Harrogate International Festivals has opened priority bookings for Friends of the Festival today for its flagship summer Music Festival.

Priority booking opened this week for those in the membership scheme, which allows audiences to book ahead and gain exclusive access to the Festival’s events. Booking for the general public will open on March 28.

Highlights of the July-long programme include the return of the popular John Wilson Orchestra, with a celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Headline acts include star of the operatic stage, the bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, and wine critic Oz Clarke will be doing a special ‘Drink to Music’ evening. Returning Festival favourites include the high-energy theatre troupe, Oddsocks, with their unique rendition of Romeo and Juliet in the beautiful setting of RHS Harlow Carr Gardens, as well as its annual Young Musicians series. BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists will perform at the Royal Hall, recorded live for broadcast.

For poetry lovers, Ian McMillan will present his Early Stroll Songs, featuring the Bard of Barnsley’s short-form Tweets inspired by his morning walks.

2017’s over-arching theme is ‘Generations’, with a line-up designed to celebrate music passed down, honoured or reinvented through the generations.

Brian O’Regan, Music Festivals Manager, said: “We hope all ages, crossing generations, will share the unifying, life affirming experience of a live performance this summer.”

2017 features its ‘Library of Live’ pilot scheme supported by Arts Council England, which offers a ‘library’ of free performances, open rehearsals and digital downloads for the under-18s.

Brian added: “Every year, Friends of the Festival have a period of priority booking before tickets go on general sale. As a charity, we rely on the generous support of our Friends. Their contribution helps us deliver the prestigious arts events the Festival is renowned for. We have to actively raise 98% of our funding every year to support our live programmes, as well as offer a platform for young talent and deliver year-round outreach and educational programmes.”

Friends of the Festival receive a host of benefits including priority booking, access to exclusive receptions and more.

Don’t miss next week’s Advertiser for the full programme launch.

To become a Friend of the Festival visit harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/festival-friends or speak to Lizzie at the Festival office: 01423 562303.