From a rich spa history to all singing, all dancing festivals via a handful of outstanding theatres and art galleries, Harrogate has a booming culture scene.
Culture in Harrogate
With a collection of over 2,000 works of art, the Mercer Art Gallery in Swan Road is Harrogate’s largest gallery, exhibiting paintings, prints and drawings from across the 19th and 20th centuries. Included are works by William Powell Frith, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Dame Laura Knight, permanent collections and displays from local artists, as well as national touring exhibitions. Both its spaces – the Main Gallery and the smaller North Gallery – are free to enter, with the gallery closing on Tuesdays.
A town with a rich history, Harrogate boasts two principal museums. Opened in 1842, the Royal Pump Room Museum is at the heart of Harrogate’s famous spa district.
Meanwhile, the Nidderdale Museum in Pateley Bridge is dedicated to the region’s history and includes 11 rooms spanning leisure, industry, religion and more, as well as recreated historic spaces. These include a cobbler’s shop, general store and a schoolroom. Founded in 1975, the museum is entirely run by volunteers and is housed in the old Union Workhouse, which dates back to 1863. An action-packed space, the museum includes rooms dedicated to WWI and WWII, mining and a transport area where you get to see an original penny farthing bike in action.
Yorkshire folk are immensely proud people, which makes the Great Yorkshire Show something to be very excited about. Now into its 160th year, it’s held in the second week of July at the Great Yorkshire Showground: a 250-acre space on the edge of Harrogate and less than two miles from our Harrogate South hotel. One of the largest shows of its kind in the UK, the three-day-long event includes flower shows, several conference and exhibition shows, a range of food and drink outlets, as well as areas dedicated to farm machinery, horses, country pursuits and much more. Advance tickets are available, with free on-site parking and a free bus service running from 7am until 8pm from Harrogate Bus Station.
If flower power is your thing, the Harrogate Flower Shows take place at the end of every April and in mid-September. They welcome nearly 100,000 visitors and more than 1,000 exhibitors. Showcasing plants and flora from designers and landscapers, as well as plant nurseries, there is also a range of competitions for amateurs. Covering a wide range of topics, including bees and bonsais, the four-day Spring show and three-day Autumn show are held at the Yorkshire Showground.
If you’re a fan of whodunit murder mysteries, page-turners and plots with more twists and turns than Silverstone, then you’ll love the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Having recently celebrated its 15th birthday, the festival is one of the highlights of the UK literary circuit and regularly attracts big-name authors, including Lee Child and P.D. James. Tickets sell out in advance for the 16,000-capacity four-day festival, so plan ahead if you’d like to get an insight into your favourite author’s work.