London 2012 Festival to offer weekend of world-class events

Friday, August 03, 2012
London: As the UK looks forward to Super Saturday on 4 August – when a total of 38 Olympic gold medals will be awarded – residents and visitors to London can also prepare for a dazzling weekend of free events in the capital for the London 2012 Festival.

These are part of more than ten million free opportunities to take part in the spectacular nation-wide celebration, which began on Midsummer’s Day on 21 June and continues to the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September. 

Dozens of free London 2012 Festival events will take place across the capital this weekend, in addition to many further paid for opportunities. They will allow people of all ages to enjoy the work of leading artists and emerging talents from the UK and around the world in theatre, film, music, visual art, heritage, photography, sculpture, literature, architecture, fashion, ceramics and outdoor performance – all at no cost.

 “This weekend has world class free art as well as world class sport. The London 2012 Festival has an amazing free programme for thousands to enjoy,” says Ruth Mackenzie, Director, London 2012 Festival.

Just one potential weekend of free London 2012 Festival events would include: 


Tate Modern, Southwark – Tino Sehgal: The Turbine Hall Commission – Anglo-German artist Tino Sehgal undertakes the annual commission for Tate’s Turbine Hall, producing its first live commission, involving movement and conversational interactions with visitors. Gallery-goers engage with Sehgal’s characters directly, creating social situations through the use of conversation, dance, sound and movement, as well as philosophical and economic debate (open until 28 October). The Tanks: Art in Action – The world’s first museum galleries permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation and film works currently include a residency by the Supreme Connections artists collective interpreting and expanding upon the work of the influential American composer Maryanne Amacher (runs until 5 August). It also features displays by London artist filmmaker Lis Rhodes, USA’s Suzanne Lacy and New York-based South Korean interdisciplinary artist Sung Hwan Kim (runs until 28 October) (10.00–22.00, Friday to Sunday during Olympic Games; 10:00-18:00 Monday to Thursday)

Travel by Jubilee Line from Southwark to Bermondsey

V22 Summer Club, The Biscuit Factory, Bermondsey – Rio Occupation London: Festival Finale – The last day of a three-day festival at London’s V22 marking the finale of the occupation that has seen 30 Rio artists occupy the streets, stages and squares of London over the past month in an exuberant 30-day residency of art, music, dance, theatre, film and poetry. The Festival finale offers a unique chance to experience over 30 original art works that have been created by some of Rio’s most exciting artists. The day begins at 15:00, with an array of video installations, live performances, cinema, theatre, dance and music. Along with Brazilian food and drink, the Festival goes into the night with live musicians and DJs. All of the artists will be present to meet audiences and talk with them about their work (runs until 3 August, 15:00-23:00)

Travel by Jubilee Line from Southwark to Canada Water, then London Overground to Whitechapel

Whitechapel Gallery – Rachel Whiteread: Tree of Life – International renowned British artist Rachel Whiteread has created a new work of art for the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery, her first permanent public commission in the UK. The Gallery’s towers each feature a Tree of Life – an Arts and Crafts motif symbolizing social renewal through the arts. Whiteread has cast their leaves in bronze to create an exhilarating flurry across the frieze. Whiteread has covered the leaves and branches in gold leaf, making them part of London’s rooftop repertoire of gilded angels, heraldic animals and crests.

Walk from Whitechapel Road to Great Eastern Street

NCP Car Park , Great Eastern Street – Art Drive! BMW Art Car Collection 1975-2010 – The BMW collection of Art Cars are on show for the first time in the UK at a car park in Shoreditch. The collection, initiated over 35 years ago, features BMW cars transformed by some of the world’s leading artists including: David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol (runs to 4 August, noon-21:00). At 9pm, the venue’s special pop-up cinema will hold a free screening of the 1983 film Wild Style, capturing the atmosphere of old school hip-hop in the South Bronx with a quality soundtrack featuring the likes of Grandmaster Flash and the Cold Crush Brothers. A further free screening takes place at 9pm on Saturday - Christopher Petit’s 1979 iconic British road movie, Radio On.

