Visitors to next month’s Skipton Waterway Festival will be bussed in from the outskirts of town.

Thousands of visitors expected at the three-day May bank holiday event will be brought into the town from Skipton Auction Mart at the top of Gargrave Road.

And the around £3,600 cost of the park and ride scheme will be paid for by Yorkshire Water, whose on-going work in much of the Coach Street Car Park threatened the success of the popular annual event.

A company spokeswoman said a meeting had taken place between Pennine Cruisers, organisers of the event, and the town council.

“We have agreed to fund a park and ride facility for the Waterway Festival in May in order to try to reduce disruption from our scheme in Coach Street car park,” she said. This year, the 12th annual event, which had been under threat, will have cartoons as its theme.

Centred around the canal basin, there will be dozens of decorated canal boats and a variety of entertainment, including live bands, morris dancers and pipe and brass bands.

Zoe Clarke, from Pennine Cruisers, said the idea of a park and ride scheme had been considered before, but had been ruled out because of a lack of funding.

The Gargrave Road section of the Coach Street car park should have been reopened in time for the event, but the discovery of underground works has meant all 169 spaces will be out of commission until July.

A bus service will operate on a loop every 30 minutes from the Auction Mart car park, where there will be 2,000 spaces available at no charge. “If it works well, there is a chance we can use it next year to apply for funding then,” she said.

Bands and acts lined up for the event include Earl Grey and the Charwallahs, Check Out Betty and the Barcodes, the City of Bradford Pipe Band and Skipton Brass Band.

There will also be a competition raft race in the Canal Basin on Sunday and the ever popular illuminated boat cruise.

Dave Parker, chief officer at Skipton Town Council, said the Waterway Festival kicked off the town’s tourist season and it was important that every effort was made to minimise the impact of the works at Coach Street.

“The discussions between ourselves, the festival organisers and Yorkshire Water were really positive and we’re very pleased that Yorkshire Water have been able to provide the funding for the park and ride scheme for all the days of the festival,” he said.

“Traders in the Coach Street area of town have been invited to a meeting with the town centre manager in the near future to see if there is anything else we can do to help while the works continue.”

The Yorkshire Water spokeswoman added the company was happy to provide a park and ride facility.

“The organisers of the festival have wanted to do this in previous years but have been unable to fund it so it’s great that we can help and not only provide the amount of spaces we’re taking up in Coach Street car park, but up to 2,000.”