Harrogate has four well-established international ‘twinning’ partnerships in four different countries.
In 2023, all four relationships reach significant milestones.
Visitors to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show (20 -23 April 2023) were able to see a specially designed Community Garden organised by HIP, which celebrated these links and anniversaries.
A very colourful and eye-catching exhibit, it was based around a four-sided obelisk, with each side giving details of one of the four twin towns, along with themed planting appropriate for the country concerned. The judges were also impressed, as it received a gold award! And Mayor Alex Nuttall of Barrie Ontario was able to visit and admire it for himself.
Harrogate has a longstanding reputation as a welcoming town for international visitors. Going back at least two centuries, visitors have come both from Europe and beyond to ‘take the waters’ and to participate in its vibrant cultural and recreational scene. The tradition is being maintained through Harrogate International Festivals and Harrogate International Partnerships.
BAGNÈRES DE LUCHON, FRANCE – 70 YEARS
Bagnères de Luchon is a Spa town situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees, 90km SW of Toulouse.
2023 marks the 70th anniversary of Harrogate’s twinning with Luchon.
For the last seven years, Harrogate has participated in Luchon’s ‘Fete des Fleurs’, a traditional flower festival with musical bands, dancers and decorated floats. Luchon is the perfect holiday destination for walking, cycling, golfing and skiing, and is situated just 10kms from the Spanish border.
MONTECATINI TERME, ITALY – 60 YEARS
The Spa town of Montecatini Terme in Tuscany is a UNESCO world heritage site. It has a rich cultural life based on its Spa heritage and music. Harrogate established a link in 1962, and formalised it a year later.
2023 celebrates 60 years of friendship. In 2022 Tewit Youth Band made a highly successful visit there, performing a series of outdoor and concerts. Easily accessible by flights to Pisa, Montecatini is also known for its funicular railway, which climbs to the charming medieval village of Montecatini Alto, just above the town.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – 70 YEARS
Links with Wellington were formed as a consequence of WW2. A large number of New Zealand aircrew were billeted in and around Harrogate. Sadly, many lost their lives and 23 are laid to rest in Stonefall’s Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, four of whom are from Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.
Harrogate Borough Council gifted a mace to Wellington City Council in 1953 to honour the servicemen’s memory, which is still in use, so 2023 celebrates 70 years of friendship. A formal ‘sister-city’ relationship was established in 1978.
BARRIE, CANADA – 10 YEARS
Barrie, Ontario is Harrogate’s most recent twinning, but its origins date back two centuries.
Barrie is named after Admiral Sir Robert Barrie, who played a significant role in the creation of modern Canada. He married into the Ingilby Family of Ripley Castle and is buried in the Ingilby family vault in Ripley Parish Church. A twinning relationship was formed in June 2013. Therefore 2023 celebrates 10 years of Harrogate’s newest partnership.