100-day Yorkshire cultural festival rolls into motion ahead of Tour de France

The wheels of the first ever Tour de France cultural festival have rolled into motion with a glittering flashmob.

Singers, artists and performers joined forces at the Trinity Leeds shopping centre to perform the theme song for the first ever Yorkshire Festival, as the programme of events for the landmark 100-day arts celebration was announced today.

A carnival snail, woolly bikes, choirs and brass bands emerged from the centre’s shops to join band Hope & Social in blasting out ‘The Big Wide’ to a growing crowd of interested shoppers.

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A varied 47-project events programme was then announced ahead of the festival, which will see Yorkshire buzz with artwork, installations and cultural events from March 27 right through to the Grand Depart itself on July 5 and 6.

At the grand unveiling of the listings at Leeds’ Holy Trinity Church today, executive producer of Yorkshire Festival 2014, Henrietta Duckworth, said the creative community had been “challenged to imagine, innovate and create” by organisers.

She said: “Yorkshire’s a big wide county and we’ve worked with our world-class artists to create a rich and diverse programme of opportunities and surprises.”

The festival is the brainchild of tourism firm Welcome to Yorkshire and has been backed by Yorkshire Water, Arts Council England and local authorities across the region.

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The line-up of projects was whittled down from almost 400 bids.

Highlights include the world’s first Ghost Peloton, which will see a team of around 50 cyclists and a collection of dancers use innovative remote-controlled light suits to produce a stunning evening light show outside The Tetley, in Leeds.

Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA which is behind the Ghost Peloton alongside Leeds’ Phoenix Dance Theatre, explained how the work originates from the Speed of Light project that was commissioned for the 2012 London Olympics and has been taken as far as Japan.

He said: “This is an incredible opportunity to have this stage of Yorkshire to be presented to the wider world.”

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Elsewhere the inspirational story of Morley cycling heroine Beryl Burton will be told in a stage adaptation of TV star Maxine Peake’s 2012 BBC Radio 4 play at West Yorkshire Playhouse, in Leeds, and young farmers and artists will combine to create eight stunning land art pieces across South Pennines landscape for Fields of Vision, which is being co-ordinated by Pennine Prospects.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “The Yorkshire Festival 2014 will be a county-wide celebration of arts and culture, creating excitement and anticipation in the 100 days before the greatest free sporting show on the planet arrives in Yorkshire.”

For information and listings visit www.yorkshirefestival.co.uk.