London 2012 Festival

The Cultural Olympiad and the Olympic Torch Relay will offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences

From Belfast to Derry-Londonderry, from Enniskillen to the Giant’s Causeway, the London 2012 Festival is coming our way. The London 2012 Festival will run parallel to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, and will feature world-class works of art and performances in all of the home nations.

Northern Ireland will play a central role in the London 2012 Festival, and will feature some of the most prominent works. The official launch of the festival took place in Meter House in the Gasworks complex, Belfast.

Tony Hall, chair of the Cultural Olympiad, and other key organisers unveiled some of the cultural projects occuring this side of the Irish Sea during the festival, which will run from midsummer's day, June 21, 2012, to the last day of the Paralympic Games on September 9, 2012.

Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said: 'The programme for London 2012 Festival will deliver once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences for audiences across Northern Ireland during the summer of 2012.

'We are excited about the scale and ambition of the projects, from the largest ever outdoor arts event Northern Ireland has seen, in Land of Giants, to Hans Peter Kuhn’s FLAGS. Opening the UK-wide London 2012 Festival is a rock concert in Derry-Londondery called Peace One Day, and by the time we close our Festival we expect to leave a rich legacy for City of Culture 2013.'

Click here for a full list of projects scheduled to take place in Northern Ireland.

'Central to the successful London bid for the 2012 Games was a commitment to reconnect world-class performance in sport with excellence in the arts,' said Caral Ni Chuilin MLA, Minister of Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. 'This is a fantastic opportunity for local people to be part of a truly historic event so close to our shores in such an important year for the north of Ireland.'

During the launch it was announced that Turner Prize-winning artist and musician, Martin Creed, has invited the people of Northern Ireland to join in with All the Bells, a project that encourages people across the UK to ring bells as loudly and quickly as they can at 8am on July 27, 2012 to welcome the 205 competing nations on the first day of the Games.

Other new announcements include a staging of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde by NI Opera, featuring a large cast of Northern Irish school children singing and playing different musical instruments, and Robert Wilson directing and starring in Krapp’s Last Tape, a UK premiere from one of the world’s most acclaimed theatre artists, as part of the proposed Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.

Joel Simon, of Flickerpix Studios in Holywood, will create a new animated film, Escape from the Factory, centring around a story of disabled toy characters on an adventure through the streets of Belfast; whilst Draw Down the Walls will encourage members of the community in north Belfast to decorate the controversial Peace Walls in their area.

The route for the Olympic Torch Relay has also been announced, with all six counties in Northern Ireland included. Belfast is one of only two cities in the UK which will welcome the torch twice on its journey toward London 2012. Watch an animated flythrough showing some of the spectacular landmarks around the UK that the Olympic Torch will travel to on its 70-day journey next summer.

'The London 2012 Festival is fast approaching and I have a strong sense that what has been created is a cohesive and powerful programme of work for a festival that is fit for Olympic association,' said Rosemary Kelly, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

'[It is a festival] that offers our audiences an opportunity to celebrate the arts on a world scale and champions Northern Ireland as we continue to create a legacy that will substantially enhance the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013 experience.'

All confirmed programming for the London 2012 Festival is now available for the public to view on the London 2012 Festival website, where people can sign up to receive information as the programme develops.