Otley Christmas tree festival draws 3,000

Wharfedale Observer: The Otley Courthouse Choir The Otley Courthouse Choir

Thousands of people flocked to Otley to enjoy the town’s third dazzling Christmas Tree Festival.

The visitors’ book at All Saints Parish Church, which twinkled with the lights of 37 specially decorated trees between December 11 and 14, was left crammed with positive comments from across the UK and beyond.

The entries included a poppy tree from the Royal British Legion, ‘message baubles’ to loved ones from local bereavement support group Reaching Out, a 30th anniversary theme from Otley Carnival and a Christmas Prayer Tree.

Others featured horse decorations (Otley & District Riding for the Disabled Association), mini-bicycle wheels and cyclist vests to mark next year’s Tour de France visit (Otley in Bloom) and a snowman festooned tree for Otley-based children’s charity Hang on to a Dream.

An Otley Chamber of Trade initiative to attract more people to the town each December, the festival was organised, as always, by former president Tim Wilkinson and his wife Helen.

Mr Wilkinson said: “It was hugely busy and the musical performances arranged to complement the festival were particularly well attended – the Otley Ukulele Orchestra brought the house down!

“I would estimate at least 3,000 people came along, which included a few school trips.

“Most were from Otley but we had others from Manchester, Oldham, New Zealand, Liverpool, Ripon, Sheffield and The Netherlands, which was nice to see.

“We got some lovely comments again too, with one person writing ‘A beautiful image of trees that brought back memories of my son’s Christening 16 years ago’.

“I think the festival has an innocence about it which appeals. It steps back from all the commercialism.”

The festival also raises money for the participating charities and community groups, who place buckets beneath their trees, with one this year collecting £170.

MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) was among the visitors. He said: “I was delighted to visit. Well done and a huge thanks to Otley Chamber of Trade for organising the festival and all the organisations who decorated the trees. It really is a special part of the pre-Christmas period in Otley and something that is now established and goes from strength to strength.”

The Wilkinsons would like to thank the church, exhibitors, supervisors, the performers and Stephen H Smith Garden Centre, which supplied the trees.


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