YULETIDE festivities at Knaresborough step up this weekend with its annual Christmas Market.

The market town  began the fun last Friday by switching on its lights and staging a parade from the castle to Market Place featuring a flaming torch.

Traders are fighting back after the lockdowns, with Knaresborough attracting many independent businesses since.

But to bring festive joy, the town stages its Traditional Christmas Market tomorrow and Sunday (ending with fireworks at 4.30pm) and a Christmas Tree Festival in St John’s Church from tomorrow until the 23rd.

In addition, town businesses are decorating their windows, there is a Gonk Trail of painting pots, the Green Dragon Yard off Castlegate has a festive display, there will be a Live Nativity Play in Market Place at 6pm on Christmas Eve and the cricket club stages its annual duck race on New Year’s Day.

The Mother Shipton’s Christmas Experience also began on November 20 and runs until December 24.

Last Christmas, most festive events were cancelled or scaled back due to Covid restrictions but now they are back with changes to help ensure safety.

Christmas Market organiser Hazel Haas says the market now takes more space to give people more room to move, people are encouraged to wear masks, all stalls have hand sanitiser and there will be extra cleaning of public conveniences.

This year’s market promises Yorkshire traders including Whitby Jet jewellery, cakes from the Fat Birds Baker, Goats milk soap from Toulston Hall Farm, Manth silver jewellery from Knaresborough, Cryer and Stott cheese and Rusty Garden Gifts.

Knaresborough is blessed with many volunteer-led led groups, with the Christmas Market a joint-venture between Rotary, Lions and the Chamber of Trade, who give discounted stalls to charities.

The town is also ‘holding its own’ with new independent businesses and openings still taking place.

Hazel said: “The units down at the railway station are now all fully occupied Northern Line Arts, Northern Line Antiques and Track and Sleeper are all new(ish) businesses down there.

“Rueben opposite Six Poor Folk are also opening a sister business next door - coffee by day and wine by night. It will be under the FI:K brand, who already have a Swedish coffee house in Harrogate.

“There are also various other new openings in the pipeline in the old Tommy’s barber shop (they’ve moved next door), the old toy shop and the old Halifax.”

She added: “It has been a tough 18 months for everyone, and there is a real feeling in the town, both among residents and businesses, that they want a good Christmas season this year. There is a buzz everywhere, and we hope that everyone will enjoy our event and all of those others.”

For details, go to www.knaresboroughchristmasmarket.co.uk