Organisers ban stalls with food for consumption at the Harrogate Christmas Market

11 October 2012

The Harrogate Christmas Market organisers have taken a decision to ban food stalls where the food is for consumption at the market.

Over 100 stalls have already been booked of a retail nature only, offering items such as jewellery, jams, pashminas and pork pies.

Being unable to browse and eat typical Christmas

fayre could prove a big disappointment for visitors. For many, being able to enjoy food at a market such as this is would be the main reason for going –  organisers run the risk of people leaving unhappy.

Although the organisers say it is aiming to compete with established Christmas Markets in other towns such as Bath, Lincoln, Nottingham and York, they offer food for that can be eaten during the event.

The four-day Harrogate Christmas Market is being billed as a high quality, up-market event with a Yorkshire and Harrogate theme, with the  aim of attracting more visitors to Harrogate to see the Christmas Lights and enjoy the town centre’s shopping facilities.

The Market will run from Thursday 22nd November to Sunday 25th November 2012 and will coincide with the switch-on of the Christmas Lights.

There will also be a Children’s Funfair, Santa on his sleigh with real live Reindeer and a full programme of Christmas music from local schools, choirs and bands.

The Christmas Market will comprise a array of decorated chalets, mini-marquees, market stalls and outdoor stalls plus a large Craft Marquee with hand-made gifts of all types.

The location will be at the bottom of Montpellier Hill opposite the White Hart Hotel, where coaches drop off during the summer. During this event the coach drop off will be on West Park at the Pier Head, near Bettys, with the pick-up at the bottom of Montpellier Hill.

The Market is being organised by the Harrogate Chamber’s trading company Yorkshire Business Market Ltd.

Chamber Chief Executive Brian Dunsby said:

Over 50 Coach Operators are bringing groups from all over the North of England and the Midlands for the combined attractions of the Christmas Market, the Christmas Lights, Knitting & Stitching Show in the HIC, and Woodworking & Power Tool Show at the Pavilions – as well as enjoying Harrogate’s spectacular Christmas Shopping and Celebration packages. Shop and celebrate locally!

The Harrogate at Christmas Group has now been running for three years under the Chairmanship of Councillor John Fox.

Councillor John Fox said  who said:

We decided that this year we are not having food and drinks stalls to encourage visitors to use local cafes.

The aim of the Market is not to take business out of the town centre, but to bring many more people into the town.

Extra Christmas lighting will be provided up Montpellier Hill to provide an obvious link for Market visitors to and from the town centre. A shuttle bus service will also operate frequently between the Christmas Market, the Bus and Rail Stations and town centre shops.


  1. I think banning food stalls is a little short sighted. Most people i know who go to Leeds and other markets also go for the different food that is on offer there it adds to the experence of going to a christmas market

  2. I personally think that no food at the Christmas Market is a bad decision, people do come to this sort of event expecting to find typical christmas fayre on offer. Now we are expected to leave the market and find local businesses serving the usual food. We want something different and without there being something there on site those of us with children will probably have to go to the awful MacDonalds. Come on, think again.

    • There are quite a few cafe’s within 8 meters of the fair – Betty’s, Catwalk Cafe, Jenny’s tea rooms, Palm court(the cafe upstairs of Farrahs), Edinbrough woolen mill to name but a few.

      • Simon, this is true, but I wonder how they will cope with the extra footfall and coach loads of visitors. These cafes are really busy on a normal Saturday. . .

  3. Very disappointed that there will be no food. I work in Harrogate, but will visit the Leeds market instead – delicious and unusual food.

  4. In order to complement the existing independent businesses in the Montpellier Quarter, where there are excellent cafe’s, restaurants and bars, it was for this reason that edible food stalls were not included.

  5. The town center restaurants and cafes are always badly hit during the continental markets and as they pay business rates and rent for the privilage they are unhappy at non local stall holders taking their profits and putting nothing back into Harrogate. The market is designed to attract non locals into Harrogate to shop and eat and so help preserve jobs in the quieter times of January and February. Shop local and support local jobs.

