Running until 9 September 2012, the Festival features a wide variety of art forms, bring together more than 25,000 leading artists and performers from the UK and across the world.
Highlights so far have included Poetry Parnassus – the largest festival of poetry ever presented in the UK – which ran from 26 June to 1 July at the Southbank Centre in London, and the spectacular Land of Giants show, which was held on 30 June in Northern Ireland, fusing myth and history in a spectacle of acrobatics, carnival, music and fireworks.
Elsewhere, Glastonbury Abbey played host to the British Paraorchestra, the UK’s first orchestra featuring world-class musicians with disabilities, from 30 June to 1 July, while 10 works by influential dance choreographer Pina Bausch were performed across London between 24 June and 2 July.
A fusion of pop vocals and contemporary orchestral music
Those eager to experience the festival can still catch a performance of Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s visionary new opera Dr Dee, which fuses pop vocals and contemporary orchestral music. It is being performed at the London Coliseum until 7 July.
Animation fans can also enjoy The Itch of the Golden Nit – an award-winning 30-minute film featuring thousands of drawings, sound effects and story ideas, voiced by British comedians including David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Vic Reeves and Catherine Tate.
The culmination of the four-year Cultural Olympiad
In total, more than 12,000 events will be held before 9 September, with 10 million free tickets and opportunities to take part. The 12-week festival is the culmination of the four-year Cultural Olympiad, which plays an integral role in the Olympic Games.
Culture has traditionally been an important part of the Games and this is continued today through Olympic cultural programmes such as the Cultural Olympiad, which sees host cities organise a series of cultural events in the build-up to the Games, as well as during the Games themselves. The programme spans myriad art genres and often includes plays, concerts, ballets and exhibitions, which are held within the host city and across the nation.
These artistic and cultural experiences contribute to setting the Olympic Games apart from other sporting events as they allow everyone – sports fans and non-sports fans alike – to get involved and enjoy the magic of the Olympic experience.