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Countdown to Christmas

Countdown to Christmas

24th December

to the Victorian spa town of Harrogate itself and the surrounding courtyside containing the historic city of Ripon, and the characterful market towns of Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Pateley Bridge and Masham with so many attractions and events you will want to return time and time again.

23rd Dec             

Brimham Rocks Midwinter Storytelling

Give the children something to look forward to after Christmas with a visit to Brimham Rocks, between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge. Walking and climbing on and among the unique rock formations will use up some energy as you make your way towards the Visitors’ Centre and café.

Visit on 28th or 29th December and you can take part in one of the bookable seasonal storytelling sessions led by the creative Noel Watkins. Children will be immersed in an imaginative world of winter stories and songs with snack. Everyone will enjoy this treat for the senses. Tickets are available to buy in advance and an adult can accompany a child free of charge.

22nd Dec            

Knaresborough Duck Race - New Year’s Day

Every New Year’s Day in Knaresborough approximately 5000 plastic yellow ducks are launched into the River Nidd off High Bridge near the entrance to Mother Shipton’s Cave to make their way in the traditional annual race downstream towards Marigold’s Café.  Come and join the crowds cheering the ducks on and waiting in anticipation for the winner. The Knaresborough Duck Race starts at the very reasonable time of 2pm on New Year’s Day. You can buy a ticket in advance from Knaresborough Cricket Club or on the day itself before the race starts. Proceeds from the ticket sales go to local charities and the “owner” of the winning duck receives great kudos, a cash prize and a fantastic start to 2020. Come along and join the fun.

21st Dec              

Boxing Day Walk – Beningbrough

On Boxing Day stretch your legs and walk off your Christmas dinner with a family stroll around the stunning Beningbrough estate. Beningbrough, between Harrogate and York, is an 18th century hall set in 370 acres of gardens and parkland offering plenty of outdoor space ideal for anyone who might have had a little too much chocolate and television the day before.  All you need is the right clothing and decent footwear.

These dog friendly walks take in views of the river, woodlands and much of the estate with the chance to see wildlife along the way.

With the 30 minute woodland Larch Walk, 90 minute Newton Walk and two hour River Walk to choose from you will find one to suit your ability and interests.

20th Dec             

Festive Food & Drink in Harrogate District

Enjoy the taste of Harrogate this Christmas with a seasonal celebration in one of our many warm and welcoming cafes and restaurants. Bistro Pierre will treat you to delicious French cuisine and Sukhothai beautifully presents the flavours of Thailand.

Harrogate is famous for its choice of afternoon tea venues which give welcome respite during a long day of shopping or you might find the pick me up you need at Starling Independent Beer and Coffee House with fresh cakes by day and homemade pizzas in the evening.

The cocktails flow with and a Latin American menu at Las Iguanas and the party vibe continues New York style at Manahatta.

Further afield try Carriages in Knaresborough, the Hideaway Kitchen at Dunsford, or the Storehouse Bar and Eatery in Ripon.

19th Dec             

Harrogate Theatre Panto - Snow White

What could be more festive than a traditional Christmas pantomime in Victorian theatre?

Join the fun at Harrogate Theatre until January 19th where this award winning production team put their special twist on the popular story of Snow White.

Expect magic, colour, crazy costumes, audience participation, chaos and music with a cast of fabulous characters keeping families fully entertained and laughing from start to end.

We don’t like to give away any spoilers but we can tell you that the plot involves Snow White, a forest where seven special people live, a journey to the diamond mines and an evil Queen.

Is it fun? Oh yes it is!

18th Dec             

National Trust - the gift of a year of exploration and adventure

National Trust membership opens up endless possibilities with properties all over the country to explore from castles and stately homes to coastlines and gardens.

Closer to Harrogate are Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and GardensFountains Abbey and Studley Royal and Brimham Rocks offering special events throughout the year.

