Alongside the Olympic Games, London is hosting its biggest ever cultural festival from June 21 until September 9, the London 2012 Festival. As the Olympic torch races along the home straight back to the capital, the London 2012 Festival has got off to a rousing start.
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Leading artists from all over the world are coming together for this unique event in London's Olympic year. Whether you love dance, music, theatre, fashion, food, art or film, we're certain you'll find something you can get involved in. It's happening all around the UK, with plenty of free events perfect for families.
Spoilt for choice with over 10 million opportunities to see 12,000 events and performances, where do you start?
Although the festival is taking place countrywide, London will be the hub of activity. The most eagerly anticipated events include the World Shakespeare Festival staging works of the world-famous dramatist in over 37 languages, and the 2012 Big Dance with over 2,000 dancers creating a mass-spectacle in Trafalgar Square.
Free concerts will take place along the iconic banks of the River Thames as part of the River of Music; the Yoko Ono exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery; and the screening of the legendary Alfred Hitchcock’s restored masterpieces accompanied by live music.
Fancy something a bit different? All the Bells Work No. 1197, produced by the Turner-prize winning artist and musician Martin Creed, is a standout addition to the programme which anyone and everyone can get involved in. At 8am on July 27, the nation is invited to ring thousands of bells at the same time - schools bells, church bells, town hall bells, bicycle bells or door bells. This incredible cacophony will welcome the first day of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Given the high calibre of entertainment and performances, it comes as no surprise that big names from film and music will be in attendance. Jude Law and Cate Blanchett will be pitching up whilst British artists David Hockney and Damien Hirst are also expected to attend.
Many activities are free of charge but still require tickets - easily obtained from festival.london2012.com – so get planning your festival now.