Visit London Blog » cultural olympiad Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Lionheart Project Crochet Lions at the Natural History Museum Tue, 31 Jul 2012 07:36:33 +0000

Shauna Richardson’s magnificent crochet lions have arrived at the Natural History Museum. The three large beasts form The Lionheart Project, an Arts Council commission for the Cultural Olympiad.

The lions are situated in a glass case just outside the main entrance to the museum and I was instantly struck by their size. Even though I had read they were 4m tall, I still wasn’t expecting them to be so huge, lifelike and a bit scary! They have big teeth and I thought they looked a little hungry.

Even if you don’t crochet, you’ll be impressed by the work and skill that went into crafting the beautiful lions. Shauna spent two years making them. The 150 Swaledale sheep from Derbyshire who supplied the wool for the project might be a little surprised to discover that they weren’t growing jumpers!

Viewing the Lionheart project is free, and you can enjoy the free Exhibition Road Show festival and plenty of other free events in Kensington’s museum quarter this summer.

Free. 20 July – 10 September 2012, Natural History Museum

]]> 1
Martin Creed’s All The Bells On HMS Belfast Fri, 27 Jul 2012 11:30:32 +0000

This morning, we were lucky enough to experience part of Martin Creed’s mass participation artwork, All The Bells on HMS Belfast.

More than 300 children from around the city joined in the piece, which celebrated the first day of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There were Brownies, Scouts, Sea Cadets and girls and boys wearing traditional Bangladeshi costumes all taking part. Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival and Jeremy Hunt (the Minister for Culture, Olympics and Sport) also joined in, as did Channel 4 news anchor, Jon Snow.

At 8.12am, the ship’s cannon fired, and everyone on board rang their bells for three minutes. Across the UK, church bells, bicycle bells, door bells, mobile phones and more were rung for three minutes. Even the bells of Big Ben joined in; it’s the first time the clock’s bells have chimed anything other than the hour since 1952.

It sounded fantastic, and the children involved all had a great time. “It was brilliant,” one Brownie told me. “I’m really excited about the Olympics now. My favourite event is the diving – I want Tom Daley to win!”

“It was outstanding,” said Lee Harrison, 59, from Peckham, the Yeoman of HMS Belfast. “I’m quite taken aback, actually. I didn’t expect it to be as good as this! We’re a multicultural nation, and this’ll be a multicultural Games, bringing everybody together in peace and unity. And we’ve reflected that this morning. Getting the whole of Britain together to do this today is absolutely brilliant. As an ex-serviceman, I feel very honoured to be able to do this on the ship. But I’m going to have a serious lie-down now; I’m going to tell my wife to get the Radox out, cos my knees are aching!”

Ruth Mackenzie also found it quite a tiring exercise: “I was in the middle of the huge crowd, I can scarcely hear a thing, and it’s quite hard work actually – a young child from Wales next to me said ‘This is like a work out!’ and it was! It was quite good training.”

And what was the message of this mass bell ringing? “It’s our welcome message. Our message that London is a fantastic place. A great place to live, to visit, and it welcomes people from all around the world as tourists, as partners; we’ve got artists from all around the world as part of the London 2012 Festival, and of course, to welcome the athletes who are about to take centre stage with the greatest show in the world.”

Did you ring bells at 8.12 this morning? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

]]> 0
London 2012 Festival: Full Programme Revealed Thu, 26 Apr 2012 13:09:20 +0000  

This summer’s London 2012 Festival will feature acrobats on London landmarks, an inflatable Stonehenge and an appearance by Wallace and Gromit at The Proms. The full programme for the 12-week festival was unveiled this morning. Highlights include:

