Harrogate International Festivals has scooped the Arts Festival of the Year Award at the inaugural Northern Soul Awards 2017.

Hosted at The Hilton Deansgate in Manchester, the awards were created to celebrate and reward exceptional culture and enterprise in the North of England, including theatres, productions, venues, and galleries.

Prizes were awarded in 22 categories for the best venues, businesses of the year, productions and festivals. Winners included The Lowry, The Royal Exchange Theatre and Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

Sharon Canavar, CEO of Harrogate International Festivals, said: “We are incredibly honoured to receive this accolade. It’s a testament to the 50 year legacy our Festivals celebrated last year, which included the ground-breaking art installation, the Fire Garden, with Cie Carabosse. To achieve recognition amongst such strong competition across the North is something we all feel very proud of.”

Northern Soul founder and editor, Helen Nugent, said: “Northern Soul is a celebration of culture and enterprise, from theatre, music, authors and art to heritage, small businesses, food and leading figures, as well as everything in-between. Congratulations to all those who entered, were shortlisted and those who won. It was a room packed full of truly Northern Souls.”

Judges included journalists and writers, alongside the arts professionals from Tate Liverpool, the Hepworth and The Met.

As well as a night of celebration, it was also an evening of great poignancy in light of the Manchester terrorist attack. Helen said: “After a heart-breaking few months – where people showed their true grit, compassion, resilience and creativity – it was fantastic to witness so many winners give rousing speeches about the importance – and prevalence – of arts and culture in our fair region.”

Harrogate International Festivals began its month-long Harrogate Music Festival on 30 June.

Highlights include opera star Sir Ben Terfel, the John Wilson Orchestra, poet Ian McMillan, family events and outdoor theatre from Oddsocks. The festival runs in venues across Harrogate throughout the month of July. It also hosts the world-famous Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 20-23 July, and Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival 19-22 October.