A World Class Welcome: Harrogate
The Victorian spa town of Harrogate was a sparkling host to the Tour de France during the grandest of Grand Départs in 2014 and went on to welcome the Tour de Yorkshire in 2017 and 2019, making it the perfect central location for the UCI Road World Championships.
Situated just to the east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it’s the perfect mix of classy heritage, modern style, lush gardens and green spaces.
The town first found fame with the discovery of its therapeutic spring water back in the 16th century and was known as 'The English Spa' in the Georgian era. After decades of steady growth, Harrogate started to boom with the opening of its luxurious Turkish Baths in 1897. Now fully restored to their original glory, with Moorish architecture, Islamic arches, and vibrant glazed brickwork, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy a traditional hot sauna or rejuvenating dip in the plunge pool alongside the very best contemporary treatments.
Built in 1842 and once serving 1500 glasses of water each morning, the Royal Pump Room now houses a fascinating museum which brings Harrogate's spa history to life. Expect a guide to the bizarre spa treatments used by the Victorians, Europe's strongest sulphur well and a tasting session of the town's famous mineral water.
A perfect shopping destination, Harrogate’s pretty streets and handsome tree lined avenues are packed full of quirky boutiques as well as all the best high street stores. The Montpellier Quarter is famed for its antique treasures, high-end fashion, charming arts and crafts and bustling markets, while Cold Bath Road is buzzing with independent shops and trendy ale bars.
Harrogate is renowned for its smart little tea rooms and classy cafés spilling out onto the pavements. The celebrated Bettys tea rooms was established in the town in 1919 and to this day - a hundred years later - queues still form for its glorious afternoon teas.
There is no shortage of restaurants in the town with more than 130 to choose from, representing kitchens from every corner of the world and to suit every purse. It is no wonder that big food events like The BBC Good Food Show and Cake and Bake are regular visitors to Harrogate.
Famed for its festivals, there’s culture a plenty in Harrogate with venues like the Royal Hall Theatre and the Harrogate Convention Centre both host internationally acclaimed events, from comedy to classical and popular music. Harrogate Theatre also offers a varied programme, including the annual Comedy Festival every autumn. Every year, enthusiasts flock to town for world class festivals including the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, The Gilbert and Sullivan Festival and Harrogate International Festivals.
Harrogate is awash with parks and gardens too. Nestling right next to the western centre of the town but feeling like a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the high street, you can escape to the stunning Valley Gardens where you will find the striking art deco Sun Pavilion. With 17 acres of park, woodland and floral displays, it’s beautiful at any time of the year.
Head just a bit further out of town and you’ll find the stunning RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Dominated by water, stone and woodlands, it has some truly breathtaking plant displays and is the perfect place to wind down with a relaxing meander around the grounds. It has more mineral springs than any other known place - with 36 in one field alone. Harrogate Flower Show has a Spring and Autumn edition, and both are packed full of flowery delights to brighten up your day!
The perfect place to soak up the atmosphere and keep an eye on all the race action in Harrogate is at the Fan Zone on the Stray. With free entry for the full duration of the Championships you will be able to catch watch every race on the big screen and also see every medal presentation on the main stage.
The action gets underway on Saturday 21st with the opening ceremony following the Para-cycling races. But it's not all about the cycling - there’s a full programme of family friendly activities and entertainment in the Fan Zone from 10am until 4pm on both weekends of the competition.
From fairy sing-a-longs to Storm Trooper meet and greets, and animal stage shows where children can hold exotic reptiles and insects to soft play, bike themed crafts, face painting and body art.
Children of all ages can learn some bush craft skills at the pop-up Forest School in an area open all day and hosted by qualified Forest School practitioners. The Flower Fairy Garden is open all day too where fairies will help youngsters make magical wands.
For under 4’s there will be an award winning educational messy play area featuring painting, play dough and dance.
A must for Harry Potter fans, Europe’s best Daniel Radcliffe look a-like will host a Hogwarts themed magic show on stage at 3 pm daily with a second daily show from Magic Tom - One of the fields very best family magicians.
There’ll also be a ‘stretch tent’ if it rains, loads of cycle pop up shops offering advice and cycling experiences, and a whole variety of food and drink outlets, including a bar.
Finally, look out for the very collectable commemorative postcards from the spectator engagement volunteers across the championships!
A once-in-a-generation event, the UCI Road World Championships take place between 22-29 September, preceded by the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International on 21st September. Harrogate is the ultimate destination for all races during the nine-day extravaganza of world-class cycling.