In 2023, all four of Harrogate’s twinning relationships reach significant milestones, and events this year have been planned with this in mind.
APRIL 2023 – IT ALL HAPPENED AT ONCE!
Harrogate Spring Flower Show – 20 to 23 April 2023
Visitors to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show were able to see a specially designed Community Garden organised by HIP, which celebrates these twinning links and milestones. Based around a tall, colourful, four-sided obelisk which stood out in the showground, each face represented one of the twin towns with the respective garden reflecting landscape and planting from that area. It received a gold award from the Flower Show judges, and Mayor Alex Nuttall of Barrie Ontario was able to visit and admire it for himself.
New Zealand Garden Refurbishment – opening ceremony 22 April 2023.
The New Zealand Garden within Harrogate’s Valley Gardens was formally opened on 21 June 1954 in the presence of the Deputy Mayor of the City of Wellington, and included plants supplied from New Zealand and brought over by ship. In 2010, the New Zealand garden was refurbished by the Friends of Valley Gardens, again with plants donated from New Zealand, and the splendid Maori Pou Fennua carving was brought from New Zealand and blessed in a Maori service with a local choir.
Over the years time started to take its toll on planting and some wooden sculptures, and so for 2023, the New Zealand garden has again been refurbished. This has included a newly commissioned stone Maori Pikorua sculpture supported by generous private donors with further support from North Yorkshire County Council, plus a locally crafted bench donated by Wellington City Council. As well as new planting, and a specimen bush donated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, a number of the original bushes and trees have been retained. An updated information board was also added, with kind donations from the family of Tony Sissons who designed the 2010 garden. It was re-opened formally on 22 April 2023 in the presence of a representative from the RNZAF, local dignitaries, the generous supporters, and a number of the people who had worked so hard on the refurbishment including the sculptor, horticulturist, and the installation team, with music from the local Tewit Youth Band and a solo singer from a local school leading the national anthems.
ANZAC day commemoration – 23 April 2023
On 23 April, the nearest Sunday to ANZAC day 2023, HIP commemorated ANZAC day at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Stonefall, Harrogate. Representatives from both the Australian and New Zealand Air Forces joined other distinguished guests at the ceremony.
Visit from the Mayor of Barrie – 21 to 24 April 2023
On 21 April we were delighted to welcome Mayor Alex Nuttall from Barrie for a few days, celebrating 10 years since the signing of the twinning agreement between Harrogate and Barrie. As well as seeing the town and visiting the Harrogate Flower Show to view the twinning community garden exhibit, he attended the New Zealand Garden reopening, and had meetings with local business leaders including the Chamber of Commerce and Harrogate BID. He also met Sir Thomas Ingleby to tour Ripley Castle and the Church where Sir Robert Barrie was laid to rest. He also laid a wreath at the ANZAC commemoration in memory of the 660 Canadian aircrew buried at Stonefall, and another wreath on the grave of Flying Officer William Porritt from Barrie.
Food author – visit to Luchon
Also in April, Harrogate International Partnerships helped Kay Atkinson from Yorkshire Appetite with contacts to meet up with in Luchon, which she was visiting as part of her research for a book on French food and her food tours business. Kay reports a very helpful and enthusiastic reception, and a lovely, enjoyable and useful visit.
JUNE 2023 – MORE ACTIVITY!
- In early June, following on from Mayor Nuttall’s very successful visit to Harrogate in April and a reciprocal invitation, Harrogate is being represented in Barrie to celebrate 10 years of twinning. This includes Sir Robert Barrie Day (7 June) and the Barrie Air Show the following weekend, as well as the opportunity to follow up with civic and business contacts. Flags are being raised in Harrogate and Barrie on 7 June to mark the day.
- A floral display is being installed in Valley Gardens by the North Yorkshire Council’s local horticultural and parks team, commemorating the anniversaries of the town’s twinning agreements. Maintaining Harrogate’s reputation as a floral town is central to their work , and requires a huge ongoing effort. For 2023 the town has been named as a finalist in the RHS Britain in Bloom UK Finals.
MORE TO COME IN JULY and AUGUST 2023
- The Aneto Trail trail races take place this year on 7, 8 and 9 July 2023. Started by a group of friends in 2014, it is based in Luchon which is just four kilometres from Aneto, the tallest peak of the Pyrenees at 3,404 metres. There are numerous different events, ranging from family races to a two day ultra marathon, and all heading into the spectacular mountains around Luchon. In 2022 Harrogate International Partnerships sponsored a number of competitors from the UK, helping to raise the profile of the event here and participation from the UK running community.
- At the end of July, the first leg of an under 16s rugby exchange between Harrogate and Barrie will see the Harrogate team head off to Canada.
- Harrogate’s Floral Summer of Celebration, a two-week long campaign running from July 21st to August 4th, will include ten unique floral displays around the town centre, celebrating the four twin town/city locations and various other international links. This is being organised by Harrogate BID.
- At the beginning of August, plans are in place for a visit to Harrogate from Luchon by a member of the team at the Marie (Mayor’s office). More on this to follow.
- The Tewit Silver Band are heading to Luchon for the Fete de Fleurs at the end of August, with another team heading out to build the Harrogate flower float for the parade. The flower team includes language students and HIP volunteers, and links up with students from the Lycée (high school) in Luchon.