No, we’re not referring to the wildly entertaining and successful movie The Hunger Games (can you tell we are fans?), but rather the more realistic, PG-rated version of the summer: the Olympic Games! The games are taking place in London this year and the city has been gearing up for the festivities to make sure the thousands of visitors will not be disappointed. In fact, The Telegraph describes it as “the most ambitious cultural programme to take place in our lifetime.”
London has much to celebrate: not only is the London Festival launching to coincide with the Olympics, but the country is also toasting to Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee this year—marking 60 years of her reign over corgis and fascinators.
Though the Olympics aren’t set to start until July 27th, there is plenty going on in the month of June to keep visitors busy with a bevy of events organized by the London 2012 Festival. Concerts, carnivals, art shows, performances—it would take anyone hours to read through the list of happenings. Lucky for you, we’ve sorted through the events to give you a selection of events that are not to be missed this summer.
Kick-off the month of June in royal style with the Diamond Jubilee central weekend, June 2nd through June 4th, during which visitors can celebrate the monarchy by watching 1,000 boats strut their sails on the Thames for the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, attending the BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace, or partaking in the Big Jubilee Lunch, where the British take to the streets to share their food and hospitality and get to know their neighbors.
On June 21st, the official first day of the festival, London-dwellers ought best to get themselves a bell, or a pair of ear plugs: to announce the festival’s launch, all the bells in London will ring as loudly and as quickly as possible for three minutes at 8 a.m. (good thing your jet lag will probably have you up before then). The idea was conceived by artist Martin Creed, who hopes bells all across Britain will chime in.
One of the most anticipated events surrounding the Olympics however is BBC 1’s Hackney Weekend—the UK’s biggest free ticketed music event which will take place June 23rd and 24th at the Hackney Marshes in East London. This year, headliners will include Florence and the Machine, Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Rihanna and many, many more.
Other noteworthy events include the World Shakespeare Festival (after all, it wouldn’t be a British festival without some Shakespeare), the Open Gardens Weekend on June 9th and 10th (the English have always been keen on their gardening) and an art installation by Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron at the Serpentine Gallery Pavillion.