London 2012 Festival officially starts

10:48 21 June 2012

West End LIVE in Trafalgar Square is part of the London 2012 Festival. Picture: West End LIVE

West End LIVE in Trafalgar Square is part of the London 2012 Festival. Picture: West End LIVE

West End LIVE

The London 2012 Festival officially launches today.

Lasting 12 weeks, the festival includes 25,000 artists from the 204 Olympic and Paralympic nations taking part in 12,000 events from live music shows to comedy to theatre across the country.

There are 10million free tickets to events at 900 venues.

Ruth Mackenzie, director, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said: “When the UK won the bid for the Olympics in 2005, we promised to return to Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s original idea of an Olympic Games based on the three pillars of sport, art and education.

“This summer, London 2012 Festival showcases the world’s greatest artists alongside the stars of the sports world, a once in a lifetime cultural experience to match the once in a lifetime visit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the UK.”

Among the highlights is Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace art installation, which will be unveiled on London 2012 Live Site screens, situated at free outdoor venues in London including Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Walthamstow and Woolwich.

Imagine Peace is Ono’s worldwide initiative of anti-violence, featuring the Imagine Peace message translated into 24 world languages. A major exhibition of her work will also be on show at the Serpentine Gallery as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Other highlights of the London 2012 Festival include the World Shakespeare Festival, with performances of the Bard’s plays.

The first major survey of Damien Hirst’s work ever held in the UK, bringing together over 70 of the artist’s works including For the Love of God and other seminal pieces, will be at the Tate Modern until September 9, the last day of the London 2012 Festival.

There will be a number of events from the Festival’s Unlimited programme, the largest ever UK programme celebrating arts, culture and sport by disabled and deaf people.

Tate Britain is displaying the Official Olympic and Paralympic Posters by artists including Fiona Banner, Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin until September 21.

Celebrated conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela return to London’s Southbank Centre for a four-day residency, Sounds Venezuela 2012, this weekend.

Also taking place this weekend is the free Trafalgar Square festival West End LIVE, for the first time featuring entertainment from every single one of London’s highly-acclaimed West End musicals.

ENO bring Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee to the London stage.

The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

Crisis averted! But not until after an animal rescue officer was called in to investigate.

Read more

You always have to look up to everyone else. Literally.

Read more

No, us neither – but best-selling author Patrick Woodhead has.

Read more

Promoted content

We've got a great selection of Secret Santa presents and stocking fillers for under a tenner...  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Office Secret Santa: it’s a Christmas ritual that everyone dreads, but no-one wants to seem like a Scrooge by saying no. Never fear, London24 is here to make buying gifts for Dave in Accounts simple and stress-free, with a selection of presents for under a tenner

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

Crisis averted! But not until after an animal rescue officer was called in to investigate.

Now experts have been called in to help it get back to water.

From the Earth’s elliptical orbit to the scheduling of Christmas, the winter solstice is as scientifically complex as it is culturally significant.

The introduction of the Genomic Medicine Centres is seen a a genetic revolution in the NHS, but why?

Quirky London