Sword dancing, a mini festival and fireworks are all to feature in a North Yorkshire town’s grand celebrations to welcome the Tour de Yorkshire.
Bedale is the smallest market town to stage a tour finish, but it is set to make its mark with ambitious plans to celebrate the race’s arrival.
Blue and yellow bunting, bikes and banners are already beginning to appear across the community, which will be hosting the finish for stage one of the women’s race and stage two of the men’s race on Friday, May 3, facilitated by North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton District Council.
The women’s race is expected to cross the finish line on the Market Place between 12.33pm and 12.55pm. A few hours later, the men’s race will reach the finish line, between 5.45pm and 6.05pm.
The church bells at St Gregory’s Church will ring in welcome as both sets of riders cross the finish line and the church will hold a special service and blessing at the start of the day.
Bedale has planned a day of celebrations to mark the event; the first time it has hosted a finish point during the Tour de Yorkshire.
Bedale Park will host family-friendly activities throughout the day with food stalls, fairground rides, stalls and a big screen showing the race. From 7.30pm there will be live music with the Chris Berry Band performing music from the 1960s to the present day. Celebrations will be rounded off with fireworks at 9.30pm.
Between the men and women’s race finishes, there will also be entertainment on the Market Place, including a bicycle parade and best-dressed bicycle judging, music by Bedale Brass Band, Northallerton Longsword dancers and a “silly bikes” display.
At 3pm amateur cyclists on the Ride the Route cycle ride will cross the finish line.
The 20-mile fun event starts and finishes in Bedale, heading down to the A6055 at Leeming Bar and looping back again. The race is raising money for the Tour de Yorkshire’s official charity, Help for Heroes and Prostate Cancer UK.
During the afternoon, there will also be a brief Makaton training session for the finish line crowd.
Makaton involves using signs and symbols with spoken words to help adults and children with learning or speech difficulties and Bedale was recently named the UK’s second Makaton Friendly town.
Individuals and businesses across the town have been learning how to sign commonly used phrases and vocabulary at training sessions held across the town in pubs, churches, the police and fire station and other venues.
More than 21 businesses in the town have registered as Makaton Friendly, learning signs specific to their business so they can communicate with customers, visitors and young Makaton-users from the town’s Mowbray School.
The initiative was spear-headed by North Yorkshire County Council’s Mowbray School. The project aimed to achieve Makaton Friendly status in time for the Tour de Yorkshire, in order to welcome Makaton-users to the celebrations.
In addition to street decorations, pieces of land art are planned, which should be picked up by helicopters filming the race.
Mowbray School is creating a piece of artwork on its school field and pupils from Bedale Primary School are working with the towns Golf Club for land art on the 18th fairway.
Bedale High School has spent the last few weeks collecting donations of old trainers, which will be used to create a piece of the tour’s formal land art.
The trainers have been donated by pupils, staff and the wider Bedale community, with drop-off points at the local Co-op store and at the school. The artwork is being created in conjunction with artist Mackenzie Thorpe, one of Britain’s bestselling artists whose Arthaus Gallery is in Richmond.
Wensleydale Railway will be offering visitors a park and ride service from its stations at Leeming Bar and Redmire, with £5 to park and travel between Leeming Bar and £8 for Redmire park and ride.
Along the route, rolling road closures of just under an hour will largely be in place to allow safe passage of the race.
There will be longer delays around Bedale town centre;
- Between Exelby and Bedale, the road will be closed from 11am to 2pm for the women’s race, then from 4:30pm to 6:30pm for the men’s race.
- Bedale South End, from Bridge Street to Harbour View, will be closed from 8am to 8pm on Friday, May 3.
- The rest of Bridge Street and Sussex Street will be closed from 11am until 2pm and then from 4:30pm to 8:30pm.
- Bedale Market Place, the Wynd, North End and Emgate will be closed to traffic from 5am until 10pm.