From Spring the new exhibition in partnership with the Arts Council Collection at Beningbrough Hall will feature works by artists including Marc Chagall, Tracey Emin and L.S. Lowry.

At Fountains Abbey explore the ruins and walk through the beautiful World Heritage Site water garden of Studley Royal.

Brimham Rocks is a collection of unique rock formations providing a great day out for adventurous walkers, climbers, families and dog walkers.

National Trust Membership is the gift that makes memories all year round.

17th Dec             

Turkish Baths - Give the gift of Relaxation

The Turkish Baths, Harrogate have been perfecting the art of relaxation since 1897. Why not give an experience at Britain's most fully restored Victorian Turkish Baths this Christmas?

A visit to the Turkish Baths involves rejuvenating the mind and body through relaxing in a series of beautifully decorated, tranquil, heated rooms which can be combined with luxurious spa treatments and therapies for a truly indulgent experience.

Some treatments are inspired by Middle Eastern tradition including the Turkish Spa Body Ritual involving a stimulating volcanic scrub for a cleansing and energising massage and the Hammam treatment using foam to leave skin fully cleansed and softened.

Gift cards are redeemable on entrance to the baths, beauty treatments, complimentary therapies, beauty products, and the café and are valid for twelve months.

16th Dec             

Secret Cinema at Ripon Workhouse Museum

For families looking for something to do in the days following Christmas the Workhouse Museum and Garden in Ripon is open from 11am to 3pm on December 26th – 28th.

The foreboding atmosphere of a Victorian workhouse has been carefully maintained to show you what life was like for those that lived here. Come and discover what Christmas in the workhouse was like and how it compares to the one that you enjoyed.

Visit on 27th December and included in your museum entry price is a family film shown at 2pm in the secret cinema. Refreshments will be available to purchase.

Your ticket also gives you entry to the Courthouse Museum and the Prison and Police Museum in a true three for one.

15th Dec             

Rudding Park - Carols by Candlelight and Dinner 

Rudding Park is a luxury hotel set in 300 acres of woodlands and landscaped gardens and the staff are ready to welcome you with a programme of events over the holiday season. We are highlighting the carol service held in the hotel’s own beautiful chapel fully decorated and lit with candles, but you might also enjoy one of the other party nights, the Black Tie Ball or a private cinema evening.

Carols by Candlelight in the Rudding Park Chapel is a very special evening during advent and following the traditional music and carols by candlelight with the talented High Row Choir you will progress to your booked party table for your celebratory dinner.

Don’t miss this once a year event on December 23rd from 7pm.

14th Dec  

Ripon Cathedral – Seasonal Events

If you head to Ripon Cathedral on Sunday December 15th you can attend a candlelit performance of Benjamin Britten’s Christmas masterpiece, A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28, written in 1942 and performed by the Ripon cathedral choir to get you in the festive mood.

On December 24th join the Journey to Bethlem, Ripon Cathedral’s retelling of the Christmas story with carols and the opportunity for children dress up, followed by refreshments.

If you have never joined the Eucharist for St Stephen’s Day and Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey on December 26th it is a real treat and the perfect way to walk off the turkey and Christmas Pudding. The carol service in the abbey ruins is a special tradition for many families.

13th Dec             

Late Night Shopping in Pateley Bridge 20th December

Head to the market town of Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale this evening, Friday December 13th, for late night shopping. Many of the shops on the High Street and in the centre will be staying open until 8pm to allow shoppers to browse and select gifts at their leisure.

The shops of Pateley Bridge will also be open until 8:30pm next Friday December 20th  when there will be festive entertainment throughout the town’s streets with Carol singers, music from Dacre and Summerbridge Silver Band, food and drink on offer to keep you warm. This now annual event is looked forward to by local families and visitors, and everyone is welcome to join the fun.

Meet Santa and the fire brigade with their fire engine on the High Street from 6pm.

