Thousands of G&S fans from around world descend on Harrogate today

Coming to Harrogate - The National G&S Opera Companys new 2016 production of The Mikado.
Coming to Harrogate - The National G&S Opera Companys new 2016 production of The Mikado.
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Visitors from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, the USA and South Africa are flocking to Harrogate today, Thursdsay – and it’s all because of the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival.

It may be as English as Monty Python but the songs and satire of one of the country’s greatest-ever double acts certainly travels.

Chairman and artistic director Ian Smith said: “The festival is all about fantastic entertainment. The glorious music of Gilbert and Sullivan and their wonderful, witty dialogue and outstanding political satire which would not be out of place in today’s party political spats.

“One can only imagine what they would have made of the EU referendum!”

This year’s festival features 25 performing groups and more than a 100 performances and events.

Running at Harrogate from August 3 to 21 for the third year having been founded in Buxton in 1994 by Smith and his son Neil, the main venue will be the golden Royal Hall.

But the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival also prides itself on fostering a fringe spirit, too.

Each year, organisers build a 250-seat Savoy theatre next door for youth, university and other special interest performances.

And the similarly purpose-built Utopia Pavilion will offer festival-goers with free film shows, lunchtime entertainment, a memorabilia fair and late night cabaret, as well as food and drink.

In total 25 performing groups from around the world will be presenting the likes of The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and The Yeoman of the Guard.

Among the highlights will be the Savoy Company from Philadelphia, USA, the oldest amateur theatre company in the world dedicated to performing G&S.

The whole extravaganza kicked off last night, Wednesday with an exclusive gala dinner and concert in the Royal Hall featuring songs from the whole history of the genre up to Oklahoma starring the full cast of the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company and the National Gilbert and Sullivan Orchestra.