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  • Date: 25 July 2012
  • Area: North
Stage performers playing drums with fireworks behind

On the Night Shift. Credit: Stewart Smith

From Friday 7 to Sunday 9 September in Preston, the North West will mark the end of London 2012 with WE PLAY Expo. Starting on the Friday in the city centre and in the beautiful setting of Avenham and Miller Parks, WE PLAY Expo will be a whole weekend of unmissable free events. It will form part of the historic Preston Guild festival which occurs once every 20 years and, dating back to 1179, is England's oldest festival.

WE PLAY Expo, which coincides with the final weekend of the Paralympic Games, will have a real festival atmosphere and will celebrate our region's unique contribution to London 2012.

The result of four years' of work commissioned and created especially for London 2012, the WE PLAY Expo brings together digital innovation, young producers and outdoor arts - through Abandon Normal Devices, Blaze and Lakes Alive - with the Preston Guild festival to celebrate WE PLAY's achievements and legacy. It will also include big screen broadcasts of the Paralympic Games, the Closing Ceremony and the London 2012 handover to Rio 2016.

A co-production between WE PLAY and Preston Guild 2012, WE PLAY Expo is funded by Legacy Trust UK and Preston City Council and is supported by Arts Council England and NW be inspired.

Stella Hall, Festival Director of Preston Guild 2012 said: 'The timely occurrence of the Guild Year in Olympic Year provided a perfect opportunity for Preston Guild to join together with London 2012 in the Northwest. Through the City Guild festival and WE PLAY Expo, we've created an environment where London 2012 fans, Preston Guilders, local residents and visitors can connect and can explore all the free events that are happening. WE PLAY Expo concludes Preston Guild 2012, the London 2012 Games and the four-year Cultural Olympiad in the North West and invites their legacies to grow. We encourage visitors to come and enjoy this unprecedented and once in a lifetime Olympic Guild event.'

Commenting on WE PLAY Expo, Debbi Lander, the 2012 Creative Programmer for the North West, said: 'Community and spectacle will transform Avenham and Miller Parks in Preston over the Expo three days, inviting everyone to become part of something unexpected, extraordinary and great. Leading artists, digital inventors and young people will push the boundaries of their craft, displaying their playful creations for London 2012 at a single site for the first time and to mark the end of the Games. Designed to reveal the modernity and progressiveness of the cultural landscape in the 21st Century, the WE PLAY Expo programme boasts many firsts, from new international collaborations and regional festivals to technological breakthroughs and cultural icons.'

Some of the highlights of the WE PLAY Expo weekend include:

  • Eight brand new commissions, including world premieres of:
    o Why We Play - a new documentary looking at sport and culture and what we think about play
    o Handprint - a living artwork featuring digital handprints uploaded by players in the WE PLAY Challenge
    o Humble Market - an immersive digital performance exploring what happens when Brazil and the UK meet
    o Emoto - stunning interactive digital displays and a 3D sculpture capturing the worldwide audience response to London 2012
  • Blaze Festival - an explosive mix of music, sport and urban art created by young people
  • On the Night Shift - offering another chance to see this spectacular show which opened the London 2012 Festival on 21 June on Lake Windermere
  • Sacrilege - Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller's 'bouncy castle' take on Stonehenge

A schedule detailing what's on and when throughout the weekend will be available to download from our nwfor2012 website nearer the date.

In the run up to WE PLAY Expo, there are many more Cultural Olympiad activities taking place throughout the summer across the North West. Visit to find out more and to join the WE PLAY Challenge.