Lineup for Cultural Olympics Festival Announced

April 27, 2012 Updated: September 25, 2019

The lineup for the London 2012 Festival—a major celebration to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics—was announced on Thursday, April 26.

Stars and artists including singer Damon Albarn, conductor Daniel Barenboim, actress Cate Blanchett, dissident Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei, and American singer Rihanna are to feature in a UK-wide festival.

More than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations are set to appear at the festival, which runs from June 21 to September 9.

Organisers said that there will be over 10 million free tickets for 12,000 events, covering a range of arts from music, theatre, fashion, dance, installations, comedy, and literature.

Stephen Fry said in a statement: “The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be an astonishing event, and it’s only right that we use the opportunity to showcase our world-leading arts and culture when the eyes of the world are on us.”

Highlights of the festival include BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend starring musicians Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Jack White performing to 100,000 fans, while London’s newest landmark designed by internationally acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the 115-foot-high The Orbit, will be launched in May.

Daniel Barenboim will conduct his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in a complete Beethoven symphony cycle culminating on July 27, the opening night of the London Olympics.

“The London 2012 Festival will be the largest cultural celebration in our lifetime,” said Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, in a statement announcing the launch.

“With new work from the best musicians, comics, artists, film makers and more, there will be arts events taking place in unusual places all over the UK that will showcase the best in international culture when the eyes of the world are on us this summer.” she said.

The festival will be launched on Midsummer’s Night, June 21, with an open-air concert featuring star conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela playing at Stirling Castle in Scotland. Other spectacular events will take place at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall and Lake Windermere in Cumbria.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said in a statement: “The 2012 Games provides a unique chance to showcase Britain to the world. The London 2012 Festival highlights the enormous wealth of world class culture that this country has to offer, providing opportunities for everyone, everywhere to get involved and be inspired.”

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