Home Music festivals How Harrogate International Festivals responded to the lockdown and why it may do it again

How Harrogate International Festivals responded to the lockdown and why it may do it again


Harrogate International Festivals hit 2021 – 1571 Waters That Made Us light installation celebrated the 450th anniversary of the discovery of thermal waters in Harrogate.

Harrogate International Festivals’ impressive return to the arts scene is being compromised by growing uncertainty about Omicron and the ever-present threat of further restrictions.

In an open newsletter, Sharon Canavar, managing director of Harrogate’s leading arts charity, said he had felt fantastic bringing some of his events live in 2021 with great success.

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But a decision has now been made to put plans on hold for a return to even greater normalcy in 2022 – hopefully temporarily.

In particular, the Harrogate International Festivals Sunday concert series, which usually takes place in January, had to be postponed.

Ms Canavar said: “We planned to announce our 2022 cafe concert season last month but, with the current directions and potential changes in New Years events, we were planning for the unknown and, as a measure of Caution, have made the decision that we cannot afford to risk last minute changes over Christmas.

Despite the trials and tribulations encountered during a series of Covid lockdowns by the Harrogate International Festivals, something it has had in common with much of the arts world over the past year, the organization has been commended for the way she coped.

Times have been tough, Ms. Canavar admitted, but she said the hard work of her small HIF team and the loyal support of the sponsors meant that 2021 had been a year everyone involved was proud of.

“This year and the months before have been an incredibly difficult road for Harrogate International Festivals,” she said. “Many of our traditional events could not take place due to lockdowns, conditions imposed on the events or were not financially viable due to restrictions and security.

Fortunately, we have been able to plan elements of our annual program including the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival thanks to the continued support of long-term sponsors, as well as a multitude of community and digital projects through to donors. and supporters. “

One thing that had proven a bridge too far had been HIF’s live music events.

Ms. Canavar said: “What we missed the most was the music. Our musical offering is anchored in our heritage and we have missed the traditional music festival in the summer as well as our coffee concerts in the Sunday series.

“These events were planned and canceled a number of times behind the scenes due to regulations that have changed often over the past few months, and as a small organization with limited funding, we felt unable to take the risk of losing significant amounts of money. , which would have a drastic impact. the long-term future of Festivals beyond the

The boss of HIF also had to deal with staff reductions during the fallow periods.

But Ms Canavar said hope is on the horizon and Harrogate’s international festivals are determined to bounce back.

“I am happy to say that we are recruiting now to support the long-awaited return of events

“Our ambition is to come back to our café concerts at the end of spring and we are currently programming a host of artists to brighten up the season from March.

Looking back at 2021: some of the highlights from Harrogate International Festivals

A year that began in full lockdown and the arts online, the Harrogate International Festivals have come back to life with a series of successful live events.

Thinking back to 2021, HIF CEO Sharon Canavar said the highlights were as follows:

1. Just four days after the final restrictions were lifted, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival & Awards took place. The audience was still capped and a new tent location was created to allow for distancing and a safe event. We were delighted to safely welcome the authors and the public to Harrogate.

2. 1571 The Waters That Made Us celebrated 450 years of the discovery of thermal waters in Harrogate. Attracting over 5,000 people to this free sound and light installation in collaboration with world-renowned artists Dan Fox and James Bawn.

3. A comprehensive literature program was produced for the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival this year, welcoming MP Ed Miliband to Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York Roffey. It was fantastic to be back offering live events.

Looking Ahead to 2022: Harrogate International Festivals’ plans for the Crime Writing Festival

One of the UK’s biggest and friendliest festivals, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival returns to the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate from Thursday July 21 to Sunday July 24, 2022.

Despite the current pandemic situation, organizers of the Harrogate International Festivals have an exceptional crime writing festival in the works – and exclusive Weekend Break packages are already on sale for 2022.

They also guarantee some thrills, and maybe a few spillovers at the hotel bar, at the gathering of the self-proclaimed AGM of the crime writing industry with a difference.

The public is invited to have a pint of Yorkshire’s finest ale, relax in the hotel gardens and be immersed in a heady mix of comedy, cabaret, lively debate and scintillating socializing.

Hang out with your heroes, get an exclusive preview of the Next Big Thing, rub shoulders with the UK’s leading agents, publishers and publishers.

For more information, reservations and price details, contact 01423 562303, email: [email protected] or visit www. harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/whats-on