A sloe walk up Occupation lane 043York­shire has nev­er been shy of blow­ing its own trum­pet. “God’s own coun­ty” (coun­try?) and all that, as its cit­i­zens nev­er tire of remind­ing us. So it was fair­ly inevitable that the first stage of the Tour de France hap­pen­ing on God’s own doorstep – Leeds to be more pre­cise – would her­ald an extrav­a­gan­za of cul­tur­al, cre­ative and in some instances slight­ly barmy events.

To add to the heady cel­e­bra­tions, the famous French two-wheel slogfest is now being wel­comed with  – yes – its very own fes­ti­val called King of the Moun­tains. Com­peti­tors will ped­al close by the fes­ti­val site, per­fect­ly posi­tioned for cheer­ing them on, their progress to be chart­ed on big screens on site. Orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived by the vil­lage of Muk­er which is on the cycle trail, this fes­ti­val vision was realised by Leeds com­pa­ny Wilder, and so King of the Moun­tains, with its added ‘pop up’ cachet, came into being. The loca­tion just hap­pens to be a val­ley of scenic per­fec­tion at the foot of But­ter­tubs Pass.

So King of the Moun­tains – this grand vision for the Grand Depart, is set to be a three-day music and arts event, with the actu­al Tour de France pass­ing through Swaledale Val­ley on Sat­ur­day 5th July.


Live per­for­mance, cul­ture and food from York­shire and beyond are the orders of the week­end. Head­lin­ing King of the Moun­tains are Dry the Riv­er (pic­tured below), who have just tak­en a year out to record their new album. Also appear­ing are Huw Stephens (DJ) and Paul Thomas Saun­ders. Sky Larkin, To Kill A King, Kyla La Grange. Also Leeds band Post War Glam­our Girls, and Cottonwoolf.

Dry the Riv­er will be head­lin­ing…

York­shire food will a big fea­ture and Gourmet Gigs is hop­ing for those giant York­shire Puds, con­tain­ing a hefty por­tion of roast din­ner and gravy – hope­ful­ly KoTM won’t go too ‘arti­san’ on us and over­look such deli­cious sta­ples. Nat­u­ral­ly there will be some local York­shire Dales ales for sam­pling. This is a fam­i­ly fes­ti­val, so expect plen­ty for chil­dren, plus Tour De Cin­e­ma, camp­ing, cycle and car parks as well as huge screens to watch all the 2‑wheel action. Activ­i­ties include Farm­ing Demon­stra­tions and Sheep Judging.





Events lead­ing up to the Tour de France have been inspir­ing and well-sup­port­ed. Take for instance the aston­ish­ing Grand Departs, by iMove Arts and Heb­den Bridge Piano Fes­ti­val, an event which launched the York­shire Fes­ti­val, 100 day cel­e­bra­tion of arts and cul­ture spon­sored by York­shire Water. For this per­for­mance, a  team of cyclists pulled a piano, com­plete with a rotat­ing troupe of pianists play­ing spe­cial­ly com­posed music, up the six miles of Cragg Vale, star­ing at Mytholm­royd in the Calder Val­ley. Large crowds and fair weath­er helped turn the four-hour stren­u­ous piano pulling event into a huge suc­cess, ensur­ing cov­er­age on the BBC news and the One Show. Click here. iMove York­shire also per­formed The Sec­ond Breath in Leeds

The Grand Depart
The Grand Depart. Pho­to Tim Smith


More recently, another moving performance happened called Ghost Peloton. Taking place in Leeds under cover of darkness, the performance melded cycling and dance, as cyclists travelled the now-deserted grounds of Leeds’ Tetley brewery, their outfits illuminated with coloured lights. It created mesmerising patterns and a magical presence. 



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