Malton Food Lover’s Festival
It is more than easy to argue that Malton has become the foodie capital of North Yorkshire over recent years. Part of this is as a result of the ever popular Food Lover’s Market, that takes place on the second Saturday of each month – however, the star attraction is the annual Food Lover’s Festival and this weekend marks its return.
The star-studded line up features the likes of Antonio Carluccio, Tom Parker Bowles, Jay Raynor and Yorkshire-based chefs Andrew Pern and James McKenzie. This year as well sees a splash of royalty as the festival features an appearance from The Prince of Wales personal chef Visen Anenden. There are demonstrations and workshops aplenty throughout the weekend too.
There is a wealth of treats you can pick up from the many exhibitors that line the market place of Malton, with Yorkshire cakes, cheeses, meats, preserves and drinks all available – this is one Food Festival that is definitely worth checking out.
Dewsbury Beer Festival
An ale lover’s paradise, this weekend sees the return of the Dewsbury Beer Festival.
As in previous years there is a wide selection of ales primarily promoting the best that Yorkshire has to offer. In addition with the Cider Bar, Beers of The World and Theme Bar there will be something to tempt and titillate all palates. This year there is also the “Spotters” Bar with 20 unusual beers new to the district from all over Great Britain. This year’s Theme Bar “The Steamed Pigs” will be in honour of the great Dewsbury Rugby League team who won the Championship 40 years ago and will boast 20 beers linked to the players of that great day.
It’s not just beer though as entertainment will be provided from three highly popular bands; Blackstone Edge, Dewsbury Music Centre Swing Band and Fat Stanley. So get your dancing shoes on and head down to Dewsbury. Cheers!
A Vintage Weekend!
Yorkshire based company Now and Then Events, curators of ‘Britain Does Vintage’ have an extra special weekend planned. Two days of vintage! Saturday sees the return of ‘Harrogate Does Vintage’, in its new home, St George Hotel. Then on Sunday its ‘York Does Vintage’ the original ‘Britain Does Vintage’ fair set in York’s finest grade 1 listed building, The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.
Bursting to the seams with vintage delights, this promises to be a weekend you really do not want to miss!
Allam British Open Squash Championships
Although not starting until Monday, all eyes will be on Hull as the Allam British Open Squash Championships kicks off. The world’s best players head to Yorkshire, home to three-time British Open Champion Nick Matthew and former world no.1 James Willstrop, to compete at the KC Stadium in Kingston Upon Hull. Running from 20-26 May this year’s tournament, held for the first ever time in a football stadium, is graded at the highest level as a Platinum World Series Event and promises to be a fantastic spectacle building on the success of last season at the O2 Arena.
The sport’s oldest tournament also welcomes the world’s best female players to East Yorkshire including Malaysia’s Nicol David, the pre-eminent female player of her generation, who has won the tournament a stunning four times.
Moscow State Circus
Last but my no means least, the fantastic Moscow State Circus is hitting Hull (22-27 May) and Halifax (29 May-2 June) with its latest & greatest production to date, PARK GORKOGO.
Set in the mystical centre of Moscow’s cultural & artistic quarter ‘PARK GORKOGO’ (Gorky Park) is the perfect back drop for what is; undoubtedly the greatest & most famous circus on earth. Don’t miss this amazing show, created especially for its first ever European tour.
On top of this, to celebrate it coming to Yorkshire, we’ve got a fantastic Kids Go Free offer for you to take advantage of.
This blog was written by Digital Marketing Executive Tom Ashurst. You can follow Tom on twitter @tom_ashurst
Unless you’ve been hiding away in a cave for the last 6 months, it can’t have escaped your attention that a small bike race will be hitting the county next summer and the spotlight will be on Yorkshire more than ever. After a few hours in the gym, it has become apparent to me that, even with the strictest of regimes, it is unlikely that I am going to get the call from Sir David at Team Sky. Luckily for me – and anyone else in my shoes – I discovered a small but perfectly formed team, nestled in the Dales and willing to take me on board.
Yorkshire Trike Tours, led by husband and wife duo Jason and Judith, is a brand new Yorkshire business providing tours throughout the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Last week I was lucky to be taken on one of their tours, specifically number 21. Tour 21 is aptly named ‘Le Tour Yorkshire’, taking its riders on a 110 mile trip over four and a half hours, following the route that the Tour de France riders will take on Day 1 of the 2014 Grand Départ.
