A look ahead to the The 50th Harrogate International Festivals

Emma Bridgewater

Emma Bridgewater - Credit: Archant

The date is set, the venues ready for the launch of one of the most ambitious festival programmes yet

The 50th Harrogate International Festivals is an important landmark in the history of this remarkable organisation. Since the very first event in 1966, it has grown to become one of Yorkshire’s premier events and a firm fixture on the national and international stage. This month it launches the Future 50 Appeal to raise £1million to support the next 50 years of the festivals.

‘As an organisation we’re enormously proud of our past achievements, but more excited about the potential for the years ahead,’ said Sharon Canavar, chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals. They mean so many different things to many different people. It matters in particular to those of us who have life long memories thanks to the festivals.

‘Way before any regeneration of our northern cities Harrogate International Festivals brought inspirational and world-class artists to our doorstep. Artists from BB King to Barenboim, Ashkenazy to Amy Winehouse and programmes featuring great comedy with Laughs at the Baths to street theatre with the Green Space Festival.

‘These amazing experiences were available to both of us in the 70s, 80s and 90s and we are both still influenced by this same great organisation be it classical music in the Royal Hall, jazz and children’s events in the Spiegeltent or at the forefront of the literary scene with our host of literary festivals.

‘Today we are a vibrant organisation with a unique offering, from free weekly music sessions for young mums and their babies, to providing the very finest arts provision for Harrogate and the North.

‘We have a passion to ensure that the festivals can achieve great things in the future, and we are on the starting blocks, launching our Future 50 Appeal to raise £1million to support the next 50 years of the festivals.’

The campaign

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Since its inception in 1966, Harrogate International Festivals has fired up hearts and minds, revolutionising the cultural landscape of the North Yorkshire spa town. Its campaign to raise £1million is launched on April 16th at the Sun Pavilion, Harrogate and is a critical part of the festivals’ vision to create a secure future for the charity. The campaign is building on our strengths of raising aspirations, creating opportunity and nurturing excellence.

The Harrogate International Festivals is the Home of Festivals. Established as the Harrogate Festival of Arts & Science, founder Clive Wilson believed that ‘the Festivals must be seen as a developing thing, widening its scope and perhaps shifting its emphasis as the years go by’.

The festivals have evolved throughout the years having been at the forefront of classical music in the 60s, the vanguard of comedy and street theatre in the 80s and 90s to the breadth of festivals within our current portfolio. Today we are distinctive amongst festivals, measuring our far-reaching delivery against its limited funding income.

The Future 50 Campaign to secure the future of the Harrogate International Festivals will be made up of philanthropic donations, fundraising events and a range of activities. These funds will ensure that the future of the Harrogate International Festivals is vibrant and engaging, allowing us to continue to create access to the arts for the widest range of audiences and participants regardless of background and personal circumstance. In short, your help will ensure our arts charity thrives, not just survives.

Find out more about the Future 60 Campaign at harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

Festivals highlights

Harrogate International Festivals is made up of many elements. Here we give an idea of what to expect at three of them including Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate International Festival and Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

Jo Nesbo, one of the world’s leading crime writers who dominates the bestseller charts and is published in 40 countries, is heading to Harrogate.

Nesbo will appear on April 8th at the Old Swan Hotel at a special launch event with the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, where the full 2015 festival programme is revealed. Nesbo will discuss his new thriller, Blood on Snow on the eve of its publication with arts broadcaster Mark Lawson. They’ll also discuss the Nesbo’s popular Harry Hole books, soon to be turned into a film. Nesbo made appearances at the Festival in 2008 and 2010 but it was his appearance as a Special Guest at the 2012 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival that became one of the largest events in its history.

This exclusive evening also offers the chance to be one of the very first to own a signed copy of Blood on Snow before its release date on the April 9th.

Simon Theakston, executive director of sponsors T&R Theakston, said: ‘It’s an incredible coup that Jo Nesbo is coming to Harrogate on the eve of the publication of his much anticipated new thriller. He is only doing a handful of appearances in the UK, so it’s a great indication of the reputation we now have as the crime writing capital of Europe.

Special guests taking part in the festival include author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth books, is M.C. Beaton who will be in conversation with fellow Scot, comedian and presenter, Fred MacAulay. Actor David Morrissey and author Mark Billingham also star and will discuss bringing crime fiction to the TV screen. Festival favourite Lee Child also returns this year to discuss his new book, Make Me, the twentieth book in the Jack Reacher series.

The Harrogate International Festival

Throughout the month of July in venues across the spa town, features a wealth of music. It welcomes back one of the greatest pianists in the world Alfred Brendel plus guest curator Julian Lloyd Webber who began his career at the festival’s as a young musician.

The theme for 2015 ‘A Sense of Place’ draws on Harrogate’s reputation as a truly international arts festival, exploring how place, time and surroundings impact on great music and literature. This year’s artist in residence, Saleem Ashkar, will show how the power of classical music is bridging divides between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel through the Polyphony Foundation.

Other highlights include jazz icon Gregory Porter, the magnificent Miloš, and the world’s best international talent with orchestras and musicians from around the world.

Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival

Expect some of the biggest names in books during this festival which runs July 2nd-5th at the Crown Hotel, Harrogate. Guests include Labour MPs Dennis Skinner and Alan Johnson, both of whom present their memoirs, former Newsnight journalist Gavin Esler, who’s interviewed every major player out there and reveals their leadership techniques and Sam Delaney, whose new book Mad Men and Bad Men is a hugely entertaining behind-the-scenes tour of the election campaigns of the last four decades.

Also confirmed are musicians Noddy Holder of Slade and Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl, comedian Dom Joly and the British television institution that is Bill Oddie. Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are back for a second year, and the festival welcomes Countrywise presenter Paul Heiney.

Leading names from the world of fiction include Sadie Jones, whose novel The Outcast is being screened by the BBC this year and Louis de Berniere author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Beauty writer Sali Hughes will also take to the stage, as will Emma Bridgewater, creator of one of the most successful modern day pottery businesses. There’ll also be a mad morning tea with Robert Douglas-Fairhurst to celebrate his book about Lewis Carroll and the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. Ultimo lingerie founder Michelle Mone, and Chocolat author Joanne Harris also feature.

Robert Sackville West will talk about his family history that rivals the best in costume drama and ties in with a new life of Vita Sackville West coming out this year, and Oxford muse Theodore Zeldin, will explore the Hidden Pleasures of Life.

Yorkshire Life is the proud magazine partner for the Harrogate International Festivals 2015

For the latest news and tickets for all events go to harrogateinternationalfestivals.com