Tour de Yorkshire: Will Calderdale be the best dressed in 2018?

Tour de Yorkshire coming to Halifax
Tour de Yorkshire coming to Halifax

They’ve already dyed the fish blue, dressed the trees in wool and painted spots on houses, and now the starter’s gun has been fired on a race to decorate the county in even more idiosyncratic fashion to welcome its annual influx of international cyclists.

The tourism agency Welcome To Yorkshire is behind a competition to find the best dressed town, village and host location for this Tour de Yorkshire race, the first to take place over four days.

The winners will receive plaques to mark the effort they put into putting on a show as the riders cycle past.

A further award will recognise an individual, community or business that has gone above and beyond to fully embrace the spirit of the event.

“Yorkshire people are inherently very creative and resourceful,” said Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire.

“Penistone last year really went the extra mile and did the most fantastic job – and that’s one of the reasons why we’re taking the race back there this time. Having had the benefit the first time around they’re going to get it a second year running.”

The trend for putting on the “full Yorkshire” began with the Grand Depart of the Tour de France four years ago. It saw the Bank View cafe at Langsett, near Sheffield, painted in polka dots to match the riders’ jerseys, and sheep dyed in the race colours.

The annual Yorkshire races which followed have seen the streets bedecked in seas of bunting and blue-and-yellow Yorkshire flags – many of which have been picked up by the aerial and tracking cameras of the TV crews who beam the races live across 180 countries.

In Thirsk, “yarn bombing” enthusiasts covered lampposts, trees and other street furniture in specially-knitted creations.

“In other places there have been chocolate trophies and themed pies, beers and cakes, and of course shop window displays, yellow bikes and floral arrangements,” Sir Gary said.

“Someone else put vegetable dye in the batter so they could serve blue and yellow fish and chips. There was even somebody who arranged for every church bell along the route to ring as the bikes went through.”

This year’s extra day of racing means that 169 cities, towns and villages will be on the cyclists’ route – more than ever before.

A shortlist of cities, towns and villages who complete an entry form at will be drawn up after the race, by Welcome to Yorkshire and The Yorkshire Post, with the winners being decided by public vote on Twitter.

Sir Gary said: “We’re encouraging people to get fully decorated by Easter, to make sure they benefit during this peak tourism period just ahead of the race.”