London 2012 Festival, 21 June to 9 September 2012

]]> 0
London 2012 Posters Unveiled Fri, 04 Nov 2011 17:52:15 +0000 Anthea Hamilton, Divers. Copyright London 2012 Bob and Roberta Smith, Love. Copyright London 2012 Bridget Riley, Rose Rose. Copyright London 2012 Chris Ofili, For the Unknown Runner. Copyright London 2012 Fiona Banner, Superhuman Nude. Copyright London 2012 Gary Hume, Capital. Copyright London 2012 Howard Hodgkin, Swimming. Copyright London 2012 Martin Creed, Work No 1273. Copyright London 2012 Michael Craig-Martin, GO. Copyright London 2012 Rachel Whiteread, LOndOn 2O12. Copyright London 2012 Sarah Morris, Big Ben 2012. Copyright London 2012 Tracey Emin, Birds 2012. Copyright London 2012

Some of Britain’s top artists, including Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley, have produced posters for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The posters will be displayed in a free exhibition at Tate Britain next summer. If you don’t want to wait until then, you can buy your own copies for £7 each from today.

Find out how to get your hands on a London 2012 poster or limited edition print at  

]]> 4
London 2012 Festival Events Announced Fri, 04 Nov 2011 13:22:46 +0000 Actor Mark Rylance will accost members of the public and quote lines from Shakespeare as part of next summer’s London 2012 Festival.

Accompanied by a group of actors “disguised as normal people”, the Jerusalem star will approach people in the street and on Tube trains, and spout lines such as “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”.

“This is a thing that I’ve done for 15 or 17 years on Shakespeare’s birthday,” said Rylance. “The idea is to take this beautiful language and put it in the street, in a real person’s situation.”

The 12-week festival will also feature a new show by Damon Albarn and the English National Opera called Dr Dee, an exhibition of Tony Cragg’s sculpture on Exhibition Road, and daredevil dancers at London landmarks.

The London 2012 Festival is the culmination of the four-year Cultural Olympiad leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. See the full programme at

]]> 0
Scissor Sisters to Perform at London 2012 River of Music Thu, 27 Oct 2011 10:22:55 +0000

The Scissor Sisters will perform at the BT River of Music festival in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The two-day celebration on 21 and 22 July 2012 will feature free concerts along the banks of the river Thames, starring musical talent from Olympic countries around the world.

Six stages will host music from the major continents: Asia in Battersea Park, Africa in Jubilee Gardens, Europe in Trafalgar Square and Somerset House, the Americas at the Tower of London, and Oceania at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Confirmed artists include Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Naturally 7, Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo, Zakir Hussain and Andy Sheppard.

To find out how to get your hands on free concert tickets, sign up now at Ticketing information will be released in May 2012.


]]> 0
Lucian Freud Portraits to open at London’s National Portrait Gallery in 2012 Tue, 20 Sep 2011 10:32:25 +0000 London’s National Portrait Gallery will host a major Lucian Freud exhibition next year to coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The gallery’s director Sandy Nairne wanted to “invite one of our very, very best artists to make a very special exhibition”. He approached Freud, who “responded extremely warmly and positively to that proposition”.

Unfortunately Freud died in July, but Nairne says this is not a retrospective but an exhibition made “in close collaboration with Lucian Freud”.

There’ll be more than 100 works on show, including portraits of:

  • Freud’s mother Lucie
  • Artists Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon and David Hockney
  • Performance artist Leigh Bowery
  • Bowery’s friend Sue Tilley, the “Benefits Supervisor”

Lucian Freud Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery from 9 February to 27 May 2012 and is part of the London 2012 Festival

]]> 0
One Year To Go To The London 2012 Festival Tue, 21 Jun 2011 08:30:42 +0000 Today marks one year to go to the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week UK-wide cultural celebration from 21 June to 9 September 2012 featuring leading artists from all over the world.

The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, and will feature artists Plan B, Toni Morrison, Olafur Eliasson, Miranda Hart, Deborah Warner, Mike Leigh, Leona Lewis and Damon Albarn.

