AHEAD of the peloton and the cycling fans, a two month long arts festival to mark the county's new international race launched in Yorkshire today.

The Tour de Yorkshire Festival will run until the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race starts on May 3, and will have at least 200 performances and exhibitions taking place all over the county.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “As we saw in last year’s incredible Yorkshire Festival, our county has an amazing array of art and culture, and the Tour de Yorkshire Festival is the perfect platform for artists of all kinds to show off their talents.”

In York, the De Grey Rooms will play host to a production of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel, for children aged 3 and above, from April 26 onwards.

On May 2 and 3, the Selby Cycle Festival will mark the race's arrival all across the town with a big screen, climbing wall, music, food and entertainment as the cyclists leave Selby for York on Saturday, May 2 and travel between Wakefield and Leeds on the Sunday.

The first few days of the festival also include performances from pianist Jessica Wei Zhu at Leeds College of Music, Northern Ballet's "Elves and the Shoemaker" at Harrogate Theatre, Arthur Miller’s classic, "A View from the Bridge" at the Alhambra in Bradford and 'The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe" at Barnsley Civic.

And Leeds-based band Hope & Social, veterans of last year's Yorkshire Festival, will be taking part in celebrations over the race weekend.

The band said: "Last year's Yorkshire Festival was an incredible experience for us, working with 1500 people across the county on our Tour of Infinite Possibility.

"We're thrilled to be joining in once again with this year's Tour de Yorkshire and inviting the good, good people to come bang the drums, sing the songs, and make as much racket as we possibly can.”

The Tour de Yorkshire Festival has been made possible with support from Arts Council England, T&R Theakston Brewers of Masham, commercial gas supplier CNG, and Wakefield Grammar School Foundation.

For a full programme visit www.tourdeyorkshirefestival.com