12th Dec 

Lightwater Valley - Alice in Winterland      


Where better to escape the madness of a general election than in the curiouser and curiouser world of Alice and friends recreated in light sculptures at Lightwater Valley?

Lewis Carroll’s father was canon of Ripon Cathedral and the author is believed to have taken inspiration for his classic children’s novels from the city. The theme park is celebrating this connection on with Alice in Winterland on selected dates from November 22nd to December 30th when characters and scenes from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass will be illuminating a fantasy trail.

Meet your favourite characters including the Queen of Hearts and Alice as the stories are told among giant glowing tulips and flamingos leading you through the enchanted garden to the giant chess board and Mad Hatter’s tea party.

11th Dec             

Christmas Shopping in the Harrogate District

When you are buying a special gift try Harrogate’s independent shops for inspiration. Choose between luxurious, warm gloves and slippers from Westmorland Sheepskins; exotic ramen bowls and kimonos from The Japanese Shop; handmade jewellery and works of art at Inger & Rae in Westminster Arcade or browse for something a little older in the Montpellier Mews Antique Market.

For a range of regional food and drink related treats head to Yorkshire farm shop Fodder where all the profits from the local produce sold go to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

For a cheese lover The Cheeseboard on Commercial Street is an Aladdin’s Cave of delights with over 200 different cheeses from all over the UK and further afield plus hampers, crackers and accessories.

10th Dec             

RHS Harlow Carr - Glow & The Magic of Christmas

The Winter Glow Illuminations Event at RHS Garden Harlow Carr until December 28th is an amazing event for the whole family. A spectacular range of effects transforms the gardens and shows them in a whole new light. Explore the illuminations after dusk every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4:30 – 8pm.

Children and adults alike will enjoy the excitement of walking around the gardens after dark and be in awe of the magical atmosphere created by the vivid colours on the trees and shrubs. Bring your own torch, light up headwear, etc to add to the fun.

New for this year, sculptures are also lit and we particularly like the silver angel before the twinkling tunnel. The trail ends with Christmas carols in a seasonal marquee. 

9th Dec

Carols by Candlelight Fountains Abbey

Bring the family along for a magical walk around Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens, near Ripon, on Sunday 15th December, where the trees will be twinkling with lights. Enjoy the beautiful views of this World Heritage Site with acres of land to explore including a children’s play area.

Then make your way to the cellarium of the abbey for 3pm and pick up a candle and hot drink to join the carol service in an incredible atmosphere where nearly 1,000 flames will flicker as dusk begins to fall on the magnificent ruins.

You will feel the same sense of community that the monks of the abbey must have shared as you sing along to a selection of popular carols in this dramatic setting.

8th Dec

Saint Michael's Hospice Light Up a Life services

If you are remembering someone special who is missing from your life this Christmas Saint Michael’s Hospice invites you to join them at one of their Light Up a Life Services at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 8th December at 3:30pm and at Crimple House, Harrogate on Sunday December 15th at 4pm.

During the services there is an opportunity to place a star with a dedication on tree and join with other families in a supportive and caring service. Dedications can be made online to Saint Michael’s for stars and lights to illuminate the Saint Michael's tree throughout the festive season. All donations enable Saint Michael's to be there for more local families this Christmas, helping them to make the most of their time together.

7th Dec

Swinton Park - Festive Candlelight Suppers

Why not treat someone special to a candlelit supper at luxury castle hotel, Swinton Park near Masham? From December 9th – 21st the historic Drawing Room is being temporarily transformed into a festive dining room with log fires and twinkling lights. Book yourself and guests in for arrival drinks and sing along to the Christmas entertainment before enjoying a delicious festive two course candlelit meal with wine.

Other festive events at Swinton park include a seasonal inspired afternoon tea with indulgent hand-crafted cakes and festive treats served in Samuel’s restaurant in the afternnons of December 1st -  21st. There is also a carol concert, carol recital, popular wreath making course, family Sunday lunch with Father Christmas and hotel packages for Christmas and New Year.

