Harrogate's live events world begins to revive in build-up to Boris Johnson's July 19 'reopening' date

There may still be some uncertainty over what the easing of lockdown rules means for live events in practice since the Prime Minister’s latest announcement over the July 19 'Freedom Day' but things are already stirring in the badly-hit arts sector in Harrogate.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 6:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 6:08 pm
Performing at HIF event at Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate on Thursday, July 15 - Cellist Laura van der Heijden.

Harrogate Theatre may be closed as a major £1million roof repair is carried out but it is already contemplating increased crowd numbers at a series of shows it is holding in community venues this summer.

Another of the town’s leading arts institutions, Harrogate International Festivals, is now preparing to take the plunge into hosting real events again from next week after a successful switch to digital events last year on its HIF Player at www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com.

As early as tomorrow, Thursday, in fact, HIF is presenting three recitals in a unique day of classical music at the Old Swan Hotel.

Sharon Canavar, Harrogate International Festivals chief executive, said: “2021 has been an unusual year for events, and uncertainly still persists.

“However, that said, we are delighted to be able to produce a day of music featuring performances from truly some superb artists.

“Our industry has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, and we hope that Monday, July 19 will be the day when we can reopen fully, and once again produce the events and festivals we are famed for.”

The Day of Classical Music on July 15 will feature a trio of respected names in chamber music - Martin Roscoe, Laura van der Heijden with Jâms Coleman, and Emma Johnson with John Lenehan.

In more good news for arts enthusiasts, HIF is also delighted to be bringing back Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in person from July 22-25 with guest authors including Richard Osman, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves.

Harrogate Theatre has taken an ultra-cautious approach from the first lockdown in 2020 with a successful stratgey of focusing on financial survival during the pandemic.

Its chief executive David Bown is taking the same pragmatic attitude to the Government’s promise to end all Covid restrictions.

He told the Harrogate Advertiser that the changes may allow bigger capacities at the various venues for the current series of Raise the Roof shows, including These Hills Are Our’s at St Wilfrid’s Church next week, poet Luke Wright at Cold Bath Brewery the following week and Our Gate across the town centre in August.

In normal times, Harrogate’s live rock music scene includes locations such as the Royal Hall, Harrogate Convention Centre and Harrogate Theatre.

But its strength also comes from a vibrant independent sector of pub venues, local bands and community groups.

Simon Colgan, the co-owner of the town’s most famous, if not biggest, venue, the Blues Bar, said live music would return on July 19 and there would be gigs six nights a week.