As a Yorkshire born, Yorkshire bred boy who works at Welcome to Yorkshire, I felt confident in saying stating that I understand more than most what Yorkshire has to offer. However, throughout the duration of this tour all that kept coming to my mind was a quote from Le Tour director, Christian Prudhomme: “I knew Yorkshire, but I did not realise that it was so gorgeous” (read quote with a French accent and it sounds even better). Passing through countless stunning towns and villages, like Hawes and Bainbridge, cruising through Bishopdale and seeing natural waterfalls on our ascent up the Dales, reminds you why visitor numbers for holidays in Yorkshire are constantly increasing.
In short, throughout this trike tour there are countless moments where you can’t help but be astounded by the stunning beauty that is before you. Buttertubs Pass in particular provides a panoramic moment of such class that it will stay with me for a long time. It is without doubt that Le Tour de France next summer will showcase Yorkshire in such a way that will have untold benefits for the county for decades to follow.
So what about the trike? Yorkshire Trike Tour’s leaflets describe it as ‘like no other experience – it has the freedom and exhilaration of a motorcycle with the safety and comfort of a car.’ This is a great description. Feeling the sun & wind, breathing the fresh Yorkshire air and hearing the bleats of frolicking lambs in the surrounding fields makes for a truly authentic experience and you couldn’t feel safer in the trike. Jason, our Ilkley-born driver, is knowledgeable and passionate about the Dales and his enthusiasm for showing it off is very apparent. Like all good Yorkshiremen he is clearly proud of where he comes from. On top of this, the trike itself is a gleaming thing of beauty.
All in all, Yorkshire Trike Tours have stumbled across a winning formula here, tying in Yorkshire’s unbeatable scenery with an alternative, fun way of seeing it makes for a really great experience. With tours lasting from anywhere between one and six hours, you can have a short, sharp blast or you can, like us, really make a day of it. Whatever you choose to do, wrap up warm (it’s chilly at the top!), take your camera and enjoy your day in the Dales.
This blog was written by Digital Marketing Executive, Tom Ashurst. You can follow Tom on Twitter @Tom_Ashurst.
The Dales Festival of Food & Drink
If you enjoy food, drink and are looking for a place to go this bank holiday weekend, you need to head for Leyburn in Wensleydale. The three day Dales Festival of Food and Drink is a feast of gastronomic delights with a distinctly local flavour
The Festival is compromised by three fundamental elements: Food, Farming and Fun. This is why the festival is visited by over 12,000 visitors from all over the region. With over 80 stalls featuring local food products and many outside stands, visitors will find something for everyone.
There are the award-winning beers within the Real Ale Festival with around 40 small breweries represented. The Farming for Food events include talks on beekeeping and demonstrations of farming skills such as sheep shearing. To entertain, the festival brings together live cookery demonstrations from the region’s top chefs, a ‘Speakers Corner’ featuring established authors and speakers. In addition there is a range of rides and entertainments for children and young people.
Formed in 2002, the festival was a response to the Foot and Mouth epidemic and is organised by the Leyburn and Mid-Wensleydale Partnership Ltd, a registered charity. Since its inception, the festival has generated over £150,000 of financial surplus that it contributes towards community causes. These funds have been distributed to local organisations which have ranged geographically throughout Wensleydale. They range from Christmas lights and small Rotary Club initiatives, to village hall expenditure and helping local music and school projects.
The Dales Festival of Art
Sticking with “The Dales” theme, this weekend is the inaugural Dales Festival of Art.
This festival is a showcase for the varied activities and skills of the artists and creative industries of the Yorkshire Dales. The work of over 60 artists is on show and the diverse mix is typical of what the region has to offer, with contemporary and more traditional arts complementing each other perfectly.
There is lots to see and do – browse in the Artists Market, check out the exhibitions or join in one of the drop-in workshops to create something unique to take home.
Hop on the free bus which travels on a loop from Wensleydale Galleries to the Sculpture Park and follow the trail around the town. Don’t forget to watch out for artwork hidden in shops and cafes for you to find and keep!
North Yorkshire Moors Railway 40th Anniversary!
May the 1st marked a historic day in the history of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It was a day of celebrating the NYMR’s illustrious 40 years since the official Royal Opening by the Duchess of Kent in 1973. The anniversary special train from Whitby to Pickering was hauled by K1 No 62005, assisted by one of the engines that worked the Royal Train – newly over-hauled Lambton Tank No 29.
The festivities continue this weekend featuring demonstration goods trains, Grosmont to Goathland Local Trains and lots more! On bank holiday Monday you can enjoy a special Pie and Pea Supper whilst being steam hauled along the Esk Valley route to Battersby by B1 class locomotive 61264.
