International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival boost for Harrogate

The organiser of the 21st International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival has signed up to move the event to Harrogate next year in a move the Yorkshire spa town believes will be worth over £1m to local businesses.

The three-week spectacle will come to Yorkshire in 2014, with an option to extend the deal.

Simon Kent, Director of Harrogate International Centre (HIC) and The Royal Hall (pictured), said: “It’s hard to overstate just how fantastic this announcement is, not just for Harrogate but for the whole district.

“We will be welcoming visitors from as far away as America and Australia, so it’s fantastic we are able to offer them venues such as Harrogate Theatre and the recently-renovated Royal Hall, the perfect setting for Gilbert & Sullivan’s lavish operas.”

In a joint statement, Wallace Sampson, Chief Executive of Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) and Councillor Anthony Alton said: “The bringing to Harrogate of this world renowned festival has been a Team Harrogate effort involving local businesses as well as the council and the sales team at HIC. Everyone has worked hard to bring the festival here. This is exactly the type of joint effort that will be critical to the future success of Visit Harrogate, the district’s new destination management organisation.”

Ian Smith, who organises the entire festival from his home in Halifax, was in Harrogate’s Sun Pavilion on 19 June to sign the contract bringing the festival to Harrogate 2-28 August 2014.

He said: “Back in 1992 my first choice venue for the Festival was Harrogate.

“Harrogate has many three- and four-star hotels offering a much wider choice and selection than most towns of comparable size and a highly efficient Accommodation Bureau which pulls together 40 major Guest Houses in the town. The timing in 1992 was not right; today we think it is.”

Smith added: “Perhaps the most significant ‘add value’ reason for moving our festival to Harrogate next year is the fact that the Council, the theatres, the hotels and the local Tourist Boards have shown their enthusiasm and desire to have us and they have put together a package that means we can hold our prices and potentially offer even more value for money to our supporters.”

Smith said he had “dipped a toe” into Harrogate last year when he brought his other project, Classic Fest to the town, and one which he now intends to double in length to 12 days in 2013.

The 2014 Gilbert & Sullivan Festival, Smith said, would include fringe performances as well as major productions in Harrogate Theatre and the Royal Hall.

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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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