Visit Harrogate Column with Mike Newby

The festive season really gets under way next week (17th November) with the first day of the Harrogate Christmas Market and the switch on of Harrogates Christmas lights.

The festive season really gets under way next week (17th November) with the first day of the Harrogate Christmas Market and the switch on of Harrogates Christmas lights.

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It is a sign of the times that a certain department store’s Christmas advert heralds the start of Christmas for many; or so a national newspaper reported this week.

Is it really the thing we look forward to just as much as our advent calendars?

Here in Harrogate the season really gets under way next week (November 17) with the first day of the Harrogate Christmas Market and the switch on of Harrogate’s Christmas lights. From then on there will be just 37 days to the day itself.

An innovation for this year is the Kings Cross to Harrogate Christmas Market Specials being laid on by Virgin Trains East Coast.

Other ‘Switch-On’ events take place in Knaresborough on the 25th (along with late night shopping) and in Starbeck and Ripon on the 26th.

Another sign that Christmas is on its way is Harrogate Theatre’s ever popular pantomime which starts on Wednesday, November 30.

This year’s production of Dick Whittington looks as popular as ever with tickets selling very quickly.

In addition to Harrogate’s Christmas Market there are markets and fairs in Ripon Cathedral on November 26, Masham on November 26 and 27, Kirkgate in Ripon on December 3 and Knaresborough on December 3 and 4.

There are also opportunities to support local independents in Boroughbridge with late night shopping on Wednesday, November 30 and Small Business Saturday on December 3 and Pateley Bridge on December 9 and 10.

News is also leaking out from Santa’s workshops about likely visits to the district.

Our reports suggest that he will be making an early appearance at Stockeld Park on November 12 with repeat visits to Stockeld in November and December, popping in at Crimple Hall Garden Centre on November 26, numerous visits to Fountains Abbey, Harlow Carr, and Beningbrough Hall, and stop-offs in the Buttermarket in Boroughbridge on December 3.

He also has a busy weekend on December 17 and 18 when he will be fitting in both Brimham Rocks and Swinton Park.

He is even taking the train on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway.

There is a lot more detail about Santa’s visits along with information about the fairs and markets and the many special events being held in the district in our Harrogate District Christmas Guide, which is available in local tourist information centres.

Are you promoting an event?

The weekend of bonfire night saw a lot of visitors to the events section of the Visit Harrogate website; naturally a large number of those were looking for bonfires and firework displays.

There are occasions such as this when local people as much as visitors are looking for things to do.

If you are involved in a community event that is looking for as many visitors as possible, do not forget to post details of that event on the VH website; it is free and easy to do.

Just go to http://www.visitharrogate.co.uk/information/add-an-event and follow the instructions.

You can make the post even more attractive by adding a landscape image.

Next year’s holidays

This year’s summer holidays seem a long way away now and no doubt those who like to think ahead will be considering next year’s breaks.

The question facing some though will be how far will their money go?

The sharp devaluation in the pound after June 23 was not good news for those looking to travel abroad.

It will be interesting to see over the next year or two just what impact this will have on the outbound holiday market.

Stories of some airport bureaux de change offering less than €1 for £1 (despite a higher market exchange rate) earlier this year were certainly not designed to reassure holiday makers.

Conversely the UK is now cheaper for foreign visitors and potentially more appealing.

Having entertained numerous overseas journalists and travel buyers in Harrogate over the last 12 months, we know how impressed they were with what we have to offer; the greater value for money makes us even more attractive.

With next year in mind our 2017 Visitor Guide is going through its final proofing as I write this column.

All being well it will be available next month for those people planning their 2017 holidays over the festive period.

It features some fantastic places to stay and lots of exciting things to do in the Harrogate District and comes in both print and digital form.