Olympiad Open Weekend kicks off packed programme of events

By Culture24 Staff | 24 July 2009
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A picture of a group of people in front of steps

(Above) London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe starts the Open Weekend

Olympic Games Organising Committee Chairman Sebastian Coe turned his hand to ballet this morning for the start of Open Weekend, a nationwide festival of more than 750 events as part of the build-up to the Olympics.

Joined by unlikely co-conspirators in the form of hip-hop stars Ms Dynamite and Akala, players from the East London Beach Volleyball team and dancers from the English National Ballet, whose headquarters hosted the launch, the series of activities aims to enable "access to excellence in the arts, culture and sport."

A picture of a group of sporty people in front of steps

(Above) The Open Weekend will feature events across the country

Festivals to look out for include the new SO 2009 in Skegness (Friday and Saturday, throughout day), Picnic in the Park (Saturday, 12pm-4pm) in Monkseaton, North Tyneside, the award-winning People Making Waves (Saturday, 12pm-2.30pm) community get-together in Stirling and Hot on the Square (Friday, until 4pm) in Leigh, where a street festival will bring all manner of flamboyant performers to the Lancashire town.

The Coalbrookdale Festival (10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday) will turn the Ironbridge Gorge in Telford into a hive of activity, starring iron-casting demonstrations, hands-on science experiments, a science show led by experts and an open-air casting which will pour hot metal in front of Abraham Darby’s Old Furnace for the first time since the 1920s. Visit the Festival online for all the details.

A picture of a man in an open-necked shirt with sunglasses

The public can join Reggie Love (pictured) and become one of Obama's People in Birmingham. Picture © Nadav Kander for The New York Times

Gallery highlights include the John Hansard Gallery at the University of Southampton, where a Modern Art Pentathlon will challenge families to create masterpieces using different mediums in an hour (Sunday, 11am-4pm, Pentathlon 12.15pm-1.15pm), and the high-profile Obama's People show, in Birmingham, where visitors can mimic the change-chasing team by having their portrait taken (11am-4pm Saturday, 1pm-4pm Sunday, call 0121 773 7889 or email rx@rhubarb-rhubarb.net to book.)

London's new View Tube will be open for explorations of the eight-kilometre route running between Puddling Lane station and the River Lee Navigation. On offer are nature walks, art workshops and family activities with spectacular views of the proposed grounds of the Olympic Games (Saturday, 12pm-4pm, see Discover the Greenway for more information).

To join in the celebrations and plan your weekend visit the London 2012 Open Weekend website.