More than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations, over 10 million free tickets, 12,000 events and performances at 900 venues all over Britain, including 130 world premieres and 85 UK premieres: it’s an unmissable 9 weeks!
From Stonehenge to the Giant’s Causeway, Hadrian’s Wall to Arthur’s Seat, the Raploch Estate in Stirling to a remote corner of the Shetland Islands, and the shores of Lake Windermere to the forests of North Wales, the London 2012 Festival takes art out of the gallery, concert hall, theatre and cinema to unusual locations across the country. A lot of the best activity will ‘pop up’ in venues yet to be announced, so it is advisable to check the London 2012 Festival website regularly, and follow @London 2012 on Twitter for up to the minute information.
See VisitBritain’s story idea on the London 2012 Festival for a run-down of the festival highlights, and read on for further gems in the festival programme:
11 May-25 Sept: The British Library in London is showing a fantastic exhibition for wordsmiths: Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands is a showcase of stunning (some never before seen) English literature treasures, featuring a collection of 150 great literary works spanning more than 1,000 years. Highlights include the original manuscript for J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, original handwritten Beatles lyrics, J R R Tolkien’s original artwork for The Hobbit and manuscripts by Charles Dickens. Also at the British Library is Olympex 2012 (25 July-9 Sept), a visually striking free exhibition, telling stories of the past and present Olympic Games through 2,500 stamps and intriguing pieces of Olympic memorabilia.
21 June: An enormous ship will sail into the the centre of Victoria Square, Birmingham, docking beside the city’s Town Hall before dancers and aerialists appear in the ship’s rigging and begin an outdoor multimedia spectacle (21-24 June). The Big Concert conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and his 200-strong Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela with children from The Big Noise, Rapploch will be staged against the backdrop of Stirling Castle on the Festival’s Opening Night.
23-24 June: West End LIVE is a spectacular event, featuring every West End musical performing live in Trafalgar Square over the London 2012 Festival opening weekend. Half a million people attended last year to sing along with the stars of the stage, this year including classics Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, newcomers Singin’ in the Rain and Sweeney Todd, West End LIVE favourites Billy Elliot The Musical, Chicago, Disney’s The Lion King, War Horse and many more.
26 June-20 July: How like an Angel will showcase aerial acrobatics and live song in four of the UK’s finest Cathedrals.
28 June-12 Aug: Popping up on waterway’s this summer, Tales of the Riverbank Comedy Barge will see a group of comedians set off on a barge from London to Edinburgh with a series of impromptu gigs en route.
19-22 July: Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw will collaborate on Peace Camp, a series of installations in eight remote coastal locations from County Antrim to the tip of Cornwall. Inspired by love poetry, these magical encampments are designed to be visited between dusk and dawn.
20 July-1 Aug: Monty Python star Terry Jones has collaborated in the creation of a new children’s opera The Owl and the Pussycat that will travel through London’s canals.
28 July-5 Aug: The Exhibition Road Show will transform one of London’s most culturally rich streets (home to the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum) into a quirky hotbed of learning and entertainment in one. Sculptures housing bees, a real meteorite embedded in the ground, a bicycle orchestra, a pop-up ballroom hosting waltzes to line-dancing and a particle accelerator, are just some of the highlights. The festival will bring together live performances, scientific experiments, large-scale games and playful interventions.
21 July-6 Aug: A collection of BMW cars with bodywork designed by artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons will go on show in a mystery London location.
8am, 27 July 2012: 'Work No. 1197. All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes' by Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed, will be performed by thousands of people across the UK to celebrate the first day of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Already signed up are The Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, who will be participating at home and overseas with as many ships, shore bases and naval establishments as possible.
9 Aug-1 Sept: Runners in luminous suits will light up Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat at night.
16-19 Aug: ‘See No Evil’, a major three-day urban festival featuring world class street art, cutting edge music and 3D mapping projections will pop-up in the heart of Bristol’s Enterprise Zone.
31 Aug-1 Sept: New York artists collective YesYesNo will send messages along the 73-mile long, Hadrian’s Wall.
3-8 Sept: A train full of some of the most exciting African and Western musicians will be travelling through cities across the UK by train visiting communities in Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and Middlesbrough. A collaboration between Africa Express and The Barbican, new music will be created along the way – each day, each town, each show seeing something different and new, culminating in a London finale – a collaborative epic that defies musical and geographical boundaries.
7-9 Sept: MANDALA, a bold new collaboration fusing classical and contemporary South Asian dance and music with 3D architectural projection, will see Town Hall, Birmingham, and Nottingham Council House spectacularly illuminated in colour and light.
7-16 Sept: World Event Young Artists brings together 1000 artists from 100 nations, over 30 venues in 10 days in Nottingham: the finale to the Cultural Olympiad in the East Midlands region of England, this ambitious event brings together talented young artists aged 18-30 from all over the world.