The Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate

After the disappointment of last year’s show having to be cancelled due to the pandemic I was excited to be returning to Harrogate this summer.  The Great Yorkshire Show is one of the largest agricultural shows in the country and a wonderful showcase of rural life.

Shetland Pony judging, The Great Yorkshire Show
Shetland Pony judging

Organising an event of this size to make it COVID safe was a massive challenge but the organisers pulled it off brilliantly using as much outdoor space as possible.  The show usually runs over three days attracting 135,000 visitors but for the first time in it’s history this year it was extended to four.  Tickets were limited to 26,000 each day and available by pre-booking only.  These sold out very quickly for all four days allowing 104,000 visitors to enjoy the show.

A horse being washed at the Great Yorkshire Show
A horse being washed in readiness for the show ring

Directions to the showground are signposted from the outskirts of Harrogate with free car parks surrounding each of the entrance gates.  This year the show was open between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. daily so we got up early to make the most of our time there and to avoid getting stuck in a lengthy traffic jam.  For visitors using public transport, a free shuttle bus operates from outside Harrogate railway station.  I travelled by train on one of the days and used this option which worked really well.  There seemed to be a lengthy queue at 8.45 a.m. at the bus stop but as one double decker filled up, another bus arrived and we were soon happily on our way.

Show Jumping at the Great Yorkshire Show
Show Jumping in the main ring

The showground covers a whopping 250 acre grassland site with numerous permanent exhibition halls and pavilions that can be used for smaller events throughout the year.  At its heart is the grandstand and main ring where a full programme of activities take place each day.

Watching the show jumping at the Great Yorkshire Show
Watching the show jumping in the main ring

The main ring stages several of the country’s top show jumping events with winners going forward to the Horse of the Year Show in London.  I enjoy watching equestrian events on television but there is no comparison to actually being ringside and watching these events take place.  Army cadets sit on benches at strategic points ready to dash out to rebuild any of the fences that might have got knocked over in readiness for the next rider to start.

Atkinson Action Horses, Great Yorkshire Show
The Atkinson Action Horses entertaining the crowds in the main ring

Visitors to the show can purchase grandstand tickets in advance which allow return access throughout the day.  To be COVID compliant this year though only a certain percentage of the seats were in use but as there are benches and sloping grassy banks to the other three sides, there’s always room to view the action.

Atkinson Action Horses, Great Yorkshire Show
The Atkinson Action Horse display

In addition to show jumping, this year’s highlights also included the Atkinson Action Horses and soprano singer Lizzie Jones accompanied by the Yorkshire Volunteer Brass Band.  This band traces its history back to 1860 when it was founded as a Volunteer Corps in Leeds.  Since then, the band has performed all over the U.K. and Europe so it was good to see them back at the show.

The Yorkshire Volunteer Brass Band, Great Yorkshire Show
The Yorkshire Volunteer Brass Band performing at the show each day

The Atkinson Action Horses performed on each of the four days demonstrating their impressive riding skills with a combination of stunts and tricks to a beautifully synchronised routine.  Ben’s horses have also appeared in episodes of the television dramas, All Creatures Great and Small, Poldark and Peaky Blinders.  I was sitting spellbound watching their dramatic performance on Day 2 when Ben suddenly dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend Georgie Jackson in front of the crowds.  Georgie is a dressage instructor who was supporting his team performance for the first time at the show and said afterwards that she was blown away by the lovely surprise.

Scurry Driving competition at the Great Yorkshire Show
The Scurry Driving competition

It was the first time that I’d seen a Scurry Driving competition.  The only thing I knew was that the verb ‘scurry’ means to move quickly and watching this fast paced sport in which a carriage and pair of ponies are driven around a course of cones, I now understand how it gets its name as it is fast and furious as well as great fun.

Drystone walling demonstration at the Great Yorkshire Show
Drystone walling demonstration

Wandering around the showground we watched a drystone wall building display.  These walls are commonplace around the edges of fields in Yorkshire and are held together without the need for mortar.  The structures are stable because of the traditional method used of carefully selecting stones that fit together.  It’s a dying art but one which will hopefully continue.  This year there wasn’t any pole climbing taking place but a new woodland trail and forestry demonstrations with displays of woodcraft were going ahead instead.

