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London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay events in the East and South East

  • Date: 7 August 2012
  • Area: South East
Dover Torch Relay fireworks by The World Famous, who are providing a fire show at the London 2012 Paralympic Flame Festival in Aylesbury

Dover Torch Relay fireworks by The World Famous, who are providing a fire show at the London 2012 Paralympic Flame Festival in Aylesbury. Credit: (C) Rikard Österlund

Of all the London 2012 activities happening this summer, nothing has galvanised or enthused communities like the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays and the fantastic arts and cultural celebrations to commemorate them.

This summer, 8,000 specially-chosen torchbearers will have carried the Flame through more than 1,000 UK cities, towns and villages during an epic 70-day journey, while the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay spans four different UK cities and will see celebrations in 33 cities over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Olympic Torch was seen by an amazing 3.8 million people in the East and South East of England.

Arts Council England proudly supported nine special evening celebrations in the South East and six in the East for the Olympic Torch Relay during July. Many of these events were funded through Arts Council’s Grants for the arts scheme.  Grants for the arts is Arts Council England’s open access funding programme. It invests National Lottery money to support activities that engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.

Arts and culture: Olympic torch relay events

The  Olympic Torch relay celebrations have shown how arts and culture can lead the way in creating rich and lasting experiences in honour of our most important civic moments.

For example, Chelmsford enjoyed an exciting finale for the London 2012 project Sparks will Fly in Essex, involving pyrotechnics and special effects. The project was created by internationally acclaimed outdoor performance specialists Walk the Plank, Grand Theatre of Lemmings and Essex-based artist Joanna Peacock and several other UK artists. It was one of the country’s biggest arts spectaculars, engaging with more than 100,000 residents from across Essex.

Caterina Loriggio, Creative Programmer, London 2012, South East, Arts Council England says: ‘In the South East, we have seen many glorious moments ranging from a flotilla of ships welcoming the Flame to Dover on a Tall Ship in Gale Force 8 conditions, Eddie Izzard on the roof of the De La Warr Pavilion with Richard Wilson's installation, 600 young people taking part in the Tree of Light, and the communities of Gosport taking over every inch of the District with bunting and street parties.’

Liz Hughes, Creative Programmer, East of England, London 2012, Arts Council England, adds: ‘There were extraordinary cultural highlights in the East of England like Metal's choir of 2,000 people on the seafront in Southend, the Olympic torch on Luton's Brazilian style carnival float and all the fabulous evening celebrations and morning starts.’

London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay

London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay will take place from 24 to 29 August 2012, after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Adapted from the traditional Torch Relay format, the Paralympic Torch Relay will begin in London on 24 August with the lighting of England’s flame – and then separate flames will be lit in Greater Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh on each of the following days.  

In the East of England, there will be Paralympic flame celebrations in every county. Local residents are encouraged to ‘Light a Lantern’ to show their support for the Paralympic Athletes: make lanterns, attend a Flame Festival or Flame Celebration, or line the overnight Paralympic Torch Relay route on 24 to 29 August.

Suffolk will host the Paralympic Flame in Needham Market on 24 August with a family-focused community celebration featuring a range of artist-led workshops, sports activities, stilt walkers, tightrope walkers, entertainers and impromptu performances all themed around the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The procession starts at 7.10pm at the lake, leading through Needham Market High Street and returning to the lake for a grand fire finale from international performance company AVANTI.

The Suffolk Paralympic Flame cultural event at Needham Lake is organised by Suffolk County Council and supported with over £24,000 in Arts Council England Grants for the arts awards.

On 28 August, the four flames will then travel to Stoke Mandeville, birthplace of the Paralympic Movement where they will be combined at a Paralympic Flame Lighting Ceremony to create the London 2012 Paralympic Flame.

That evening, a 24-hour relay involving 580 Torchbearers, working in teams of five, will transport the Paralympic flame from Stoke Mandeville, through Aylesbury and onto the Olympic Stadium, where they will light the Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on 29 August.

To celebrate this momentous relay, Aylesbury is holding a spectacular celebration on 28 August, 2pm to 10pm. This free event in Aylesbury town centre boasts a range of arts, culture, and sport including street acts, live art, animated film, community performances, plus sports demonstrations and tasters and live footage from the official Paralympic Flame Lighting Ceremony at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

The evening will finish with a spectacular fire and light show from The World Famous and Shared Space and Light, a fantastic send-off for the Paralympic Torch on its journey to London.

Caterina Loriggio, Creative Programmer, London 2012, South East, Arts Council England says: ‘The Paralympic Flame Festival will be pretty spectacular in the region as the national celebrations culminate at Stoke Mandeville and the overnight relay begins. There will be three excellent new outdoor arts commissions in Aylesbury that evening to celebrate including Eliza Carthy, I Fagoilini and Dartington Arts; Rachel Gadsden and Ryan Dawson Laight; The World Famous and Shared Space and Light. This really is a once in a lifetime line-up!’

The London 2012 Paralympic Flame Festival in Aylesbury and Stoke Mandeville has been supported with a £129,350 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award.

For more information, see