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London 2012 Festival launches with spectacular events across the UK

  • Date: 21 June 2012
  • Area: National

The London 2012 Festival, a 12 week UK-wide cultural celebration for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, launched today.

The festival will see over 25,000 artists from all 204 Olympic and Paralympic nations showcasing the world's best music, theatre, dance, visual art, literature, film and fashion in towns and cities across the country.

Opening events

A number of spectacular events are taking place across the country today to mark the opening of the festival.

They include a bright and brilliant outdoor show by French street arts company Les Commandos Percu on Lake Windermere, which also welcomes the Olympic Torch relay to the shores of the largest natural lake in England; a UK premier of Weltethos, British composer Jonathan Harvey's epic choral work in Birmingham; and the unveiling of Yoko Ono's IMAGINE PEACE art installation on London 2012 Live Site screens across the capital and the country.

Tickets on sale now

Tickets for major festival events are available now, find events and book online.

Watch Damon Albarn's epic Dr Dee come to the stage of the London Coliseum, hear some of the best musicians from across the world at the Barbican's three-day Back2Black festival; or experience Northampton arts venue Royal and Derngate's Festival Of Chaos which explores the contemporary relevance of Dionysius, the god of dance, ecstasy and chaos.

You can also take part in events from the London 2012 Festival Unlimited programme, the largest ever UK programme celebrating arts, culture and sport by disabled and deaf people. This includes Candoco Unlimited a show comprising two large dance pieces by choreographers Marc Brew and Claire Cunningham, for Candoco's company of 12 disabled and non-disabled dancers.

More than 10 million free opportunities to take part

A programme of free events will be taking place across the UK during the festival, giving everyone the opportunity to take part. Sell-out shows include BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend in London and Walk the Plank's Sparks will fly in Essex, but there are still opportunities to get hold of tickets for some fantastic events including the BT River of Music which sees musicians from across the world playing on six stages along the Thames.

A series of free world-class free exhibitions are also on display including The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Medals at British Museum and Tracey Emin's She Lay Deep Down Beneath the Sea at Turner Contemporary, Margate.

Attracting new audiences

The success of the London 2012 Festival countdown events gives a sense of the impact of the programme to come, with over 2 million people attending so far.

Examples include Shakespeare's Globe which sold over 85,000 tickets for their Globe to Globe season as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, the sell-out Pina Bausch retrospective at Sadlers Wells and the Barbican, and the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which was one of the top 10 visited shows at the gallery since it opened in 1768.

The London 2012 Festival is also using the power of the Games to encourage new audiences to engage with world-class arts - 80 per cent of the audience at Shakespeare's Globe to Globe performances were new attendees, and 52 per cent of visitors to David Hockney had not visited the gallery before.

Visit the London 2012 Festival website for more information and a full programme of events.