By Graham Chalmers for Harrogate Advertiser
Harrogate's groundbreaking Women On Tap Festival is set to go fully virtual for the fourth annual event, cheering up beer lovers in the safety of their own homes.
With the town's much-missed pubs and bars closed because of the coronavirus lockdown, and with public gatherings on hold indefinitely, the 2020 programme has been reconfigured to produce a virtual beer and arts festival in safety.
Women On Tap CIC founder, Rachel Auty said: “We realise that many are missing the pub and the social benefits of pubs and beer, and our friends in the industry are feeling a lot of pain right now. "We believe we have a responsibility to continue as long as we can find a safe and beneficial way to do so. "We wanted to create a virtual beer festival experience to help boost community morale, playing our part in supporting positive mental health and reducing social isolation, while highlighting persistent issues and tackling inequality. "We also want to ensure that the joy of beer is put back in the spotlight and we’ll be showcasing an impressive portfolio of experts and talented creatives from across the UK. We want to keep on connecting people and keep the conversations alive.”
Founded in 2017 Women On Tap has now delivered more than 50 events and three major festivals, all showcasing women alongside the joys of great beer and hospitality.
The 2019 Women On Tap Festival attracted sponsorship from leading breweries and presented 25 events over five days across 13 venues in 4 towns.
Around 650 people got involved, and visitors travelled to Harrogate from across the UK. Last year Women On Tap also achieved ‘Finalist’ in the British Guild of Beer Writers Corporate Communications award alongside Verdant and Ei Group.
As a certified Social Enterprise, all of the profits of Women on Tap are reinvested in its core work and social aims.
The virtual WOT festival will feature a five-day schedule of online talks, live-streamed panel discussions, virtual tastings, internet gigs, and more has been put together – all designed to showcase brilliant women, highlight beer excellence, and promote equality. Events will include beer tastings, poetry readings, yoga, interviews, a brewery tour, photography exhibitions, and some wartime-themed specials to mark 75 years since VE Day.
Women On Tap Virtual Festival will take place May 6-10 with 18 online events planned across the five days.
To see the full programme visit www.womenontap.co.uk or browse the events on the Facebook page. Almost all events are completely free, and the festival organisers are instead asking for donations to Refuge. A JustGiving page has been set up at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/women-on-tap-fest2020