RYEDALE has been transformed into a sea of blue and yellow ahead of this weekend’s Tour de Yorkshire.

With the excitement building, celebrations are planned to welcome the inaugural event, which will pass through the area on Friday and Saturday.

In Pickering, members of the town’s business group have organised a big screen and are encouraging people to take along a picnic and watch the race.

With the cyclists expected through Pickering between 1pm and 2pm, an afternoon of entertainment has been organised.

William Oxley, from Welcome to Pickering and chairman of Ryedale tourism Advisory Board, said: “A group of volunteers and enthusiasts have put a huge effort into the Tour de Yorkshire in Pickering. It should be a great party.

“The whole of Ryedale is ready for this and it is a huge opportunity to showcase the area and its attitude to ensure visitors keep coming back.”

Museums across Ryedale are planning a series of events and activities to celebrate the Tour, including a rare opportunity to find out more about the first bicycle races to take place in Norton, with the Woodhams-Stone Collection, creating a cycling-themed display at Trinity Church, in Norton, on Saturday.

Beck Isle Museum, Pickering, is staging an exhibition of bicycles, cycling accessories and cycling-related photographs, dating from 1925 to 1950.

Ryedale Folk Museum is offering visitors who arrive by bicycle £1 entry throughout May.

Mayor of Norton, Councillor Ray King said bunting, banners, painted cycles – even Eric the model racehorse – were now all in place for the tour’s visit through Norton on Saturday.

He said: “The riders are due to pass through Norton at about 1.45pm, so we are asking people arrive early to avoid parking issues, get the best viewing area and enjoy the entertainment from 11am till 3pm. My thanks go to Tim Hicks, deputy clerk, and the volunteers who have worked tirelessly. Praise too to the traders who have decorated their businesses with bikes and bunting.

“Hopefully we can build on this event and organise further exciting events in our town.”