Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival: Thrilled to be back in business today with a brilliant programme featuring Duchess of York, Ed Miliband and more

Celebrated by Harper’s Bazaar as one of the UK’s Best Literary Festivals, organisers of this week’s Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival are so pleased to be back they’re making a splash - literally.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:50 am
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:51 am
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is among the guests at Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival which runs from today to Sunday, October 24.

To mark the return today, Thursday, of one of the town’s greatest arts festivals, Harrogate International Festivals unveiled a spectacular new sound and light installation in Harrogate inspired by the town’s 450-year spa water heritage.

HIF’s chief executive Sharon Canavar said the dazzling 1571 The Water That Made Us was more than simply a show of delight that guests such as Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, former Labour leader Ed Miliband, Costa Book of the Year Winner Monique Roffey were arriving in Harrogate for the four-day event.

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Spectacular in Harrogate - A beautiful combination of lights and sound, 1571 The Water That Made Us can be enjoyed at the cobbled street of Crown Place.

The new temporary artistic collaboration sponsored by Slingsby Gin, Harrogate BID, the Crown Hotel and Raworths was, she added, an example of how “when we work together, great things happen”.

Mrs Canavar said: “2021 has been momentous for a lot of things but few of them have been celebratory.

“We felt it only right we lead on a new, temporary attraction for Harrogate to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the discovery of our spa waters.

“It was great to see hundreds of people turn up last Sunday night for the unveiling with music blasting out.

“We’ve worked with renowned artists Dan Fox and James Bawn, and in partnership with The Royal Pump Room Museum to ensure that we could create such a celebration, which has yielded national coverage in the press for our town.

“Partnerships is what has got us to this stage in being able to deliver festivals again

“When we work together, great things happen.”

The renowned writers, journalists, war reporters lawyers and leading political figures bringing their stories to life in a series of ‘in person’ events at the Crown Hotel as part of Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival will get the chance to see the installation for themselves.

A beautiful combination of lights and sound, 1571 The Water That Made Us can be enjoyed at the cobbled street of Crown Place until the festival ends on Sunday.

Lighting designer James Bawn, who has previously worked on the lighting sculpture in the Valley Gardens and is renowned worldwide for his architectural installations, said: “It was fantastic to celebrate the unique architecture of Harrogate and bring light and imagination to forgotten spaces.”

The installation’s giant projections include saw lobsters on the walls of the Drum & Monkey restaurant, a ticking clock on the side of St Peter’s Church just as the bells rang and even a teapot pouring tea onto the wall of Bettys cafe.

Marcus Black managing director of co-sponsors Slingsby Gin said: “We are very proud to support the Festivals to create this new event commemorating a key anniversary.

“We are incredibly proud of our heritage and our place within the community of Harrogate.”

Festival organisers are thrilled to be putting on such a high-quality line-up after a miserable 2020 saw all their arts efforts forced online during lockdown.

The programme begins today (Thursday) at noon with a literary lunch with BBC correspondent and BAFTA award-winning journalist, Paul Kenyon who will be speaking about his fascinating new book Children of the Night looking at some of the strangest dictators that Europe has ever seen.

Among the other guests set to appear to talk about their current books are BBC Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler, Costa Book of the Year Winner Monique Roffey, former Chief Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE - who successfully oversaw the prosecution of the Rochdale grooming gang - and Channel 5’s ‘Dogfather’ Graeme Hall.

One of the events expected to prove popular can boast a real Harrogate link.

Taking place today at 4pm, Kate Vigurs - Mission France: The True History of the Women of the SOE will see the freelance historian and former St Aidan’s High School student reveal the story of true Second World War heroines.

For the hard-working team at Harrogate International Festivals it’s a great feeling to be operating normally again in the town they love.

Mrs Canavar added: “The event industry was particularly hard hit by Covid, and commissioning new artistic work, and a new tourism attraction, in the midst of the pandemic was a risk.

“As an arts organisation and a registered charity, it was one we were determined to take as we firmly believe that keeping artists in work is key.

“But live events have now returned and the last seven days have welcomed hundreds of people back to enjoy the work we do. And boy is it good to be back.”

What's On: Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival programme

Thursday, October 21:

Midday: Literary Lunch with BBC correspondent Paul Kenyon;

4pm to 5pm: Kate Vigurs, Mission France: The True History of the Women of the SOE;

5.30pm to 6.30pm: Led by Donkeys with James Sadri & Oliver Knowles;

7.30pm to 8.30pm: Go Big, How To Fix Our World with Ed Miliband.

Friday, October 22:

11am to midday: Dr Waheed Arian, In The Wars;

12.30pm to 1.30pm: Robin Ince and The Importance of Being Interested;

2.30pm to 3.30pm: Her Heart for a Compass, with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York & Marguerite Kaye;

4pm to 5pm: The Secret Royals - a discussion on the relationship between the Royal Family and the intelligence community;

7.30pm to 8.30pm: Funny You Should Ask. Weird questions answered by the QI Elves.

Saturday, October 23:

11am to midday: SCOFF with Pen Vogler, A History of Food And Class In Britain;

12.30pm to 1.30pm: Museums, Adapting To The Modern World;

2.30pm: Spa Wars, with Melanie King;

4pm to 5pm: Climate Change - Code Red For Humanity, with Dr Alice Bell and Professor Peter Stott;

6pm to 7pm: Amy Jeffs, Storyland, looking at our ancient stories;

7.30pm to 8.30pm: An Evening with the Dogfather, Graeme Hall.

Sunday, October 24:

9.30am to 10.30am: Head First With Alastair Santhouse, A Psychiatrist’s Stories Of Mind And Body;

11am to midday: What Next as the UK emerges from Covid-19 and detached from the EU?

12.30pm to 1.30pm: In conversation with author Monique Roffey - 2020 Costa Book of the Year winner.

How to find out more or book tickets

For more information on the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival go to the website: https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/whats-on/

Or call 01423-562303.