A few months ago I wondered what Leeds might do around the Tour de France and wrote this post which threw out some of my own ideas but also the concept pulling things together under one banner if possible in a non controlling collaborative sort of way.

Well that umbrella is open if people want to be under it and it’s BikeFestLeeds. Yes it’s a Leeds thing but hopefully it will link to and with all the other amazing grassroot and community events that will be organised up and down the country.

In particular though BikeFestLeeds will help to pull together, put on and promote all kinds of great bike theme events large and small and open to all under the headings of cycling, arts, books, film, fashion, food and music. Think of these as the spokes of the BikeFestLeeds wheel like so :


Culture Vultures pulled interested people together in March at the Wheels on Fire event and lots of people had all sorts of great ideas, not just for the immediate time around the event but this year and for the years after the Tour has gone. This I feel is vital if we want to grasp the unique opportunity to make a difference in the city. What I do know is that if half the stuff talked about that evening comes off then we are in for a right good time.

For my own part East Street Arts kindly met me down the pub and were interested in some of my ideas and along with their own creative heft things are starting to happen as people come together to see what can be done.

BikeFestLeeds is going to officially launch at the Sky Ride on 7 July where there will be all sorts of things going on but the idea is to have things happening from now through to October, linking up with Leeds Light Night then take a break to draw breath before kicking things off for 2014.

During the day at the Sky Ride, BikeFestLeeds will launch with all sorts of things happening including :

  • A marquee hosting an open exhibition where people of all ages can come along and exhibit their customised bikes with a series of awards for categories of bikes ( best in show, best decorated, best customised etc).
  • Chain Reaction Sound System, a pedal powered sound system with a community jukebox of cycling related songs.
  • Citizen Bike this will be is prototype build of a new interactive artwork set to tour Yorkshire in 2014. Lead artist Adam Young asks the question ‘can the people of Leeds beat the professionals? Citizen Bike will invite the public to clock up the official Tour De France distance in three weeks. A live webcam feed will monitor progress and ensure you are able to check in on the action where ever you are.
  • Juliana’s Bike A very special Open Source building project, a bike that is a hostel. Yes a bike you can live in!
  • Bikefest Social There will be a social area within the Marquee where families can bring along their own food & refreshments
  • Bike Snap Exposure Leeds and Leeds College of Art students taking pictures of cyclists throughout the day which will be collated into a live feed in the show room where people can then be provided with a web address to download their snaps.
  • In the evening there will be Blast Theory Rider Spoke which is a real world game of ‘cat and mouse’ for cyclists combining theatre with game play and state of the art technology. Blast Theory are 4 times BAFTA Nominated and internationally acclaimed. This will take place across various venue TBC around Leeds city centre.


All pretty cool I reckon but there’s more as things have already kicked off with a sing-a-long to Queen at the Adelphi last Sunday and are continuing with the following events and workshops already confimred in 2013 :

  • The Adventures of Don Quixote by Bicycle: Burn the Curtain reveals the kingdom of La Mancha by bicycle, and lives to tell the tale! Travelling on bicycles through the city, actors and audiences take part in the colourful and misguided escapades of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This exciting interactive experience includes custom-designed bikes that even a medieval knight would be proud of. All you need is your own wheels – and a sense of adventure!
  • Pedal Power Chariot Racing: Join the nobel quest to resurrect this ancient sport.  Looking at design, safety, rules of engagement and more in this bespoke introduction to Leeds’ first pedal-drawn chariots.  10 June (2-4pm) contact to book.
  • A Toolkit for City Cycling: Workshops aimed at building confidence and skills for anyone intrested in cycling for transport in the city.  Learn how to carry out basic maintenance and be more confident riding in traffic.  Led by qualified bike mechanics and nation cycling instructors. 23 and 30 June / 7 July (12-3pm) contact either or or
  • Seacroft Gala: At the gala there will be a live BMX course and urban art wall promoting alternative local activities for young people in Seacroft.  6 July (12-4pm)
  • Leeds Bike Polo: A start up idea for people interested in something different.  The workshop will look at all things related to getting bike polo up and running in Leeds and will include a teambuilding ride out with bike control sessions ending in a game.  Hopefully new teams will spawn from the workshop and continue the game.  28 June (6pm)  contact (I’m definitely going to have a go at this one)
  • How to Build a Bike Trailer: Learn how to build a bicycle trailer following an easy to repliacte, low cost and weld-free design.  14 and 28 July (10-4) contact or
  • CycloGeographic: This will be a series of creative cycle explorations of Leeds in small teams.  You will embark on journesy of adventure and discovery fuelled by prompts and provocations, your escapades will be recorded through pictures and texts and tweets.  20-21 July (11-3) contact or or
  • Zine Making Workshop: Culture Vultures invite you to help create a Wheelie Ace printed commenorative zine in a day.  Photographers, writers, illustrators, storytellers, poets etc are invited to sign up for this workshop.  20 July (10am onwards) contact

And there’s more plans:

  • Caravan Cinema: A mobile (caravan) cinema, powered by pedals, showing a range of films.
  • Exhibitions: A series of exhibitions showing a range of artists’ work.
  • Pop-Up Shop: A city centre pop-up shop exhibiting and making available a range of customised bikes and unique merchandise to customise your bike.
  • Guerrilla & Social Activity: The establishment of a new bike club for Leeds – Souleaters BC – based on models of Motorbike Clubs with members’ patches, club ride outs, a Club House and an official member nominated charter.
  • A PechaKucha event (hosted by artist Carla Moss),
  • Wakefield’s Prince Albert pop-up pub serving pints from a bike

and a plethora of social and interactive events springing up as the BikeFestLeeds develops.  Keep your eye on Juliana’s Bike for details of all events detailed above that have been or are being organised at the moment.  Pretty exciting stuff I’d say.

However as brilliant as all of this is, I’m sure that there is more that can be done and events that can come under the BikeFestLeeds umbrella.  So that’s where it gets thrown open, if you are a cycling club would you like to put something on? What about bike shops etc.  Bascially if you’ve got some ideas, would like to organise something under the BikeFestLeeds umbrella or could offer your time to help out at any of the events happening then do get in touch either below the line or via @ianstreet67 on twitter.  Most important of all get involved in the events and have a good time and spread the word of BikeFestLeeds as much as you can (use #BikeFestLeeds)