£2million shot-in-arm for Harrogate Convention Centre as the 'big shows' return

Harrogate Convention Centre has welcomed the news that the flagship Knitting & Stitching Show has signed up to host its annual event at the venue until 2025.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 11:19 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 11:20 am
Success: Harrogate Convention Centre has secured the flagship annual Knitting & Stitching Show at the venue until 2025.
Success: Harrogate Convention Centre has secured the flagship annual Knitting & Stitching Show at the venue until 2025.

The economic impact of the show for the town across the three years is estimated to be £2 million.

Known as the definitive event for the market, this November will mark the 30th year the show has exhibited in Harrogate.

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The show, which is open to the public to attend, features hundreds of stands from retailers offering a unique shopping experience.

It also has over 200 workshops, a theatre with live demos throughout the day, a series of gallery exhibitions for textile artists to showcase their work, and access to expert advice.

Anna Baptiste, Event Director, said: “We cover every form of textile crafts, and we are the market leading, ‘premium’ craft events on offer in the UK. A lot of craft shows tend to only offer trade stands, whereas K&S offers an entire experience for craft enthusiasts.”

Organisers are predicting between 12,000 - 14,000 visitors to the four-day show from 17 to 20 November, 2022.

Pre-pandemic footfall was around 17,000.

Anna said: “The return to large events in 2021 reminded us of the importance of the visitor experience, in terms of things like comfort and space.

"We’re mindful of not being too crowded with the sea change in attitudes in terms of being in a large crowd, so although we don’t have to legally enforce restrictions, we’re sticking to wider aisles and a cap on visitor numbers so people continue to feel it’s a nice, calm safe experience.”

The interest in crafts has boomed in the last 20 years, as well as attracting younger audiences.

Anna said: “It’s a growing trend. Lockdown saw record sales of sewing machines so high manufacturers couldn’t keep up with demand and sold out of a lot of models.

"For us it’s been a stable increase for 20 years or more, I think because it’s an antidote to the fast pace of the digital world we live in; there are therapeutic benefits associated with crafting. It tends to attract all generations now.”

The show is one of the stalwart large footfall events that has a significant impact on the town’s wider income, boosting business for the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors.

Anna said: “People like to come away and make a weekend of it; Harrogate being so beautiful and having so much to offer is part of the draw. Our visitors love Bettys, you always know about it when the show’s on as there’s big queues outside.”

Harrogate Convention Centre had to go completely dark as an events’ venue as it was redeployed by the NHS as a Nightingale Hospital.

Paula Lorimer, Director at Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “This news follows on from a raft of other flagship events that have signed contracts to return to our venue for the next three or four years, including the Flooring Show, Home and Gift, the Bridal Show and Fashion Week.

"These are crucial as they mark the confident return of big exhibitions, which are such big drivers of the wider local economy.”

The large footfall of big shows and exhibitions supports thousands of jobs in Harrogate’s hospitality trade.

Paula Lorimer added: “The success of the venue needs to be measured on its economic impact across the district.

"It plays a critical role as the local economy recovers from Covid. Without the tens of thousands of visitors attending these big trade and consumer shows each year, it would be very challenging for the town’s restaurants, accommodation and retailers, particularly out of the traditional tourist seasons.

"We very much look forward to giving The Knitting & Stitching Show visitors a warm welcome this winter.”