Virtual Harrogate festival dubbed a 'magnificent success'

More than 10,000 people from more than 60 countries attend virtual events as part of this year's "magnificent" virtual Harrogate International Festivals Weekender.

Adrian McKinty was crowned Crime Writer of the Year. Picture: HIF

Organisers announced in April that a host of events, including Harrogate Music Festival, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Spiegeltent and Children's Festival, would not go ahead this summer in person. Instead, a host of virtual events were planned.

The HIF Weekender included the announcement of the winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, which would have took place at the crime writing festival, and also included performances and interviews with internationally acclaimed musicians, best-selling authors and innovative thinkers, in addition to newly commissioned work, and the world premiere of Eclipse, a musical piece featuring brass musicians written by Yorkshire-based composer Dr David Lancaster.

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The online format allowed the festival to go global, with people watching from the UK, USA, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and beyond.

Chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said: “While we were hugely disappointed not to have been able to hold the Festival in its usual live format, we are thrilled that a truly global audience was able to experience the Festival’s unique offering.

"Throughout the HIF Weekender, we brought people the finest literary talents, showcased powerful new voices and, most importantly, helped inspire people at home to look to the arts in a time of refuge.

"While we remain in a precarious position as an arts charity that relies on ticket sales, we are incredibly proud to have brought the HIF Weekender to the widest audience ever, making it free for all to enjoy while continuing to pay all artists and authors involved. We would like to thank all those who made the virtual HIF Weekender and Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival such a success.”

The Festival was founded in 1966 to ensure as many people as possible had access to the arts. With that in mind, digital access was free, and it was also made available as a CD for those who couldn’t connect online.