- The Harrogate Bonfire
The strange celebration of a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament by Guy Fawkes (a Yorkshireman no less) in 1605. The best feeling of community spirit in Harrogate is witnessing what seems like the whole town walking as one towards the Harrogate Bonfire on the Stray next to Oatlands Drive. Very wisely as congestion and lack of parking does dampen the spirit. This year it is on Saturday 4th November and it is free! Local radio, Stray FM, are there to warm you all up from 6pm – the fire is lit at 6.30 pm and a great firework display at 7.15. A fantastic event for families, couples, friends (not pets!). My advice: dress warmly and wear wellies.
Keep yourself warm when you’re out and about this autumn with some delicious tasting opportunities to be had. Starling Independent Beer and Coffee House have some liquid delights awaiting you. On November 17th you can liberate your inner cafenista by taking part in coffee and beer tastings with Dark Woods and for those who want to put hairs on your chest ready for the winter – whisky tasting! October 27th 7.30 pm £30 per person – ticket includes five 35 ml drams and half a pizza. Bargain.
- Harrogate Christmas Market
The sixty thousand people who came last year can’t be wrong. A veritable feast of festiveness, it begins on Thursday 16th November. You can combine the start with the Christmas switch on of the towns Christmas lights between 4 and 6pm outside Victoria Shopping Centre. The market continues until Sunday 19th November and is open each day from 10 am to 8 pm, except for Sunday when it finally closes its doors at 5 pm. Get yourself to Montpellier Quarter and browse the 200 stalls, visit the Craft and Gift Marquee, fill your bellies at the Food and Drink Marquee then see Santa and his reindeer. Ho ho ho.
- Eat Parkin
This, for me, epitomises the Halloween/Guy Fawkes season. Parkin is a traditional gingerbread cake originating from northern England and most often associated with Yorkshire, in particular the area around Leeds. It was traditionally made after the oat harvest at the beginning of November then as time progressed, honey was added for sweetness. It is traditionally made now with oatmeal and black treacle and my Auntie Elsie had the best parkin around in her day. Look for it at fine food halls – Farrahs and Weetons in particular.
- Turkish Baths
Not just for hen parties, women or turkeys! How come you’ve never been? You have not experienced such relaxation. The baths themselves are such a fine example of Victorian baths, they have a great historical beauty. You can learn all about the 120 year history of the baths at 9 am every Wednesday morning with their own tour guide. It only costs £3.75. Then go on, take the plunge, book a session. They have mixed sessions, men only or women only and cost as little as £15 during the week. It’s a couple of hours and I guarantee you will feel stress free afterwards – it’s amazing how good plunging into a cold pool after lying on a hot stone bench will make you feel.
- Food Shopping
A favourite for foodies – a wander around some great food halls and delis, seeing what culinary delights there are. For what purpose? Does there need to be a purpose? If you need a reason – to add to the family menu over the festive period, to buy presents for those foodie friends and relatives or just to get yourself a treat for the weekend. There’s going to be a new one in town soon – the Cold Bath Deli – on Cold Bath Road (formerly Lengs). I, for one, can’t wait to see what Yorkshire delights they hold. Weetons has a cornucopia of local produce and Farrahs for those sweet teeth. If you are into your cheese, pay a visit to the Cheeseboard at 1 Commercial Street, who knew there were so many fine cheeses.
- Culture and the Cinema
If you are keen to experience something special, the Nutcracker Ballet is coming to Harrogate. Not only is it coming to town but you can get to watch it on a lovely comfy sofa with drinks and/or food delivered to you for the performance. The Everyman cinema is playing a performance from the Royal Opera House on Tuesday 5th December at 7 pm. A chance to see this popular and mesmerising ballet without leaving Yorkshire!
- Take a Food Tour
Every Thursday to Sunday throughout the year, there is a great opportunity to discover the culinary and cultural delights of Harrogate. Taking a gentle stroll round our cultural centre, guided by our knowledgeable local, you will learn about the history of the town – things I bet even you locals didn’t know! You also get to stop at several great independent food and drink places to try some Yorkshire Fare – a nice long lunch with a difference. You will be satisfied both in head and stomach! Yorkshire Appetite Food Tours runs their Harrogate Food Tour starting at 11.30 for 3 hours.
- Have a Festive Laugh
Harrogate is the comedy capital of the North, I kid you not and we are lucky enough to have a great comedy club in town – Sitting Room Comedy. For a mere £10 (£12 on the door) every month you can enjoy not one, but THREE comedians plus a great compere in the 1970s, oops sorry, I mean the retro surroundings of the Manhattan Club – you will really believe you’re in Manhatten (you won’t). There are very reasonably priced drinks too. 8 pm start.
On Wednesday 8th November we have Tom Wrigglesworth, Lindsey Santoro and Barry Dodds.
On Wednesday 13th December we have Andy Askins, Noel James and Mike Newall and popular regular compere Scott Bennett.
- The Pantomime
If you have never experienced the British Tradition of the pantomime or if you haven’t been since your childhood, treat yourself this year to Beauty and the Beast at the Harrogate Theatre. It is on from 6th December to 21st January with a matinee or evening performance.
It really is the most peculiar spectacular – the principal boy is played by a girl, the dame is played by a man, the audience gets squirted, the actors run through the audience and your voice will be hoarse from hissing, booing and shouting ‘behind you’. It is just great, great fun and the Harrogate pantomime with VERY popular regular Tim Stedman is absolutely the best. It has to be experienced