Harrogate's golden chance to bounce back as big events return to town this summer

The return of Harrogate Food & Drink Festival to the Stray this weekend is being hailed as the start of a potential summer economic revival for the town.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:55 pm
Flashback to a previous Harrogate Food & Drink Festival, this one at Ripley Castle in 2019 before the pandemic. Pictured are Alice Metcalf, Lydia Chandler, Mia Pattison and Fran Mallinson
Flashback to a previous Harrogate Food & Drink Festival, this one at Ripley Castle in 2019 before the pandemic. Pictured are Alice Metcalf, Lydia Chandler, Mia Pattison and Fran Mallinson

As organisers insist the safety of the expected hundreds of food and drink fans will remain paramount at the two-day event at Oatlands Drive, the staging of such a popular festival for the first time in two years has been welcomed as a morale booster by Harrogate’s hard-pressed hospitality sector.

Combined with news that the Home & Gift Fair is to be held in Harrogate Convention Centre in July and hints from the Government it will stick to its plan to end all Covid restrictions next month, and it is clear that confidence is beginning to come back.

Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) Manager Matthew Chapman said Harrogate was ready to embrace the big opportunities the likely ending of lockdown would bring.

Mr Chapman said: “We are hoping these two events mark what will be the start of a summer packed with events.

“Whilst there will be Covid measures in place, these events amount to another important stage in Harrogate’s reopening, and one that will not only benefit the convention centre, but also our hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.

“The Food & Drink festival will hopefully attract a good crowd both days, and for those travelling to it from outside Harrogate, our message is to come into town and see just what we have to offer in terms of eating, drinking and shopping.

“Our sights are firmly fixed on Monday July 19, as a date when we can finally throw off the Covid shackles.”

Harrogate BID is planning its own schedule of town-centre based activities for summer and the rest of the year.

Excitement is also building over the return next month of the Home & Gift Fair, the largest such event in the North and an annual fixture in Harrogate for more than 50 years before the pandemic.

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