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Harrogate: So Near So Spa

By December 17, 2019 Features-Leeds
Shoppers shopping on Harrogate's cobbled streets

Whether you are enjoying the splendours of the spa town or taking advantage of its world class events, Harrogate is a refreshing break away from hectic city life.

Though one of the town’s best-known landmarks, the Stray, remains ravaged by inclement weather and the UCI Championships rolling into town, there are still signs that Harrogate will blossom again going into 2020.

Our highstreets have taken a hit in general, but thankfully this is where Harrogate seems to have, in fact, weathered the storm, welcoming tourists and local residents to shop in local independents, rather than in soulless shopping centres. This summer the ‘Independent Harrogate’ group was formed to fight back against the drop in shop occupancy and challenges of running a business on the town’s expensive high streets. Supported by the British Independent Retail Association, it has over 80 members so far. Their main mission is to “increase footfall to our shops, cafés and restaurants” and for Harrogate to “be different, vibrant and highly successful”.

Further encouragement to shop local has been boosted by the creation of the ‘Harrogate Gift Card’, spearheaded by the Business Improvement District scheme for the town, Harrogate BID. Its chair John Fox announced that 75 businesses have signed up for the Harrogate Gift Card which launched in mid-November, including the long-standing jewellery store, Ogden’s.

Designed to work like a credit card, shoppers can load it up with the amount they want to gift and can then be spent in any shop or business displaying the Harrogate Gift Card sign in store windows or at the till. The names that have signed up to the new scheme in Harrogate range from major national chains to small independents from book shops to cafes, clothes stores to luxury beauty suppliers, including M&S and Imagined Things.

This follows Harrogate BID’s recently successful 10-day ‘Eat Out for £10’ scheme, which will make a welcome return in February 2020. Participating venues included the Fat Badger, Harrogate Fine Wine Company, Café Marconi, The Orchid, Mama Doreen’s Emporium, The Old Swan Hotel, The White Hart Hotel, SCRAN, So! Bar and Eats, The Tap on Tower Street, The Devonshire Tap House, Essenza, Farmhouse and William and Victoria. The Harrogate Bus Company even threw in a free bus ride home for those who were taking advantage of the generous deal.

The Harrogate Convention Centre remains a bit of a jewel in the crown for the town, showcasing world class events and bringing a wealth of diverse talents to North Yorkshire. While at the Royal Hall, the likes of Rick Wakeman, John Barrowman, The Bootleg Beatles and comedian Ed Byrne will take to the stage throughout the last month of the year.

Valley gardens, Harrogate, covered in snow

Sun or snow, Harrogate remains a beautiful, refreshing destination

The first day of December will see the conclusion of something that’s ideal for the colder weather, The Knitting and Stitching Show in the exhibition hall of the convention centre. The event champions creativity with hundreds of workshops and demonstrations, as well as 200 exhibitors selling craft supplies. Spend a day re-stocking your yarn stash, learn to knit, master the art of tailoring and teach yourself a new hobby! Alongside this it will see the return of the Photo North Festival, a four-day programme for the professional photographer, art-enthusiast, keen amateur and student to enjoy workshops, exhibitions, meet the artist sessions, book signings, stalls, live music and screenings. This year’s theme for the festival focuses on mental health and the politics of food and fashion.

Traversing into the countryside that surrounds Harrogate may lead you to Breaks Fold Farm and its new café bistro venture from Masterchef 2017 quarter finalist Louise Pullan. In the heart of the Wasburn valley, recently opened Flock to the Fold creates wood fired pizza, freshly made cakes, lunch and breakfast, all using locally sourced ingredients.

Guests to Harrogate can indulge in some serious rest and relaxation in the heart of one of the UK’s happiest towns. Formerly the Majestic hotel, the brand new DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate Majestic has been transformed into a contemporary oasis with Victorian charm. It now joins the last working Turkish baths in the country to provide another spa experience, thanks to its new six treatment rooms covering everything from facials to a hot stone massage, a heat experience with rasul, steam room and sauna as well as a spa terrace and zen garden.

One of Yorkshire’s most spectacular and much-loved towns, Harrogate remains a haven of historic houses, iconic eateries (do we even need to mention Betty’s Tearooms?!) and refinement. Those from LS17 can enjoy a fabulous mix of retail options for the festive gifting period. So why not head to Harrogate today?

Exterior of Betty's Cafe Tea Rooms

Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms, Harrogate

Happening Harrogate

Here are some of our favourite must-discover places, businesses and restaurants from the cultural melting pot of Harrogate!


Travel expert Adrian Sless has over 50 years’ experience helping customers create their dream getaway. As an independent travel company, Travelstar offers an unbiased service, free to find you the most competitive price. He has extensive experience planning itineraries for trips to Israel and is now offering superb new packages, including EL AL flights from Manchester to Tel Aviv three times a week.

If you need some inspiration, check out our top travel trend predictions for 2020!

Westmorland Sheepskins

A family-run lifestyle shop on Montpellier Parade, Westmorland Sheepskins specialises in wool, sheepskin and leather loveliness. Showcasing a wide selection of beautiful soft furnishings, home accessories and clothing, whether it’s a fireside lambskin rug, or a pair of sumptuous woollen slippers, you’re sure to find the perfect festive gift. Open daily with late night events across the festive season, you’ll always receive a warm welcome at Westmorland.

Harrogate Synagogue – The Welcoming & Inclusive Community

Harrogate Hebrew Congregation is a traditional Orthodox synagogue with an eclectic rota of visiting officiants each Shabbat. The services are enjoyable with excellent decorum. The kiddushim are superb, with delicious dishes including hot cholent and kugel served regularly. At Harrogate Synagogue, a truly warm welcome awaits you!

Discover the best of the cultural melting pot of Harrogate

Wrayways of Harrogate

Harrogate-based Wrayways is a local, family-run business built on its reputation for personal service, great advice and quality products at competitive prices. Founded in 1974 by lifelong friends and business partners Ernest Wray and Basil Davies, Wrayways is a reliable supplier of door furniture, locks, latches, hinges and more.

The Wrayways team offer a bespoke service, helping you choose the right product or ironmongery for your building project or home transformation. An advisor can visit you at home in North Leeds, should you wish and discuss the options and ranges available, with evening appointments organised upon request.

The fixtures are vital to the look or feel you are trying to create, often proving the difference between a high-end renovation and an inspiring upgrade, which is why the team at Wrayways, led by Basil’s son, Kevin, put so much faith in providing a wide range of door furniture to suit all budgets from brands such as Anvil, Samuel Heath, Finesse and Heritage Brass. Gift vouchers are also available to use on any product.

Now open to the public as well as trade customers, Wrayways is happy to work directly and extensively with designers, developers and architects to ensure every part of a project runs smoothly. As a supplier for trade, screws and hand tools from Dewalt & Festool, plus paintbrushes and building equipment, there are 1,000s of products available to collect or deliver from Monday to Friday.

Sukhothai Harrogate

Sukhothai is the home of authentic Thai cuisine in Harrogate. Situated on Cheltenham Parade, it brings diners superb Thai dishes, using only the finest locally sourced ingredients (plus a few secret ones straight from Thailand). The eatery’s 200-plus dish à la carte menu caters for all tastes and preferences while the Sunday buffet provides an extensive choice and is a great way to sample new dishes.

Bespoke Eyewear

An independent optician on Royal Parade, Bespoke Eyewear offers eye examinations and exclusive luxury eyewear from around the world. The team can support you in choosing the perfect pair to enhance your look, while state-of-the-art in-house glazing equipment provides the thinnest and highest quality lenses for your prescription, with orders often completed the same day.

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