SMOKING hands, a cool Big Bad Wolf and baby-beating Mr Punch drew the crowds to Skipton Puppet Festival.

Hundreds poured into the town for the four-day bi-annual event, held across Skipton and Settle.

Rapidly turning into one of the country's foremost puppet festivals, it involved performers from across Europe as well as companies from nearer to home, including Cowling's Black Cat Theatre.

Highlights included Dutch performer Leo Petersen, who kept audiences enthralled with just his hands and a variety of plastic eyes and a toilet ball-cock, and the ever-popular Punch and Judy.

Organiser Daniel Lempen, of Skipton-based Lempen Puppet Theatre, said the festival had exceeded all expectations.

"Last time we had 15 shows, this time we nearly doubled the actual tickets we had on sale and we still sold out," he said.

Mr Lempen, who organises the festival with wife, Liz, said despite it being only the second event of its kind, it had already made a big name for itself.

The festival costs around £50,000 to stage, including a large grant from the Arts Council and local supporters. People were invited to complete a questionnaire which will be used to make improvements to the next event in two years' time.

Mr Lempen said: "I've got hundreds of questionnaires to go through, but we've already had some fantastic feedback. A couple of people said they couldn't get tickets, but people have been really fantastic."

For a review of the festival and lots more pictures, see Friday's Craven Herald.