Farm machinery on display at the Great Yorkshire Show
Farm machinery on display

Moving on to farm machinery, on display were tractors of every shape and size, cultivators, hay balers, milking machines and, in fact everything agricultural.  Normally you can climb on board the cabs which must be every young child’s dream but sadly this was off limits this year.  To make up for the disappointment though, we were able to take a look at the world’s biggest and most technologically advanced combine harvester, a giant of a machine and very impressive even to non-farmers like ourselves.

Sheep judging at the Great Yorkshire Show
Sheep judging classes

Animals play a big part in the show annually and this year the society were inundated with entries in all classes following the cancellation of last year’s event.  A staggering 8,500 of the finest animals in the country competed over the four days with judging for dairy champions to commercial beef taking place in the cattle rings.

Pig judging at the Yorkshire Show
Pig judging taking place

It’s even longer since I’ve been able to view pigs as all pig classes were cancelled in 2019 following suspicion of a case of swine dysentery in a pig at another country show.  Laboratory samples returned negative on the opening morning of the Yorkshire Show but this was of course too late to arrange for their safe return.  In the pig ring we watched one of the judges take a careful look at the competition entries for a particular class where the British Saddleback with its easily identifiable striped back was judged best.

A long horned goat at the Great Yorkshire Show
A goat with long horns

Elsewhere we inspected many different varieties of goats and observed one standing patiently having finishing touches made in preparation for showing in the goat ring.

A goat being prepared for the ring at the Great Yorkshire Show
A goat being prepared for the ring

In other sections of the showground we watched sheep shearing, demonstrating how a sheep’s wool can be removed in one piece.  It was sad to learn that the wool from a British sheep is valued at a lowly 25p now, far less than the cost of shearing an individual sheep to keep the animals cool in summer and tick free.

A Highland sheep being prepared for judging at the Great Yorkshire Show
A Highland sheep being prepared for judging

For family entertainment, The Sheep Show offered a light-hearted take on sheep farming.  This 30 minute live show presented out of the side of a large truck, introduces the audience to nine different breeds of sheep, each with their own story to tell.  There’s a shearing display and the presenter even gets his sheep dancing to music.  We found it to be great fun and educational too!

The Sheep Show, Great Yorkshire Show
The Sheep Show

I haven’t mentioned food yet, but British food plays a significant part in the show.  Even in COVID times, there were samples galore in the vast food hall and from both the Morrison’s and ASDA supermarket stands.  We feasted on generous slices of pork pie, cheese, sausage, strawberries and even chocolate eclairs.

A giant pork pie at the Great Yorkshire Show
A giant pork pie at the Great Yorkshire Show

I’d also like to sing the praises of the Ladies in Pigs, an organisation which aims to inspire people to use only the best British Red Tractor pork and pork products in their cooking.  On their stand we sampled more freshly cooked sausage and a slice of smoky bacon and fruity seeded flapjack which were both delicious.  I was handed a copy of one their recipe booklets which I looked at after returning home and was really impressed as all the recipes are easy to follow and mainly contain store cupboard items encouraging me to give them a try.

Plants and vegetables on display at the Great Yorkshire Show
Plants and vegetables on display

The plant, flower and vegetable displays were all outdoors for the first time this year and with wall-to-wall sunshine, this worked very well and even on the final day there appeared to be little evidence of wilting in the exceptionally warm weather.  The plants appeared more natural outdoors so perhaps this might continue next year although it is quite weather dependent.

Raisthorpe Distillery at the Great Yorkshire Show
The Raisthorpe Distillery Gin Stand

Moving on from food and flowers there were numerous stands offering alcoholic samples from beer to gin.  Being a gin lover I couldn’t resist the refreshing samples of gin and tonic offered – it was just as well that I wasn’t the one driving.

Pony Club Riders at the Great Yorkshire Show
The parade of Pony Club riders

We returned to the main ring later in the afternoon to watch the Pony Club Games.  Here we watched as teams battled it out in both the Junior and Senior classes with children aged between 8 and 16.  Teams of up to six riders took part in a series of races that involved a mix of turns, handovers, vaulting, galloping around obstacles, running over stepping stones and dropping objects into buckets.  It was such a fun way to end our final day at the show and I couldn’t believe how agile even the youngest competitors were at clambering onto their ponies at top speed.

