Harrogate confirms bid to host Great Exhibition of the North

The Stray in Harrogate
The Stray in Harrogate

Harrogate Borough Council has confirmed it has bid for the town to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.

The competition to bid to put on the two-month exhibition opened to towns and cities across the North in April and Harrogate has thrown its name into the ring.

The exhibition will showcase the great creative and cultural sectors across the North, to help boost the economy in the region with the Government pledging to contribute £5m.

Earlier this month, council leader Coun Richard Cooper refused to confirm that the council was bidding for the event until he had seen proof that it would value for money.

Despite the event expected to cost around £12m to host, Coun Cooper said he couldn’t ignore the potential benefits of bringing in 10,000 people a day to the region.

He said: “The cost to hold it is an important factor and there are always concerns but you have to weigh those against the potential benefits of taking it.

“The judgement I will be taking is you have to bid for it because, like the Fire Festival, sometimes you don’t get anything back unless you take a risk.

“We had 20,000 people coming through the Valley Gardens during the event. So, we took a punt on that and it paid off.”

Coun Cooper said that he expects the council to be able to recoup the cost of host the Great Exhibition as well as benefiting from a total of 1.5m people visiting the district.

The council submitted its bid to the Great Exhibition Board, chaired by Sir Gary Verity, today (June 30) and Coun Cooper said the bid will be full of imaginative ideas.

He said: “We have shown that we can accommodate 1.5million people and we can bring imaginative to events and the Great Exhibition should be imaginative.

The shows will be based throughout the town centre and over the district and we have many sites of historical importance throughout the district.

“It’s fair to say that our bid will look at all aspects of Northern Culture and Northern History and take a particular look at culture, technology, history and innovation.”

“There will be competition from cities but they won’t have all the features Harrogate has.”

The chosen venue will be announced in the autumn.