Before I continue on my theme of how GREAT Britain is this year, I’d like to give a shout out to the 100 Days to Go event coming up tomorrow at American University. All afternoon we will strive to go ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ than our fellow Embassy (and previous Olympic Host) competitors in the “Embassy Games” — a ‘friendly competition’ incorporating such Olympic feats as the 100 meter dash, shot-put and some more DC specific sports including the 3 -point basketball shoot-out and Football penalty shots.
This coming together of different nations in the name of 2012 is also being replicated in what’s lining up to be the best cultural year Britain has ever seen. Known for its rich culture and vibrant music scene the 2012 Cultural Olympiad – which culminates in the London 2012 Festival (running June til September) – provides over 10 million chances to see free world-class events throughout the UK, it is set to be the biggest festival the UK has ever seen, with artists from all over the world.
Some of the highlights of this have got to be the GREAT music on offer to those living in or visiting the UK this year. With Glastonbury taking its regular fourth year off, you don’t have to get down and dirty in a field in Somerset to see some of the best musical acts around.
The Radio One Hackney Marshes weekend will feature global mega stars such as Jay-Z and Rihanna but if you’re into something more alternative and are willing to venture a bit further afield there are just SO MANY FESTIVALS in the UK now it’s hard to know where to begin… from the (now rather established) Bestival on the Isle of Wight (complete with a fancy dress theme every year) and the V Festival to the newer ones like ‘Retro-trax Oldskool’ festival in Bath featuring the best from back-in-the-day acid house, Techno, Trance, Hardcore, Jungle, Happy Hardcore, Italian House music (wish I was home for that one!) to brand new ones springing up this year including: Nuts in May in Cumbria with Nik Kerhshaw and Hazel O’Connor, remember them?!
There is something for everyone and a lot of these events are small and affordable (sometimes free) so whole families and go and enjoy them without breaking the bank. They often come with children’s workshops, bouncy castles, merry-go-rounds, Children’s entertainers and Storytellers you can get your kids some culture for cheap (or free). Many also sell locally produced food and clothes and showcase the best in local art, literature and sport.
Some other festivals which jump out at me are the Relentless Energy Drink NASS sport and music festival which features action sports competitions in Skate, BMX, Inline and FMX, as well as music performances , the aptly named ‘Glastonbudget Festival’, the largest tribute band only festival in Europe, The Great Escape, Britain’s answer to South by Southwest for the best in new music, Beach Break Live, the biggest student festival in the UK(!) and the Birmingham Mela with over 100,000 people set to join in community celebrations to celebrate South Asian culture. The event will be a double celebration as the Olympic torch arrives in Sandwell on the way to the capital city for London 2012.
And if that’s not enough, the Diamond Jubilee weekend brings a whole extra holiday for the people of the UK to celebrate on and have…yet more festivals including the ‘magnificent seventh’ Strummercamp festival in Manchester, a weekend of great music to celebrate the music and influence of Joe Strummer and the Clash.
The ethos behind the Cultural Olympiad is to give everyone in the UK a chance to celebrate London 2012, as well as to inspire cultural creativity and showcase excellence in the arts. No matter what your taste or budget, there are loads of festivals for you to try if you’re visiting the UK this summer. So turn up, tune in and get ready to party!