Harrogate International Youth Festival proves it's still got a spring in its step at 40

PUBLISHED: 17:02 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:21 05 April 2013

Harrogate International Youth Festival proves it's still got a spring in its step at 40

Harrogate International Youth Festival proves it's still got a spring in its step at 40

Harrogate International Youth Festival proves it's still got a spring in its step at 40

In the days before the internet and social media connecting young people instantaneously across the globe, there was the Chapter of World Friends. It was this organisation, with the help of Harrogate Council, that devised the now cultural landmark that is Harrogate International Youth Festival.

The music and performing arts event, which celebrates its milestone 40th anniversary this month, has changed hands over the years (now delivered by ECE Travel) but its aim remains the same: to connect young people from different cultures through a series of performances.

This years festival, which runs from March 29th to April 4th, features young talent from all over the world in some of Yorkshires finest venues, including the Royal Hall, Harewood House, Fountains Abbey, Ripon Cathedral, Newby Hall and, new for this year, RHS Harlow Carr.

The 40th celebrations will include the ever-popular Easter Parade, which will add extra vibrancy to Harrogates streets on March 30th, and a special exhibition at St Peters Church offering a rare chance to see memorabilia from the events entire history.

Since its inception, the festival has hosted more than 30,000 performers. In 2013, another great international contingent will be descending on North Yorkshire from Canada, Africa, Switzerland and Spain.

Festival liaison committee secretary Claire Golightly, who performed with her own school band at the event from 1996 to 1999, said she had made lifelong friendships through her involvement.

I give up my time every year because of the chance to see the delight and enjoyment of the students after each performance, she explained. Its a real sense of pleasure and achievement when they return backstage, and its really special to know that a highlight of their school year is participating in the festival.

Mike Newby, also a member of the liaison committee, added: I betray how old I am by still referring to The Band Festival, which is what it was called in its early years. I took part for the first time in 1976 as a member of Granby High School Concert Band.

Ive been a member of the liaison committee for a number of years because I want to see this important event continue to provide a unique experience for young people from both the local area and from all over the world.

Former participant Paul Sweet returned as a musical director at last years successful festival. Sharing his thoughts on what makes this event so special, he said: All in all, this is truly a musical, historical and cultural experience that I have not seen equalled anywhere.

Theres plenty in Harrogate International Youth Festivals 2013 schedule to satisfy every musical taste, from big band and swing to classical and jazz. But the committee is not ready to bask just yet its already looking to the future.

We have high hopes that the next two years will see international visitor numbers rise as word continues to spread about the quality of this long-standing event, said Claire.

For more information, visit hiyf.co.uk, call 01423 502116 or email boxoffice@harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

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