Today marks the official start of the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival, which will run alongside the sporting competitions taking place in Stratford and elsewhere across the country during the coming months.
Running until 9 September (to coincide with the last event in the Paralympic Games) there’ll be more dance, music, theatre, fashion, food, art and film than you can shake an Olympic Torch at! Many of the events taking place will be free, so here are some London highlights which have caught my eye:
- On 2 July there will be a special performance of ‘With One Voice’ at the Royal Opera House – all of the performers in this event, which has been organised by London-based Streetwise Opera, have experienced homelessness. The whole day is intended to give a voice to the homeless of Britain – very worthy, and from what I’ve heard of them so far, this will be very professionally executed
- Now to something a little more mysterious – between 20 July and 1 August with a new libretto by Terry Jones, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ will be taking to unspecified waterways around London, performed by ROH2. Think canals, lidos and lakes… I’m guessing more details will be revealed nearer the time but I imagine a magical spectacle is in the offing with this one
- On the weekend of 21 and 22 July, the ‘BT River Of Music’ will take place on stages which have been set up along the Thames. Artists from around the world will be involved in performances on six stages strung out along the river – Battersea Park (Asia stage); Trafalgar Square (Europe stage); Somerset House (Europe stage); Tower of London (Americas stage); Greenwich Old Royal Naval College (Oceania stage) and London Pleasure Gardens (Africa stage). I’m sure that even the most discerning music fan will find something to their taste during the weekend!
- Indulging my personal passion for photography I should mention ‘The World In London’ which is taking over a small part of Victoria Park in Hackney from 25 July to 12 August. This open air exhibition will feature 203 portraits of 203 Londoners, from 203 different countries – probably the only capital city in the world where such a thing is possible!
- On 9 September, after a tour around the country, Jez Colborne is bringing ‘Irresistible – Call of the Sirens’ to the Southbank Centre. Influenced by the story of Odysseus, Jez brings found sounds, unconventional instruments and songs together to make his performance. There’ll be other supporting musicians and singers, and fantastic lighting. I’m sure this free event will be one of the highlights of the festival
You can find out about all of the events taking place as part of the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival here – helpfully on the listings page you can just tick a box that says ‘Free Events’ if you just want to look at those that offer particularly good value for money!