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Harrogate legend's big festival date at Grassington

Chris Simpson, left, and Magna Carta.
Chris Simpson, left, and Magna Carta.
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This year’s Grassington Festival has been launched tomorrow with a line-up awash with music stars – including a Harrogate music legend.

Running from June 15-30, although the community-run annual event in this lovely North Yorkshire village is by no means exclusively music-based, that side of its progamme is very impressive, indeed.

It’s the 38th year of this annual arts festival and its music line-up is possibly the best to date

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Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory, founders of both Human League and Heaven 17, will be performing with an array of famous vocal stars as British Electric Foundation on June 29, 70s and 80s pop hitmakers Smokie will appear on June 27 and indie-rockers The Fratellis are to headline a new venture in Field Day on June 30, a whole day of music and entertainment for all the family.

But topping the bill will be veteran Dales musician and author Chris Simpson who will combine musical performances at a special concert on Tuesday, June 19 with a rare reading of his poetic Yorkshire book The Visitor whose fans include Sir Patrick Stewart and the late James Herriot.

Celebrity tributes to the book include: “The Visitor is a moving, evocative story that touches on the many aspects of my own experience, those childhood memories of Christmas at my home in the West Riding of Yorkshire’.” - Patrick Stewart.

“Chris Simpson is a master storyteller from the heartlands of the Dales. This tale will take you there and will touch your heart.” – James Herriot

Simpson himself, the leader of multi-million selling folk rock band Magna Carta said: “ I never thought that I would ever see this happening - but it is .

“The Visitor caused quite a stir when it first came out 15 years ago.

“When it was re-published last autumn, I was amazed it had the same effect.

“The Octagon in Grassington is a lovely, intimate venue. A splendid time should be had by all.”

Renowned former Grassington doctor, Andrew Jackson, will be reading excerpts from The Visitor, a tale of husband and wife Yorkshire hill farmers who, having been touched by tragedy, open the door of their self-contained world to a visitor with unforeseen consequences.

Musical backing will come from Magna Carta who have been delighting lovers of music with their live performances and albums since 1969, selling more than eight million albums.

Grassington Festival was originally founded in 1981 when Colin Speakman, author, founder-secretary of the Yorkshire Dales Society (YDS) and chairman of the Dales Way Association, and his wife Fleur, editor of the YDS Review, decided to combine their love of life in Yorkshire, classical music and literature into a local summer festival.

Other highlights in this year’s Grassington Festival, include a talk by leading BBC political correspondent Chris Mason on June 21, a talk with author Joanne Harris on June 24, an appearance by Sir Michael Parkinson on June 25, a performance by top stand-up comic Jason Manford on June 26, Food for Thought: with Chris Clarkand Neil Heseltine – The Future of Farming in the Dales on June 27 and a Father’s Day Food Festival this Sunday.