This year the short film follows a young girl as she ticks off an advent calendar list, supporting charities, shopping in quaint cobbled courtyards and searching for sprigs of holly in the town’s famed Chevin Forest Park.
To Katie Burnett, chairman of the Business Improvement District (BID), the film is all about Otley but its sentiment could signify any such Yorkshire market town. Rather than a ‘Christmas advert’ alone, she said, it’s almost a “thank you” to the people who make it home.
Miss Burnett said: “There’s something almost old-fashioned and nostalgic about Christmas films, that sentimentality which is so nice after the last couple of years.
“It’s a joyful thing, celebrating what we’ve got in Otley, with the Chevin and the walks and the shopping. But it’s got that Northern ‘grit’, that personality, that I think is so typically Yorkshire. The film and the song, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
This weekend is to mark Small Business Saturday for the UK, encouraging people to shop locally and, through December, Otley’s car parking charges are suspended on Saturdays to draw in shoppers. The town is also hosting ‘Super Sundays’ with extended trading this Sunday and December 19.
The new film, called An Otley Advent-ure, follows young Martha Ellis as she ticks off her advent calendar of things to see and do, from buying mince pies to choosing a festive wreath.
Local businesses such as toy shops and restaurants feature, bringing a boost to ‘shop local’ calls in the run up to Christmas, while it highlights events such as Otley Snowman Trail.
Martha, aged 11 and a pupil at Pool in Wharfedale CofE Primary School, said it was a bit “nerve-wracking” doing the filming as she’s never acted before, but there were some benefits. She said: “We always go to Otley at Christmas and we really enjoy it there so being in the video was really fun to do. My favourite bit was getting some chocolate from the chocolate shop.”
The video, launched on YouTube and the Visit Otley Facebook page, is co-produced by Endure Communications and Menston-based video production company MCharMedia, while Miss Ellis’s mother Laura also plays a cameo role, adding a festive twist to the tale’s end. There is also a published advent calendar that people can follow to win prizes.
Chair of Otley’s trade and tourism committee Paul Carter said: “We hope people will enjoy the song and video, and have fun following their own Advent-ure in Otley this Christmas.”
A backing track to the film, featuring a rousing chorus and a classic ‘Oyez’ from Otley’s bellman Terry Ford, can be bought as a digital download from Bandcamp for £1, with proceeds to Otley Food Bank.
Entitled Christmas in a Northern Market Town, it is the first original composition to feature on the annual Visit Otley Christmas film since it first launched in 2017, written and performed by Jennifer Pugh and Richard Sabey of Otley’s Woolpack Studios.
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