SATURDAY 4 AUGUST – ‘Super Saturday’

British Museum – London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic medals – Exhibition telling the story of the production of the medals for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, from the mining of the metal by Rio Tinto through the creation of the designs and production by the Royal Mint. The free display also includes medals from the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games held in London, and the 1960 and 1984 Paralympic Games (runs until 9 September, 10:00-17:30)

Walk from British Museum to Covent Garden

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games – Exhibition telling  the Olympic story through the endeavours of ancient and modern Olympians, with  unique artefacts, animation, film and audio from The Olympic Museum in Lausanne being shown in London for the first time. Visitors are taken on a journey from ancient Greece, the original home of the Olympic Games through the vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the man behind the revival of the Games many centuries later. The experience continues with the stories of some of the iconic Olympic athletes including Steve Redgrave, Cathy Freeman, Kelly Holmes, and Jesse Owens (runs until 12 August, 10:00-18:15). Yinka Shonibare: Globe Head Ballerina – a new artwork on the exterior of the Royal Opera House overlooking Covent Garden is a sculpture featuring a life-sized ballerina slowly rotating within a giant ‘snow globe’, inspired by a photograph of the legendary ballerina Margot Fonteyn, prima ballerina assoluta of The Royal Ballet.

Walk from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square – Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 – Contemporary artists Chris Ofili, Conrad Shawcross and Mark Wallinger and leading poets including Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage respond to some of the greatest paintings by the Renaissance master Titian. Diana and Actaeon, The Death of Actaeon and Diana and Callisto appear at the heart of the exhibition, seen together for the first time since the 18th century (runs until 23 September, 10:00-18:00, to 21:00 on Fridays)

National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square – BT Road to 2012: Aiming High – The final exhibition in the three-year project that is the National Portrait Gallery’s largest commission. Forty new portraits of some of the key players in London 2012,

 including Lord Sebastian Coe, Mark Cavendish, Fran Halsall and Danny Boyle, by

 photographers Anderson & Low, Jillian Edelstein and  Nadav Kander, are on show (runs until 23 September, 10:00-18:00, to 21:00 on Thursdays and Fridays)

Catch 148 bus from Trafalgar Square-Whitehall (stop M) to Camberwell Road-Albany Road (stop N)

Burgess Park, Southwark – Jeremy Deller: Sacrilege – Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller’s life-size inflatable replica of Stonehenge, an interactive free outdoor installation and fully operational bouncy castle for adults and children alike. (runs until 4 August, 10:00-18:00; also Barra Hall Park, Hillingdon on 5 August and other locations around London and UK to 9 September)

Catch 172 bus from Trafalgar Avenue (stop WJ ) to Aldwych (stop D)

Somerset House, The Strand – Casa Brasil – Throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games London’s Somerset House has become Casa Brasil, a home for Brazilian culture and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Casa Brasil features From the Margin to the Edge, a major exhibition on Brazilian art and design in the 21st century, as well as Brazilian culture and its folklore and preparations for Rio 2016 (runs until 8 September, 11.00-19.00, to 21:00 on Thursdays). Casa Brasil is also hosting a number of free music and film events, this evening including a concert featuring Sargento Pimenta playing songs of the Beatles – samba style (at 20:15)


Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park – The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012, created by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Wei – This year’s Pavilion is created by the design team responsible for the celebrated Beijing National Stadium that was built for the 2008 Olympic Games. It features eleven columns characterising each past Pavilion and a twelfth column representing the current structure, supporting a floating platform roof 1.4 metres above ground (runs to 14 October, 10:00-18:00). Yoko Ono: To The Light – A major exhibition of the work of the celebrated artist, reflecting upon the enormous impact that she has made on contemporary art, exploring her influential role across a wide range of media. This exhibition, her first in a London public institution for more than a decade, includes new and existing installations, films and performances, as well as archive material relating to several key early works (runs until 9 September, 10:00-18:00)

Walk through Hyde Park to Oxford Street

Park House, 453-497 Oxford Street – The World in London – A major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery that brings together 204 specially commissioned photographic portraits of 204 Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Leading national and international artists including Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Mary McCartney and

 Rankin, alongside emerging names, have been commissioned to photograph the sitters over the last two years (runs until 12 August; the large-scale posters can also be seen at Victoria Park in East London until 12 August).

