OTLEY'S seventh Christmas Tree Festival will take place next week.

Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the free event at All Saints Parish Church between Wednesday, December 6 and Saturday, December 9.

Forty trees, donated by Stephen H Smith's Garden Centre, have been specially decorated by local charities, community groups and businesses this year.

The festival will be declared open at noon on December 6 by Otley Bellman Terry Ford, accompanied by Guiseley Brass Band.

It will remain open until 6pm on the first day and after that viewing will be available daily from 10am to 6pm.

Organisers Helen and Tim Wilkinson started the family-friendly event as 'an antidote to the usual commercialism of Christmas' - and a different reason for visitors to come to the town.

They said: "Visitors are encouraged to attend as often as they like and might find the festival less crowded earlier in the week, as the Saturday is particularly busy.

"Amongst the forty groups decorating this year are some usual favourites such as the Royal British Legion, Otley In Bloom and Otley Beer Festival.

"We also have debuts from the Yorkshire Animal Shelter, Otley Welcomes, PDSA, Aireborough Inner Wheel Club and the Donkey Sanctuary.

"Musical performances are also scheduled by, amongst others, Chevin Handbell Ringers, the Sally Barnes Madrigal choir, Mary and Zoe Violin Duets, Woolpack Social Music Group, Otley A Capella Choir, Otley Ukulele Orchestra and St Joseph's and The Whartons school choirs.

"Although free to enter visitors might like to drop a few coins in the bucket beside the trees they like best - about £5,000 was raised by the local groups for good causes last year."

More than 5,000 people, including one from Brazil, visited the Parish Church to see the 2016 display.

Comments left in the visitors book included one which described the festival as being 'firmly established as the most meaningful Christmas event'.

This year's display will include an evening concert at 7pm on Friday, December 8 by Chippendale Singers and Westgate Primary School Choir.

Tickets for the performance cost £5, which includes light refreshments, and can be booked from Sue Marshall on (01943) 463853.

The trees will remain in place after the festival finishes for the church's Christmas Tree Carol Service on Sunday, December 10, which will be followed by a performance from Yan Tan Tether.

To find out more visit otleychristmastreefestival.co.uk .