I was going to wait until the beginning of December before I began to write about Christmas but my hand has been forced. 

The Festive Season comes early in Harrogate with the Annual Christmas Market being timed so as not to clash with the others in the vicinity and also to coincide with the turning on of the lights. It is the market which, as well as raising money for local charities, helps pay for the illuminations so it is only right that they should kick off at the same time.

The photographs of the lights were taken whilst the market was in full swing and it looks as though everyone has gone there rather than look at the shops in the town centre which by that time had closed. Fair enough. 

I must say that pride of place has to go to that Harrogate institution Betty’s Tea Rooms which has the most spectacular window display. This year is their 100th Anniversary and the theme of their show is the buildings which have been part of that history and, yes, they are real cakes.

After strolling around town I took a walk to the Christmas Market to pick up something naughty but nice – behave, I meant mince pies! The great thing about the market is that it is Yorkshire themed and although there is a dim sum stall and various others which look exotic, the ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible. There seemed to be a preponderance of Yorkshire pudding Wraps this year so how bad can it be.

Don’t let the weather put you off a visit, although it doesn’t seem like too bad a forecast, as there are two marquees, one selling food and the other arts and crafts. The outdoor stalls sell everything. There is also a shelter where buskers perform and a funfair for the kids, and me.

I don’t like telling people what to do but I really would urge you to pay a visit to Harrogate this year to do at least a part of your Christmas shopping in the town as it has suffered no end due to the World Cycling Championships in September which has devastated not only the beautiful Stray but also put the town centre in lockdown for nine days when it turned into a virtual ghost town with only the hotels, bars and restaurants having any customers. The independent shops were particularly hard hit because the local residents were deprived of their bus services and so the less mobile could not patronise them. Even the able bodied decided to give it a miss because of the expected crowds which I can vouch from personal experience, did not seem to materialise except for a couple of hours each day. I would like to offer my condolences to Glasgow who will have to endure the event in 2023.

Anyway, I refuse to end on a negative note so I will say that I am looking forward to Christmas more than I have done for a few years and I hope that you are too. You had better be because I have lots of things to write about so brace yourselves.

Harrogate Christmas Market continues until Sunday, 17th November

Ho! Ho! Ho!

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