A CAR-FREE festival is taking place in Ilkley this month to raise awareness of climate change, and to imagine what the town would be like without vehicles.

Climate Action Ilkley is hosting the event on Sunday September 19th to mark Car Free Day which is happening on the following Wednesday September 22.

Kath Steward, Climate Action Ilkley trustee, said: “We are really excited to be doing this event again after a year off during Covid. We hope to demonstrate how much better Ilkley could be if the Grove were pedestrianised.

We intend to run this as a yearly event. It is particularly important this year in the lead up to COP26. We want to show people the possibilities for Ilkley in a zero-carbon world.”

The event organisers say there will be environmentally friendly activities such as e-cargo bikes and circus skills classes on offer for everyone, as well as music stages, a band stands, an acoustic stage and food stalls.

There will be two musical stages, one at the bandstand and an acoustic stage next to Cafe J. Free Trade Ilkley, Ilkley in Bloom and other supportive community groups will be taking part. 

The festival is taking place during National Big Green Week organised by The Climate Coalition and will mark the beginning of Climate Action Ilkley’s event build up for COP26 taking place in Glasgow in November.

This includes a talk by Tim Benton on Monday, September 27th at the Clarke Foley Centre (find it on Eventbrite), followed by a talk by John Marsham in October. A series of Earth Vigils are also being organised. More will be revealed at the Festival.

The organisers invite everyone to ‘come along with their roller-skates, bikes,  outdoor games and picnic blankets, deckchairs and juggling balls to have some environmentally friendly fun.’

Kath added: “We invite you all to join us to celebrate our capacity to imagine all the possibilities open to us to fashion a future without fossil fuels and we can have some fun too.

We can spend time talking about what really matters, what ancestors we want to be and what a responsible stance towards the climate emergency should really look like. Lets get together and see what Ilkley could be like with fewer cars!”

“Ilkley Town Council has already declared a climate emergency. We want to encourage action on these words - now is the time and we are the people.

“Climate change and the climate emergency can look and feel bleak when we consider the enormity of the challenges we face.

However, when we focus on our surroundings, on our local community and on the power of collaboration we can gleefully embrace the exciting opportunities available to us to make Ilkley a greener and greater town.”

Climate Action Ilkley aims to address climate change with local solutions and make a just transition to a sustainable zero carbon community.

The event will take place from 11am until 4pm on Sunday September 19.

The whole of The Grove from Brook Street to the junction with St James Road will be closed to vehicles from 9am to 5pm on the day of the event.

The full programme for the event is still being finalised, but will be online ahead of the day.

Visit Climate Action Ilkley on Facebook for more info.