Here are the best things to see and do in Harrogate, the great places to grab some grub, the perfect places to pitch up for a pint and where to head for some retail therapy. Plus the secret spots you might never have heard of.
The historic North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate offers everything from world-famous tea rooms and Royal Horticultural Society gardens to the 2014 Tour de France.
Things to do in Harrogate
The Tour De France is the world’s largest annual sporting event – and the 2014 edition of the cycling race gets under way in Yorkshire. The Grand Depart Stage One will see cyclists including former world champion Mark Cavendish race from Leeds to Harrogate on 5 July. The competitors will pass through picture-perfect North Yorkshire towns such as Leyburn before racing into Harrogate. The race finishes nearly 20 stages later in Paris at the Champs-Elysees. The Yorkshire Festival 2014 will offer “100 days of art and culture” across the county to celebrate the arrival of the Grand Depart.
Harrogate is known for its horticulture. The Harrogate Flower Show is held every spring, while the spa town has a collection of splendid public gardens. The Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Harlow Carr Garden will capture your imagination with a series of displays which the RHS says “push the boundaries of design”. Attractions include Gardens Through Time, where you can revisit the gardens of 200 years past. Harlow Carr is ranked the fourth best attraction in Harrogate by users of travel review site TripAdvisor.
Shopping in Harrogate
Harrogate town centre is reminiscent of a more genteel, elegant time – with its tree-lined streets, ornate architecture andpavement-café culture.
For shopping you really shouldn’t miss the town’s Montpellier Quarter – a collection of antique dealers, art galleries, salons, and boutiques.
Looking for a designer splurge for your evening out in one of Harrogate’s chic restaurants? Check out the award-winning Lynx womenswear and Lynx menswear, with labels such as DKNY for the girls and Paul Smith for the boys.
Food and drink in Harrogate
If you only eat in one place in Harrogate, it has to be Betty’s Café Tea Rooms. The café’s elegant European design and dainty Swiss pastries have been the perfect match for Harrogate’s opulent streets since the early 20th century.
And since its 1919 opening, Betty’s has become a full-blown Harrogate institution. Sit in the window and watch life drift past in Montpellier Gardens while tucking into a poached salmon sandwich and a speciality tea.
Deano’s Graze and Grill takes the sharing, small-plate principle of tapas and applies it to a wide range of food. It calls the concept “tapas without being typically Spanish”. Enjoy grilled jerk chicken, mango salsa and spiced sweet potato wedges, or meatballs, roast tomato and mozzarella gnocchi.
The Royal Hall Theatre was voted Harrogate’s number one attraction on TripAdvisor. Built in 1903, the Edwardian theatre was called a “palace of glittering gold” by the Harrogate Advertiser newspaper. Enjoy musician Billy Ocean on 3 June, or Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap between 16 June and 21 June.
At the Royal Pump Rooms Museum you can discover Harrogate’s spa town history. Marvel at the oldest sulphur wells in Europe. You can also take in the town’s shops of yesteryear, as well as a collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts.
Spofforth Castle dates back to the 1200s, and watches over the village of Spofforth – a short bus ride from Harrogate. English Heritage says from the Norman Conquest to the 17th century the castle was in the possession of the Percy family - “one of the most important and influential families in northern England”. Although just ruins remain the weight of history will hit you as you amble around the site.
Upcoming events in Harrogate
The Great Yorkshire Show (8 July–10 July) offers everything from fine food and fashion to displays of show-jumping and stunt-riding. And don’t forget the prize-winning cattle.
Past Masters – Midsummer Jukebox Concert (26 June) Relive the Fifties and Sixties with Past Masters – a band that played with greats such as the Everly Brothers. The Beatles, Elvis and more will be dished up at the Harrogate Theatre show.
Art and Yorkshire: from Turner to Hockney (‘til 12 October) See how world-famous artists such as David Hockey and JMW Turner saw Yorkshire – and how it influenced their other work - at this Festival Of Yorkshire exhibition at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery.
Annual Concert of Harrogate Male Choir (31 May) Be wooed by the dulcet tones of the Harrogate Male Voice Choir as they sing with Romsey Male Voice Choir at St Peter’s Church.
Enjoy your trip to Harrogate.