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All aboard the Candy Cane Express to Harrogate’s Destination Christmas

Harrogate Theatre panto stars Prince Charming and Cinderella steered the Candy Cane Express Road Train carrying councillors, local retailers, BID partners and stakeholder passengers, on its inaugural journey through the Town Centre, culminating at Valley Gardens for the opening of the Harrogate Christmas Fayre (Friday 3rd â€“ Sunday 12th December).

The Christmas Fayre, Victorian fair rides, Candy Cane Express, Christmas markets and multiple Santa-sightings, are just a few of the things set to offer lots of festive cheer this year, to keep young and old, entertained throughout the Christmas period and into the first week of January.

Following 18-months of drastically reduced revenue and visitor numbers, Harrogate Borough Council and Visit Harrogate are working with partners and stakeholders to create Destination Christmas, to encourage friends and families back into town centres.

Gemma Rio, Head of Destination Management at Harrogate Borough Council, explains:  “We have been working hard to ensure festivities return with a bang this year in order to drive visitors to our district’s shops, restaurants, visitor attractions, hotels and B&Bs.

“There is so much for friends and families to see and do with our enhanced offering.  We have a vast array of festive events and activities right across the district, creating an unmissable Destination Christmas for a festive day trip or weekend away across the Harrogate Borough this year.”

The festivities include a number of Christmas markets, artisan fayres, Santa stops, light shows and beautiful outdoor displays across the Harrogate Borough district.  A magical window trail (6th â€“ 24th December) featuring Percy the Penguin’s quest to find a play pal, has been created to encourage footfall into Boroughbridge, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Masham, Pateley Bridge and Ripon town centres.  Funded by the government’s Welcome Back Fund, the window trail features six festive images designed by local people and promotions and exclusive discounts from local businesses.

A borough-wide celebration requires a joined-up effort and support from multiple partners, Matthew Chapman, Harrogate Business Improvement District manager, said: â€œWe are incredibly excited to be playing our part in delivering one of the best festive offerings Harrogate has seen in many years, and will encourage families, shoppers and revellers into the town centre.

“In addition to supporting the Harrogate Christmas Fayre and co-funding the Ferris wheel, Victorian carousel, and helter skelter, we’re proud to partner with the Rotary Club of Harrogate for the annual Christmas Shop Window competition and Harrogate International Festivals for their North Pole post office. Young families are delighted by our Father Christmas Experience in association with the Crown Hotel, and we’re working with Harrogate Borough Council to offer free parking in the Victoria car park at set times during December to encourage shoppers into the town centre.”

The Harrogate Christmas Fayre, managed by Market Place Europe, the UK’s leading and award-winning Christmas market operator, opened at 10 am today (Friday 3rd December) and will run until

Sunday 12th December (Open 10 am and 7pm Monday to Wednesday, 10 am and 9pm Thursday to Saturday, and 10 am and 4.30pm on Sunday).  Taking place on in the heart of the existing retail quarter, the free-to-ride Candy Cane Express Road Train is shuttling passengers between Cambridge Street, Market Place, Station Square and Cambridge Crescent, so passengers can capture the fairground rides and the Fayre where they will find a smorgasbord of unique gifts along with mouth-watering treats for people to enjoy as they wander taking in the sights and sounds.

Around 50 traders from Europe, the UK and across Yorkshire are welcoming visitors to their stalls that snake between the existing high street stores that are sure to benefit from the additional footfall of excited shoppers on the hunt for a Christmas treat, or three!  Little Bird Made is also holding a festive artisan market in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December (10 am – 3pm daily).  The hugely popular artisan market will feature approximately 60 local and regional traders and producers selling a variety of festive arts and crafts, clothing, homeware, jewellery, as well as delicious, seasonal food and drink.

Councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “With over 100 traders – across Harrogate Christmas Fayre and the artisan market in Valley Gardens – complementing our existing high street businesses, the festive period is truly set to start in Harrogate this weekend.

“Everyone has had a challenging couple of years and through our Covid-19 recovery plan we were determined to create a spectacular event this festive period. I have no doubt that, with everything the Destination Harrogate campaign has achieved, we will do just that.

“I’d like to again share my thanks to our partners who are helping ensure we deliver a safe, vibrant and exciting festive experience across the Harrogate district this Christmas.”

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