London gets set for a dazzling weekend

21 July 2012

With just days until the start of the 2012 Games, Londoners and visitors to the capital can expect the busiest weekend of celebrations so far, with a host of free events and spectacular attractions on offer around the city.

As the Olympic Torch begins its journey around the capital, the giant Olympic Rings are returning to the Thames and more of London's famous bridges are being lit up at night, adding to the stunning Tower Bridge illuminations.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'It's just a week to go to the start of the Games and there are a host of wonderful things to see and experience across the capital. We're working with the London 2012 Festival, boroughs, as well as fantastic artists and performers, who are using the city itself as a stage. On high streets, in town centres, in parks and on waterways, a summer like no other is coming your way.'

As part of the Mayor's programme of free events, this weekend sees the start of Showtime, the biggest festival of outdoor arts ever staged in the capital. Presented with London 2012 Festival with support from Arts Council England, the first Showtime events are taking place this weekend in Greenwich, Merton Kingston, Richmond, Islington and Bexley, heralding seven weeks of exciting artists and performers from the UK and overseas.

Also appearing in the capital for the first time is Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller's 'Sacrilege', which is popping up in Greenwich Peninsula on Saturday and Sunday, the final weekend of the Create London festival, before travelling to other parts of the capital as part of its national tour. Across town, the first performances of the 'Owl and the Pussycat' are taking place on the canal at Brentford Lock as part of Secrets. Staged by Royal Opera House, featuring a libretto by Terry Jones and music by composer Anne Dudley, this brand new commission based on Edward Lear's nonsense poem is proving very popular with free tickets being snapped up in advance.

Young musicians are getting a chance to play live at as part of Gigs: Big Busk, which sees hundreds of young singers and musicians be making London their stage in the city's biggest ever street music competition. Some 200 acts will be performing at over 35 locations around London from 21 July – 25 August, with musical styles from classical to country and beatbox to ballads. This weekend sees some of the young Londoners playing at the London Folk Festival, Balham; in Redbridge; and the Shoreditch Festival.

Meanwhile, BT River of Music brings an extraordinary mix of music from around the world on six stages at landmarks along the River Thames, featuring musicians representing all the Olympic and Paralympic nations, as part of the London 2012 Festival. Another London 2012 Festival event coincides with the journey of the Olympic Flame around Hackney. The One Hackney Festival parade will see over 2,000 Brazilian and British performers take to the borough's streets in a collaboration of UK and Rio carnival artists.

Art lovers should head to a unique exhibition curated by the ICA as part of the London 2012 Festival. Presented in a pop up gallery on six floors of a landmark car park in Shoreditch, the free exhibition features sixteen BMW cars transformed into art by top international artists - including David Hockney, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenburg and Andy Warhol.

The giant Olympic Rings that were last seen floating on the Thames in February are also on show again, currently moored at Battersea Park. The coloured rings can be seen from the park side. From the other side of the river you can t white side, actually a lightbox, which is illuminated at night and changes colour. The rings will remain at the park until next week, when they will move to another part of the river.

This evening seven bridges will be lit up, each one differently, including specially designed pictogram figures on Waterloo Bridges The other bridges are the Golden Jubilee Walkways; Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge. The lighting will come on in sequence from 9:30pm each evening until the end of the Paralympic Gasmes.

Mark Boleat, elected Policy Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee of the City of London Corporation, which owns the five City bridges and provides them free of charge, said: 'It's great to see Tower Bridge at the heart of London’s Olympic new-look and I’m sure the new lighting and rings will make it night-time focus point for 100,000s of visitors and billions watching on TV around the globe.'

To help Londoners and visitors navigate the extensive Mayor of London Presents programme, the 'Summer's Looking Good' brochure is available for free, from London Ambassadors, at cultural venues like art galleries and museums throughout London, or to download from

'The London Official City Guide' app is also available to download from the App Store, with unrivalled content powered by London's official digital visitor platform - the perfect companion for Londoners and tourists. The app is free to download from

Notes to editors


The Mayor of London is supporting a huge programme of free events and cultural activities to add to the excitement of 2012. Working with outstanding international artists and world-class cultural organisations this unprecedented Mayor of London Presents programme is taking place in every corner of the capital to add to and complement the London 2012 Festival. It includes Secrets: Hidden London, with artists and performers transforming hidden and lesser known locations; Showtime, the largest outdoor arts festival ever seen in the capital, with dozens of electrifying artists from the UK and abroad coming to every borough, in high streets, parks and town centres; BT London Live, bringing live action from the Games, as well as sporting activities and entertainment to Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square; and Surprises bringing pop-up performances and once in a lifetime experiences, including Surprises: Streb - to locations familiar and unusual, above your heads and atop landmark buildings. To be the first to know what's happening in this Summer Like No Other, sign up or follow us at / / For more information contact Ben McKnight in the Mayor's Press Office: [email protected] / 020 7983 4070.


The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people. The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad is the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummer's Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival =celebrates the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival. For more details on the programme, to download the London 2012 Festival official guide and to sign up for information visit


Arts Council England is proud to work in partnership with London 2012, and is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

The Arts Council champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, it will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


GLA MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available from Ben McKnight - 020 7983 4070 email [email protected]

PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000