Thursday, 26 April 2012

London 2012 Festival will be largest cultural celebration in our lifetime

The full programme for the London 2012 Festival was launched today (26 April). It contains some 12,000 events and performances from over 25,000 artists from all 205 participating Olympic nations.

Kicking off across the UK on 21 June and running until 9 September, there will be 137 world firsts and 85 UK premiers, featuring well-known names from the arts, music, comedy, dance and culture. 

Billed as the ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Festival and taking place at 900 venues, the London 2012 Festival  begins with four opening day events. 

Lake Windermere in the Lake District will stage a free outdoor event featuring French pyrotechnic wizards Les Commandos Percu to celebrate the Olympic Flame’s arrival to the region, whilst in the heart of Derry/Londonderry’s new cultural quarter, a Peace One Day Global Truce Countdown Concert will take place. 

Also, on 21 June, the children of Raploch in Stirling will perform in The Big Concert, conducted by world renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and Edward Gardner and Simon Halsey will raise their batons together for the UK premier of Weltethos at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham. 

London highlights during the Festival will include the floating children’s opera The Owl and the Pussycat written by Monty Python star Terry Jones and Oscar winning composer Anne Dudley, which will travel through London’s canal network, plus pop-up Shakespeare performances around the city, with a cast led by actor and director Mark Rylance. 

A barge manned by a group of well-known British comedians will set sail from London and attempt to reach Edinburgh’s celebrated Fringe venue, The Pleasance, staging pop-up comedy gigs along the way. Whilst, The BT River of Music will showcase performances from five continents across six stages located in iconic locations around the capital. The six stages will represent the continents - Asia in Battersea Park, Africa in Jubilee Gardens, Europe in Trafalgar Square and Somerset House, the Americas at the Tower of London, and Oceania in the Greenwich Old Royal Naval College. 
Some 160,000 free tickets are available for confirmed acts including the Noisettes and the Scissor Sisters. 

Major London events which form part of the Festival include BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend (23-24 June), the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, the World Shakespeare Festival and Urban Classic - a mash-up between the BBC Symphony Orchestra and urban acts including Ms Dynamite planned for Waltham Forest Town Hall on 5 July. 

Other much anticipated activity from across the country includes the world premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mittwoch aus Licht, which features a string quartet streamed live from helicopters flying over Birmingham, plus an ‘Unlimited’ programme of events involving deaf and disabled artists. 

Ruth MacKenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival said: “It will be the largest cultural celebration in our lifetime. With new work from the best musicians, comics, artists, film makers and more, there will be arts events taking place in unusual places all over the UK that will showcase the best in international culture when the eyes of the world are on us this summer.”
Principal funders of the London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners.