Harrogate's summer festivals: Which ones are still on and how has roadmap delay impacted on events
It hasn't take long for the first casualty to emerge in the arts and events sector in Harrogate after the Government’s announcement of a delay to the roadmap. But it's not all bad news.
Harrogate Fake Festival
The Stray will not now be playing host to the annual Harrogate Fake Festival on July 17 and there will not be 2,000 people enjoying top rock music tribute bands.
The cancellation may not yet be the last piece of bad news for arts and entertainment in the Harrogate district as organisers weigh up whether it’s feasible to go ahead with social distancing rules and the rest of the Covid restrictions which will now be in place until July 19 at the earliest.
One event whose return has been long-anticipated by hundreds of people has now said it will have to be delayed.
After weeks of speculation amid much hard work by national and local organisers to win permission from land owners to bring back Parkrun to places including the Stray in Harrogate, Conyngham Hall in Knaresborough and Fountains Abbey near Ripon, the date for this popular weekly running event has now been put back to at least July 24.
Great Yorkshire Show
But there is better news about one of the most important events in the Harrogate district’s annual calendar, The Great Yorkshire Show.
It has always been hopeful that it could go ahead after planning extensive measures to ensure the safety of visitors, including limiting attendance numbers.
The roadmap delay briefly raised new doubts but yesterday, Wednesday, saw organisers confirm that the event will still go ahead from July 13 to 16, albeit there may need to be additional safety measures following the extension of lockdown.
Harrogate Food & Drink Festival
Harrogate Food & Drink Festival also seems to be ready to return next weekend boasting quality food, independent drink, music and performing arts in an outdoor setting.
In fact, the event is set to take place on two occasions this summer:
Harrogate Food & Drink Festival from June 26-27 on the Stray in Harrogate
Harrogate Food & Drink Festival returns on August 28-30, this time at Ripley Castle
What are the roadmap problems for arts and events
With a reliance on maximising turnout to cover costs, culture has been, perhaps, the single sector hit hardest of all during Covid as social distancing has a drastic impact on possible attendance, making it almost impossible to break even, never mind make a profit.
This in spite the Government’s furloughing scheme and its Cultural Recovery Fund which has been criticised in the industry for the patchy nature of grant allocations.
As a result, event organisers in the Harrogate district have tended to play it safe through the lockdowns and rule changes of recent times, opting to stick to outdoor events or digital streaming on the whole.
It’s some of those which still see some hope of an arts revival in the Harrogate district this summer, albeit in a more limited way than hoped for.
Harrogate Theatre, which has won a total of almost £650,000 from the Cultural Recovery Fund over the last year, seems as unfazed as ever by the four-week delay to the fourth and final stage of the roadmap to normal life.
The theatre’s chief executive David Bown who, as well as dealing with the pandemic is also currently steering a £1 million project to replace the arts hub’s roof, said: “Harrogate Theatre will remain closed for all performances until Christmas due to essential repairs and renovation.
“The summer and artistic programme is going out into alternative community venues embracing social distancing, including our innovative Our Gate production.
“Once the restrictions are removed then we will review procedures and the safety of our audiences.”
Northern Aldborough Festival
But there’s good news for fans of Northern Aldborough Festival. The annual music and arts event near Borougbridge, which is scheduled to start next Monday, June 21 with stars including Lesley Garrett, has confirmed that it will go ahead as planned despite the Government's postponement of the final lockdown easing measures.
The festival director, Robert Ogden said: “The festival has been following Public Health England guidelines closely and has planned to be fully compliant with current restrictions, meaning social distancing, mask wearing and additional hygiene measures will be in place.
“The safety of everyone is our absolute priority and whilst there will be some changes to the way in which the festival is run we are working hard to minimise disruption. Above all else we are delighted to be able to share some wonderful live music with our audiences.”
Deer Shed Festival
A reduced version of Deer Shed - North Yorkshire’s leading indie music, comedy and arts festival - held each year near Masham, has also been confirmed for the end of July with acts including Jane Weaver, Porridge Radio, John Shuttleworth and Mark Watson.
A spokesperson for Deer Shed Festival at Baldersby Park at Topcliffe said: “Our event plan abides by current Step 3 restrictions, introduced on May 17, so even if the delay was extended further, we would still be intending to go ahead from July 30 to August 1.
“The unlocking steps would have to be reversed rather than stalled for Base Camp Plus to be in jeopardy.”
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