Otherwise on Tuesday the 7th of May you can treat yourself to a journey on the Old Gentlemen’s Saloon. NYMR are recreating the nostalgia of the NER branch line workings by running two special saloon trains during the Spring Steam Gala. During this running the train will feature the single NER Saloon No 1 coach which featured as the “Old Gentleman’s Coach” in the film “The Railway Children”
To conclude the festival next weekend on the 11th and 12th of May, a model railway exhibition will be on display in the Learning Centre on Platform 2. This features Haymarket Cross (as seen in Hornby & BRM magazines) Rumbling Bridge, Heron Lane & Glengary.
Anybody in the area is encouraged to visit the railway during this 10 day event and take part in a celebration of locomotives that have contributed to the history of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Gothic Weekend in Whitby!
Whitby Goth Weekend is an event held in April and October which has grown into one of the most popular gothic events in the world, attracting all generations from across the UK and around the world.
This twice-yearly event held at the Whitby Pavilion has grown into one of the most popular Gothic events in the world, attracting all generations from across the UK and around the world.
As well as Goths, there are Punks, Steampunks, Emos, Bikers, Metallers and all manner of weird and wonderful characters, all of which are welcomed through the Pavilion’s doors.
This is a rare opportunity to see live International acts, from as far away as the USA and Australia, along with dancing, drinking, eating and shopping at the massive popular Bizarre Bazaar Goth Market.
Although referred to as a weekend it includes events during the day on Friday and Saturday as well as events on the Thursday, Sunday and Monday. These include additional club nights and markets.
Whilst gearing up for the night time events, throughout the town Goths and non-Goths alike, from babies to octogenarians parade around in weird and wonderful costumes and it all makes for a wonderful and friendly atmosphere, to be enjoyed by all.
The Harrogate Spring Flower Show
The Harrogate Flower Show is widely regarded as the UK’s largest and most prestigious independent gardening events. The 2013 spring show promises the perfect day out for garden lovers with beautiful new show gardens, a vast range of plants and garden-related products, expert advice and demonstrations, plus the UK’s biggest floral art marquee, a cookery theatre, crafts & gifts and specialist food outlets.
The 2013 version offers so much for the everyday gardener. With nearly 20 beautiful show gardens as well as over 100 of the UK’s top plant nurseries from across the country to creating spectacular displays this Spring. You will find thousands of garden-related products, with hundreds of exhibitors offering everything from conservatories to fruit cages.
Harrogate Spring Flower Show also hosts the UK’s biggest floral art marquee with 100s of beautiful, intricate works of art created by flower clubs, flower arrangers and florists, plus spectacular large scale displays.
Kitchen Garden Live offers visitors fruit and vegetable growing demonstrations, with advice on growing your own produce whatever your space and expertise. There is also advice for culinary inspiration, in the cookery theatre as talented chefs demonstrate delicious dishes featuring local spring produce.
The show offers fun activities for all the family. Children can take part in crafting, planting, spotting and much, much more.
The Harrogate Spring Flower Show is the perfect day out for all garden lovers and makes the perfect gift for someone special.
Marsden Cuckoo Day has been a well celebrated local event for over a decade with 2013 being the 21st running of the annual event.
But why the cuckoo? You may ask. Marsden’s love for this feathered friend stemmed from the fact that the spring and sunshine always came along with its arrival. In days gone by, the people of the village reputedly built a huge wall to try to prolong the cuckoo’s visit.
For those who aren’t aware, Marsden is a village in West Yorkshire with a population of just over 3000. The village is surrounded by three moors, Marsden Moor, Meltham Moor with Saddleworth Moor also being very close.
Marsden Cuckoo Day is an annual highlight within Marsden, and incredibly the whole village takes part! This community spirit creates a brilliant atmosphere and great weekend, with artistic workshops, an all-day craft fair, banner-making, a village procession, maypole and Morris dancing. The day culminates with a lively evening dance at the Mechanics Institute.
Marsden has many impressive institutions and landmarks including the Church of St Bartholomew’s and the Parochial Hall making Marsden full of history with beautiful buildings. Marsden is also the home of the Marsden Silver Prize Band, a top level brass band making Marsden rich with beautiful architecture and culture.
So, celebrate the Yorkshire sun by heading down to this quirky festival!
