Groups jetted into Harrogate from as far away as Thailand and Los Angeles to take part in the Harrogate International Youth Festival (HIYF) 2017.
Numerous events were held at venues around the Harrogate district over the Easter weekend, with crowds flocking to concerts to see the youngsters perform.
The Mayor of Harrogate Coun Nick Brown cordially welcomed all the groups to the 44th international festival during a civic reception on Friday evening. This was followed on Saturday by the traditional opening parade through Harrogate town centre.
Craig Ratcliffe, chairman of the HIYF committee, said it was great to see Harrogate come alive with colour and pageantry. “The groups looked fantastic in the morning sun,” he said.
“St Aelred’s Dance School had been putting the finishing touches to their handmade uniforms, the Sea Cadets had been bulling their shoes with spit and polish and our local school concert bands, St Aidan’s and St John Fisher, had been drilled to perfection.
“The parade went off without a hitch and all the groups assembled for the massed photo outside the Royal Hall. It’s only then you realise the sheer scale of the festival and we stop quite a lot of traffic.”
The Royal Hall was packed for the opening concert on Saturday night. Among the highlights was a group from the Thai-Chinese International School bringing the house down with a Beatles medley, the Oulaisten choir in their colourful costumes from Finland performing a range of traditional pieces and some Abba tunes, and the young musicians of the massed band receiving a standing ovation for their performances of “A Yorkshire Overture” and “Procession to the Minster”.
Easter Sunday saw performances at Fountains Abbey and Newby Hall featuring Russian violin ensemble, Nedezda.
The Jazz Evening at the Old Swan Hotel was completely sold out. The Dragon School Jazz Band, made up of students aged between eight and 13, stole the show with their maturity and energetic programme.
Ripley Castle hosted a “Festival in a Day” on Easter Money. Among the international groups who performed in the sunshine were the local based Sea Cadets, who this year combined with other Sea Cadet bands from up and down the country to create an even larger and even more spectacular marching display.
Because so many groups travelled to Harrogate for the festival, the popular Monday concert in the Royal Hall was reinstated. It saw the Mount Baker and Guelph School Bands from Ontario and British Columbia respectively fill the hall with sound and take the audience on a musical journey across North America, while the effervescent Tewit Youth Band closed the concert with their rendition of “An American Trilogy”.
Craig said: “Alongside our concerts, we know that giving young people the opportunity to meet with their peers from around the world is so important.
“Following on from their spectacular Bollywood performance, the Katrina Hughes dancers busted some moves at the performers’ disco where 250 young people could both socialise and wind down.”
Finale night on Tuesday saw eight groups come together in an evening of choral and orchestral music at Ripon Cathedral. One of the festival’s musical directors, Mark Pallant, led 150 singers in the massed choir finale.
Reflecting on another successful festival, Craig said: “I think one of the strengths of the festival is that having been around for 44 years, there’s a well established plan that just falls into place. An outstanding team of volunteers, leaders and teachers, many of whom give up their holidays to be in Harrogate over Easter, just make it work.
“We should be ever grateful for their time and dedication.”