Tickets for the opening ceremony of this year’s Tour De France are now on sale, as the district makes preparations for one of the biggest sporting events it has seen.

Held at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, the lavish ceremony will be held on Thursday, July 3, two days before the start of the race that will see hundreds of cyclists and tens of thousands of spectators descend on Keighley, Ilkley, Haworth and other towns and villages that make up the route.

The opening ceremony will have a capacity for 10,000 spectators and current champion Chris Froome and sprint star Mark Cavendish will be making appearances. It will be the biggest opening ceremony in the event’s 101 year history.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “When we were handed the honour of hosting the Grand Départ here in Yorkshire, we promised that we would put on the grandest of Grand Departs.

“This spectacular event at the arena is part of doing just that – and this offers fans the chance to not only witness a first in the history of the Tour, but be part of a once-in-a-lifetime event for our county.”

Meanwhile, Tour fever continues to grip the district.

The historic Yorkshire leg of the race will be commemorated with a special souvenir set of postcards to raise money for a Yorkshire charity.

Yorkshire towns, villages, landscapes and landmarks on or around the race route will be featured on the postcards along with maps of the two stages. The packs are available for a £5 donation to Bethany’s Smile, which was set up by Horsforth schoolgirl Bethany Hare.

Bethany, 14, said: “The prime purpose of my fundraising Tour de France postcard project is so that school children like myself can have a souvenir, at an affordable pocket money price, of this special cycle race as it passes through their regions in the knowledge their donation will help us continue to care for sick children less fortunate than themselves.” The souvenir packs, designed by Caroline Macrae of Oakworth, have been co-sponsored by printers Dom and Geri of Guiseley and Spellman Walker of Bradford.

They are available on request to members of Yorkshire cycle clubs, regional tourist information offices, museums, libraries, hotels, restaurants, cafes and small shops.

Next week Ilkley will give a typical Yorkshire welcome to a delegation of 20 from Ilkley’s twin town of Coutances, France. The visitors will be hosted by members of the Twinning Committee and Club Francophone between May 1 and 4, as well as by other hospitable residents in and around Ilkley.

Ticket for the opening ceremony range from £45 to £85 and are available to buy by visiting