Major events firm agrees to take over organisation of Christmas market in Harrogate with nine-day festival - but location still unconfirmed

A national events firm has revealed plans to bring a Christmas market to a new location in Harrogate this December after the existing organisers were refused a licence over health and safety concerns.

The market was previously held on Montpellier Hill

Market Place Europe - which is headquartered near Manchester - said it wanted to host a nine-day event between 3 and 12 December after holding talks with Harrogate Council, which last month barred 2019 organiser Brian Dunsby from running the market at its usual spot on Montpellier Hill.

Welcoming the news, Gemma Rio, head of destination management at the council, said: “I am pleased to see that Market Place Europe has submitted an expression of interest to hold a Christmas market in Harrogate town centre this December.

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“To have interest from an organisation with vast experience of operating successful markets across the UK is a great opportunity for the district.

“We look forward to working with them, and our local partners, to ensure this event is delivered safely and drives visitors into the town.”

The location of the new Christmas market has not yet been confirmed - and organisers behind the Montpellier Hill event were refused a licence over the risks of overcrowding and Covid, the council previously said.

It also said an event management plan “did not fully take into account” evacuation procedures and counter-terrorism measures.

Brian Dunsby, who along with colleagues created the event on Montpellier Hill which was called off last year due to Covid, met with council officials on Tuesday with hopes of resolving these issues.

However, the talks failed and the meeting was followed swiftly by an announcement from the council that it had begun discussions with the new organisers, although it added it was still open to Mr Dunsby submitting alternative plans.

Speaking after this, Mr Dunsby said: “We are amazed at the council’s rapid publication of such a hostile statement following our positive meeting.

“We felt that the discussion was promising and we undertook to revisit all the outstanding issues raised by the police, fire and ambulance services following the last actual event in 2019.

“We have undertaken to revise the event plan and resubmit it for further assessment which we hope will be positive.

“If the council wishes to invite an alternative organiser to put on Christmas festivities in the town centre during December then that would be up to them.”

Described as a “visually charming festive market operated by Market Place Europe,” the new event will feature up to 45 traders from countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, Spain and Italy, as well as local businesses.

Coun Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “From what I’ve seen, Market Place Europe have years of experience hosting events. So I know they’ll bring an abundance of knowledge to Harrogate this Christmas.

“You’ve only got to look at the photos online from markets they’ve hosted in major cities such as Belfast and Glasgow to see what they’ll bring is a first-class offering.”