Organisers vote the first-ever Happygate a Valley Gardens hit

Enjoying Happygate are: 'Rusty', Rachel Freeman, Julie Elizabeth and Ethan Rooney of Beulah 62. (1607244AM1)
Enjoying Happygate are: 'Rusty', Rachel Freeman, Julie Elizabeth and Ethan Rooney of Beulah 62. (1607244AM1)

It was a tale of two events for organisers of the first-ever Happygate festival last Sunday.

As the volunteers beavered away in Valley Gardens at 10am putting up stages and tents and stalls, hundreds of runners were racing past them as part of a different event taking place at the same time, the Great Yorkshire Run.

But Happygate, a community-led and completely local music and arts festival, survived this distraction - and rain in the afternon - to become a big hit.

Organiser Gary Simmonds said: “It was fantastic. Even though it rained a few times throughout the day people stayed to watch the bands.

“We were not expecting to be so successful in our first year and didn’t think that many people would turn up but we will definitely be doing it again next year.”

Running from 11am to 9pm, the Valley Gardens was a hive of activity.

There were family-friendly activities at the bandstand, the Sun Pavilion, the two domes at the Colonnades, the lawns and more.

Even during the worst of the downpour at 6pm there were hundreds of people enjoying choirs, brass bands and local rock bands.

Gary, who said: “Our volunteers all worked so hard and I can’t thank them enough but we really need more in future.

“But the first Happygate has been such a success this year we are hoping that we will get sponsorship to make next year’s even better.”

Three local charities will benefit from the first Happygate, whose name was chosen after Harrogate was voted the happiest place to live in the UK for three years running

They are: Fighting Ependymoma, a children’s brain tumour research charity set up in memory of Chris Bramhall a local musician.

Craft Aid International, run by Susie Hart MBE, a Harrogate-based charity that enables, empowers and supports people with disabilities.

The Harrogate Homeless Project, an independent charity that was founded by Harrogate Churches Together in 1991 to alleviate the growing number of people sleeping rough in the district.

Gary, who returned to his home town eight years ago after a successful career in London night clubs where he ran Bar Madrid, hosted the UK Lambada Championships and ran ClubBoulevard where he put on acts such as N-Dubz, The Cheeky Girls, Tim Westwood and more, said: “I’m not sure yet about how much money we have raised for the three local charities, but I’m guessing it will be £3,500 to £4,000.”

Dan Mizen of new Harrogate recording studio Warehouse Recording Co, formerly Active Audio, arranged all the bands and sound system for the main stage while Trevor Broadbank and Ben Sowden organised most of the live entertainment which included top local DJ Rory Hoy.

Other events included African drumming from Drums Agogo, cheerleading from Harrogate Hornets, circus skills from Butterfingers, trickery from Magic Andrew, an exhibition of local artists courtesy of Beulah62, a treasure trail and a stall by Craft Aid International.

Food and drink was on offer with pancakes courtesy of award-winning Harrogate cafe Baltzersens and beer provided by Harrogate brewers Daleside.