Streaming live: Top authors at Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival as arts charity pledges a strong future

The show will go on for Harrogate International Festivals this weekend with the launch of the star-studded Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival which runs from Friday to Sunday.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 5:42 pm
Flashback to pre-Covid days and a glittering event at the Royal Hall organised by Harrogate International Festivals.
Flashback to pre-Covid days and a glittering event at the Royal Hall organised by Harrogate International Festivals.

The exciting digital festival is being streamed live despite the significant financial challenges of the Covid year, which this week has brought about the difficult announcement of staff cuts for Harrogate International Festivals.

Despite the announcement of redundancies, the arts charity remains committed to bringing the power of the arts to audiences, alongside supporting authors and artists with vital work - as it has done since the pandemic first began.

This weekend, the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival will see a stunning line-up in a series of free online appearances.

Sharpe creator Bernard Cornwell, broadcaster Jeremy Vine, David Lammy MP, Jack Reacher writer Lee Child, ex-Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, Ken Follett, Elif Shafak, Ariana Neumann, Rory Bremner, Jess Phillips MP...the list goes on.

Despite the challenges of this year - the Covid pandemic has stripped HIF of most of its “most vital revenue streams overnight” with a loss of more than £850,000 - this weekend’s line-up testifies to the high standards Harrogate International Festivals has pursued ever since it was first launched in 1966.

And the incredible line-up for this year’s festival is a positive corrective to the bitter blow of HIF having to make half of its team redundant, reducing its core to just four staff members... and a warning that further ‘difficult decisions’ remain in the future.

In a statement this week, HIF revealed how - a registered charity, and even before Covid-19 - it was responsible for raising 98% of its own income through ticket sales, sponsorship, collaborations and donations.

Coronavirus has clearly and understandably had a devastating effect.

Fiona Movley Chair of Harrogate International Festivals said: “Whilst we are often recognised as an extremely resilient organisation, agile and adaptable for over 50 years, times are still extremely challenging and HIF unfortunately did not qualify for the recent emergency Arts Council England grants that have been reported in the media.

“It is clear as we look ahead to the coming months, and see no signs of change for our arts charity, it is now, perhaps more than ever before, that we turn to our sponsors and supporters to continue this vital work.”

Sharon Canavar CEO of HIF said: “Our priority over the last seven months has been ensuring delivery of the arts to local Harrogate people bring the light of the arts into the darkness.

"We are more than a series of events; we are at the heart of Harrogate’s cultural life and have been a magnet and income generator for local tourism for more than 50 years.

“We remain optimistic that Harrogate International Festivals can and will continue to provide the highest quality events online, until such a time we can personally share more cultural experiences together. In the meantime, if we are to survive we urgently ask for your continued support and appreciation of Harrogate International Festivals and its crucial role in our town’s cultural, economic and social future.”

Despite all this, HIF’s resolve remains undimmed as their line-up for the literary festival this weekend proves.

And the 12th year of this literary extravaganza has just been boosted by a late addition. Award-winning and bestselling author, Matt Haig, is well known for his insightful observations on the human condition and mental health, both topics which have become more important than ever during Covid.

Matt first appeared at the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival in 2015, to share his then little-known book: Reasons To Stay Alive, which focused on his recovery from suicidal depression. Now, in 2020, he returns to the Festival with his newest book: The Midnight Library, a story which explores regret, parallel universes and second chances.

As the authors take to the Raworths stage, albeit online, a dazzling large light installation in the form of a book will bring well-known tales and the story of the spa town to life in in Harrogate town centre at Library Gardens tomorrow and Saturday.

The Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, will stream online for free from Friday, October 23 to Sunday, October 25 inclusive at:

How you can support HIF

Since the announcement of redundancies this week, the HIF team has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the ‘cry of support’ from the region. And has now come up with four ways in which people can show their support.

Donate: No matter the amount, donations are always gratefully received via the website: or text HIF followed by the amount to 70085.

Become a Friend of the Festivals: From just £30 a year, you can enjoy a host of benefits. Discover more at:

If you’ve enjoyed a free event on our website, please consider making a donation in lieu of any tickets you would have purchased in a non-COVID world.

You can support us by sharing our posts, helping to spread the word about how people can support our arts charity in this uncertain time.

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