London 2012 Festival is underway
21st June 2012 - 12:53 Noon
Today marks the beginning of the London 2012 Festival, one of the biggest cultural events in UK history, which will help to launch and celebrate the Olympic Games.
Over the next 12 weeks, more than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic countries will take part in events across Britain, beginning with five major celebrations across the four nations of the UK this evening.
In Stirling, world-famous conductor Gustavo Dudamel will lead The Big Concert with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, which will feature rousing themes and celebratory compositions.
Meanwhile, Lake Windermere will play host to On the Nightshift, an outdoor pyrotechnic and percussion extravaganza that will light up the skies over Cumbria.
Birmingham is playing host to The Voyage, which will feature a gigantic ship 'sailing' into the city centre accompanied by dancers and aerialists, while Edward Gardner will conduct Weltethos, an epic choral work exploring common values between different faiths and traditions.
In Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland, the Peace One Day concert will celebrate the theme of the ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce, while the National Botanical Gardens in Carmarthen, Wales, will see artist Jeremy Deller's life-size inflatable replica of Stonehenge, Sacrilege, unveiled for the first time, before it begins its journey around the UK.
Between now and September 9th, more than ten million free tickets will be provided for 12,000 events across the country, with performances at 900 venues.
Festival director Ruth Mackenzie described the festival as a 'once-in-a-lifetime event' and said the aim is to unite every nation of the UK and make each person feel part of the Olympic celebrations.
'It is really important that Northern Ireland, which doesn't have any of the sporting events, has the opening event for the London 2012 Festival, along with Stirling in Scotland, and our friends in Birmingham and in Wales.'