CORONAVIRUS: Harrogate International Festivals cancel all the summer season

“Deep regret and sadness”: Sharon Canavar, chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals, announcing the cancellation of the 2020 summer season

THE Harrogate International Festivals summer season will not go ahead, a decision with “huge financial implications that place the future of the festivals at risk”.

The Coronavirus pandemic has put paid to the Harrogate Music Festival, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Berwins Salon North, Spiegeltent and Children’s Festival, as well as several outdoor theatre and community events.

Announcing the cancellation with “deep regret and sadness”, chief executive Sharon Canavar said: “This difficult decision was made after carefully assessing several factors, but most importantly the health and safety of everyone involved: our audience, artists, suppliers, partners, volunteers, staff and the wider community.

“Many months of dedicated work went into planning this exceptional season and we share in the disappointment that will be felt by the many writers, musicians, thinkers, performers and festival-goers who were set to join us in Harrogate.”

Her statement continued: “As a not-for-profit arts charity, we are reliant on our events programme and ticket income, alongside sponsor support and donor philanthropy, and so the cancellation of our main season has huge financial implications that place the future of our festivals at risk.

“But despite the unprecedented challenge we now face, our mission to bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible remains unchanged.”

Harrogate International Festivals will continue “our unparalleled celebration” of crime fiction with the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020, alongside an extensive online programme of author interviews and more besides ahead of the award announcement in July.

In addition, the HIF Player will be launched to allow everyone a virtual festival experience at home. This free online hub will bring together archive event recordings, digital book clubs, learning resources for children and activities for little ones, and it will be updated regularly with new content to keep audiences entertained.

The chief executive’s statement continued: “Since 1966, we have proved an artistic force to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England with a diverse year-round portfolio that celebrates world-class artists, champions new talent and plays a vital part in the community with education outreach and inspiring activities.

“Art and culture help us understand what it means to be human and how to make sense of life, and festivals are a vital part of this ecology. When this troubling time passes, we will need – more than ever – the transformative power of the arts to bring communities together, to inspire hope, to lift spirits and change lives. We thank you for your support.”

The festival website,, now carries the request Please Consider Making A Donation: “Support our arts charity in this challenging time”.