The show goes online with HIF’s new “At Home” experience

Harrogate International Festivals has turned to technology and the internet to ensure this year’s show go online.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the arts charity – which has fired up hearts and minds since 1966 and helped launch the careers of a host of writers and musicians – has launched “HIF at Home”, a free resource dedicated to its world-wide fan base.

And despite most of its team being furloughed, the remaining staff members have developed new opportunities and partnerships to create a revised online programme, featuring an array of top musicians, authors and inspirational speakers.

One of the casualties has been the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, which last saw more than 14,000 tickets being sold for the four-day extravaganza staged at the Old Swan Hotel.

But for fans of this genre all is not lost, as more than a dozen interviews with leading writers, including Ian Rankin, Lee Child and Ann Cleeves, recorded at previous Festivals going back to 2003, have been uploaded to the HIF Player, with many more to come over the coming weeks.

This week will also see The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award – last year won by Northern Irish author Steve Cavanagh – being launched in conjunction with WH Smith and The Express.

A veritable library of reading material has also been uploaded, and devoted readers will be able to delve into its contents in the new, “You’re Booked” section, which also features a “Book of the Month”, interviews and Q&As with well-known authors.

The HIF team is now working with key artists – who were scheduled to star at this summer’s famed summer season – to make online appearances, including rave-scene Hacienda DJ, Graeme Park.

Already lined up as guest curator is jazz bass player, composer and arranger, Misha Mullov Abbado, who, in addition to launching his new album on HIF Player, will be playing live as well as handpicking a number of young musicians to also deliver live, exclusive performances for Harrogate International Festivals.

Its Young Musician of the Month will continue the tradition of showcasing young talent, which will be complemented by a series of interviews with international musicians, who will each have 40 minutes to speak about their careers, instruments, influences and aspirations.

HIF has just commissioned a new piece of music – a brass work for all by Prof David Lancaster with the opportunity for everyone to get involved – including a top secret guest soloist.

It is anticipated that Berwin’s Salon North – the “TED”-style thought-provoking sessions featuring three guest speakers – will feature in a number of exclusive online events.

Harrogate International Festivals Chief Executive Sharon Canavar said: “Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has all but decimated this year’s programme, we are determined to deliver as much as we can, not on the ground, but online.

“We have harnessed the creativity and agility we are famed for to bring Harrogate International Festivals to life on the internet, including new commissions, exciting projects and a look back at some of the highlights of the last few years.

At HIF we’ve always been without a venue to call our own, this has encouraged us to be nomadic in nature, able to choose the most appropriate venue for the best events, making arts without walls in open areas, and unexpected spaces, transforming our town. And now we bring the Festival to you with HIF At Home, we’re providing a host of fantastic content and your home, phone or laptop is the venue.

Made in Harrogate but enjoyed across the world – with HIF, we promise, you’ve got the best seats in the house.

We have used the ‘lockdown’ to unlock our extensive archives for everyone to  enjoy for free, which is helping us achieve one of our core aims to make the arts accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

“The months of March through to August are virtually non-stop for us, and this is where we derive most of our income from. Whilst the coronavirus has meant our funds will be significantly depleted, we are determined that the show will go online.

“Our partners in the arts world are as keen to support us, and we are now pressing ahead with a revised summer season, that is enjoyable, informative, surprising and free to participate in.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors and supporters for their continued backing.


HIF Player

HIFAtHome gives visitors access to Festival events, recordings from the archives, and resources for families. Think of it as a virtual Festival experience, delivering the best from all of its Festivals until supports can join in person once again.

With recordings and videos added every few days, there’s always something new to delight and entertain.

And there’s good news for podcast fans. HIF has also launched HIF Player audio recordings as a podcast to listen to on the go. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Book Of The Month

Welcome to Book of the Month. Every month, the HIF team pick one book they love and share it. Get ready for amazing tales, can’t miss books and conversation – online and in real life.

Read along with HIF on social media and join the conversation by using the hashtag #HIFYoureBooked. HIF will announce the next pick at the beginning of each month to give book fans enough time to get a copy before it start being read.

You’re Booked

Part of HIF at home – bringing the very best of Harrogate International Festivals to your digital doorstep. Here you’ll find a host of author interviews, book reviews, and a peak inside their houses as authors share with their bookshelves, their must-reads and the book they always go back to.

Get involved by contacting HIF with your own book reviews, articles and blog posts. Everyone has the right to remain silent, but that would be exceedingly dull. Put your feet up and make yourself at home!

HIF Playlist

Welcome to the HIF Playlist, where the team shares with you, the music that’s making the month.

Some artists you might know, love and already listen to, others might be new to you – perhaps the HIG Player will widen your horizons and welcome you to a new favourite genre, album or band.

A listen along-snippet snippet will always be included and it’s likely this album is in heavy rotation whilst the team is beavering away putting the Festival together.


Welcome to the Family Resources, part of HIF at home – bringing the very best of Harrogate International Festivals to your digital doorstep.

Here you’ll find a host of collated fun ideas, activities, lesson plans, and workshops to make isolating for families and young children just a little bit easier.

We’ll be uploading more thing here each week, so do check back each week, and share with us any great resources you’ve found.