The organisers have revealed that the not-for-profit event, which first took place in 2012, has supported events and organisations including Harrogate International Festivals, Harrogate in Bloom, Visit Harrogate, the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival and more. Their policy is to contribute to those organisations which help to attract visitors to the town, which is one of the key aims of the Christmas Market itself.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the event has been the Harrogate at Christmas festive lights campaign, which has received an impressive £17,000 worth of support since 2012.
Brian Dunsby, who leads the organising committee with his wife Beryl, said:
We have been overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm for Harrogate Christmas Market, which has grown year on year.
We’re absolutely delighted to be able to reveal that that support has helped us to raise so much money for the local economy. In our first year, when we took on the Christmas Market from a commercial company which pulled out late in the day, we were only able to make a small contribution from our funds, so much of this money has been raised in just two years.
Harrogate depends very heavily on tourism. Not only have we brought tens of thousands of people into town at Christmas – a vital time of year for many local traders – we have also helped to make it an even more attractive place to visit all year round.
We would also like to thank Harrogate Borough Council for the support we have received from many of the staff, which has helped us to make the event such a success.
The organising committee is made up almost entirely of volunteers, with a few professional companies brought in for vital elements of the event such as electrical work, marquee hire and printing. Its chairman is John Fox, who also leads the volunteers on the Harrogate at Christmas group, who works tirelessly every year to raise money to make Harrogate sparkle over the festive period.
It costs a huge amount of money every year to create the fantastic light displays we all enjoy in the run-up to Christmas, and we rely very heavily on donations from the local community, in particular local businesses. We usually have to raise at least £30,000 just to have the same lights up as the previous year, and that’s without making any improvements or bringing in new displays, which we continue to try to do.
The contribution made from the funds created by Harrogate Christmas Market has been an enormous help to us over the last couple of years. We are very lucky to have such a successful event in Harrogate, and the fact that it is run on a not-for-profit basis makes it even more valuable to all of us.
Both the Christmas market team and the Christmas lights team work incredibly hard to make both projects a success. Many people don’t realise that they are all volunteers, and that without members of the community giving up their time for projects like this, we would all lose out on some of the best lights and one of the best Christmas markets in Yorkshire.
I hope local businesses and residents across Harrogate will continue to give us their support this year, and for many years to come.
Now in its fourth year, Harrogate Christmas Market is proving more popular than ever with both traders and visitors. The 200 spaces for traders sold quickly when they were released, with only a handful of tables still available now. The number of coach parties already booked to attend is higher than in previous years.
This year’s Christmas Market runs from Thursday, November 19 to Sunday, November 22. With the official Christmas Lights Big Switch-On also due to take place on Thursday, November 19, Harrogate will be well and truly in the festive spirit throughout the four days.
The Big Switch-On – which is a free event for the community – begins at 4pm and features live performances from talented local musicians. It runs until 6pm, when Father Christmas and the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Nigel Simms, join forces to press the button and switch on the Christmas lights. The Switch-on is followed by a short Carol Service in nearby St Peter’s Church where all are welcome..
Anyone interested in volunteering for either Harrogate Christmas Market or Harrogate at Christmas should call John Fox on 01423 540541.