Has to Be Harrogate!

Cause UK has been supporting Harrogate's bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018. As such, we're sharing the reasons why it #HasToBeHarrogate. Do join social media…

Cause UK has been supporting Harrogate’s bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018. As such, we’re sharing the reasons why it #HasToBeHarrogate. Do join social media and Tweet your support! Shortlist is announced in the autumn.

Harrogate has officially bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.

Inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851, with its show-stopping centrepiece, the Crystal Palace in London, the Victorian event attracted more than a quarter of the entire British population. It showcased the miracles and wonders of the mid-19th century.

2018’s version will celebrate great art, culture and design of the North, showcasing local artists, performers, cultural organisations and creative businesses.

It Has To Be Harrogate!


Harrogate To Host

From all creatures great and small at the Great Yorkshire Show to floral fanfares – heck, try find a roundabout without a brilliant flower bed – Harrogate is a beautiful canvas.

When the great crime author PD James visited, she quipped – ‘this would be a wonderful setting for a murder’. It’s a killer. Host to the world’s biggest crime writing festival, JK Rowling chose Harrogate to launch her crime novels –The Silkworm was even set in Harrogate and its locality. Hold on! JK Rowling– only the biggest, global selling author in history!

Our hospitality is warm and welcoming. The Sunday Times voted us the best place to live in the North thanks to being ‘cosmopolitan and classy’ while still retaining our ‘old fashioned Yorkshire charm’.

There’s something in the water

Even our tea inspires queues as visitors snake down Parliament Street for a seat at Bettys. Home to a global brand full of northern soul; Noel Gallagher says he’s “obsessed” with Yorkshire Tea.

Harrogate Spring water quenches thirsts all over the world, thanks to its association to the famed healing spa water qualities, rich in minerals.

When Agatha Christie disappeared in 1926 sparking the biggest manhunt the country had known, which included Sherlock creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, where did she turn up? Harrogate.


‘Doing an Agatha’ became a thing in the travel press: her abandoned car triggered fears for the worst, yet she was found…dancing! On the ballroom of the Swan Hotel.

Fighting Talk 

We beat Paris, Rome and Vienna as the most romantic destination in a Secret Escapes survey.

We are, above all, happy – voted for the third year in the row as the happiest place to live in the UK.

As someone who lives or works, or simply enjoys Harrogate, we are writing to you to be part of the campaign.

A Little Birdie…

We need YOU to join us on social media, to spread the word at that business meeting, over the garden fence, and help show the UK that you back #HarrogatetoHost because #HasToBeHarrogate

Question Time:

How can Harrogate be representative of the North? Does it really reflect its diversity?

Here’s the pitch:

The Great Exhibition of the North aims to showcase all that’s best about the North – where better to host than a town that is considered the best?

We are not claiming to be typical or representative. We are claiming to offer the perfect stage.

We have fantastic venues, a tourism infrastructure.

As at any good party, the Exhibition is not about us, talking about ourselves. It’s about us being a good host. The content of the debate and dancing and best tracks to play at midnight are things we can input on. We’ve put together a suggested play list; but the content of the Exhibition will be a collaboration from towns and cities and creative partners across the North.

A Gallery Town

Our USP is that Harrogate is a great canvas to display all that’s best about the North.

Perfectly proportioned and positioned. A Gateway to the Dales, a short hop to neighbouring cities, equidistant to Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield.

A major conference town with a “Palace of Gold” in the Royal Hall, with 135 restaurants and 15,000 bed spaces. We proved our mettle hosting the 2014 Tour de France with 310,000 people lining the streets.

Hot Ticket

There are amazing open spaces, with 200 acres of The Stray, the world-renowned HRS Harlow Carr Gardens and the 17-acre English Heritage grade II listed Valley Gardens. If you saw the Carabosse Fire Garden in June, which welcomed 20,000 over 3 magical nights, you’ll have experienced what can be achieved with imagination and commitment.

If we win the bid, it’s a £5m investment from government – but it will cost £12m to stage.

Using the Tourism Alliance statistics to identify spend-per-head for domestic tourism, the forecast economic impact will be: £75m.

The impact will cement the future of Harrogate and the surrounding region as a major tourism and cultural destination. It will keep our talent in the north. It will enhance our reputation nationally and internationally. Rome. Paris. New York…… why not, Harrogate?

The competing bidders have made a lot of noise. We need to show we are just as passionate and show the powers that be, we want Harrogate to host.


If you agree, join us on social media. Please Tweet your support to #HarrogatetoHost #HasToBeHarrogate.

We have till 21 July until we find out if Harrogate is shortlisted; the winning venue will be announced in the Autumn.

Get in touch with us if you think you can help raise awareness and support. Please e-mail Sharon@harrogate-festival.org.uk


The Bid Team

(Harrogate Borough Council, Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate International Festivals, The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate Theatre).