Three more years: G&S Festival’s pledge to Harrogate

By Graham Chalmers

Saturday, 5th September 2015, 9:10 am
International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival highlight - Richard Suart of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company starrng as Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance. Richard Suart another of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company stars as Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance. pirates

The world’s greatest Gilbert and Sullivan event has confirmed that it is already planning its next three years in Harrogate.

Having only put to bed this year’s event a couple of weeks ago, the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival has now announced the dates for next year’s operetta extravanganza.

And organisers have confirmed a deal is in place to run until at least 2018 in the town.

Chairman Ian Smith said: “ We are delighted to have entered into a three year agreement to bring the festival back to Harrogate in 2016, 2017 and 2018. I anticipate we will see continued growth and that the Festival will secure a major position in Harrogate’s cultural calendar.”

Next year’s festival will run from Thursday, August 4 until Sunday, August 21.

Having run at Buxton for 20 years, this world famous event arrived in Harrogate in 2014 for the first time.

Although next year’s programme has been cut from 23 days to 18, organisers say they are confident of building bigger audiences each year in their new home.

Ian Smith said: “It took five years for us to build the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival into a global event in Buxton. We always assumed it would be a similar journey if we moved to another venue.

“This year’s festival in Harrogate started the building process. As the festival progressed so the momentum grew. Local visitors came once – and came again when they recognised the standard of performance.”

Not only does the International G&S Festival attract audiences from across the globe, it also features some of the world’s greatest performers in a friendly but competitive atmosphere.

As always, competition for prizes was fierce. The award for International Champions went to a production of Patience by Blue Hill Troupe, New York, USA.

Runners-up were The Mikado by Cape Town G&S Society, South Africa and HMS Pinafore by WWOS.

The best musical director was Andrew Nicklin for The Yeomen of the Guard by the Trent Opera.

To strengthen the festival’s financial position, it has launched an appeal aiming to raise £165,000 from the huge community of Gilbert and Sullivan fans, allied to a bid to win Arts Council funding.

Ian Smith said: “The announcement of our return to Harrogate has been met with acclaim from around the world.

“Now the dates are known people from as far afield as Australia are already beginning to book their accommodation.

“With the continued support from Harrogate and its theatre goers I believe I dare say - you ain’t seen nothing yet!”