THE countdown to Christmas is officially underway in one North Yorkshire town.

Christmas lights around Harrogate town centre are now starting to dazzle for the first time, with more streets benefitting from this year’s display of more than 100,000 LED lightbulbs.

And this Sunday (November 21),will see the launch of the Business Improvement District’s Father Christmas experience - where children will be able to visit Santa in his grotto.

The Crown Hotel will become the home of magical interactive elf-training sessions, which run for 14 days and finish on Christmas Eve.

Additionally, a helter skelter, ferris wheel and Victorian carousel, located adjacent to the war memorial and in Crescent Gardens also spring into life this weekend.

Harrogate BID chairperson Sara Ferguson said: “Because of the uncertainty of Covid we decided not to have a big Christmas Lights switch on. Instead, and over a number of nights, we have been powering on individual streets, and by Friday they will all be on.

“I’m delighted to say this year’s display covers a greater area than last year’s, and we have been able to include Commercial Street and Princes Square. We have even illuminated the crown on the Crown Roundabout, and it looks fantastic.

“And back for a second year is the giant Christmas present near Betty’s, and the programmable and multi-coloured tunnel on the piazza in front of Victoria Shopping Centre.

“Those who have visited town over the last couple of days can’t have failed to see the helter skelter being built adjacent to the War Memorial. We are co-funding this, the Ferris wheel, Victorian carousel and a road train, which all form part of Visit Harrogate’s Destination Christmas campaign.

“Our Father Christmas Experience, which starts on Sunday, is a major component of our own 2021 Christmas campaign. It is going to be a truly magical experience for children and families, and one that we are really looking forward to delivering.

All these elements, together with the Christmas market, the Christmas Shop Window competition and the North Pole Post Office, are going to make Harrogate the town a must-visit destination this Festive season, not once, but on many occasions.”