The Ultimate Guide to Christmas in Harrogate 2023

UPDATED FOR CHRISTMAS 2023! Believe me there are so many more things to do in the Harrogate area this Christmas, but these are our top recommendations for things to do this Christmas in Harrogate. With a mixture of paid and free Christmas activities in Harrogate there’s something for every budget.

RHS Harlow Carr Glow

22nd November – 30th December 2023

All the family will enjoy a magical evening at RHS Garden Harlow Carr for their spectacular light show ‘Glow’. Grab a hot chocolate from Bettys and see the garden in breath-taking beauty as amazing illuminations light your way around the Glow trail.

Glow at RHS Harlow Carr is Wednesday to Saturday, 22nd November to 30th December 2023

Members: adults £8.95 & child (5-16) £4.45, under 5’s FREE
Non-members: adult £15.95 & child £8.45, under 5’s FREE

*For total transparency I have had a PR invite to Glow, HOWEVER, I had already been very organised and bought tickets this year. So yes I have done a paid promotion with Harlow Carr, but I was going to be attending at my own cost even if I hadn’t been invited.

Light Up A Life Service at Ripon Cathedral

10th December 3.30pm

Light up a Life is a very special remembrance service at Ripon Cathedral. “You will experience music, readings and time for reflection and see our community’s lights illuminated as we come together to remember those we love. We welcome families to join us, and will have special opportunities for young people to be a part of Light up a Life”

As a family we have attended this service for over 10 years now. It has truly become a seasonal tradition. I know that these services may not be for everyone but I really love it, so it had to be included.

Dick Whittington at Harrogate Theatre

22nd Nov 2023 to 14th Jan 2024

Is it even Christmas in Harrogate without a trip to the panto?

The Harrogate panto is back and this year it’s Dick Whittington. But the best news by far is that Tim Stedman is back for his 23rd season (if you know, you know!). Tim is truly a well loved Harrogate gem.

Join Dick Whittington on an adventure of a lifetime to seek his fame and fortune in London town where the streets are paved with gold! Alongside his trusty sidekick Tammy the Cat, Dick is going to need all the help he can get if he’s going to win the day, become the Lord Mayor of London and defeat the evil King Rat! Packed with sparkle, silliness, and side-splitting jokes, Harrogate Theatre’s magical pantomime is a seasonal spectacular and we can’t wait to see you for the greatest adventure of them all!

Tickets range from £13.00pp to £160 for a box.

Ice Skating in Crescent Gardens

1st December 2023 – 7th January 2024

In the last couple of years Harrogate has really upped it’s game for the festive season. Last year we saw the helter-skelter, carousel and ferris wheel return and for the the first time an ice skating rink appeared in Crescent Gardens. In 2023 it’s back and even bigger than last year!

GOOD NEWS! Tickets are cheaper this year at £10pp (plus booking fee), skate hire is free and skate aids are £5. Each ticket will also get you 50% off any hot drink at the on site bar…including mulled wine. Ice Rink website.

The rink will be open every day. 11am – 7.30pm weekdays and 8.45pm on weekends.

Crescent Gardens is also home to fairground rides including a carousel, bungee trampolines, Yorkshire Wrap food stall and a fully stocked après-ski style bar.

Harrogate Christmas Fayre

1st to 17th December 2023, Monday – Saturdays 10am to 7pm, Sundays 11am – 4.30pm.

Bring on the mulled wine! The Harrogate Christmas market is back with 17 days of festive shopping (thats a whole week longer than 2022) with both local and European traders. For more details see the Visit Harrogate site.

Looks like we won’t see the wheel return this Christmas but The Candy Cane Express road train will be back. NEW FOR 2023 will be an open top bus too!! The bus is said to be priced at £1 per adult which includes up to 3 children riding for free!! Both will run on various dates while the fayre is on and make circular trips throughout the town. We didn’t manage to ride the Candy Cane Express last year as it was sooo busy so lets hope this choice of two help alleviate the queues.

