SWORD dancing, a mini festival and fireworks are all to feature in a town’s grand celebrations to welcome the Tour de Yorkshire next month.

Last year, organisers revealed Bedale would make its debut as a host location for this year’s race, as preparations are now in full swing to make the event a day to remember, despite it being the smallest market town to stage a tour finish.

Blue and yellow bunting, bikes and banners are already beginning to appear across the town, 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.

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 should conclude 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 Bedale Park will host family-friendly activities throughout the day with food stalls, fairground rides, stalls and a big screen showing the race.

The Northern Echo:

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.

In addition to street decorations, pieces of land art are planned, which should be picked up by helicopters filming the race.

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.

The Northern Echo:

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.

Speaking previously about Bedale's role in this year's tour, Hambleton District Council leader Mark Robson said: "It brings people together from all walks of life and that is the wonderful thing for Bedale."