London, well on the way to being ready to host the 2012 summer Olympics, plans to mix a busy schedule of 2012 international arts festival events in connection with the world's biggest sports competition. Before and after the 10,000 athletes from 205 countries are competing between July 27 and Aug. 12, 2012, London will host what is called its "Cultural Olympiad" to complement the Olympic sports events. Plans call for theater, music and fine arts presentations with thousands of participants to come from most of the countries competing in the games.
A "River of Music" will be a Cultural Olympiad event on the Thames river with music performance stages erected at famous sites up and down the waterway that bisects London city. Musical acts from around the world will perform on the riverside stages on the July 21 and 22 weekend prior to the Olympic opening ceremonies on July 27. Other events in the culture fest will start as early as June 21, the summer solstice, when the World Shakespeare Festival gets underway. In addition to London's Royal Shakespeare Company, theatrical groups from 10 Olympic competing countries will perform full-length Shakespeare play productions, including companies from Brazil, Iraq and Wales. Additionally, there will be a photographic exhibition of Olympic athletes and workers displayed in London's National