The HIF Weekender, Coming This July.

Harrogate International Festivals is thrilled to announce first names for its new, free virtual festival bringing world-class culture to everyone at home, the HIF Weekender.

From 23 to 26 July, the HIF Weekender will present a celebration of the arts, featuring performances and interviews with internationally acclaimed musicians, best-selling authors and innovative thinkers to coincide with what would have been the legendary long weekend of Harrogate’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

The HIF Weekender begins with a bang, crowning the winner of the UK’s most prestigious crime fiction prize – Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year – in a virtual ceremony recognising the best of the best. The celebrations continue with crime writing royalty Ian Rankin, who was set to be the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair, interviewed by N. J. Cooper about Rebus, writing and Rankin’s ‘lost’ festival year. Lee Child will reflect on his extraordinary career with fellow author Joseph Finder, and Mark Billingham on the 20th anniversary of his iconic detective Tom Thorne and debut novel Sleepy Head. Steve Mosby will be joined by AA Dhand, Emma Kavanagh and Amanda Jennings to explore what it means to be a crime writer in the age of pandemic and why the genre has dominated reading lockdown reading habits, and Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste are set to present a virtual version of their popular podcast Two Crime Writers & A Microphone for the weekend.

Queen of crime Val McDermid will be joined by journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson to unpack the heritage and impact of her infamous New Blood panel, discussing the vital role this showcase has played in shaping bookshelves and literary careers, how trends have changed over the past 17 years, as well as giving a peek behind the scenes into has she selects her chosen four… all before welcoming this year’s formidable debut talent to share the virtual stage: Deepa Anappara, Elizabeth Kay, Jessica Moor and Trevor Wood.

For centuries music has provided refuge in times of crisis and Harrogate International Festivals has taken the bold step of commissioning a new work to premiere during the HIF Weekender, in a statement demonstrating the Festival’s commitment to supporting the arts scene and the artistic community at this precarious time.

Highly respected, Yorkshire based composer David Lancaster was commissioned by the Festival following the cancellation of the Summer Season. Inspired by the pandemic, Lancaster’s piece for brass band Eclipse was scored in just five days and represents the darkness and danger facing the arts at this time, with an invitation to remain hopeful until the light returns. The Festival has brought together musicians from around the world – from young players starting out on their journey to professionals at very top of their careers – to come together digitally as a community on the hallowed Harrogate stage for a collaborative world premiere led by acclaimed virtuoso trumpeter Mike Lovatt.

Jazz maestro Mischa Mullov-Abbado – who has also been commissioned by the Festival for new work premiering this autumn – is welcomed as a Guest Curator for the festival weekend, as well as performing with the Mischa Mullov-Abbado Group. Reflecting the Festival’s dedication to championing new talent, Mullov-Abbado has handpicked some of the most exciting contemporary young musicians to join the line-up: rising stars and former finalists from the BBC Young Jazz Musician of The Year, Sean Payne and Noah Stoneman.

There will be a host of further classical performances from world renowned musicians including distinguished British cellist Steven Isserlis, the Navarra String Quartet, multi-award-winning concerto violinist Tasmin Little, Tehran born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani – a three time nominee for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year – as well as a raft of emerging artists: pianist George Harliono, who was recently shortlisted for Classical BRIT Award, Argentinian composer and pianist Silas Bassa, violin and piano duo Abigail Hammett and Iwan Owen, and tenor saxophonist Rachael Green.

For folk fans BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award nominees Granny’s Attic are on hand to entertain, or if rave and house music is more your scene, Graeme Park – the DJ responsible legendary Hacienda in Manchester and at the heart of the cultural boom of Cool Britannia – will be joining the line up with a live DJ set and interview, so be sure to have your disco ball ready at home.

Alongside mesmerising music and first-class fiction, the HIF Weekender presents a series of cultural conversations with the best in the business including celebrated conductor Ben Palmer, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck in Darmstadt, and Founder and Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia; theatre maker and co-director of the Fun Palaces campaign, Stella Duffy, will be discussing the state of the arts in lockdown; newsreader and presenter John Suchet will reveal the man behind the music with his compelling biography of Beethoven; and one of the UKs most prolific and successful writers – Anthony Horowitz – will be sharing anecdotes from his career, celebrating 10 years of Alex Rider and giving an early glimpse at his new novel Moonflower Murders.

As part of the Festival’s Berwins Salon North strand of TED-style talks designed to change your life for the better, the weekender welcomes geneticist, author, and broadcaster Adam Rutherford to advise on How to Argue with a Racist, BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind Claudia Hammond will explain why we should be talking rest seriously, and astrobiology research scientist Lewis Dartnell will tell the virtual audience the ultimate origin story.

And not forgetting little ones, in addition to the host of activities and resources on the Festival’s HIF Player, the HIF Weekender will be introducing children to brass music with Back Chat Kids, sharing singalongs with Family Singing Sessions and History’s Maid Kate Vigurs will be revealing the horribly entertaining parts of history that children love!

Since 1966, Harrogate International Festivals has proved an artistic force to be reckoned with, presenting inspiring and ambitious cultural experiences in the most interesting spaces across Harrogate and the region, dedicated to its charitable purpose of ensuring as many people as possible have access to the arts. This commitment now takes the Festival to our digital doorstep, but for those unable to connect HIF has created a CD version of the weekender available to the public. The festival is also hosting a colourful window campaign to spread joy on the streets of Harrogate and brighten up the #ViewFromMyWindow, as well as live performances from the Band on a Bus helping residents stay upbeat and merry, and etchings of 10 Word Crime Stories as a nod to Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Sharon Canavar, CE of Harrogate International Festivals, said: “Out of crisis comes creativity, and Harrogate International Festivals is delighted to present a world-class line-up for our first virtual HIF Weekender. Bucking the trend, we have opened our digital doors and wallets to fund artists and commission new work, knowing the transformative value that the arts bring in supporting communities – both locally and for our international audience. Whilst there is no denying that this is a hugely challenging time for the arts and for artists, festivals play a vital part in the creative industries ecology and defining our cultural landscape, and so we are extremely proud to be presenting this rich selection to our audiences world-wide for free, ensuring the arts remain accessible to all at a time when we need it the most.”

Click here to see our list of currently announced authors, interviewers and performers.

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