OTLEY'S first ever Wildlife Arts Festival - believed to be unique in the UK - will take place this autumn.

Wildlife Friendly Otley will stage the event on Saturday, October 2 at Otley Courthouse. It will celebrate the town's wildlife with displays by local artists, photographers, sculptors and craft makers. Writers and poets from the town will give readings of work featuring wildlife and nature.

The festival will be a full daytime and evening event culminating in an audio visual presentation and talk by one of the UK’s top wildlife cameramen and film makers, Ian McCarthy.

Neil Griffin, education officer for Wildlife Friendly Otley, said: “There are many talented people in Otley who are joining us to celebrate the beauty and wonder of wildlife in a wide variety of creative media including the visual and craft arts, the written and spoken word, poetry, photography and film.

“We hope the Wildlife Arts Festival will be a successful addition to the diverse range of festivals that Otley is famous for."

“As far as we know, it’s the first festival of its kind in the country. If it’s successful, our vision is to expand the festival and in future live music and more involvement from Otley children.”

Admission will be free for the daytime exhibition, displays and the performances by writers and poets. Tickets for the evening headline event featuring Ian McCarthy cost £10 and are available through the Courthouse. Mr McCarthy is an internationally renowned and award winning wildlife film maker and photographer and has worked all over the world on programmes such as Blue Planet, Life in the Freezer and Planet Earth and BBC Autumn Watch.

“Wildlife Friendly Otley is grateful to Ian for finding time for our festival in his busy schedule,” said Mr Griffin.

The festival is being supported by and will feature work by many of the town's creative groups and societies including Otley Camera Club, the Chevin Watercolour Group, Otley Writers, Otley Poetry Stanza and Otley Sewing Collective. Individual artists will be involved too, including Kate Broughton, Carole Gaunt, Kim Coley, River Six, Amy Wilson (embroidery), Janis Goodman (etchings), Frances Taylor (mosaics), Amelia Thackeray (embroidery), James Hamilton (soundscapes), Shane Green (wood sculptor), and Huw Williams (photography).

“We are also delighted to announce that the festival has attracted sponsorship support from one of Otley’s largest businesses, Sinclairs, and we are developing an exciting working partnership with them. Otley Town Council is also supporting the event with a community grant," Mr Griffin said.

Gemma Bassett, marketing manager at Sinclairs said: “We’re proud to be supporting the first Wildlife Arts Festival. We’re passionate about helping our environment, not only through using responsibly sourced materials and processes in our manufacturing but also by supporting our local community with events to raise awareness”.

Tickets for the evening presentation are available only through Otley Courthouse. Further information can be found at www.otleycourthouse.org.uk, or by phoning 01943 467466. Information about the festival can be found at wildifefriendlyotley.org.uk/festival.