"World carnival" announced to introduce Harrogate on the international stage

A major festival aims to introduce Harrogate to the world ahead of the UCI Road World Race Championship later this year. (Photo: Tour de France Harrogate).
A major festival aims to introduce Harrogate to the world ahead of the UCI Road World Race Championship later this year. (Photo: Tour de France Harrogate).
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Harrogate's town centre is set to ring with exotic music, carnival floats and a huge street parade in the headline act aimed at introducing the town on the international stage ahead of the road world cycling championships.

The world carnival, which includes street closures to enable stages for music and dance events from across the globe, themed food zones and static carnival floats, is part of a £300,000 cultural activity package approved by Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet on January 2.

The festival will form the centrepiece of the cultural activities leading up to the historic bike event, with the events meant to heighten local anticipation and international recognition of Harrogate before the cycling championships in September.

According to its own report on the package, the council does not have the resources to come up with and operate extensive complementary activities outside of its current commitments to host the championships.

The council has instead joined forces with Harrogate International Festivals, Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate Convention Centre and Visit Harrogate to conceive and carry out the parallel activities.

The council will supply the groups with an estimated £300,000 worth of grants to carry out preparation and management of the various events.

Partners Harrogate Theatre will also apply for a grant of over £100,000 from Arts Council Engand.

Ahead of cabinet voting on the proposed activities, cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development Coun Graham Swift called the plans "extremely exciting".

"It's one thing to have an event in our backyard, but bringing it to life is a very exciting story," he said.

"(Through this) we can welcome people to this world of Harrogate."

Council leader Coun Richard Cooper added that he thought the public would be "quite invigorated" by what was being proposed.

"There's so much here that's so exciting," he said.

The estimated cost of the festival will be £80,000, with the event scheduled for a weekend between 100 and 50 days before the start of the championships.

Harrogate International Festivals will be responsible for event management while Harrogate Theatre will be tasked with engagement.

It's not the only high-profile plan on the horizon ahead of the cycling championships though.

Another £55,000 will go towards lighting animations and 360-degree projection installations around the district, with LED lights to be used to beam slogans and branding miles into the sky from famous district landmarks.

Harrogate Theatre will also tackle an ambitious activity reality project in which groups of people will be able to see live shows, augmented reality via their smart phones and large-scale projections at locations across the borough.

£50,000 has been budgeted for the theatre's project, while another £40,000 has been budgeted for an extensive branding and sign-posting campaign.

Marketing and communications is expected to take up a £60,000 chunk of the funding, while £15,000 will go towards gala dinners aimed at getting national and local businesses, sponsors and supporters engaged with Harrogate and its future.

Coun Stanley Lumley had the last word on the motion, saying the events would leave a lasting legacy for the region beyond the cycling action.

“It's all a great boon for our district,” he said.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporting Service