A special time of the year for tourism

Last years Harrogate Christmas Market

Christmas is one of the most important times of the year for the attractions and hospitality industry and the sector has been gearing up for its busy period for some time.

It has been amazing to see the amount of work taking place behind the scenes preparing Harrogate for a busy Christmas.

Over the years, this town has earned itself a warm and distinctive festive reputation as a must see, visit and shop destination. Harrogate offers something a bit different and special from the larger urban centres in Yorkshire and that whole place experience of quality brands, independent shops and an incredible choice of places to eat and drink helps us to attract more and more visitors each year.

From our traditional Christmas lights switch on across the district to the nationally renowned Harrogate and Knaresborough Christmas Markets (the former a 200 stall sell out again this year) to nativity plays, panto and carols by candlelight, I can’t think of a better place to invite your friends and family and share some festive fun.

Father Christmas is also very busy flying around the district and will be popping up in grottos in some of your favourite places.

A special mention here to RHS Harlow Carr who are putting on a new illuminated winter trail event entitled ‘Glow’ and Ripon Museums who are showing us all how yuletide was celebrated at the turn of the century. Believe me, it didn’t taste half as good.

Keeping up the theme of new things in the district we welcome the internationally renowned restaurant brand The Ivy to town, the incredible new spa at Swinton Park Hotel and a spectacular new attraction at How Stean Gorge with its iconic building extension seemingly defying gravity as it hangs over the limestone gorge natural wonder with its glass walls and glass floor.

This new development will help open new markets for the business and is a welcome addition to this area of outstanding natural beauty – it’s certainly got the wow factor.

In the last week, I have also enjoyed listening to the exciting future plans of some of our district’s other attractions from Ripon Cathedral and its forthcoming HLF application to a new business in Harrogate offering guided gastronomic trips around the town. I hear they have already welcomed a number of visitors from overseas and getting five star reviews all over Tripadvisor. Thank you Yorkshire Appetite Food Tours and for spreading the word about our remarkable, and delicious Yorkshire fare.

Once again its been an award winning month for our local tourism businesses with Harrogate and District winning the top three prizes at the recent Yorkshire White Rose Awards.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden took home the large visitor attraction of the year and that’s before you look at the amazing things they have planned for next year. Yet more reasons to visit one of the most highly regarded National Trust properties in the North of England and maybe a quick jaunt into Ripon at the same time?

Rudding Park and its amazing new spa won large hotel of the year and rightly the Great Yorkshire Show won tourism event of the year.

Congratulations to all the winners who now go through to the national finals.

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