Monday, 30 June 2014

Leeds ready to welcome the world for historic Grand Départ

Caption: The Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows (top image) entertaining the crowds on Victoria Gardens today and Tour Makers with the new inflatable bike on City Square (above)

Leeds is ready to welcome the world this week with a series of events and activities as the host city builds up to the Grand Départ of the Tour de France on Saturday.

Events will be happening across the city every day to celebrate the final countdown to the start of the world’s largest annual sporting event from The Headrow on Saturday morning.

Music and dance performances, theatre and cinema productions, art and museum exhibitions, food and drink festivals, bike races and shows, a pre-race parade featuring the Tour riders themselves, the Opening Ceremony Team Presentation and even a carnival will all be taking place in Leeds this week in honour of the legendary cycle race.

Details of 48 of the leading Tour activities can be seen at, including free lunchtime concerts taking place next to the startline on Victoria Gardens every day from 12noon to 2pm.

Other events include the ‘Bicyclism’ exhibition showcasing cycling in Leeds at the Leeds City Museum, a new theatre production celebrating the life of cyclist Beryl Burton OBE at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Tour photography at White Cloth Gallery, plus street entertainment involving a panda on a tricycle, hedge men and oversized seagulls.

The incredible sporting achievements of Beryl Burton will be the focus of a special element of Wednesday’s meeting of Leeds City Council at 1pm, as members of her family as well as Director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme will be guests as the Morley cyclist is recommended to posthumously receive the city’s highest civic honour – Freedom of the City.

For those keen to see cyclists in action, the famous Otley Cycle Races from 6:15pm on Wednesday will feature many of Britain’s leading names, while the following night all 198 of the Tour de France riders will take part in a special riders’ pre-race parade through the city centre.

Starting just after 6pm on Thursday night, the riders will follow a route from the University of Leeds crossing Millennium Square as they make their way to the Leeds Arena for the spectacular Opening Ceremony Team Presentation of this year’s Tour.

In order to hold the parade, a number of Leeds streets will be subject to road closures and parking restrictions, with commuters advised to be aware rush-hour journeys out of the city centre are likely to be significantly affected. Where possible those in the city centre are advised and requested to remain and enjoy the event.

The city’s young people will show how they have been inspired by the Tour’s arrival on Tuesday, when pupils from more than 50 primary schools and Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres (SILCs) take part in the Leeds School Cycle Challenge at Temple Newsam Park.

The day will run from 9am, but the afternoon element will feature a special appearance by cycling royalty in the forms of Olympic champion Chris Boardman and five-times Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault to watch the young people in action.

All around the city, banners and floral displays in the Tour colours will welcome the race, including a yellow inflatable bike in City Square and the statue of the Black Prince being dressed in his own yellow jersey.

All of these events will build the excitement levels to Saturday morning, when the eyes of the world will be on Leeds for the start of the race itself. Events on the route will begin at approximately 8:30am when a group of cadet riders are followed by the Tour’s famous publicity ‘caravan’ made up of more than 180 vehicles handing out merchandise and souvenirs to the crowds to help further raise the excitement levels at the roadside.

At 11:10am the riders will leave the startline outside Leeds Art Gallery, beginning the ceremonial roll-out down The Headrow before joining the A61 and heading to Harewood House. The competitive element of the stage begins when the riders leave the Harewood Estate, with them then racing through the Yorkshire Dales before ending the stage in Harrogate.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“The waiting is almost over and we are just days away from hosting the biggest event in living memory in Leeds. We are incredibly proud to be hosting this amazing race and I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make it a success.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the globe and I know we will give them a great Leeds and Yorkshire welcome. There are lots of fantastic events and activities happening all over the city to get people ready for the main event on Saturday.

“We want everyone to join in the celebrations as the week progresses and then on Saturday we hope everyone enjoys what is arguably the greatest free sporting spectacle in the world. We’re ready so we can’t wait for it all to happen.”

Leeds City Council executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:

“The excitement level over the next few days is going to start to reach fever-pitch as we get closer to Saturday. Thursday’s pre-race parade of the riders is going to be fantastic but we do need to make sure everybody is aware it is happening as it will impact on people getting home after work. We would strongly advise them to stay in the city centre and see the first glimpse of the Tour superstars in action.

“Then on Saturday morning if anyone is still not aware of what is happening we strongly advise people to read and follow all of the available advice to make the most of this historic day or how best to limit the interruption to their usual routine. Leeds is about to be showcased to the entire world and we can all part a play in making sure it is a success.”

