Yorkshire welcomes the Grand Depart with Festival of Culture

by Rachel Cook

2014: the Chinese Year of the Horse, that of disappearing planes – and the year that the Tour De France, the world’s most watched sporting event, comes to Yorkshire. And, quite rightly, spectators and businesses alike are getting excited, planning how they can get involved and make their mark.

The London 2012 Olympic Games doubtlessly put fire in the belly of many who missed out on tickets or on the chance to go down in history as a GamesMaker, and those same people will be keen not to make the same mistake again. Others may be sport fanatics, cycling enthusiasts, or just families looking for a good time – the Grand Depart promises to be something for everybody. Businesses, charities and arts organisations too are seizing the moment and activity has been underway with a passion since the 100 day countdown began seven days ago. Welcome to Yorkshire’s 100 day cultural festival, ‘Yorkshire Festival 2014’, will be appealing to all, celebrating with art, films, music, dance and a whole host of other cultural events and it’s already shaping up to be a show-stopper.

Here are a few of our top picks:

1. Le Grand Depart Stage 1 Launch, Saturday 5 July

  • Where best to start than the start? The first stage of the Grand Depart sets off from Leeds Town Hall, with tens of thousands expected to line the streets of Leeds to see the 198 riders sweep through our beautiful city on their way to Harrogate. The streets will no doubt be ten deep so we’ll be getting there nice and early to bag our place. Festivities are planned throughout the weekend all over the city so we’ll be there for the party atmosphere, too… Check out the route for Stage 1 here.

    2. Sheffield Steel Peloton, ongoing until July 5 2014

  • This event melds the steel-forging history of Sheffield with the passion for bikes that is needed to win Le Tour. Get hands-on with everything from blacksmithing to bike design and more, working as part of your very own Peloton to create a one-off steel bike in time for the Depart. The process will be filmed to create a documentary to be screened in public locations later in the summer, too. There are tons of dates, roughly every 2 weeks, so you can drop in whenever suits. Read more about the Sheffield Steel Pelaton here.

    3. Fields of Vision, competition open until 09.05.14, artwork installed from start of June

  • Fielding arty? To all you budding artists and designers, here’s your chance to get involved! Much of Le Tour is filmed from the air, to give the worldwide audience the best possible view of the riders, so a land art project is underway to transform the fields across the moors into a decorated patchwork quilt of artwork when viewed from the sky.

    Our friends over at Keelham Farm Shop are inviting anyone and everyone to submit their design to win the chance to have it seen by some of the 3 billion people or more who watch the Tour de France each year. (We’ve been helping them out a bit too, of course!).

    Entries close Friday 9th May 2014. Enter Fields of Vision with Keelham Farm Shop here.

    4. Le Petit Depart, Sunday 1 June, 2014

  • Part of the lure of the Tour coming to Yorkshire is the opportunity for it to leave behind a region of inspired cyclists. A whole host of organised rides are springing up in advance, encouraging riders to take to the saddle and tackle some of the same routes that the Tour riders will take themselves. Le Petit Depart is a brand new cycle event which allows wannabe winners to pedal much of the Stage 1 route, starting in Skipton and heading out to the dales. There are two routes offered: a 33 mile flat-ish jaunt for the easy riders, or a 78 mile for the more serious riders, which incorporates 3 climbs and 6 dales. As you can see from the picture above, Thompson is full of keen cyclists (that was us having a little break after a lunchtime pedal), so we’ll hope to see you at the finish line.

    Enter Le Petit Depart here.

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