THE rain may have poured down in Skipton at the weekend - but it didn’t stop thousands of visitors pouring in to enjoy the first of this year’s Christmas Markets.

Dozens of coaches came from as far away as Scotland, the North East, the Midlands and South Wales for an event which has become one of the foremost of its kind in Britain

Visitors arrived to enjoy the festivities from as far away as Norway and Portugal – and traders on the market and across the town reported “very brisk” trading.

Skipton Town Council’s events and tourism manager, Kerry Wheelwright, said: “We’ve continued to promote the town heavily this year at travel and tourism events using our ‘Visit Skipton’ brand – and we’re delighted that this continues to pay off with initial footfall figures again approaching the 20,000 mark.

“That has to be good for retailers in the town and for our market.”

He added: “Comments received from people re-joining their coaches at the end of the day suggest that our visitors had a great time in Skipton.

“ I’d like to thank our town centre management staff, who worked really long hours over the weekend – and to the Skipton Business Improvement District. Without their financial input, we couldn’t put this event on for our retailers.”

With street entertainment provided throughout the day, the event concluded with a very well attended torchlight procession and carol service in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church.

Beforehand, revellers found something for everyone, from brass bands, an igloo photo-booth, rodeo reindeer, festive walkabout acts, live bands, to a floating Santa’s grotto boat.

The event will run again on Sunday, with the same starting time of 10am.

The High Street will be closed for the day, with diversions in place around the town centre.

To ensure the event can go ahead safely, overnight parking on the High Street setts will be suspended on Saturday night, and the road will be closed from around 5am on Sunday.

There will be a fully-managed coach drop-off point at Coach Street Car Park.

Skipton’s Christmas Market has been voted as the country’s best large speciality market and has once again featured in the list of the ‘top ten favourite’ Christmas markets in the world, according to the website

l Skipton’s year-round market took the award for ‘best small outdoor market’ for 2017 and is now in the running for what may be the ultimate national accolade - the nation’s favourite market.

Until voting closed last Friday, traders were asking for support from shoppers as the market aims to be named as ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ at the latest industry awards.

Speaking in November, market manager Stefan Bodnarczuk said: “Last year we were delighted to be named in the top six in the whole of the UK – but we didn’t quite make the number one spot. With everyone’s help we’d love to put that right this year.”

“Skipton Market makes an important contribution to the local economy, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the town each year. Maintaining our profile through awards such as these helps ensure that those important visitors keep coming.”

The winner of ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ will be announced in January.