Thousands flock to Harrogate for world's biggest G&S Festival

Feast of entertainment - The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival.Feast of entertainment - The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival.
Feast of entertainment - The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival.
Fans of Gilbert and Sullivan are flocking to Harrogate as the curtain goes up on the world's biggest annual two-week festival celebrating the famous musical pair's greatest works.

Hotels across the town are filling up with visitors - and performers - from across the UK and abroad in advance of the opening show today, Friday, August 4.

The Gilbert & Sullivan Festival was founded in 1994 and for the first 20 years was staged in Buxton Opera House in the Derbyshire Peak District.

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After moving to its new location at the Royal Hall in Harrogate three years ago, it has now added more venues including Harrogate Theatre, the Harrogate Convention Centre and Ripon Cathedral..

Artistic director Ian Smith said the festival's fourth year in Harrogate looked set to be the best yet: “The festival is all about fantastic entertainment.

“The glorious music of Sullivan and Gilbert’s wonderful, witty dialogue and outstanding political satire which would not be out of place in today’s world. There is simply nothing else quite like it.

“Performing groups get into the Royal Hall at 9am in the morning.They have to set up lights and scenery; dress rehearse their show with the National Festival Orchestra; perform and then, like Cinderella, they have to vacate the premises lock, stock, scenery and costumes before midnight in anticipation of the next group moving in the following morning.

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“During the course of the festival there will be more than 2,000 performers in Harrogate.”

Running until August 20, this year’s programme includes performances of Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard and HMS Pinafore.

During the festival, the Royal Hall also boasts the spectacular Utopia Pavilion next door, offering catering facilities, a bar, the festival shop, free film shows, free lunchtime entertainment and the Festival Club in the evening.