Summer of arts: These events and venues are returning in Harrogate district in 2021

Despite the feelgood factor engendered by the Government’s roadmap, the tricky nature of planning ahead is, perhaps, affecting the arts sector more so as the country looks ahead to the summer more than anywhere else.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 11:00 am
The stage is bare...but shows are coming back this summer. Our picture shows the new stage being built at Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough.

Harrogate International Festivals

Harrogate International Festivals is dipping its toe back in ‘real’ events by announcing its Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will go ahead on July 22-25.

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Fans of the world-renowned festival can expect a range of live author talks, panels and special guests, as well as some hybrid events.

As for HIF's usual summer music events, Sharon Canavar, who has been delighted by the success of Harrogate International Festivals’ digital events in recent months, said: “As for our normal music programme in the summer, we haven’t announced anything yet because it’s too risky. We’re looking at what’s possible right now.

“We will be hoping to put tickets on sale later in April once we’ve seen how the roadmap looks for real. It may require capacity limits or one-way systems at venues.

“We need to reassure people it’s safe to come back to the arts. It’s our job now to remind people why the arts are so very important.”

Harrogate Theatre

Closed since the first lockdown, Harrogate Theatre is expected to stay closed for much of this year while the original 120-year-old roof is replaced.

But the show will go on, in fact, the theatre this week announced its intention to present an exciting season of new shows across the town in different venues this year if the roadmap out of lockdown succeeds.

Called Raise the Roof season, as well as star performers, the centre point will be Our Gate, a large-scale community project.

Harrogate Convention Centre and Royal Hall

Having been mothballed for the last year to act as an NHS Nightingale Hospital, Harrogate Convention Centre director Paula Lorimer said staff were now working towards events making a full return at the convention centre and the Royal Hall on June 21 all restrictions on social distancing are due to be lifted.

Paula Lorimer said: "Discussions with colleagues from the NHS about their plans for returning the Harrogate Convention Centre to us are on-going. However, we are confident that the venue will reopen from June 21 in line with Government restrictions ending."

Ms Lorimer said more than 30 events have been confirmed for the venue between June and next March, with a further 56 provisionally booked.

Among the shows now scheduled - or rescheduled - is Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny at the Royal Hall on September 23, 2021.

Harrogate Film Festival

Although Harrogate Film Festival says it will return for a fifth year, its early events before the summer are likely to be digital only.

Running from late April to September, it will feature a 30th anniversary screening of the Oliver Stone directed film JFK followed by an exclusive Q&A with the Academy Award-winning Hollywood director behind hits like Scarface, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July and JFK.

Harrogate Fake Festival

First held on Harrogate's Stray six years ago, the music festival was last held in Harrogate in 2019 when it had to move, temporarily, from its home on the Stray to Killinghall Moor Country Park.

Organisers are currently advertising that the tribute acts event is set to return to the Stray on Saturday, July 17 from 11.45am to 11pm, the six live acts will be: Queen: Flash. Kasabian: Kazabian. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Really Hot Chili Peppers. Duran Duran: Duran. Green Day: Green Date. The Police: The Police Force.

Feva festival, Knaresborough

Organisers of Knaresborough’s feva community arts festival, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, have started planning for the event’s return from August 13-22, dependent on the roadmap’s progress.

Feva's marketing and PR director Rachel Auty said: "We can confirm that the Feva committee has started planning the 25th Anniversary Knaresborough Festival, to be held from 13th - 22nd August.

"The festival will include vibrant programme of music, drama, visual arts and street entertainers culminating in our popular picnic in the park.

"We hope to be able to bring our wonderful local communities safety back together and bring some joy to local families. Further details will be released as they become available."

Frazer Theatre, Knaresborough

Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough, home of top touring music and comedy acts plus community shows, which is undergoing a major facelift during lockdown, is still saying live events will most likely not return until later in summer.

Its vice chairman John Pearce said: “We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to put on shows in the second half of this year. The success of the vaccine rollout is an enormously positive sign.

“There’s still no firm date for our return, but it looks likely that late summer/early autumn will see the doors opening again, which we can’t wait for.

“Being entirely run by volunteers, we do have to consider the personal feelings of each member of the players as some people are naturally more cautious than others about being in a crowd of people or working front of house. Work on the refurb is also continuing at pace.

"Our brand new stage is now installed and our members are already very excited to get back into the theatre to try it out.”

Ripley Town Hall

Ripleylive independent promoters have tried harder than most to keep live gigs going during the lockdown but most have suffered the same fate of cancellations and reschedulings as elsewhere.

Nationally renowned for bringing top blues, rn b and soul acts to Ripley Town Hall, all activities are currently suspended at the venue.

But organiser Andy Herrington now says: "We are desperate for entertainment and have arranged an outdoor gig to comply with current regulations for Friday April 30th.

"This will take place in the lovely garden at the Town Hall and attendance will be limited to 30 so we can have the appropriate social distancing.

"Drinks will be served to people's seats and we are featuring the local rockabilly band The Doghouse Doctors. The gig will start at 7.00 and will be all over by 9.00.

It is also hoped other gigs can take place in Ripley Town Hall.

Ripleylive's provisional programme for the rest of the year:

June 3rd Mark Radcliffe (Radios 2 & 6 etc)

July 3rd Eugene Farrar Band

July 24th Snake Davis Band (for Parkinsons)

August 7th Guy Tortora Band

September 4th Martin Harley

October 9th Andy Fairweather Low

November 20th Noble Jacks

December 18th Nine Below Zero

December 31st NYE party with Cover to Cove

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Ripon International Festival

Ripon International Festival, which was first launched in 1998, has taken the decision to move its dates to slightly later in the year to give it more flexibility should the Covid situation change and the roadmap alter.

The festival's director Susan Goldsbrough said: "We have a provisional programme in the offing and have moved the dates back run provisionally from September 30 to October 30, 2021.

"The uncertainty - scientists' warnings versus Government optimism - over the effect of easing lockdown is very troubling so we cannot firm up yet.

"Socially distant audiences at indoor concerts are absolutely out of the question as they would not be financially viable.

"However, we do have real optimism about a big Spring 2022 celebration.

Northern Aldborough Festival

Robert Ogden, the Harrogate-based director of this high quality classical music an arts festival, said things were now looking good after the announcement of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown to bring back real events to the village of Aldborough, located seven miles north-east of Knaresborough near Boroughbridge.

Mr Ogden said: “We are reasonably fortunate that the bulk of our programme is from June 17-26, after the Government’s date for ending lockdown on June 21.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to continue with our festival in 2021 and we will have a very exciting programme to launch.

“How much of it is in person and how much streamed depends on how the road map pans out over the next couple of months, but we have the artists lined up and ready.”

Bringing world-class musicians to intimate venues, along with renowned authors and leading personalities, Northern Aldborough Festival has built up a nationwide reputation since it was first launched in 1994 to raise funds for the restoration of the organ in Aldborough Church.

Deer Shed Festival

Held annually at Baldersby Park near Masham for the last 11 years, this North Yorkshire-based independent music, science and arts festival hailed as the “Latitude of the North” has confirmed it will be back this summer for three days from July 30 to August 1.

Among this year's acts will be Tim Burgess, James, Stereolab, Baxter Dury, Cate Le Bon and Jesca Hoop.

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