The epic Land of Giants event took Belfast by storm at the weekend, featuring spectacular aerial performances, dramatic special effects, state-of-the-art animation, a specially commissioned soundtrack and a mind blowing firework finale – and the stars of the show were Northern Ireland and its people.
The larger-than-life event was part of the London 2012 Festival, the twelve week, UK-wide cultural celebration running from June 21 until September 9 to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Following a recent announcement from Legacy Trust UK, the principle funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, tickets for the show were made free and snapped up within hours of going on release. Moira Swinbank from Legacy Trust UK said: 'This show is a unique achievement in itself, due to the dedication and work of the hundreds who have been involved in its creation.'
Ahead of the event, which featured performers from the Belfast Community Circus, the Beat Initiative and hundreds of volunteers, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín added, 'This is a chance to showcase ourselves and our city to a global audience.
'Tonight’s show demonstrates our ability to put on a phenomenal production but I also don’t want to forget the community engagement projects and training opportunities that make up the Cultural Olympiad. This is the lasting legacy of the festival, a legacy it is hoped will see people become inspired to take part and enjoy the arts and will help build our capacity to stage other world class events.'
Writer and director Mark Murphy explained the concept behind Land of Giants. 'The story focuses not just on the extraordinary things Northern Ireland has produced – such as two-thirds of the world’s linen or the most famous ship in the world – but more specifically the men and women, who, although mentioned only briefly in census and parish records, are in fact the foundation for everything built here.'
Land of Giants was the largest event of the London 2012 Festival, which continues until September 9. Forthcoming events in Northern Ireland include Peace Camp – an audio poetry performance taking place on the North Coast on July 19-20 – the Enniskillen International Beckett Festival and FLAGS at the Giant's Causeway. Visit the London 2012 Festival website for more information.