Things to do in Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Harrogate in beautiful North Yorkshire is renowned for its floral beauty and elegant spa buildings, which include The Royal Pump Room Museum, Mercer Gallery and Royal Baths. It is also a conference and exhibition destination of international standing and the influx of visitors yielded by this contributes to a modern, cosmopolitan feel.
The Harrogate International centre is formally recognised as one of the most important and influential conference and exhibition centres in Europe. Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, the centre is surrounded by first class restaurants, shops and accommodation as well as Harrogate's famous gardens. The Valley Gardens provide skilfully orchestrated displays all through the year, often incorporating unusual and rare blooms. The fully restored, domed Sun Pavilion which was recently reopened by HM the Queen, provides an elegant setting for functions, tea dances and live entertainment. Other attractions here include tennis courts, a crazy golf course, model boating pond and children's playground. Beyond the Valley Gardens and lush pine woods, discover Harlow Carr Botanical Gardens, home to the Northern Horticultural Society.
Harrogate's premier spa building, the Royal Pump Room, is built over the site of the strongest sulphur spring in England and the water can still be sampled today. The museum features some original Royal Bath treatments, such as the combination Bath and Peat Bath, as well as fine examples of ceramics, jewellery and costume. Nearby is The Mercer Art Gallery, originally opened in 1806 as The Promenade room. This houses the Permanent Fine Art Collection, plus two lively exhibition spaces and there is a year long programme of workshops, talks and other activities. The sumptuous Victorian Turkish baths provide an unrivalled opportunity for indulgence and are one of only a few remaining examples of their kind.
Beautifully landscaped gardens and graceful architecture will forever be hallmarks of Harrogate. But there have been some new developments recently, including imaginative makeovers for several main streets. A number of stylish cafe bars have introduced a little 'pavement café' culture to Harrogate. The town is dotted with friendly pubs, wine and cafe bars which offer welcome breaks from the important business of shopping and sightseeing. Cafes and tea rooms of the highest quality, offer local specialities and several first class establishments serve a wide range of cuisine, from around the world. There is also a good choice of lively night clubs all within the town centre.
The cosmopolitan feel of Harrogate is added to by the fashionable boutiques, arts and crafts shops and exclusive design houses, which complement the high street names. Harrogate is the 'antiques Centre of the North', where a veritable treasure trove of antiques and curiosities await discovery. When it comes to entertainment, there is a wealth of choice in Harrogate. The Theatre on Oxford Street has a new vibrant image, showcasing the best from Yorkshire and around the country. Look out for other performances and concerts by international stars, which are regularly staged within the Royal Hall and Harrogate International Centre.
There is a long tradition of colourful street entertainment, culminating each summer with the onset of the Harrogate International Festival. The Festival's opening night parade and Fiesta in the Valley Gardens are eagerly awaited, while the programme always includes artists of the highest repute. Now in its 35th year, it has been described by The Times as 'the North of England's leading arts festival'.
Health and fitness facilities in Harrogate include the brand new Hydro complex, where amongst first rate wet and dry facilities are a 25m eight lane pool, dance and fitness studios, creche and catering facilities. Harrogate has its own ten pin bowling alley and for golfers, there are excellent courses at Crimple Valley and Rudding Park.