London 2012’s cultural highlights
© The Globe
London’s 2012 Olympic Games aren’t just about celebrating the fastest, strongest and the fittest. There’s also a huge programme of cultural events on offer ranging from street dance to pop concerts, art installations to opera and theatre to literature festivals.
Here’s a taste of what to look forward to during the London 2012 Festival.
Column by Anthony McCall will be a spinning vortex of mist, rising up as far as the eye can see from Wirral Waters in Merseyside. It will be visible across the region and beyond throughout 2012. Set to be one of Britain’s largest-scale and most exciting public art projects, it will be taller than the Blackpool Tower.
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Beginning 23 April 2012 — Shakespeare’s birthday — the World Shakespeare Festival will see performances of the Bard’s works taking place in theatres all across Britain. The Globe theatre alone will host 37 international theatre companies, who will perform all of Shakespeare’s plays, each in a different language.
Step into the blooms of the British summertime, only this time, they’re the handiwork of ceramic artist Paul Cummins. His classical English flower garden made of 10,000 handcrafted ceramic blooms is quite a spectacle, and will appear at several outdoor locations around England to create a spectacular show.
In a celebration of Wales’ traditional landmarks, a heritage pilgrimage will depart from Llanthony Abbey and follow the route taken by medieval pilgrims. The main event will be the arrival of the pilgrimage in St David’s 22 days later where there will be a great festival of food and music.
On The Night Shift is a thunderous evening of sound, light and fire on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, which will follow the arrival of the Olympic torch at “Lakes Alive”, earlier in the day. Performed by French masters of explosives, percussion and drumming, Les Commandos Percus together with leading UK artists, this free event is set to be a hypnotic mix of searing sounds and jaw-dropping fireworks that will mesmerise you. Even better, it’s all set against the backdrop of one of England’s most iconic and enchanting landscapes.
Doctor Dee is a new opera composed by Blur and Gorillaz singer Damon Albarn. In an age when the lines between science and magic were blurred, Doctor John Dee was the ultimate Renaissance Man: alchemist, astrologer, mathematician and spy. Doctor Dee explores ritual and symbolism in this country, past and present, using the mysterious John Dee as catalyst. After a short run this year in Manchester, the show will play the London Coliseum in 2012.
River of Music is a massive musical celebration, culminating in a weekend of spectacular performances. Musicians representing all the Olympic and Paralympic nations will perform at landmark sites along the River Thames. Expect huge stages all along the river showcasing the very best in international music and performance from seven continents.
Get ready to see the towering pinnacle of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh lit up with… people! As part of London 2012 Festival and Edinburgh International Festival, NVA’s Speed of Light will illuminate Edinburgh’s natural landmark by dressing runners and walkers in special light suits, before they start running to and from the hill en masse. Best of all, as the audience, you’ll be given portable light sources so you can become part of the performance yourself.
For more information check out the London 2012 Festival website.