  6. No doubt the Montpellier Quarter has excellent cafe’s, restaurants and bars but who really wants to sit in a crowded cafe when they have come to enjoy a bit of fresh air and traditional christmas fayre? Not I and I fear many will be following Jane to Leeds and other markets. This was a real opportunity to start something good and already it appears to have been knee-capped by local traders who wouldn’t have a clue how much business these ‘continental markets’ do actually bring into town. No doubt they will be hiking their prices to take full advantage of those attending who have not been informed that their children will not be treated to a Hot Pretzel, Stollen Bread or Warming Gluwhein. As a trader attending this event after a rotten summer due to the weather (show cancellations, footfall, etc) I now find myself extremely worried that it will fall short of expectations due to this very short sighted decision.

  7. Sounded hopeful but looks like I’ll be heading over to Leeds again now.

    The organisers will pay a heavy price for this terrible decision.

  8. As a trader that will be at the Harrogate Christmas market, and one that is partial to a glass of mulled wine (drink on the job – me? Never!) I am disappointed there won’t be any of the traditional Christmas food stalls, although I can understand why the local restaurants and bars are worried it will draw trade away over that busy shopping weekend.

    Can we not compromise and ask the local businesses to set up their own stall outside their property, selling festive foods and beverages? (lets not forget the mulled wine) This way people can wander round the market soaking up the festive atmosphere, and still be able to grab a bite to eat and a drink along the way? Otherwise I do think a lack of “portable” sustenance is going to put people off. Just a thought.

  9. A large part of the atmosphere created in a Christmas market it the smell of warm food and mulled wine. Glühwein and hot pretzels in the open air whilst wandering through the stalls is part of the experience. Leaving the market for cafe food for ‘a cup of tea and a sit down’ and Christmas Market food is a false equivalence.

    It’s like saying “Come to the Great Yorkshire Show. By the way, no animals because there are local farmers who might have their nose put out of joint.”

    On a slight tangent, why is the Farmers Market allowed to sell hot food in the town centre when there are many cafes effected by this?

    Unfortunately we’ll being going to Leeds for a ‘proper’ Christmas Market.

  10. What a shame and what a disappointment. I imagine those who travel to visit the markets will be disappointed too, especially when they see the queue for Betty’s just for a cuppa! By not serving food and drink It will just be a street market in chalets, nothing like the continental Christmas Markets at all!

  11. What a stupid decision. Every market stall will have its town centre competitor, whatever they are selling. Are they all going to be banned next because they are selling jumpers, or gloves, or candles?
    People go to markets because of the environment and experience, and some different Christmassy hot food and drinks is all part of that. I presume the organisers have not been to other markets in other towns and countries.
    The only publicity I have seen regarding this decision is negative, that’s how I found out about the decision from a national source, who’s comment was “boo”.
    And will it really attract more visitors to Harrogate anyway? Harrogate will already be bursting with visitors to the extremely popular Knitting and Stitching Show.
    A wise man can change his mind, take note Dunsby and Fox.

  12. I live near the planned market site and work in Leeds where I visit the German market several times each year. Part of the appeal is the spiced wine and various food stalls whilst browsing the other stalls.

    I’m sorry to say, but without this, and the very shortsighted decision to not even sell food products to take home, I’ll not bother making the walk to the Harrogate market and instead, I’ll be staying Leeds later for a few evenings – and drive past the Harrogate market on the way home.

    I know the cafes in the surrounding area are against the sale of foodstuffs – what net, will the jewellery shops boycott the market because of stalls selling competitive products?

    I would love to be proved wrong, but I’m doubtful that there will be a second market – sorry.

  13. I think if it’s true about the food it’s a shame.. surely local Harrogate businesses could be allowed to open a food stall for duration so food is covered off but locals cash in.

    ie Hog roast from Weetons
    perhaps, Hot mulled wine from Fine Wines etc.
    Or maybe if the shops around organised.. they can do their own thing if licences allow

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