Father Christmas officially opened Harrogate’s Christmas Market yesterday, with help from Mayor Mike Newby.
The event is set to be be bigger and better than ever before with 175 traders and for the first time this year, a food and drink tent.
With extended opening until 8pm on evenings and dry weather forecast for the weekend organisers hope to attract more than 30,000 visitors.
Brian Dunsby, chief executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: “This year we have more stall holders than last year so the event is even bigger.
“This event is designed to show Harrogate off and people will return to the town in future.”
Sandra Doherty president of Harrogate Chamber of Trade added: “There are a lot more stalls and there is more variety than last year, there really is something different for everyone.
“Harrogate has the best shopping in North Yorkshire and we have quite a few local businesses with stalls here, making the most of the opportunity.”
Harrogate toy shop The Rocking Horse have a stand at the event for the second year.
Judith Simpson from the Westminster Arcade toy shop said: “Having a stand here helps us to promote our shop to visitors to Harrogate.
“This event is every important and keeps Harrogate on the map, it brings new people to Harrogate which has got to be good for the town.”
Knaresborough businesses, Porters Preserves and Dee Spice teamed up to share an East meets West stall at the market.
Rachel Porter said: “It is a lot bigger this year than last year.
“The businesses here come from all over the place but it is good to see there are still lots of local businesses with a stand, it’s a big boost for the Harrogate area.”
Organisers decided this year to host a food and drink tent at the market.
Mr Dunsby said: “Last year local cafes and restaurants couldn’t cope, they were so busy, places had huge queues.
“It’s not just food and drink that will bring people here, and they won’t just stay at the Christmas Market, the purpose of this is that people will come here and will enjoy Harrogate town centre at Christmas time.
John Fox of Harrogate at Christmas said he thought the food and drink offerings were a welcome addition.
He said : “Last year we only had four months to open it, this year we had more time to have local stalls and food and drink.
“It’s a complete market now, everything people need to have a full day out is here.”
Local cafe’s, Jakes and Baltzersens, both have stalls in the new food tent.
Jakes cafe owner Suzanne Knowles said: “Last year our cafe was inundated and people said they were a bit disapointed by the lack of food at the market last year.
“It is good for local businesses to get involved, Harrogate business should work together more.”
Baltzersen’s owner Paul Rawlinson added: “This is the first market we have ever done so it is a steep learning curve for us.
“Its really nice to see other Harrogate businesses here, that’s how it should be a celebrating of all that’s good in Harrogate.”
Local crafter Sue Scarre who runs an online shop, Woolly Buddha said teh Harrogate Christmas Market was one of the only markets she trades at.
She said: “I think this market has been a long time coming for Harrogate.
“I think local businesses do well here, they have tried really hard to promote local businesses and Yorkshire produce and that is a good thing, some other markets sell all the same imported stuff every year, here it’s different.”
The Harrogate Christmas Market runs until Sunday December 1 from 10am to 8pm (10am-5pm Sunday) and a shuttle bus will be running free of charge every 20 minutes during the markets opening hours from stand one at the Harrogate bus station.