HBC support plans for an alternative Festive Market for Harrogate in December, as organisers despair over the action of Harrogate Council

20 August 2021

Place Europe are aiming to bring a much reduced Market to Harrogate, from 3 to 12 December, at a currently undisclosed location in the town centre.

  • Up to 45 traders as against the current 170+ traders
  • Traders from Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy against the predominantly Yorkshire currently
  • A “number” of local traders
  • An event plan is yet to be submitted, HBC say they take 16 weeks to review
  • We expect the organisation to be subject to the same rigour by HBC as applied to the current Christmas Market

Brian Dunsby, part of the organising team for the Harrogate Christmas Market said:

We have just received an ultimatum from Harrogate Borough Council which confirms that they will not negotiate any further on our application for a licence to hold Harrogate Christmas Market in the ‘magic Montpellier valley’ again this year.

They have refused our request for a top-level meeting about this original setting, to review and hopefully resolve the outstanding issues, whilst there is still time to save the Harrogate Christmas Market this year.

We realise that the Council Leaders want us to relocate elsewhere but we cannot find anywhere else suitable – and there is insufficient time to rearrange the large number of details involved. We now have 172 Market Traders applications waiting for acceptance, whilst there are already 55 coaches planning to come to Harrogate during the Market.

We have tried to engage with Harrogate Borough Council in positive discussions, but in recent weeks it has become clear that they have their own agenda. This has now been revealed. Despite Brexit, their new market will provide only 45 stalls mostly from European countries.

Local traders will probably not get much of a look in. It will be on for 10 days, 3rd -12th December 2021, somewhere in the Town Centre.

We have been pleased to provide Harrogate with a successful Christmas Market for 8 years, with local traders, local products and supporting many local charities.

Over the past five years we have contributed over £90,000 to local charities and similar organisations. The peak attendance was over 85,000 visitors during our four open days.

What an achievement! Many other folk have endorsed that our event brings family fun, pleasure, happiness and good business to thousands during its four days each year.

We want to thank you for all your support and encouragement over the past 8 years. We have enjoyed working with you and are extremely saddened at this unfortunate outcome.

Beryl and Brian Dunsby - Harrogate Christmas Market
Beryl and Brian Dunsby – Harrogate Christmas Market

Councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said:

From what I’ve seen, Market Place Europe have years of experience hosting events. So I know they’ll bring an abundance of knowledge to Harrogate this Christmas.

You’ve only got to look at the photos online from markets they’ve hosted in major cities such as Belfast and Glasgow to see what they’ll bring is a first-class offering.


Comment from Tim Cook, Editor of the Harrogate Informer:

I think it is much more than just a shame that the market isn’t going ahead on Montpellier Hill this year, but a real loss to the town.

The expression of interest is to run such a small event, and I am not sure if it should be compared. Really what is being proposed is a market similar to what we have seen before in the town, just with a Christmas theme.

Over a number of years the current market developed an infrastucrure of stall holders and a base of coach operators bringing thousands to the town.

But it is very clear that Harrogate Borough Council acted to not work with the Christmas Market organisers, and by not engaging with them, blocked the event happening. The organisers were not in denial that changes needed to be made, but many of the issues stated by the local council were historical, and been resolved.

Now it will be interesting to follow if the new proposal will be rubber-stamped through, or if they will be subject to the same measures of  anti-terrorism measures, and scrutiny were.

And finally, we need to remember that the expression of interest is from a profit making company, whereas the current market donated profits to local causes – that will be loss to the town.


  1. Shame on you HBC! What happened to supporting our local businesses? I am sure the event could have been held elsewhere on the Stray. After all, we manage to host a fairground and bonfire each year

  2. HBC a joke as always, does anyone there have any desire to supply the people of Harrogate with what they want? Good riddance to a failing organisation in my opinion although I worry that NYCC is not much better.

  3. Jennifer and Tim.
    (two very disappointed Town Residents)

    We are well aware of the tremendous effort Beryl and Brian Dunsby have undertaken to organise the Harrogate Christmas Market for 8 years, working tirelessly to achieve the fantastic success of this event and in doing so contributed many thousands of pounds to local charities while offering an excellent platform for 172 Market Traders and town businesses alike to benefit from the thousands of visitors to our Town during the festive season.

    Will 45 Stalls in the Town Centre achieve the same success? I don’t think so!


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