Fun and Games

The year in 2012

The countdown to the Olympics and Paralympics has started

Ukraine and Poland kick off the 2012 sporting calendar as co-hosts of the Euro 2012 Football tournament after which the world’s attention will shift to London, the stage for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

The Olympic Torch arrives in the UK on 18 May from Athens and a relay of 8,000 inspirational torch-bearers will take the Torch to 1000 cities, towns and villages across the UK, bringing the flame within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the population.

Then, to warm the world up for the Games, there will be the London 2012 Festival, a cultural cornucopia which begins on 21 June to the sound of bells ringing out all over Britain and will attract artists from around the world.

Highlights of the festival include Globe to Globe, a festival of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, where all 37 of the Bard’s plays will be performed in 37 different languages, and the UK Transformed series, which will see international artists transforming some of Britain’s iconic landscapes, including BT River of Music on 22-23 July (free music from around the world on six stages along the River Thames) and an elemental Fire Garden at Stonehenge on 10-12 July by the French Compagnie Carabosse.

London will become the centre of the world on 27 July with the much-anticipated Olympic Opening Ceremony directed by Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle. A record number of heads of state – more than 120 – are expected to attend, while thousands of fans from around the world will visit the capital, congregating at the various national ‘Houses’ occupying London landmarks, including Old Billingsgate (France House), Somerset House (Casa Brazil), Alexandra Palace (Holland/Heineken House), the Museum of London Docklands (Germany), Kensington Gardens (Africa House), Glaziers’ Hall (Swiss House), the Royal Thames Yacht Club (Korea) and the Royal College of Art (USA) to name but a few.