THE future of The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival has been secured in Harrogate after organisers signed up for a further three years in the town.
While confirming the festival’s partnership with Harrogate until at least 2021, event director Ian Smith said remaining in the North Yorkshire spa town would 'allow the festival to grow'.
He said: “We have a fantastic venue in the Royal Hall and its adjoining facilities, some outstanding hotels and guest-houses and, of course, the sightseeing opportunities here in North Yorkshire are second to none.
“We are particularly pleased with our professional National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company which this year will bring four brand-new productions to Harrogate, and they are the most popular – The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, The Gondoliers and The Yeomen of the Guard.”
Mr Smith said he hoped the deal would encourage newcomers to the festival.
“Although we use the word ‘opera to describe them, they are very much light comedy opera. Our branding is fun, friendly and for all the family. We hope local people will want to try it. They won’t be disappointed.”
Since moving to Harrogate in 2014, the two-week festival attracts 12,000 visitors to the town every August, a traditionally quiet month in the event industry.
Cllr Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “The Festival not only brings national and international visitors to Harrogate each year but also high-quality entertainments as well as business to our hotels, guest houses, restaurants and shops.
“We’ve seen it grow year-by-year and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.”
The three year deal was also welcomed by Harrogate Convention Centre director, Paula Lorimer, who said the economic impact of the event during August was very important for the town.
She said: “What fabulous news for our local businesses. During August the festival will be filling our hotels and restaurants with visitors from around the world. It’s very much the direction I want to see us going at the Convention Centre - finding that balance between our conference, exhibition and corporate events while putting on a schedule of great entertainment.”
The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival opens in the Royal Hall on Wednesday
August 7, with the final show taking place on Sunday August 18.
There is a full programme of fringe events taking place in the Utopia Pavilion at Harrogate Convention Centre, and locations throughout the region.
Information and tickets at www.gsfestivals.org
Picture shows L-R: Cllr Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council; Ian Smith, festival director; Mary Stalker, Royal Hall front-of-house-manager