Sharon Canavar - Carabosse will be the hot ticket in Harrogate this summer

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 June 2016

Sharon Canavar

Sharon Canavar


The Harrogate International Festival is on fire this summer, as its chief executive explains

A fairground of fire created by the Carabosse Company, specialists in pyrotechnic installationsA fairground of fire created by the Carabosse Company, specialists in pyrotechnic installations

There’s something amazing about growing up in a town steeped in history and with a wonderful spa heritage. From the legend of William Slingsby falling from his horse and discovering the spa waters in 1571, to the established brand of Harrogate Spring Water, alongside the emerging gin merchant on the scene Slingsby Gin, there’s a lot to be said for the restorative and promotable properties of the water in this fine town.

It’s this same water that was the foundation for much of the arts and culture too. Harrogate’s renowned historian and writer, Malcolm Neesam, tells me that music has been a central and essential part of spa life across Europe, with music accompanying those ‘taking the waters’ early on a morning, to providing an evening’s cultural entertainment. It’s clear that music was a key part of the town’s attraction for high profile and wealthy visitors who were here to sample our famous waters.

So in a destination so famed for water and its spa history, it might seem strange that the Harrogate International Festivals is choosing the element of fire to mark our 50th anniversary celebrations.

When looking at how we might celebrate this landmark year, I thought about what ShqaronHIF should mean to people. It’s clear that there are so many people from across the UK and beyond who have incredibly fond memories of every decade of the festivals, from the ‘I remember when Barenboim and Du Pre came to the after show Festival Club’ in 1967 to ‘when will you bring Craig Charles and the Spiegeltent back?’. It’s clear that from our music to literature, our Big Screen to the Spiegeltent that the HIF works with so many different audiences, so it would be foolish to look at celebration that included re-programming a world famous orchestra that appeared in 1966 that only 900 people could enjoy, albeit only if they could afford a very expensive ticket price.

Our celebration had to be meaningful, it had to reach lots of people and it had to be accessible in terms of ticket price and for all ages. With that in mind, we’ve managed to secure funding thanks to the vision of Harrogate Borough Council, alongside being part of the magnificent Yorkshire Festival produced by Welcome to Yorkshire. Their support alongside a number of other sponsors is enabling Harrogate to be transformed not by water, but by fire as we welcome the magnificent French company Cie Carabosse to the town’s Valley Gardens.

This beautiful park will play host to a fiery spectacle of sculptures and installations on a grand scale, with visitors being invited to explore this unique space, enjoying a gloriously atmospheric feast for the sense from these Gallic alchemists.

Using flaming flower-pots and cast-iron contraptions, Carabosse, with music resonating throughout the night, re-imagine family spaces as other-worldy fire-gardens. Roam through blazing landscapes; pass by metallic inventions as these musicians, dreamers, metal workers and storytellers create a fairground of fire, where you can set your deepest imaginings free. w

Carabosse takes place June 23rd–25th from 8pm onwards.

Call 01423 562303 or visit to book your tickets.

Sharon Canavar is chief executive of Harrogate International Festivals.

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