SHOPPERS in a North-East town had the chance to discover the benefits of a healthy lifestyle during an activity festival.

The two-day Mega (Move Everyone and Get Active) festival started in Darlington's Market Square on Thursday (August 28), having grown considerably since starting out as a small cycling festival in 2006.

The aim of the festival, organised by Local Motion and Darlington Borough Council, is to promote the benefits of an active community.

Separate organisations, Individualised Travel Marketing (ITM) and Groundwork, are running stalls with information which identifies local walking and cycle routes across Darlington.

Groundwork’s surveys showed that 66 per cent of people in Darlington said they want to walk more, but many of these do not know where accessible routes are.

Nick Butler from ITM said the 24 per cent increase in people cycling in Darlington since last July shows the festival has successfully encouraged more people to swap their cars for bikes.

A mountain bike display club holding 200m cycling competitions and a smoothie bike are two of several activities at the festival inspiring more people to get fit, while the 3Sixty Bicycle Stunt team have been performing demonstrations to enthusiastic crowds.

York enterprise Get Cycling has set up a bike try-out road show with different types of bicycles including karts, tandems and penny farthings for people to play on.

Ian Fieldsend, from the scheme, said: “We travel all around the country and this activity is always very popular with both adults and children.

"You would have thought bikes had only just been invented."

Competitions are being held throughout the festival with iTunes and shopping vouchers on offer as prizes.