THE Olympics isn’t just about sport. Under the banner of the Cultural Olympiad, London will also host a multi-month arts festival. The London 2012 Festival will run from 21 June (Midsummer’s Day) until 9 September – the last day of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. There will be something to tempt anyone who first turns to the lifestyle rather than the sports pages.
High profile events at reasonable prices abound. Blur’s Damon Albarn and director Rufus Norris are teaming up with the English National Opera for Dr Dee – based on the influential Elizabethan political adviser, mathematician, magician and scientist, running from 25 June-7 July.
Shakespeare’s Globe will be packed with plays by the greatest ambassador for British culture, as it plays host to the biggest celebration of William Shakespeare ever staged – with thousands of artists from around the world taking part in almost 70 productions of the bard of Avon’s work.
For its part, the Society of London Theatre is offering £10 tickets to a number of West End shows – including The Phantom of the Opera, The 39 Steps and Mamma Mia. If you work in a crowded area, bear it in mind, as the scheme is intended to encourage commuters to avoid rush hour.
But these suggestions only graze the surface. The London 2012 Festival offers 10m free opportunities to get involved in the Games without going near a sports venue. Unless you don’t like art, carnivals, comedy, dance, fashion, film, food, music or theatre there will be something for you.
The fly in the ointment could be the great British weather – with plenty of these events taking place outdoors. But the memory of thousands of Brit-wielded umbrellas coating Hyde Park for Pavarotti in 1991 is an indication that rain is unlikely to stop the music playing. For sports and culture fans, it will be a summer to remember.
Visit www.festival.london2012.com to find out what’s on.