Is Harrogate Christmas Market set to move to town centre?
The future of Harrogate’s biggest retail event of the year has been thrown into doubt in a dispute over terrorism risks and the threat of Covid.
Despite the huge popularity of the town’s annual Christmas Market in attracting attendances of 80,000 people, Harrogate Borough Council says the event has outgrown its current site on Montpellier Hill and is no longer an appropriate or safe location.
Harrogate’s business community is shocked by the new turn of events with one prominent figure saying it would be an economic disaster if the Harrogate Christmas Market did not take place this year.
Council leader Richard Cooper said there was no question of that but added the event would have to move.
Coun Cooper said: “I realise some people are disappointed with the decision not to grant a licence at the usual location.
“We have not cancelled the event but our first preference is to hold it in the town centre and it’s that option we will be exploring.”
Devastated organisers, including Brian Dunsby, former chief executive of Harrogate Chamber of Commerce, say they have built the profitable event - which supports many local charities - from scratch over the past decade.
They have been quick to hit back saying: “We regret that the council has acted prematurely in refusing to grant a licence without any discussion with the organisers over the outstanding issues.”
But Harrogate council’s stance is hardening and its latest statement suggests the possibility of a complete break with the market’s organisers.
A spokesperson for the council claimed:
It has been in conversation with the event organisers for several years about moving the Christmas market to another location;
It is happy to work with other event providers;
It already has a number of expressions of interest for an alternative site and is working with event organisers to ensure alternative Christmas festivities take place.