While in Oxford Street, also look out for displays of specially commissioned one-off works of art created through collaborations between iconic British designers and top contemporary artists for Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion. These include pieces by Giles Deacon with Jeremy Deller; Hussein Chalayan with Gavin Turk; Mary Katrantzou with Mark Titchner; Paul Smith with Charming Baker; Jonathan Saunders with Jess Flood-Paddock; and Peter Pilotto with Francis Upritchard.

Travel by Victoria Line from Oxford Circus to Pimlico

Tate Britain, Millbank – London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters – The official posters for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been created by twelve leading contemporary artists, with screen prints and lithographs of the works displayed for free at Tate Britain. The official posters are by Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Chris Ofili, Bridget Riley, Bob and Roberta Smith and Rachel Whiteread (runs until 23 September, 10:00-18:00, to 22:00 on Fridays).

Walk from Millbank to Westminster

Houses of Parliament, Westminster – Paul Cummins: The English Flower Garden – Cromwell Green outside the Houses of Parliament is one of six locations around the UK featuring a ‘pop-up’ garden created by Midlands-based ceramic fine artist Paul Cummins. A total of 15,000 individually hand-thrown ceramic blooms mounted on metal rods form a celebration of the quintessential British love of flowers. The project was commissioned by the Unlimited programme which encourages collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and to create original and exciting works (runs until 26 August; continues at other locations around UK until 17 September)

Walk from Westminster to Southbank

 Look out for a series of individually designed London 2012 mascots Wenlock and Mandeville along the way. The mascots appear along one of six free Mayor of London presents Discovery Trails around London that capture the spirit of London and provide some great photo opportunities.


 Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre – aMAZEme – a vast maze of 250,000 books created by Brazilian artists Gualter Pupo and Marcos Saboya, formed in the shape of writer and educator JL Borges’ unique fingerprint. The labyrinth covers over 500 square metres, with sections standing up to 2.5 metres high. Visitors can navigate the maze, which is constructed from remaindered, second hand and new books. Literary quotes are projected directly onto the labyrinth walls and the accompanying audio immerses the audience in a world of literature (runs until 26 August as part of Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World

National Theatre, Southbank – National Theatre Inside Out – This summer, the National Theatre presents a packed festival programme, with the best of world circus and outdoor theatre, workshops, and exhibition bringing a flavour of what goes on inside the building – in the theatres themselves and backstage – onto the Southbank’s riverside squares and terraces. Events this afternoon and evening include outdoor and street performance from The Chipolatas and Canopy from the UK and Sienta la Cabeza from Spain, innovative theatre from Portugal's Teatro do Mar and the UK's metro-boulot-dodo, plus 'behind the scenes' exhibitions on the National Theatre's acclaimed productions of War Horse and Timon of Athens (runs until 9 September)

Travel by Northern Line from Waterloo to Leicester Square

Various West End Theatres – Kids Week in the West End – Kids Week is extended to a month for the first time in its 15-year history, encouraging children to experience the magic of live theatre.  During Kids Week a child (aged 16 and under) goes free to the theatre with a paying adult, with up to two more children at half-price per transaction. With over 35 shows in the West End taking part throughout the whole of August, there is also a range of free activities and events running alongside the shows involved.

In addition to those shows taking part in Kids Week, London’s West End continues to offer many other world-class theatre, musical and comedy productions throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A number of these are also part of the London 2012 Festival, including the Criterion Theatre’s Playing the Games season – the first ever bespoke arts festival held in the heart of the capital’s West End theatreland. This includes lunchtime conversations between well-loved entertainers and top Olympians; late-night comedy performances from top British talent; a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey through puppets, live cinema and a three piece band; and world premieres of two new plays commissioned from emerging British playwrights Serge Cartwright and Adam Brace in response to the presence of the Olympic Games in London (runs until 12 August).
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