For all of the latest Tour de France Grand Départ news, guidance, travel advice and transport information visit

For the latest news on Yorkshire’s Grand Départ, including an interactive route journey planner, visit

Notes to editors:
In 2014, the Tour de France returns to the UK for three stages. The Yorkshire Grand Départ comprises two stages - Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield - before the Tour moves south for a third stage from Cambridge to London on Monday 7 July.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,

Allez allez Kirkgate marché!

Kirkgate Market is putting together its own Tour de France team to bring a French flavour to the market.

Joining forces with Jamie’s Ministry of Food and Zest Health for Life, visitors and shoppers can enjoy a range of tour inspired activities on Friday 4 July.

The Ministry of Food team will be putting on French cooking demonstrations from 1pm. They’ll also be offering free, French delicacies as tasters.

Outside the market, from 10am to 3pm, Zest for Health will be offering information about cycling, healthy lifestyles and staying safe in the sun.

To get people started, they’ll be able to hop on a bike powered smoothie maker to make their own refreshing drink.

Anyone who is feeling a little rusty on bike up-keep can also benefit from a free bike maintenance workshop running from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

Celebrating the nationalities represented at Le Tour, the markets regular World Feast will be on Briggate on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 July.

Flavours from Spain, Mexico and Morocco and around the world will be served up by 14 street food vendors in the heart of the city centre from 10am to 4pm each day.

Susan Burgess, markets manager, said:

“Along with everyone else, we’re getting excited about Le Tour hitting Leeds this week. We’re looking forward to welcoming shoppers old and new to join us for a little French cycling fun and savour some international flavours at World Feast.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577


Iconic Leeds statues are dressed to impress ahead of Tour de France

Caption 1: The statue of The Black Prince on City Square sporting his new yellow jersey.

Caption 2: L-R back row Elizabeth Hiscock, from Leeds City Council transport, Dawn Barrow, who works at Holt Park Active, craft group member Doreen Mattison, 78, Delia Clarke, who has worked with the Holt Park group, Councillor Adam Ogilvie, the council’s executive member for adult social care, and Danny Roberts from Leeds City Council transport.
Front row L-R knitters Irene Walker, 84 and Sita Jain, 92.

Two historic statues will have visitors to Leeds in stitches after they were dressed in specially-made yellow jerseys ahead of this weekend’s Grand Départ.

The iconic figure of Edward The Black Prince on horseback and one of the nymph statues on City Square, were fitted with their new attire earlier today (Monday, June 30).

The jerseys are the result of weeks of hard work by older people attending Holbeck Elderly Aid and Holt Park Active, who took up the challenge to create something memorable to welcome visitors to the city.

Around 30 balls of yellow wool have been used for the Black Prince’s two metre-long jersey, which has been made using measurements taken from the statue and which was lifted into place this morning.

Bridget Glynn, service manager at Holt Park Active, where The Black Prince’s jersey was made said:

“There’s been a core group of around six who have worked on it for the past four weeks or so.

“But lots more people have pitched in and done bits here and there and it’s really brought everyone together.

“It’s been so exciting to think about the jersey going on The Black Prince and everyone has got a real sense of what The Tour is all about and how much it means.”

Leeds City Council’s Holt Park Active wellbeing centre opened in Dec 2013 and is a base for a range of activities and sports facilities for older people and the wider community.

Holbeck Elderly Aid is one of Leeds’ 37 council-funded Neighbourhood Networks, which support more than 21,900 older people across the city.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:

“Hosting the Tour de France has been the catalyst for a huge number of creative ideas that have captured the imaginations of people of all ages and abilities in Leeds and it’s inspiring to see some of our local older people taking on what I’m sure has been a big challenge.

“The positive impact of The Tour has crossed every generation, and the hard work and enthusiasm that has gone into making these jerseys is one of many examples of older people using their knowledge and experience to make a great contribution to what will no doubt be a landmark day we can all be proud of.”

The famous bronze statue of The Black Prince was created by Thomas Brock and was unveiled in 1903 as a gift from former Lord Mayor of Leeds Colonel Thomas Walter Hardy.

The eight nymphs, which encircle City Square, each carry a light and were made by sculptor Alfred Drury.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said:

“The statues on City Square are some of our city’s most recognisable landmarks so this is a fabulous way to welcome people to Leeds and show them just how much hosting The Tour means to us all.

“People from all kinds of groups and organisations have pitched it to help get us ready for The Grand Départ and when the eyes of the world turn to Leeds on Saturday, I’m sure all that hard work will pay off as millions of people get to see what a fantastic city we live in.”


For more details, or further images, please contact:
Stuart Robinson
Communications Officer
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937