Entertainment & Arts

Yorkshire arts festival to mark Tour de France launch

Ghost Peloton Image copyright Yorkshire Festival
Image caption A "ghost peloton" will see LED-lit cyclists take part in a choreographed routine

A £2m cultural festival is to be held in Yorkshire to celebrate the start of the Tour de France in the county.

The Tour's Grand Depart takes place in Leeds on 5 July before the cyclists spend two days racing through places like Harrogate, York and Sheffield.

The Yorkshire Festival's 47 projects include bicycle-themed performances, photography exhibitions and screenings.

Artists on the line-up include actress and writer Maxine Peake and Leeds-born, LA-based sculptor Thomas Houseago.

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Fifty LED-lit cyclists will take part in a "ghost peloton" in Leeds in a collaboration between Phoenix Dance Theatre and arts body NVA.
  • Thomas Houseago will create two new sculptures - one for Leeds city centre and one for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • Maxine Peake will make her stage scriptwriting debut with Beryl, about cyclist Beryl Burton, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
  • Large-scale grass-based land art installations will be created along the route of the second day of the Tour de France.
  • Belgian theatre company Theater Tol will perform an aerial show about Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in Dewsbury.
  • A "tour de cinema" will include film screenings in 35 town halls and 10 outdoor locations.
  • Photographs of the Tour from the 1960s to the present day will be on show at the White Cloth Gallery in Leeds.
  • Cyclists will pull a grand piano on a platform designed by sculptor Andy Plant up a six-mile hill, while pianists perform a musical cycle.
  • A "songwriting relay" will create folk songs and take them from town to town via bicycle.
  • Visitors will be invited to make musical instruments from bicycle parts in workshops run by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Yorkshire Festival executive producer Henrietta Duckworth said: "The race is not just about those two days of epic exertion by men in lycra.

"This is an opportunity to engage people with a programme of work that will capture the imagination, trigger some excitable and enjoyable activities and give people a chance to get involved in the Grand Depart in the 100 days leading up to the actual race."

The cultural festival runs from 27 March to 6 July.

After the Tour's opening two stages in Yorkshire, the third stage will go from Cambridge to London before the race moves to France.

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