OTLEY is to hold its first ever Festival of Kindness with a weekend of accessible activities.

The event, organised by Otley 2030, will get off to a riverside start on Friday, September 24 and will celebrate and promote kindness.

Thanda Gumede, a South African jazz singer who works for Opera North and who recently performed in the Proms at the Albert Hall, will lead the festival's opening ceremony at Wharfemeadows Park, between the river and Bridge Avenue, at 7pm.

Thanda will lead the Otley Action for Older People Choir in two haunting and beautiful Zulu songs, followed by a version of This Land is My Land, by Woody Guthrie, with special Otley lyrics by local songwriter Jan Fielden, as well as a rousing climate emergency version of Bella Ciao.

The ceremony will finish with a lamp-lit circle dance led by local Steiner teacher Victoria Smith. Everyone is invited to join in with the singing - lyric sheets will be available - and with the circle dance, which will be accessible to all.

The festival continues that evening with a gig at Otley Social Club featuring emerging young Otley bands, Kites, Men in Glass Houses and Grafitti, and continues with a packed programme of events throughout the weekend.

The festival which runs until Sunday, September 26, celebrates kindness to self, kindness to others and to the planet, and promises free events for all ages across accessible venues. Festivities will continue in the market square on both Saturday and Sunday morning, and in the Labour Rooms and the Courthouse all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Soma Wellness are running two free children’s sessions in their studio on Kirkgate on Saturday morning, and two established Otley bands, Redwood River Band and the CJ Smith band will be playing at Otley Social Club on Saturday night.

A range of free Yoga, Meditation and Qi Gong sessions, for all ages and abilities, will be on offer; there will be a children’s workshop from an author and illustrator whose children’s books illustrate climate change through animal stories, as well as pop-up theatre in the market square.

A spokeswoman said: "On Saturday morning two artists in the Buttercross will be helping people to make their own ‘kindness crane’, whilst another will be encouraging people to produce their own artwork for an ‘art vending machine’. Meanwhile the ‘Directorate of Silliness’ will organise a range of silly activities designed to make everyone feel more cheerful.

"Speakers and workshop leaders in the Labour Rooms and The Courthouse will address issues such as looking after our mental health, living well in retirement, expanding our world to include people who may not think like us, issues around the international climate change conference, Cop 26, and the importance of connection with the living world. Alex Sobel MP will be talking about the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, and the NHS will be represented by a Community Links stall in the Courthouse. There will also be groups for women, for men and for families as well as loads and loads of kindness.

"All events are free, (but some are bookable so that we know how many people are coming). Please find details on the full programme at www.otley2030.com under ‘Latest News’.

"Printed programmes are available from The Core, Otley Library and are displayed in the telephone box in the market quare. You can also email us at hello@otley2030.com, and please call 07852 683049 if you’re unable to access online booking.

"Otley 2030 is a community of people working together to grow a climate-friendly, sustainable, fair and carbon-zero town by 2030. Please sign up for our free e-newsletter at www.otley2030.com"