This spring the National Trust is opening the doors to more than 200 of its houses and gardens for free for an entire weekend! On the Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 April families across the UK will have the opportunity to explore some of Britain’s best landscapes together, without stretching the purse strings. With winter behind us, the Free Weekend provides an opportunity to reconnect with the great outdoors and enjoy the charity’s picturesque gardens and houses across the UK.
Whether it’s building a den in the woods at Nostell Priory or looking for the signs of spring at Fountains Abbey & Studley, the National Trust has lots of activities on offer to guarantee a weekend of family fun. Here are just some of the free things to be enjoyed at Trust places this weekend:
- Beningbrough Hall, York
- East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley
- Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, Ripon
- Nostell Priory & Parkland, Wakefield
- Nunnington Hall, Helmsley
- Treasurer’s House, York
As well as giving families the opportunity to spend quality time together in fun spaces, the Free Weekend also removes financial concerns usually associated with great days out. You can’t say fairer than that.
Fancy doing something truly unique this weekend, then why not try a Nature Safari? Each Nature Safari is designed specifically for people wishing to see and experience memorable wildlife surrounded by stunning scenery.
Each safari, led by a local wildlife expert, will be in a small group environment to ensure no pressure is put on the wildlife and give everyone in the group the best chance to share the experience.
No two tours will be the same. With changes of location and season, new and unexpected nature encounters will happen on every tour.
Join in at Blacktoft Sands nature reserve, as the reserve comes alive during spring. Look forward to watching the avocets nesting on the lagoons, displaying birds of prey and perhaps hearing the bittern boom.
The reserve will be alive with bird song as the breeding season gets underway – listen to the warblers that come here from Africa to breed every year.
Drop in throughout the day when there will be guided walks, guides in hides, children activities and refreshments.
For one week in April, starting on Saturday 20th April, the Old Bath House will become an artist’s studio, where Yorkshire artists Nikky Corker and Jane Refern will be working. Nikky will be adding to her collection of ‘Gardening Girlfriends’ paintings, taking inspiration from her sketchbooks and Harlow Carr. The local painters will be happy to chat while they work, so feel free to ask any questions
Finally, here’s what some of our twitter followers are up to:
@Robinwbarrett: @Welcome2Yorks Tootling up to Ribblehead Viaduct tomorrow to photograph Flying Scotsman Rally, 100 pre-war cars, then back Via Hawes – xlnt!
@PQAHarrogate: @Welcome2Yorks Pauline Quirke academy in harrogate launches tomorrow at 09.45 at harrogate grammar school
@Zoe_Parker: @Welcome2Yorks going to see #Efterklang tonight at #halifax minster and tomorrow something from #transform in #leeds
This blog was written by Tom Ashurst, you can follow him on twitter here.
Ever wondered what the gruesome realities of life in Yorkshire during the Middle ages was like? If so, head to Barley Hall, where award winning children’s author Terry Deary is exploring what life (and death) was like in York during the Middle Ages.
Aided by archaeological evidence and real-life costumes, the author of Horrible Histories exhibits how the people of York were treated, cured and killed medical practitioners of the time.
Barley Hall has also incorporated a special theme to their shop, where you can buy your gory goods as a memento of the day.
Bradford’s UNESCO City of Film accreditation means that the 19th Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF) will be shared farther and wider across the
city than ever before. The Festival will again team up with Virgin Media, showing the size and reputation of the event.
Having taking the cliché “Something for Everyone” and cleverly twisted it to reflect a more tempting cliché of “Everything for someone” this festival really does appeal to everyone.
The theme this year is around the centenary of Indian Film which was born in Bombay on 3rd May 1913. A large chunk of the festival programme is dedicated to this “inexhaustibly fertile source of astonishing films”.
The festival is from 11th April and runs until 21st April and takes place at various venues around Bradford.
Not only is Yorkshire home to some of the countries most talented sports men and women; we’re also a creative lot too!
This Sunday sees over 30 Yorkshire based local artisans come together in the Grade I listed building, The Merchant Adventurers Hall, York.
From Yorkshire…With Love is a NEW vibrant shopping event brought to you by Now and Then Events (who have recently being shortlisted for THREE Tourism Awards)! The Merchant Adventurers Hall will be absolutely bursting to the seams with locally produced unique, quality, handmade products!
Alongside the many independent businesses selling contemporary crafts, artisan foods, vintage homewares and affordable art, there will also be a Yorkshire tearoom serving afternoon teas as well as many free workshops running throughout the day, including cupcake decorating, pinboards, crochet for beginners, card making and much, much more.