6th Dec

Knaresborough and Ripon Christmas Market

This weekend we recommend the Christmas markets at Knaresborough and Ripon.

It is Christmas Artisan Market weekend in Ripon with stalls selling handmade crafts and unique gifts in the popular market place. A great opportunity to find an interesting present or two.

In Knaresborough the popular Christmas market includes festive foods, warming drinks, unusual gifts and live music set in the historic, picturesque town centre complete with silver band and town crier. Come along to shop, buy mulled wine and roasted chestnuts and enjoy the atmosphere. The weekend culminates with a firework finale on Sunday at 4:30pm.

Park and ride is available.

5th Dec

Masham Christmas Fair

This Saturday, 7th December, head up to Masham in Wensleydale for the annual Christmas Fair and to explore the charming town itself. The town boasts two breweries, a choice of traditional butcher’s shops, a bakery, a delicatessen, a green grocer, a fine wine shop, five art galleries, traditional sweet shops, clothes shops and much more.

There are regular markets but none as special as Saturday's festive market which is open all day in the Market Square with further activities and a craft fair in the Town Hall.

Browse the craft stalls for interesting and unique gift ideas, treat yourself to some delicious refreshments and take the children to see Father Christmas in his grotto in the Town Hall with entertainment from Carol Singers and hand bell ringers. 

4th Dec

Stockeld Park - The Christmas Adventure

Head to Stockeld Park, Wetherby for their famous Christmas Adventure open every day until January 16th with fun for all the family. Play all day enjoying the climbing nets, zip wires, rope bridge and other imaginative obstacles and try the exciting seasonal activities like ice skating undercover and the 1.2 km cross country Nordic ski trail. Once dusk starts to fall the Enchanted Forest lives up to its name as the award winning illuminations produce a magical atmosphere throughout the park with light displays and animated creations. Children and adults will all find something delicious in the cosy café and in the amazing gift shop packed with treats.

Don’t forget that you can also buy your Christmas Tree here.

3rd Dec

Father Christmas

If you are a family hoping to catch a special moment with Father Christmas during his busy preparations, the following venues are expecting him. He will be at Stockeld Christmas Adventure from December 16th – 24th in a beautiful log cabin and on the 16th and 17th around their Enchanted Forest with some of his reindeer and elves.  During the weekends from November 23rd to December 22nd he will pop into Fountains Abbey to tell stories and hand out gifts; November 24th to December 22nd are the dates for the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway Santa Specials; November 29th to December 24th he will be telling stories at RHS Harlow Carr, and November 30th to December 22nd he will be doing his laundry at Beningbrough Hall ready for Christmas Eve!

2nd Dec

Country Living Christmas Fair

From December 5th - 8th the Country Living Christmas Fair at Harrogate Convention Centre is an enjoyable day out packed full of everything you can imagine to help you get ready for the special day. From handmade gifts for all your loved ones and luxury shopping including exclusive and unusual clothing to beautiful decorations and antiques for your home. Watch or join in with the workshops and craft demonstrations, cake decorating and cookery shows and sample the delicious food and drink stalls. With over 300 artists in attendance you are certain to find unique gift ideas for all your friends and family. Don’t forget to enter the competition during the fair to win a selection of goodies from a number of exhibitors.

1st Dec

St John's Church Knaresborough Christmas Tree Festival

A treat this week is a visit to the incredible Knaresborough Christmas Tree Festival. These unique artworks were designed and hand made by different groups throughout the town from schools and Scout groups to local businesses and charities and will be displayed within the church until December 8th. The atmosphere created by the church itself and the Christmas tree lights is very special and is bound to get you into the festive mood as you delight in the creativity and enjoy a humorous pun or two, for example one year a tree made of Lego and entered by a child was named “The Night Before Bricksmas”.  Before you leave you have the chance to vote for your favourite tree.



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