Harrogate Festivals unveils feast of arts

The Divine Comedy.
The Divine Comedy.

HARROGATE is fast becoming a stronghold for the arts as it launches its vibrant multi-arts festival this July.

Unique in its eclectic strands, Harrogate continues to stake its claim as one of the leading cultural hubs in the UK, working year round to maintain its reputation, as ‘the north of England’s leading Arts Festival’ (as described by The Times).

This year’s Harrogate International Festival, taking place throughout the month of July, is set to be the strongest event to date, offering a fantastically diverse programme of world class events in the fields of music, theatre, film, science and literature.

2012 is full of Great Expectations for Britain, a theme which the Festival has whole heartedly embraced and one which is strongly reflected in the diverse programme on offer this Summer; marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, 60 years of the Queen’s reign, the 10th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and the 47th Harrogate International Festival.

This July, The Divine Comedy and Bellowhead will take centre stage alongside some of the world’s most renowned classical artists, including pianist Noriko Ogawa performing with the Manchester Camerata, and charismatic conductor John Wilson returns to Harrogate in the company of his hand-picked orchestra and a glittering programme.

Alongside this, the month of July will see Harrogate play host to a mix of world class acts including Clare Teal, Eliza Carthy Band, Dennis Rollins, Curtis Stigers, Black Dyke Band, Ex Cathedra and Melvyn Tan.

Charles Dickens visited Harrogate in 1858 and noted “Harrogate is the queerest place with the strangest people in it, leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining”.

A fitting description of the diversity of the town, and the curiosities it has to offer, in the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth, the town will welcome Dickens’ biographer Clare Tomalin as part of the burgeoning literary strand of the annual Harrogate International Festival.

Featuring some of the most talented authors and playwrights at work today, the curated literary strand will also include appearances from Sue Townsend, Victoria Hislop, Michael Frayn and Jon McGregor, among many other names.

The whole town will come alive with festival activities this July, with a range of activities and entertainment for all in a range of venues across Harrogate.

The programme will include a dedicated Children’s and Family Festival, offering a stimulating and engaging programme of fun for children, ranging from author appearances to hands-on science workshops and lots in-between, whilst an outdoor Big Screen will be showcasing the very best of British cinema alongside British sporting highlights.

The legendary Spiegeltent will also be returning to Harrogate, following appearances at the Edinburgh and Melbourne Festivals.

The Spiegeltent gives audiences the chance to encounter performances and art in unexpected ways in a truly magical setting.

l For full programme details please visit: www.harrogate-festival.org.uk