All set in the stunning medieval Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, visitors will be able to marvel in the spectacular ‘Great Hall’ and ‘Undercroft’ voted by Trip Advisor as one of York’s top10 attractions.
It’s set to be a wonderful day out for just £1 (or FREE for York Card Holders); there really is something for everyone!
The long overdue thawing of the Easter snow this weekend encouraged a group of us to head out to Otley Chevin for a Saturday morning stroll. Although the shaded areas were still icy, the 5 adults, 4 under-10s (and 1 dog) in our group managed to walk far enough work up quite an appetite and the consensus was that we had earned a visit to the Cheerful Chilli.
Located at the side of East Chevin Road just opposite a couple of Chevin car parks, the Cheeful Chilli is something of a local treasure. Being in an old farmhouse it may look a bit ramshackle from the outside but it’s an extremely well run operation which serves wholesome home-cooked vegetarian meals. What we’d really come along for though, was tea and cake. Between us we went for the Chocolate Nemesis, Cheesecake and fruit scones along with hot chocolates and pots of tea, all of which were excellent and quickly polished off.
As an extra bonus, for anyone used to city centre chain coffee shop prices, the bill at the Cheerful Chilli also come as a very pleasant surprise!
You can visit The Cheerful Chilli at their website below:
As a child that grew up on the doorstep of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, with a genuine absorption for Locomotives, there is something about railways that appeals to my juvenile side.
I think it started when I received a Hornby Railway set as a Christmas present, and stemmed from there. It was more than the grand sight of the magnificent engines powering down the tracks, it was the incredible noise as they approached, passed and sped off down the line and the distinct smell of the steam given off. Something that can’t be replicated by modern commuter trains.
For those that don’t know, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is probably most famous for its role in the 1970 film version of Edith Nesbit’s story The Railway Children. It is heritage like this, combined with the appeal to family young and old, that makes KWVR a must visit this Easter holiday.
The festivities start this Friday (29th March) and continue until Monday 14th April, with Easter themed games and competitions. Make sure you keep your eyes out for the Railway Rabbit though, who will be delivering surprises and causing mischief! The Easter Express promises a great fun for all, and where else can you take the kids for a great time this Easter, for only £1?
The Easter period is synonymous for chocolate, and after giving it up for lent – why not rekindle your appetite for chocolate with a visit to York Chocolate Festival?
The home of Terry’s and Rowntree among others, York has a rich history in the production of Yorkshire’s favourite confectionary. 6 million Kit Kat bars a day are produced in York, explaining the lingering aroma of chocolate that envelopes the city. It is this backdrop that gives York Chocolate Festival a real identity.
Not only can you learn about the history and heritage of chocolate in York, but you can also learn how to make chocolates, from truffles to your own moulded Easter Egg!
Starting on Thursday 28th March and running over the Easter weekend culminating on Easter Monday you can wet your appetite by taking a look at the video below!
Northern Ballet bring F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic Novel “The Great Gatsby” to the stage in Yorkshire next week, portraying life in 1920’s New York.
For those that haven’t read the novel, the tale is one of lavishness and indulgence that turns to loneliness and tragedy. Stunning sets and gorgeous costumes accompanied by music from BAFTA winning composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett CBE means this story is stylishly brought to life here is Yorkshire.
The Northern Ballet Sinfonia are documenting their unparalleled reputation for telling stories through dance at Hull New Theatre from Wednesday 3rd of April until Saturday 6th April. If you need any more convincing, check out the excerpts from The Great Gatsby below.
Spring traditionally signals the end of the long winter months and welcomes the blossoming of warmer times ahead, in theory. As proven over the past weeks and months nothing is quite guaranteed climate wise, but for the farming world, life must go on.
Spring, and Easter in particular is blossoming time in the animal kingdom, with many young animals being born. Cannon Hall Farm oversee the birth of various animals and hope that you want to share the magic of birth with them.
“Lambing live” is one of the most popular events that Cannon Hall Farm put on. Not only do you get the chance to oversee a birth live, at peak lambing time but you get the chance to chat with the shepherds and enjoy a nice cuppa while waiting for the new arrivals!
This event takes place on Thursday the 28th March, but the farm has lots of Easter activities running from now until 14th April. Does sheep, ferret or hamster racing take your fancy? Or what about a bird of prey display?
