The Visit Harrogate column with Richard Spencer

op crime writer John Grisham will be coming to Harrogate for the first time.
op crime writer John Grisham will be coming to Harrogate for the first time.

Cheese? In a cake? – Peter Kay’s famous joke could have been penned for Ripon! Have you heard of the Wilfra Cake or Tart? Old recipes state: “Apple cake without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.”

As part of Yorkshire Day celebrations, Ripon is calling out to the community to combine Wenslydale cheese, apple, and pastry to make what surely, rightly, holds the title of Yorkshire’s most traditional dish? Step aside Yorkshire Pudding…

Ripon is reviving the Wilfra Tart to create a special Wilfra Welcome on Yorkshire Day (Wednesday 1 August).

The cakes were placed on steps for passers-by during the Wilfrid Procession, originating in 1108.

The last person to bake these as we know is 100-year old Ripon resident, Ada Burton. Great British Bake Off take note.

There’s a lot of Yorkshire pride ringing in my ears. Yorkshire’s smallest city is set to be at the epicentre of Yorkshire Day festivities.

A Civic Procession of dignitaries from all corners of Yorkshire, decked out in their finest regalia, will start the day. For the rest of us, the Market Place will be filled with amusements and activities for the kids, market stalls selling the very best Yorkshire produce, storytelling and re-enactments, music and fireworks. But again, it’s Ripon’s quirky and unique traditions that are the real pull. And Ripon is literally blowing its own horn.

The hornblower, one of the oldest ceremonies in England, dates back to the year 886. It originates with the wakeman of Ripon, whose job in the Middle Ages was to keep order when the Vikings were raiding the country.

The horn, blown every night at 9pm, has become the symbol of the city and represents Ripon on the Harrogate borough coat of arms. Visit Ripon on Yorkshire Day and hear it for yourself!

What a month it’s been for Harrogate International Festivals. First the Spiegeltent, then blowing (lots of) air into an inflatable giant art installation on West Park Stray. If you missed these, there’s still time to get tickets to its headline act, the soul sensation Laura Mvula, who performs on Friday 27 July at the Royal Hall.

This week the festivals also delivers the world-renowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. It’s a huge coup that one of the biggest authors on the planet – John Grisham – is coming to Harrogate, indeed Yorkshire, for the first time.

He’ll be in conversation with another blockbuster author, Lee Child, this Friday (20 July) at the Royal Hall.

Art lovers can also check out Fountain’s Abbey with its 2018 Folly –contemporary art in this stunning setting; artists have been commissioned to create new installations across the site and in the Georgian water gardens.

After last week’s Great Yorkshire Show, the Harrogate District is truly the home of events.

With all this going on, no doubt the internet will be crammed with selfies next to award-winning heifers, sheepdogs, inflatable art, and Festival events.

Earlier this month, our web team threw the switch on our new look Visit Harrogate website and homepage.

The new front page has imagery at its heart; with a new wide look gallery, a cleaner layout and a stylish rework of our branding.

While it’s early days, already we have seen a sharp increase in people looking at more pages on our site as a result.

In addition we launched the first phase of our #myHarrogate Campaign, putting visitor and local experiences at the heart of the stories we tell and the way we tell them with User Generated Content – the Instagram and Twitter posts that people share as they are here having fun.

The myHarrogate page is proving incredibly popular, with visitors spending over five minute on the page.

That’s two or three times longer than you will spend reading this column.

As the first UK destination to introduce User Generated Content in this way it just goes to show how powerful tools like this are going to be the future.

See the myHarrogate gallery on, and share your Harrogate experience with #myHarrogate.

Take a selfie, say Cheese!