Harrogate says Christmas market charge a bargain

Harrogate has defended coach parking charges for its annual Christmas Market, which it says offer great value for money for a free, not-for-profit event.

The market, which runs from 14 to 17 November, features around 200 stalls and last year attracted 140 coaches. During the event, Harrogate closes the St Mary’s Walk coach drop-off zone and the Dragon Road coach park is used for trader van parking.

However, the town has rented a coach parking area nearby, and is providing professional marshalling for coaches, which must be pre-booked at a rate of £50 weekdays and £75 weekends. All coach parking must be booked by 31 October, and operators will then be given drop-off and pick-up slots at Montpellier Hill.

Among marketing materials for the Christmas Fair, Harrogate is providing leaflets free for operators to use for visiting groups: “We need to make this charge, bearing in mind that visitors to the Christmas Market have free admission, unlike some events at stately homes where they charge for admission to their grounds,” said organiser Brian Dunsby OBE. “We have to rent space for parking our coaches off-site, providing stewards and also offering a facility for the drivers to get refreshments.

“For the past few years we have had over 140 coaches booked which takes a lot of management and parking space which we have to rent for the event.”

This four-day Harrogate Christmas Market will be comparable with longer established Christmas Markets in other northern towns such as Durham, Lincoln and York, say organisers. It will attract many visitors to Harrogate to see the Christmas Lights and visit about 200 stalls, including chalets and market stalls of various sizes, a large crafts and gifts marquee offering quality merchandise with a Christmas-theme.

There will be a food and drink marquee with seating and tables for snacks and refreshments. Santa will open the Market on his sleigh pulled by real reindeer. There will also be popular Children’s Funfair rides, while groups of buskers will play seasonal music each day.

Full details are available at the Harrogate website

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