More than 1,000 people will descend on the first direct arena, Leeds, on Monday for Welcome to Yorkshire’s annual White Rose Awards – the largest tourism event of its kind in the UK.
Special guests will include champions Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos, silver medal-winning Leeds gymnast, Nile Wilson, fresh from the World Championships, and the cast of Emmerdale.
Singer Lizzie Jones, the widow of rugby league star, Danny Jones, will open the show before guests are treated to the first full play of the anthemic song ‘Yorkshire’ from the musical ‘The Girls,’ written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth and based on Yorkshire’s very own Calendar Girls.
The awards honour the best tourism businesses in the county and cover 16 categories, from Tourism Event of the Year, to Large Visitor Attraction.
Featuring heavily in this year’s nominations is the North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley, which is also a finalist in the Great British High Street competition.
Hoping to take the title of Best Small Attraction is Duncombe Park’s International Centre for Birds of Prey - home to the largest collection of birds of prey in the north of England.
Director Charlie Heap said: “We are over the moon to be nominated as we are quite a small team.
“We are fairly new here and are just coming to the end of our third visitor season - compared with our first season, we have doubled visitor numbers.”
Other Helmsley finalists include the Black Swan Hotel, No 54 bed and breakfast, and the Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa, which welcomed Rebecca Adlington and her husband for their anniversary earlier this year.
In the running for two awards - Large Visitor Attraction and Best Tourism Event - is the York Maze, which has seen a 50 per cent increase in overseas visitors thanks to the creation of the world’s biggest Thunderbird 2, carved into a 15-acre field of maize plants.
Hoping to take the crown for Outstanding Customer Service for the second year in a row is Pontefract’s Wentbridge House Hotel, which has played host to a number of celebrities, including Olly Murs.
In the running for the Arts and Culture Award is Leeds-based art space, The Tetley, while The Coniston Hotel and Country Estate, in Skipton, is hoping to take the crown in the Business Tourism category.
Other nominees include Yorkshire Heart Vineyard and Brewery in Nun Monkton, Brighouse’s ROKT Climbing Gym, Forest Holidays at Keldy, Eric’s Restaurant in Huddersfield, Wold Top Brewery, and Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges, near York.
Another of the finalists Gisborough Hall has recently unveiled invested half a million pounds as part of its ongoing restoration project.
The Grade II-listed country house was fully restored in 2002 following an investment of over £10 million by the Gisborough family, who privately own the hotel itself. The hotel is now a Macdonald Associate hotel.
Kim Yardley, general manger of Gisborough Hall, said: “Gisborough Hall has such a strong reputation and heritage in the Teesside and North Yorkshire areas and it’s vital that we invest in the property to continually surprise our exceptionally loyal clientele and entice new people to the beautiful area. The new bedrooms and public areas have been extremely well received and the coming year will also see more exciting plans unveiled for the hall.”