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.

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