Festive Hot List Check out our top picks of things to do around Harrogate during the festive season

With roaring log fires, beautifully adorned trees, food and drink with all the trimmings it might be hard to leave Rudding Park, but if you are visiting during the the festive season we recommend making the most of your stay and taking time to explore Harrogate.

The Festive Season 2019

Harrogate Christmas Market 
This year's Christmas Market takes place from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 November 2019.

Held on The Stray in the historic Montpellier Quarter of Harrogate town centre, this four-day festive market will be filled with high quality Yorkshire and Harrogate products. This year it is expected to have nearly 200 stalls selling everything from Yorkshire cheeses and chutneys to handmade gifts and Christmas decorations. Not forgetting Santa's Grotto and real reindeer.

Highlights include the large Craft and Gift Marquee, a Food and Drink Marquee, Funfair Rides for the little ones to enjoy as well as musical entertainment by local buskers. Visit website

Stockeld Park
What was once a simple Christmas Tree shop, is now Stockeld Park’s most famous adventure season. With various events throughout the season you can watch the Enchanted Forest come alive after dusk with the famous winter illuminations, go ice skating, get lost in the Snowflake Maze and so much more. This is the home of Christmas magic. Visit website

Christmas at Harewood 
It’s after hours, the doors are closed and it’s the moment when Harewood House really comes alive. The statues are singing, the paintings are gossiping and there’s hustle and bustle both above and below stairs, with the anticipation of an important guest in the run up to a truly festive Christmas.

Created by acclaimed British artistic duo Davy & Kristin McGuire, from Studio McGuire, open the doors, look under the stairs, listen out for chatter and gossip and follow the music as Yorkshire’s most exciting country house presents its interpretation of Christmas. With workshops, festive-themed music, events, market weekends, cooking demonstrations and, of course, an opportunity to meet with Father & Mrs Christmas, there’s much to explore this festive season at Harewood. Visit website

The Valley Gardens
English Heritage Grade II Listed Valley Gardens are situated in regal Low Harrogate, which along with woodland, known as The Pinewoods cover 17 acres. There's nothing better than wrapping up warm and talking a on a crisp winter day.  If you are feeling energetic or have children to keep entertained there's a children's play area. 

RHS Harlow Carr
‘Glow’ Winter Illuminations are back by popular demand from 21 November to 28 December (Thursdays to Saturdays except Boxing Day).  Enjoy an illuminated trail around the magnificent trees and shrubs as dusk falls and see the lake, Winter Walk, Streamside, Doric columns and Alpine House all aglow. Visit website

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens
Now recognised as a World Heritage Site, this magnificent abbey was established by devout monks seeking a simpler existence. 

Winter is the the time when holly berries dot the trees and frosts blanket the grounds. Follow the trail of trees down the drive, snap a selfie with the Christmas tree in the courtyard and visit the bird hide to see which winter birds you can spot on your way down to the abbey. Lit up with all the colours of the rainbow on weekends throughout December, the abbey is a sight to see. Walk beneath the cellarium's vaulted ceilings, under the grand columns of the nave and listen to the choir as they fill the ruins with festive song. Join in if you know the tune! Visit website

Theatre
Harrogate’s Theatre and Convention Centre play host to a variety of performances but it's the traditional pantomime which is a festive favourite. Chock full of magic and sparkle you can expect all of your favourite panto characters, spectacular scenery, sing-a-long songs and buffoonery aplenty.  Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

Not too far form the theatre is The Royal Hall, Harrogate's Kursaal which was completed in 1903, the creation of Britain's greatest theatre designer, Frank Matcham and the architect Robert Beale. The building was completely closed to the public in 2001 when structural problems were discovered and remained closed until April 2008 following a major £10.8m restoration project.

The Royal Hall occasionally opens to the public on selected days so visitors can enjoy the splendour of this stunning Edwardian theatre. 
Visit website to find out more Harrogate Theatre and Convention Centre

Slingsby Gin Experience
If gin is your thing this is for you. Book a place on one of Slingsby Gin’s gin experience open sessions or gather up your friends and book a private group experience where you can sit back with a Slingsby G&T in hand, whilst being taken through the fascinating history of gin. They have over 150 gins to choose from and over 30 different tonics on offer.

12 of the botanicals used in making Slingsby’s Gin are sourced from our Kitchen Garden. You can see the botanicals marked out on our garden map to show where these are grown.  If you can’t make the Spirit of Harrogate Experience, you can try Slingsby Gin at Clocktower or Horto Restaurant at Rudding Park. Visit website

Knaresborough
Full of surprises, Knaresborough is a warren of medieval streets and stone staircases that weave their way up and down the hill.  The town centre is perched on the cliffs above the River Nidd and the imposing railway viaduct across the Nidd Gorge offers an amazing view to visitors as they arrive by train. Knaresborough Castle sits above the river and gorge, in a commanding position with spectacular views.

The Annual Christmas Tree Festival takes place at St John's Church (Saturday 30 November to Sunday 8 December) and features over 100 decorated trees. Knaresborough Christmas Market (Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December) features stalls and entertainment in the Market Square along with a firework finale above the viaduct at 4.30pm on the Sunday. 

The annual Knaresborough Tug of War takes place at midday on Boxing Day.  The Half Moon Free House and The Mother Shipton Inn field two teams each, one with 8 men and one with 8 women, to pull a rope across the River Nidd at Low Bridge.  It's a real spectacle, whilst six days later at the other side of town, High Bridge is the scene of the annual Knaresborough Duck Race. Around 5000 plastic ducks are dropped from High Bridge in Knaresborough, to make their way downstream to the finish line outside Marigold's Cafe. 

 

 

 

 

Bettys
Bettys is synonymous with Harrogate and is always popular with visitors and this year celebrates its Centenary. The methods used to make their cakes, bakes and confections have been passed down from generation to generation since the first Bettys opened in 1919. Today’s star bakers and master chefs at their award-winning Craft Bakery are part of a century-old family of artisans.

Be prepared, you may need to queue, but if you don't want to venture away from Rudding Park, there's no need to miss out on your afternoon tea!  Throughout December we have our very own hugely popular festive afternoon tea served in the Conservatory at Clocktower.  Add a glass of Champagne and you'll know it's Christmas.

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