Destination Harrogate – October update

by Gemma Rio, Head of Tourism, North Yorkshire Council 

With summer now behind us and the winter nights drawing in, we are starting to look forward to Christmas, and all the events taking place in Harrogate and across North Yorkshire. The packed winter calendar not only brightens up the darker months for residents and visitors, it also marks a crucial time of the year for our visitor economy businesses.  

Events are an incredible visitor driver; they open up a destination to new visitors and encourage people to return.  Christmas is also the perfect time to maximise on the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ market, with the opportunity to encourage future visits during the new year.  

Our 2023 Christmas campaign uses the tag line “Start your Christmas here” encouraging visitors to make the Harrogate area their must-visit Christmas destination by starting their festive celebrations with us. And there is certainly lots going on to make sure it is a Christmas to remember.  

This year sees the return of the Harrogate Christmas Fayre. The extended 17-day market will run from 1st – 17th December filling Harrogate town centre with around 50 festive chalets offering Christmas gifts, decorations and seasonal foodie treats.  

The market will be complemented by the return of the Harrogate Ice Rink at Crescent Gardens, a traditional Carousel and a variety of family-friendly attractions. The ever-popular Candy Cane Express Road Train is back, and new for this year we are introducing an Open Top Bus Experience to give market-goers a unique view of Harrogate at Christmas from above, thanks to The Harrogate Bus Company.  

It’s our collaboration with partners that makes Christmas in the Harrogate area so special as we work closely with the Harrogate BID, Ripon BID, Enchanticas, The Harrogate Bus Company, market supplier Market Place Europe and Little Bird Made, who will be running the artisan market in Valley Gardens during the weekends of the Christmas Fayre. We also work with many partners to deliver a Christmas marketing campaign to ensure potential visitors know that the Harrogate area is an absolute ‘must-visit’ this festive season.  

The first weekend of December also sees the return of the Country Living Christmas Fair at the Harrogate Convention Centre and The Great Yorkshire Christmas Fair at the Great Yorkshire Showground from 30 November – 3 December, meaning there is plenty to keep visitors entertained to encourage them to stay longer and spend more. 

Christmas isn’t just coming to Harrogate, in Knaresborough you can find the Christmas market taking place on the market square between 2-3rd December whilst Ripon sparkles from the end of November with a selection of magical events including Ripon Cathedral’s Christmas Food & Gift Fair.  

Venture a little further into North Yorkshire and over on the coast visitors can experience the first Scarborough Lights Festival. Taking place from 15th November – 23rd December the event will see a series of light installations, displays and illuminations at various venues across the town as part of Scarborough Fair, you can find out more at 

There are of course too many events to mention, so the Visit Harrogate website is the place to go to find out more about Christmas 2023, you can also add your own events here too. Here’s to another successful festive season in Harrogate and beyond. 

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