From welcoming Scotland’s First Minister to unveiling the spectacular Museum of the Moon installation, this has been a vintage year for Harrogate International Festivals - and it all comes to a thrilling finish this weekend with the biggest carnival the town has ever seen!
After a summer which has seen more than 14,000 people come to Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, just one strand of the festival programme, it might have been thought it was impossible to top that.
The last seven days alone has seen Nicola Sturgeon on stage at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate reversing her normal role by interviewing author Val McDermid.
The Scottish First Minister took a shine to a photograph of herself and her husband Peter which appeared on the Harrogate Advertiser website.
There was also an outbreak of Line of Duty mania when hundreds of fans queued out the door to see the BBC hit drama’s writer Jed Mercurio interviewed by TV presenter Steph McGovern.
Carnival - Harrogate Welcomes the World, Valley Gardens, Harrogate
Saturday, July 27
Harrogate will become the party capital of the county when the town “Welcomes the World” in true carnival style this Saturday.
Featuring a global music stage, global dance stage, street theatre, food theatre, food village, workshops for all ages, family activities and walkabout theatre acts this unique one-off spectacle is sure to be a day to remember.
Harrogate International Festivals are creating the perfect environment to get a taste of the Carnival atmosphere with a parade through the town centre at 11am and then the Carnival celebrations will continue in the Valley Gardens throughout the day.
The event is being brought to life through a commission from Harrogate Borough Council as part of a cultural programme to herald the arrival of September’s UCI Road World Cycling Championships.
Talking about the crime writing festival, Sharon Canavar, Harrogate International Festivals’ chief executive, said: “At the end of each Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival we wonder how we can make the next year’s event even better – and every year we manage to achieve it.”
This year’s stellar line-up of 100-plus writers read like a who’s who of the world’s bestselling crime authors, including Harlan Cobin, Ian Rankin and Jeffery Deaver.
Rankin, the creator of hardboiled Scottish detective Rebus, told the Harrogate Advertiser he loved coming back to Harrogate for what he said was a “special” festival.
“I have some relatives in Bradford and it’s also useful for seeing them.”
One other highlight was when James Patterson, whose books have sold more than 300 million copies, accepted the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award with a rip-roaring satirical speech ranging from a phone call from Donald Trump (false) to working with Bill Clinton on their joint novel The President is Missing (true).
Sharon Canavar also paid tribute to the event’s main sponsor.
She said: “As headline sponsor, I would like say a huge thank you to T&R Theakston Ltd for their continued support of the crime writing festival, which, over the years, has become an international phenomenon.
“We had a fantastic line up of authors and interviewees and the majority of sessions were sold out within a few hours.
“Mari Hannah was an inspirational programming chair and it was a pleasure working alongside her.
“The Old Swan Hotel lends itself perfectly as the host venue and its connection with the disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 adds to its appeal.
“It was superb to welcome a number of new faces – including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – to the festival and to Harrogate itself.”
The sponsor himself, Simon Theakston said it had been a privilege to welcome James Patterson to Harrogate.
He said: “James Patterson is a literary giant and it was an absolute honour to present him with the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.
“James is as passionate about reading as he is about writing and is a huge supporter of independent bookstores and libraries.
“We were delighted that he joined us in Harrogate for a few days. I’m sure many budding writers will have drawn inspiration from him.”
This year’s Harrogate International Festivals has seen a wide variety of high quality concerts with world class musicians.
The musical finale will take place on Saturday when Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, one the world’s oldest concert societies, perform Puccini’s Capriccio Sinfonico with clarinettist Julian Bliss solois, at the Royal Hall, a venue which also saw a packed-out ‘Rave’ night starring with superstar DJ Graeme Park.
Another unexpected sight came at St Wilfrid’s Church on Duchy Road in Harrogate.
For one exciting week, the interior of Harrogate’s only Grade 1 listed building hosted a gigantic replica of the moon hanging in the air.
Courtesy of artist Luke Jerram and utilising hi-tech NASA imagery, Museum of the Moon attracted lots of visitors to famous architect Temple Lushington Moore’s stunning church and was one of the most spectacular creations ever seen in Harrogate.