on Sunday. Leeds West Indian Carnival will be headlining the parade – with infectious tropical rhythms, Caribbean culture and entertainment for everyone – joined by an amazing line-up of performers parading through the town to Valley Gardens. This magical atmosphere offers our residents – and visitors from further afield – memories to cherish, and with free entry, it’s open to everyone to enjoy. Such a special and unique event offers us the perfect opportunity to boost our visitor economy and showcase the town as an amazing visitor destination, an amazing events destination, and one with rich cultural experiences to be explored and embraced.

As work continues on our new county-wide Destination Management Plan, we find that cultural heritage is a shared strength and common theme between the Harrogate area and the rich collection of other destinations that make up North Yorkshire. Embracing our cultural assets not only creates pride in our local communities, it connects us at a regional level, to attract visitors to discover more about our history and enjoy authentic North Yorkshire experiences.

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