Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Sparks will Fly in an Essex-wide celebration of the Games

  • Date: 28 February 2012
  • Area: South East
metal moving sculpture of a queen with flames

The Queen, a touring structure created by Walk the Plank. Credit: Karen Wright

The people of Essex will unite this summer as part of the region’s only county-wide cultural event as part of the Cultural Olympiad in celebration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sparks will Fly in Essex will involve every district and borough in the county, including Southend and Thurrock, engaging with more than 100,000 residents in a unique celebration for 2012 that promises to be one of the country’s biggest arts spectaculars.

Led by Essex County Council and Chelmsford Borough Council, the project has been made possible with £99,500 in Arts Council England Lottery-funded Grants for the arts.

National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts awards are for activities carried out over a set period which engage people, and help artists and arts organisations in England carry out their work.

The celebration has been created in partnership with internationally acclaimed outdoor performance specialists Walk the Plank, who will collaborate with the Grand Theatre of Lemmings and Essex-based artist Joanna Peacock, as well as bringing in artists from elsewhere in the UK.

The project will see two mythical champions, giant puppets Boreas Zephyr and Marina Mightier, coming to Essex to compete for the title of 2012 Champion of the incredible Glass Bead Game.

The champions will journey across the county from 18 May to 1 July 2012 to perform in processions and events in Harwich; Saffron Walden; Clacton; Basildon; Harlow; Stansted; Rochford; Braintree; Maldon; Canvey Island; Southend; Waltham Abbey; Colchester and Brentwood.

Then, on Friday 6 July, the Game will be played at Hylands Park as Chelmsford welcomes the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. The event will have a carnival atmosphere and will include pyrotechnics and special effects to create an exciting showdown.

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: ‘Sparks will Fly in Essex will be a spectacular celebration of the passage of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay through Essex on its route around the country. Walk The Plank has created a rich programme of community events as well as its two champions, larger-than life puppets, who will inspire a spirit of excitement and anticipation ahead of the Opening Ceremony. It will be a unique chance for people from across the county to come together to mark this historic occasion and set the festivities off in style.’

Essex County Councillors Jeremy Lucas, Cabinet Member for Environment and Culture and Stephen Castle, Cabinet Member for Education and the 2012 Games said: ‘As a host county, Sparks will Fly in Essex will be one of the biggest events ever seen in the county and will play an important role in the county’s contribution to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and showcase the artistic talent we have in Essex.’

To find out more about Sparks will Fly in Essex go to the website and follow the champions on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Grants for the arts go to the funding section of our website.