Fifty cyclists lit with LEDs will take part in a “ghost peloton” in Leeds as part of a festival to celebrate and welcome in the Tour de France Grand Depart.

The £2m Yorkshire Festival will include 47 different bicycle-themed projects, including installations, performances, photography exhibitions and screenings.

The festival will run from 27th March to 6th July, with the Tour’s Grand Depart taking place in Leeds on 5th July before spending two days racing through places like Harrogate, York and Sheffield.

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.”

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Two new sculptures by Thomas Houseago, one for Leeds city centre and the other for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • Large-scale grass-based land art installations will be created along the route of the second day of the Tour de France.
  • A “tour de cinema” will include film screenings in 35 town halls and 10 outdoor locations.
  • A songwriting relay will create folk songs and take them from town to town by bicycle.
  • Maxine Peake will make her stage scriptwriting debut at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with a play about cyclist Beryl Burton.
  • The White Cloth Gallery in Leeds will host an exhibition of photographs of the Tour from the 1960s to the present day.
  • Belgian theatre company Theater Tol will perform an aerial show about Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in Dewsbury.

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