Cycling and the Tour de France will be the theme of this year’s Skipton Waterway Festival.

Planning for the 13th annual event – due to take place over the early May bank holiday weekend – is now well under way, with organisers set to celebrate the Tour’s Grand Depart coming to the area in July.

“We wanted Skipton Waterway Festival to be able to showcase its support for such a great event,” said organiser Zoe Clarke, of Pennine Cruisers.

“We wanted to link with this event as Le Tour is a huge event which may never come to this area again.”

The three-day festival, centred around Coach Street car park, the canal basin and Promenade, attracts around 70 boaters and 10,000 visitors to the town.

In addition to a parade of decorated boats, it includes craft and charity stalls, food, children’s activities and live entertainment.

Fellow organiser Leanne Kendall said: “We have themed competitions for the boaters to get involved with, from best dressed boat and best illuminated boat and new for this year will be the best handcrafted item fitting in with the Grand Depart theme.”

There will also be a raft race on the Sunday for groups of over 18s.

“We are looking at the possibility of adapting the rules so the rafts will also have a bike theme,” added Leanne.

Craven College will be taking part in the event for the first time, with its travel operations management students using it as part of their studies.

“The students seem really pleased to get involved and have already come up with some great ideas,” said Zoe.

Last year saw the introduction of a park-and-ride scheme from Skipton Auction Mart, paid for by Yorkshire Water, because of its ongoing work in the Coach Street car park.

This year organisers will have to raise their own funds, with an announcement on whether the service will run due to take place in March.

“It worked really well so we are hoping to be able to raise enough funds so we can offer this service again,” said Zoe.

Anyone interested in getting involved can telephone Pennine Cruisers on 01756 795478 or email