Fountains Abbey, The Season of Music & Lights

Every Sat & Sun, 2-5pm, from 25th November to 31st December 2023

Choirs and bands will be performing in the cellarium 2-3pm. You don’t need to book a ticket to visit as Music and Lights is part of normal admission. Adults from £18.00 and Children from £9.00. Find out more and book here.

There is also ‘Carols by Candlelight’ on the 3rd and 10th December. Everyone is welcome to join our Carols by Candle services in the Cellarium. Pick up a candle on your way in and see the flickering glow of hundreds of candles light up the abbey cellarium. Sing along to well know carols accompanied by Ripon City Band. Pre-booking will be essential and more information will follow soon.

St John’s Church Christmas Tree Festival

Saturday 2nd to Saturday 23rd December 2023

Every year more than 70 Christmas trees decorated by local groups and businesses, are displayed in the beautiful St. Johns Church in the heart of Knaresborough. 

Admission to the festival is free, but there will be the opportunity to donate to the church and the event’s chosen charity for this year. Read the latest news on their Facebook page.

Codebreakers Christmas

Thursday 21st & Friday 22nd December 2023 at 6pm. £18.50 per person.

You probably know by now that I love to find activities that suit the awkward pre-teen ages and last year we found a Santa experience that absolutely smashed it out of the park!

Codebreakers Christmas in the teepee at The Cedar Court Hotel is aimed at children aged 7+ and offers an escape room style interactive show with the fabulous Tinsel the Elf. I don’t want to tell you too much as I don’t want to spoil it but my highlight was all the kids laughing at their grown ups during the 12 days of Christmas song.

All 4 of us (2 adults and two 11yr olds) had the best time last year and we will 100% be getting tickets again for this Christmas. I have a feeling its going to sell out FAST!

Enchantica’s who run the Codebreaker Christmas also offer an ‘Elf-Training Workshop’ which is suitable for all ages and a Quiet Elf Show for children with sensory conditions or additional needs.

Ripley Castle Christmas Market

Sunday 10th December, 10am – 3pm

Run by Real Markets, the Christmas Market at Ripley Castle offers free entry into the grounds and gardens at Ripley too which is a brilliant bonus.

Father Christmas will be opening the market and there will be carol singers, crafts and activities for children too.

I often go to this monthly market for the arancini and cake stalls alone, so you can bet I won’t be missing this one!

Baubles & Bevs

26th November, 4-8pm, Cold Bath Clubhouse

Brought to you by PIA Yorkshire and Words of Windsor, ‘Baubles and Bevs’ is a grown up crafting event. You can decorate 2 baubles with their array of paints and accessories all whilst sipping cocktails and catching up with the girls. Tickets are only £7.50!! Book here.

I recently went to their Halloween pumpkin painting event and loved it (see my cute leopard print pumpkin on Instagram) it was really busy but didn’t feel crowded and the themed cocktails went down a treat.

PIA also have a Christmas meet up for local businesses and bloggers at The Disappearing Chin on the 7th December. You can meet likeminded people who are passionate about supporting local businesses through social media. Included in the ticket price (£15) is food from Pizza Social and a glass of fizz.

Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas

Harewood House 8th November 2023 to 7th January 2024

Harewood’s Great Time Travelling Christmas is an immersive, fun and slightly wild festive experience for all of the family.  Adults £17.50-£25 / Children £10.50 – £13.50 / Harewood members FREE

Harewood House’s Christmas event this year offers a completely different but strangely familiar experience, evoking the nostalgia of Christmas past and imagining the Christmas in the future.

There’s also ‘The Adventures of Peppermint’, Harewood’s Father Christmas experience. Adults £30 / Children £32.95 (Discounts available for Harewood members)

“Peppermint the Elf has tumbled into a magical icy world, far away, and we need to work together as a team to bring him back in time to help Father Christmas deliver all of the presents.  A fabulous festive experience which is best enjoyed by children aged 6 months to 8 years.”

So that’s our round up of our favourite, don’t miss activities this Christmas in Harrogate. We only found out about the Christmas tree festival last year so we are still discovering new things. Where are your favourite places to visit in Harrogate at Christmas?

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