OTLEY is preparing to enjoy its biggest ever Christmas tree festival.

A record 43 trees, donated by Stephen H Smith’s Garden Centre, will be on show at Otley Parish Church for this year’s event which will be supported by live festive music.

They will all have been decorated by local charities and community groups to create what the organisers hope will provide ‘an antidote to the usual commercialism of Christmas’.

The 2019 festival will be launched at noon on Wednesday, December 11 by Otley Bellman Terry Ford and musicians from Guiseley Brass Band when the twinkling trees will be on view until 6pm. The festival will then continue from 10am to 6pm daily through to Saturday, December 14.

Admission is free but visitors are encouraged to drop a few coins in the collection buckets beneath the trees.

The event is organised by Helen and Tim Wilkinson on behalf of Otley Chamber of Trade. Mrs Wilkinson said: “After eight years the festival has grown into being one of the events that heralds Christmas, following the Victorian Fayre. We would love to see visitors, young and old, come and enjoy the display and some Christmas cheer around Otley. People are encouraged to attend as often as they like and might find the festival less crowded earlier in the week, as Saturday is particularly busy.”

The daytime musical performances will include local primary school choirs, the Courthouse Choir, Byrds and Gibbons, Singing For Pleasure, Martin Campey (organ), Chevin Handbell Ringers, Mary & Zoe (violin duets), Madrigal Singers and debuts from choir The Collective and pianist Elizabeth Keefe.

There will also be a 7pm evening concert - admission by ticket - on Friday, December 13 featuring the Chippendale Singers and Westgate Primary School Choir.

And on Sunday, December 15 the trees will stay in place for the church’s Christmas Tree Carol Service at 4pm.

That will be followed by a free concert from folk trio Yan Tan Tether.