A BUMPER line-up of top class entertainment can be found at Settle Stories Yorkshire Festival of Story - and not only can you access it from the comfort of your sofa, it’s all entirely free.

Kicking off tomorrow (November 12), the two week long festival, being held online for the second time, after last year’s event saw three time as many attendees, and most of them new to the event, features storytellers from all over the world.

They include New York-based award-winning storyteller Laura Simms who will present Rejoice Regardless, a show that uses mythic tales to provide a means of recovering in these demanding times.

African storyteller Sola Story will explore the notion of “happy ever after” through his telling of the Epic of Mil Baraka; and in panel discussions Dame Marina Warner will investigate how fairytales help navigate a better future with experts including fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes and Professor Cristina Bacchilega from the University of Hawai’i-Manoa.

There’s also The Odyssey Retold - by gifted storyteller Jon Buckeridge; and sign song diva, award-winning actress and comedienne Caroline Parker, sharing her stories from a cabaret bar, as well as much more.

There will also be an introduction from Sita Brand and Charles Tyrer from Settle Stories about what to expect from the festival.

Last year’s guest director was writer, Joanne Harris; this year, the role is in the hands of poet and prize-winning children’s author, Kevin Crossley-Holland, best known for the Arthur trilogy, for which he won the Guardian Prize.

Kevin, who was also involved in last year’s event, believes the festival offers something unique.

He said: “There really is nothing like this festival. Last year we reached a global audience and built a strong online community.

“As a small rural arts organisation nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, it’s an honour to digitally bring such a variety of content to audiences which ordinarily may not be able to access the arts.

“Also, being able to offer audiences the space to explore what ‘happy ever after’ could look like in the intimacy of their homes, feels timely and special.”

At a time when entertainment is making a return to physical in-person events, Settle Stories believes it has a radical vision to make arts more accessible for all; and is hoping its second online event will be the same runaway success of last year’s festival.

The event, which used to be a face-to-face and held in venues across Settle, saw a more than three times the number of attendances last year, with people saying they wanted it to stay online.

A spokesperson said: “The festival is staying online to enable audiences of all backgrounds including those with disabilities and mental health challenges to access the performances.

“The question driving this year’s festival programme is: “if once upon a time starts now, how do we get to happy ever after?” Audiences worldwide are invited to join the conversation with interactive discussions, performances and masterclasses.

The charity part of last year’s success to the events being live and available for a time limited period. Almost 80 per cent of audiences had not been to one of the previous Settle Stories’ festivals.

The online festival allows audiences to interact through live question and answer sessions, to get on their feet in lively masterclasses, and join organisers and special guest live on the festival living room sofa.

Sita Brand, the festival’s artistic director and chief executive, said she could not wait to welcome everyone back.

She said: “I’m so excited to be looking at how we can use epic, myth and fairytale to explore how we all want the world to look next. What’s more the festival is entirely free again.

“Given the difficult times we still find ourselves in, it’s important we can do this to ensure it’s as accessible as possible especially to those who wouldn’t have been able to travel to Settle for the festival, whether due to a disability, cost or geography.”

The festival will run from November 12 to November 28 and will rely on public donations to ensure it can reach those who otherwise would not be able to afford it, as well as rural community groups in Craven.

To view the full programme, go to: https://yorkshirefestivalofstory.com/