The first Bilton Gala took place in 1977 to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Since then it has grown, and is now such a large event that it has spread to the fields adjoining Richard Taylor C of E School where it has traditionally been held. The Bilton Gala use the funds raised at the main event to donate to local charities, groups and organisations. In 2008, the Gala set up a Charitable Trust, the Bilton Community Fund, to manage the ever increasing funds raised each year. The funds are available in the form of grants and awards to groups, organisations and individuals in the Bilton area of Harrogate.
Billowby bear is the Gala mascot. Billowby enjoys visiting local schools and organisations, and often delivers grants to successful applicants in person.
The Gala is overseen by the Gala Queen and her two attendants who are elected each year by the committee and upstanding members of the local community. Children from local schools, or who live in the community, are encouraged to apply each year for the three coveted roles and it is a great honour to be selected. In 2008, the Gala decided to move with the times and widen its criteria in order to attract a potential Gala King. The Gala elected its first King in 2011 in Mark Nicholls.
The day starts with the Parade which is led by the Queen/King and their attendants in a chauffeur-driven car. Following them are usually the Harrogate sea cadet band from the Sea Cadet Corps (United Kingdom) and many colourful and elaborate floats that reflect each year's chosen theme, members of local sports clubs and organisations, local businesses, bands, majorettes and the Mayor/Mayoress of Harrogate. Children are also invited to join the parade in fancy dress. The parade snakes through the streets of Bilton which are lined with supporters. There is always a prize for the best float. 2013 Lily Robins 2012 Ella Hyde 2012 Lily Robins 2011 Mark Nicholls 2011 Jasmine Tyler 2009 Lauren Woodhall 2010 Joseph Atkinson 2008 Alice McAvoy 2007 Amy Frost 2006 Amber Hardcastle 2005 Katie Small 2004 Charlotte Oxley 2003 Elizabeth Cooper 2002 Katie Newton 2001 Natalie Fulcher 2000 Tiffany Purchase 1999 Sarah McGrail 1998 Sarah Simpson 1997 Rachel Simpson 1996 Sarah Morrell 1995 Julia Bullock 1994 Anna Littlefair 1993 Clair Jennings 1992 Kay Rushworth 1991 Rachel Charlton 1990 Lynne Niddrie 1989 Suzanne Smyth 1988 Samantha Thornell 1987 Fiona Thompson 1986 Wendy Leach 1985 Sarah Foy 1984 Michelle McKenzie 1983 Michelle Johnstone 1982 Suzanne Johnstone 1981 Nicola Spruce 1980 Eunice Thompson 1979 Maria Willmore 1978 Yvonne Ayres 1977 Julie Tennyson
Once the parade has finished the day continues with the fancy dress competition which is judged by the Mayor/Mayoress in the main arena.
The arena then hosts an afternoon of entertainment which in the past has included stunt riders, bird of prey displays, bands, dance troops and aerial displays.
Around the arena and in the adjoining fields are many other attractions such as donkey rides, exotic animal displays, many stalls and games, the Army, magicians, food stalls and fairground rides.
Bilton Gala is one of the premier community events in Harrogate and the surrounding area.
The Gala is organised each year by a group of local volunteers.
Bilton Gala is one of the premier community events in Harrogate and the surrounding area, it provides first class professional entertainment and a host of stands and attractions to suit all tastes. The event continues to grow and become ever more popular providing an affordable day out for the whole family at only £1.50 per adult and 50p for under 16's. The 2014 event will take place on Monday 5 May.
The Gala seeks to provide entertainment to suit all tastes and next year will be no exception.