London’s 2012 Olympic Games aren’t only about celebrating the fastest, strongest and the fittest athletes. There’s also a huge programme of cultural events taking place across the whole of the UK ranging from dance to pop concerts, art installations to opera and theatre to festivals of literature. And with just one year to go until the ‘greatest show on earth’ here’s a taste of what to look forward to during the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
World Shakespeare Festival, London, 23 April-September 2012
For the first time ever in a single theatre season, all the plays of Shakespeare will be presented, each in a different language, each by a different company from around the world. Over six weeks, beginning on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April 2012, the Globe will host 37 international theatre companies, from some of the most respected to some of the newest, to present every one of Shakespeare’s plays in a different language.
Lakes Alive: Les Commandos Percu, Lake District, 21 June 2012
Lakes Alive presents a spectacular evening of sound, light and fire on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, composed by French masters of pyrotechnics, percussion and rhythmic drumming, Les Commandos Percu along with leading UK artists. This free event is set to be a hypnotic mix of searing sounds and jaw-dropping fireworks against the backdrop of one of England’s most iconic landscapes.
Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, London, 23-24 June 2012
The BBC’s biggest ever free ticketed live music event promises to be a scorcher. The free concerts on Hackney Marshes, not far from the main Olympic site, will treat 100,000 music fans to some of the biggest names in pop. Leona Lewis and Plan B are already confirmed, with over 80 UK and international artists still to be announced. Stay tuned for the full line-up.
Big Dance 2012, UK-wide, 7-15 July 2012
Big Dance is the world’s biggest free dance party, with several million participants expected in 2012. For the first time all over the UK, dance organisations will host events in unusual venues, for all ages and all forms of dance from street to ballet.
River of Music, London, 21-22 July 2012
River of Music is a massive musical celebration, climaxing in a weekend of spectacular performances, representing all 205 Olympic and Paralympic nations, at landmark sites along the River Thames. Expect huge stages at key points along the Thames showcasing the very best in international music and performance from seven continents.
Doctor Dee, London, dates TBC
Doctor Dee is a new opera composed by Blur and Gorillaz singer Damon Albarn. In the age when the lines between science and magic were blurred, Doctor John Dee was the ultimate Renaissance Man: astrologer, alchemist, mathematician and spy. Doctor Dee explores ritual and symbolism in this country, past and present, using John Dee – one of England’s greatest but largely forgotten men – as catalyst. After a short run this year in Manchester it’s coming to the London Coliseum in 2012.
Anthony McCall: Column, Merseyside, dates TBC
Column by Anthony McCall will be a spinning vortex of mist, rising up as far as the eye can see from Wirral Waters. 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.
David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, London, dates TBC
This major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts offers a unique opportunity to see new paintings by Britain’s most celebrated living artist, inspired by the scenery of his native Yorkshire. Featuring work spanning his entire career, this exhibition explores Hockney’s fascinating approach to his art that has moved from traditional techniques to using computer technology.
English Flower Garden: Paul Cummins, UK-wide, dates TBC
Ceramic artist Paul Cummins will design a typically English flower garden made of 10,000 handcrafted ceramic blooms, on a potter’s wheel. The flowery fruits of his creative labours will then be ‘planted’ in several outdoor locations around England to create a spectacular show. Part of Unlimited: the largest commission for disability arts in the UK.
Richard Wilson, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, dates TBC
In 2012, the roof of this spectacular modernist gallery will echo the final scene of the classic British movie The Italian Job when a life-sized bus will teeter precariously from its roof. What Richard Wilson’s piece means is anyone’s guess but it’s sure to be a head turner and the graceful 1930s lines of the De La Warr are well worth seeing at any time.
Find out more
Speed of Light, Edinburgh, August 2012
Presented in partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival, Speed of Light will be one of the most extraordinary and high-profile events in the London 2012 Festival program. For three weeks in August2012, Edinburgh’s famed Arthur’s Seat will be transformed into an innovative combination of sporting endeavour and performance visual art during a series of night time events. Speed of Light will feature as a signature contribution to Scotland’s Cultural Olympiad program.
For more information check out the Cultural Olympiad website.