It turns out there is more to the 2012 Olympics than just sports. The 2012 Olympic games will be hosted in London, but Olympic rules dictate London must simultaneously host a cultural Olympiad as well. Like the sport Olympics, the cultural Olympiad will highlight different genres, or events if you will. Don’t worry, there are no medals. It’s been a four year project that culminates with, yes the Olympics. The goal is to bring arts and culture to the 2012 London experience, especially to those that cannot get to London for the games, so the events are all over the UK. The Cultural Olympiad includes everything from a Shakespeare Theatre festival to a River of Music festival along the Thames that will represent all 205 Olympic nations. Huge dance parties, live music festivals and the requisite art galleries, there are tons of genres of “culture” represented.
Here are some of my favorites:
Lakes Alive: June 21, 2012
I saw the word pyrotechnics and I was sold. A sound, light and fire show put together over music, and composed over a lake? What more could be better? Plus, it’s free. My recommendation? Spend the day hiking in the Lake District and the night watching a fireworks show across the lake. Bring a bottle of wine and get close enough to hear the percussion section.
World Shakespeare Festival April 23, 2012- September 2012
Three actors meet at a bar… just kidding. Every single one of Shakespeare’s play is going to be performed for the 2012 season. Over 37 international theatre troupes are scheduled to perform, and each play will be in a different language. The event is spread all over the UK for six weeks so it shouldn’t be hard to catch at least one! If you’re flying out from London be sure to book your Heathrow Airport Parking, Gatwick Airport Parking or Luton Airport Parking in advance and get out of the city for a few days!
River of Music Festival Jul 21-22, 2012
Live music along the Thames? Count me in. This series of concerts will highlight music and performance art from a different continent. Specially commissioned works, the concerts will include young people from all 205 Olympic and paralympic nations.
Tate Movie Project
A movie completely put together by children will be screened at the Tate Gallery during the Olympics. A rather sweet project, elementary school children from across the UK participated in the making of this animated film; they sent in storylines, animations, voted on voice actors and created the sound. A collaboration of workshops and online voting, the film will surely be imaginative. I wish I had the opportunity to do something like this as a kid!
I have to admit I didn’t realize there was a performing arts genre called disability arts. Unlimited, a UK program designed to encourage collaboration between disable performers and mainstream organizations was commissioned for 10 performances across the UK. Their mission of course, is commendable, but the ethics aside, I can only imagine the talent and dedication it must take to perform in a wheelchair, deaf or blind. I’d love to catch one of these performances.
IF YOU GO: The cultural Olympiad is spread throughout the UK, so if you can’t get tickets to a performance near London, it’s not a bad idea to look for other venues. While most of the events will culminate with the Olympics in July, there are some (like the Shakespeare Festival) that run through September. Discount airlines like RyanAir flight throughout the UK, so although the train from London to Scotland might be tempting, check on a flight deal first. Don’t forget to check the airports on the outskirts of London as well, as the discount carriers tend to stay away from the bigger airports. If you were planning to fly to any of these events be sure to book your Airport Parking in advance to save a few bucks!
Photo Credit: www.london2012.com