More than 7 million people can enjoy free events during the London 2012 Festival. Events already announced include

Today there are several new programme announcements, many of which are outside London: a free light and fire spectacular by Les Commandos Percus on the shores of Lake Windermere; an immersive theatre show for Doctor Who fans by Punchdrunk in Manchester; a free spectacular by outdoor performance specialists Walk the Plank in Chelmsford. Londoners can look forward to The 2012 Reading Challenge; a special comedy season at the Hackney Empire, and a Peace One Day concert in London on 21 September 2011, featuring Eliza Doolittle.

Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Chair, said: “We always said that the culture program would be part of the London 2012 experience.

“What you can see today is even more evidence that the London 2012 Festival programme for next year will showcase the incredible creative talent we have here in the UK. Millions will be able to get involved all across the UK, the vast majority for free; it will be a fitting finale for the Cultural Olympiad.”

Tickets for the London 2012 Festival will go on sale in October 2011. Tickets for number of Festival projects are already on sale, including Pina Bausch retrospective and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach taking place at Sadler’s Wells and the Barbican.

Sign up now at to be first in line for information about the festival.

]]> 1
Leona Lewis and Plan B to Perform in Hackney at London 2012 Concert Tue, 24 May 2011 09:30:46 +0000

BBC Radio 1 are hosting a huge concert in Hackney next year, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrations.

The line-up will include local stars Leona Lewis and Plan B alongside 80 international and UK acts.

The concert is taking place at Hackney Marshes, on 23 and 24 June next year – traditionally Glastonbury weekend. (Don’t panic – you won’t have to choose between the two: Glastonbury’s taking a year off in 2012.)

There’ll be around 100,000 tickets available for the concert, which Radio 1 is describing as “the most ambitious event in the station’s 44-year history”. The majority of the tickets will be allocated to people living in Hackney (one of the Olympic boroughs) and to the surrounding areas.

There’ll be six stages showcasing the best of the Beeb’s various stations, and the event will replace Radio 1’s One Big Weekend for next year.

“To be part of this event is so important to me,” said Lewis, who performed with guitarist Jimmy Page at the Beijing 2008 Olympics Closing Ceremony to signal the handover to London as the host of the 2012 Games.

“I’m so excited about the opportunities and the excitement it will bring to the area. Radio 1 is going to put on the biggest show in their history and it is happening in East London. I couldn’t be happier.”

Plan B said, “It is great to have a musical celebration in the area where the Olympics are being held.”

Hackney Weekend 2012 will form part of the opening weekend of the London 2012 Festival, the UK-wide cultural celebration and finale of the Cultural Olympiad, running from 21 June to 9 September 2012.

Ruth Mackenzie, the director of the London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad, said, ‘We’re delighted that Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend is part of the London 2012 Festival line-up. It is a perfect fit with our ambitions for the Festival to appeal to young people, to showcase world class talent and to work with our partners in Hackney.”

More announcements about the line-up will be revealed in due course… Who would you like to see performing at Hackney Weekend 2012?

]]> 0
Wayne McGregor Unveils Plans for Big Dance 2012 Wed, 04 May 2011 13:41:23 +0000

Wayne McGregor today announced plans for Big Dance 2012. The world’s largest dance festival will take place over nine days from 7 to 15 July next year.

The Royal Ballet Choreographer and Artistic Director will lead a mass participation dance in Trafalgar Square as part of the festival.

McGregor – who started maypole dancing at school, before moving onto Latin, ballroom and amateur dramatics, and finally becoming a choreographer – hopes to encourage people “who don’t often dance but maybe danced in the past or want to give it a go”.

“What we’re interested in is activating hundreds of choreographers to make their own piece. What’s important is that everyone has the chance to make their own choreography,” he explained.

“There will be about 50 groups from London, from all different styles, all different ages. I’ll start to borrow and repurpose material to make a larger piece.”

Big Dance will be part of the London 2012 Festival, the finale of London’s Cultural Olympiad.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad, said, “Big Dance is one of my best, most-loved projects in the Cultural Olympiad.

“It encourages people not just to watch but to do, whether you just go to the cinema and watch Pina Bausch, or whether you want to be the next Pina Bausch.”

]]> 1