This blog was powered by @richiewear13
As always, there’s plenty going on in Yorkshire, and this weekend is no exception. Here’s three treats being served up in North Yorkshire to head to this weekend:
Malton Food Lovers Market
On Saturday, from 10am- 3pm, the monthly Malton Food Lovers Market returns to give visitors an opportunity to sample the finest local produce, as they strive to become the best ‘high quality food market’ in Yorkshire. Join in this month’s market, held at the newly-refurbished Milton Rooms, located in Malton’s historic marketplace for this month’s Easter special. Find something special for Mother’s Day and pick up your Chocolate eggs and Simnel cakes as well as your other seasonal Easter goodies. As with every Malton Food Lovers Market there will be a unique tasting table and everyone who attends will get to take home a special recipe from the event to try at home. Parking and entry is free so it’s an absolute must for any foodie.
York Does Vintage
Blow off those winter cobwebs and get yourself down to the Merchant Adventurers Hall this Saturday! As usual York Does Vintage ticks all of the boxes! Now we’re not just talking clothes folks … there will be a huge array of vintage items on offer, think crockery, furniture, vintage prints, kitchenalia, homewares, jewellery, accessories – THE LOT!
If vintage isn’t quite your thing but good food, dancing and workshops are, then you are still in for a treat. Pop along to our signature tearoom – serving the very best cakes, cupcakes, soups! Try your hand (or feet should we say) at Lindy-hop dancing, join Sian and Julian on the hour between 11 – 3 and they’ll soon have you doing the jitter bug! Throughout the day there will be a number of workshops running! Drop by and make vintage bows and hanging hearts (no need to book) with Sewing Vintage and Ayesha’s Handmade crafts – Perfect for Mothers Day!
NEW FOR 2013 – Vintage fellas zone! Enjoy a mug of coffee while watching old footie matches and Doctor Who re-runs!
There really is something for everyone. As a special treat too, if you take along the voucher below, you can get in for free!
York’s Chocolate Story
If sweet treats are more your thing pop along to York’s Chocolate Story this weekend (9th& 10th March) as they will be hosting at celebrative weekend in honour of Black Magic chocolate’s 80th anniversary. The event will give visitors the opportunity to explore the luxury and elegance of Black Magic and see fresh filled chocolates being hand-made as they would have been in the past in their chocolatier-led demonstrations. Visitors will also get the chance to create their own chocolate – an ideal gift for Mother’s day. The attraction is open from 10am until 6pm (last tour admission at 5pm) and prices are £7.50 for children (aged 5- 15), £8.50 for students and senior citizens and £9.50 for adults. Family tickets (2 adults& 2 children) are £28. Best prices are available online.
This blog post was written by Welcome to Yorkshire intern Llauren Magnay
London versus Yorkshire is a familiar family battleground in our household. Having grown up in the south I moved north a number of years ago and now seem to spend holidays and birthdays performing missionary work for my adopted homeland, spreading the word about how wonderful the world is just up the A1. So when my younger brother and his family announced they would come to Yorkshire for a weekend I knew I had to back those bold statements with something substantive, something that they could not contend was ‘better down south’.
I considered my options and shamelessly decided to appeal to the sentiment of his children with a trip to see Santa at Stockeld Park. It was a masterstroke. The Park, between Wetherby and Harrogate, is an adventure playground for all things festive. The ice rink (real ice) was busy with bodies large and small, the Nordic skiing track was full of dads pretending it was exercise and the Enchanted Forest glinted in the distance; but it was the grotto that everyone wanted to visit. Being voted the best in Britain in 2010 means people travel miles for their chance to meet Santa at Stockeld.
His house sits low at the fringe of Forest, lights twinkling and reindeer grazing. Families wrapped in hats, gloves and feelgood smiles passed us as we approached, their children fizzing over with excitement. Santa’s elves welcomed us into the log cabin full of personal touches such as his tweed jackets, walking sticks and check-lists of what makes good girls and good boys and what, crucially, makes them bad. Having made a mental note of what I needed to do to get back in the good books we were invited to enter Santa’s personal study, complete with woodburner, decorations and the man himself, sat in a rocking chair all luxurious whiskers with matching ruby red suit and cheeks – the children’s eyes widened in amazement.
Without spoiling the surprise too much our children left the log cabin clutching a precious early Christmas present which has subsequently shot to the top of the important toys list in both our houses. We left Santa behind and explored the Enchanted Forest at its dusky best, finding fairies, sparkling chariots, talking trees and a lake of thirsty polar bears. As we arrived home with sleeping children in our arms my brother nodded his southern approval for this northern gem of an experience. “Magical,” he said. “That was magical.”