Pony Club Games at the Great Yorkshire Show
Pony Club competitors

I hope you have enjoyed my tour of The Great Yorkshire Show 2021.  It’s been a real celebration of the countryside, food and agriculture offering something for the entire family.  If I may have inspired you to experience it for yourself then it will be taking place in Harrogate, North Yorkshire between 12th – 14th July next year.

Great Yorkshire Show deckchair
Great Yorkshire Show deckchair


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A day out at the Great Yorkshire Show



64 thoughts on “The Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate

  1. Pingback: Day 2. Touring the Ribble Valley – Love Travelling Blog

  2. Pingback: The Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate – Smart eyez

  3. so great to see events like this starting up again. I hope this can continue. Here we came out of lockdown for about 9 days and find ourselves in another. its really starting to depress me. Sorry, I should be comment about this wonderful event, the colour and the fact that life if, in the UK, returning to normal!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a fabulous day out and I love the photo of you watching the show jumping – great hat, if you don’t mind me saying! I have been to the Surrey County Show a couple of times which was brilliant for an animal lover, like me. I’m glad the weather was kind to you, these shows are not so much fun in the rain!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It was wonderful to be able to return to the Great Yorkshire after missing a year June. It’s such a brilliant day out and we are so lucky to have it almost on our doorstep, I didn’t realise that my son had taken the photo of me watching the show jumping but I liked it too as it was so natural. I’ve had that sun hat for quite a few years, it’s from M & S and as it can be folded up it’s really handy to carry around. The Surrey County Show sounds like a good day out too ! Marion

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Such fantastic photos, Marion and what a show! I have to say that Shetland’s world-famous small ponies are amazing animals! I remember I used to see them all the time grazing by the roadside, on the beaches or on the heathery hills during my Scottish road tips. At the first sight, they might appear to roam wild across Shetland but are in fact, all owned and tended to by local crofters. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 4 people

  6. This is great. I really want to go to one of these shows one day as it looks so interesting and fun. I love all the different animals. Would you recommend going for more than one day?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for taking an interest in this post on the Great Yorkshire Show Anna. I’m certain you would enjoy spending a day there. There is a full programme of activities on each of the days some of them replicated and I think that if you managed to arrive early, say by 9.30 a.m. you would be able to cover most aspects without having to rush around. Harrogate is a beautiful spa town so if you haven’t yet visited there it could be combined to create a really nice short break. Hope you get to visit next year! Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This looks like such a fun show! I loved your pictures of the animals there-you really got some amazing action shots of the horses especially. The whole thing looks so delightful and I would so love to get to go to this one day. Have a great rest of your week 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. This is a great rural tradition that is being continued; it is an achievement to have gathered so many spectators and competitors in the present circumstances. It’s great that you were able to attend. Great thanks for the review.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The Great Yorkshire Show is a wonderful day out Gwen and we were delighted that it was able to go ahead. We actually attended the Royal Easter Show in Sydney one year and adored our day there too! Fingers crossed we get back to spend another day there one year. Hope you have a good week. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rosie for taking an interest in my post on the Great Yorkshire Show, it was a lovely day out and a return to things that we hold dear. The goat on the stand looked so large and the pigs fun to watch too as they were being ushered around the ring with the help of white boards. Marion.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So nice you were able to attend Marion and such great weather for this outdoor show. It all seems a bit surreal right now, but it is nice to see flashes of normalcy returning. One of our usual annual festivals is running this weekend with limited attendance, but we will not be going. Still too many un-vaxed about. I was interested to see the sheep show display. The stand reminds me of the sheep show we saw in the Agrodome in Rotorua New Zealand. Stay well. Happy August. Allan

    Liked by 5 people

  10. What a lovely day in bright sunshine! I’ve loved all the pictures of the different animals – it almost looks as if the pig was painted 😁 and how gorgeous are the Shetland ponies! Oh yes, and I would have loved to see the sheep dancing on the music 🐑🐑.
    And how attractive is that vegetable display – it was cleverly done … and I would also be happy to conclude a day like this at that great gin stand 😊.
    Thanks for a great tour Marion – it was really nice to tour with you on this outing!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes, Harrogate isn’t very far from James Herriot country. Have you seen the newly made series that aired last year in the U.K. yet? It has been really well done and a second series is being filmed at the moment. Do look out for it as I’m certain you would enjoy it Ian.

      Liked by 2 people

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