The evening of Thursday 21st June saw five major events taking place across the UK as the London 2012 Festival got underway.
Cultural extravaganzas in Birmingham, Cumbria, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales saw international artists and local communities come together to kick off the twelve-week, nationwide programme of festivals and arts events coinciding with the London 2012 Olympics.
The London 2012 Festival comprises events involving over 25,000 artists from each of the 204 Olympic nations, and will reach every corner of the UK. It is hoped that 10 million people will take part in the 12,000 planned events, contributing to the once-in-a-generation cultural celebration.
The opening night saw some typically fierce British weather hamper some of the outdoor events, but the festival goers braved the elements in their raincoats, umbrellas and wellington boots.
At Scotland’s stunning Stirling Castle the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra visiting from Venezuela were joined by hundreds of children from the nearby estate of Raploch, to perform a concert overseen by world-renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
In Cumbria, a spectacular fireworks display lit up the stormy skies above Lake Windermere, as French arts company Les Commandos Percu put on their ‘On the Night Shift’ pyrotechnic and percussion show. The event coincided with the arrival of the Olympic Torch in the northern country.
Meanwhile, at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, in Carmarthen, artist Jeremy Deller started his 12 week tour with his amazing ‘bouncy castle’ style inflatable Stonehenge sculpture. The life size replica of Wiltshire’s prehistoric monument proved a popular hit with the locals who took the unusual opportunity to bounce off the inflatable stones.
In Northern Ireland, a star-studded concert hosted by actor Jude Law saw Pixie Lott, Imelda May, Newton Faulkner and the Guillemots, performing at Ebrington Square, marking the countdown to Global Truce on Peace Day this September.
Unfortunately, in Birmingham, a free outdoor spectacle in Victoria Square with acrobats, professional dancers and live music onboard the giant ship The Voyage was cancelled due to heavy rain. Nonetheless, Birmingham’s Symphony Orchestra performed the UK premiere of Jonathan Harvey's choral work Weltethos, in the Midlands city’s Symphony Hall.
Other events over the summer of the Olympics will see artist Martin Creed mark the opening of the Games on 27 July by encouraging mass participation in a three minute bell ring from 8:12 am, a performance by comedian and musician Tim Minchin at Cornwall’s Eden Project in Cornwall and a Tate Britain exhibition of Olympic and Paralympic posters.
For more details on the London 2012 Festival visit the official site.