26 April 2012
Last updated at 10:00
The London 2012 Festival is a 12-week programme of arts events running parallel to the Olympic Games. The 100-day countdown to the festival was marked in Northern Ireland by a huge laser artwork by Yvette Mattern, called The Global Rainbow. Over the next few pages, stars and critics select some of their highlights of the event.
"The Pina Bausch retrospective at the Barbican is the stand-out event for me," says BBC arts editor Will Gompertz. "The late German choreographer and dancer was one of the great talents of the last 50 years. To see so much of her work brought together over such a short period of time is a rare treat indeed."
"The Big Dance 2012 has to be my number one favourite," says choreographer Arlene Philips. The project incorporates thousands of dance events across the UK often in unusual places - shops, parks, galleries, shopping centres. "It's a fantastic way for everyone to experience the energy, elegance and excitement of all types of dance forms," says Philips, "and it works at all levels: From the community grass-roots to the dancing superstars!"
Tate St Ives will celebrate the work of US artist Alex Katz with an exhibition from 19 May. Tate St Ives artistic director Martin Clark says he is "one of America’s most important living artists", adding that his paintings are "defined by their cool but seductive surfaces, their boldness of colour and economy of line. They should look extraordinary in the galleries here, overlooking the beach and the Atlantic ocean."
French percussion and pyrotechnic wizards Les Commandos Percu will be performing On The Night Shift shortly after the Olympic Torch arrives at Lake Windermere. The flame then travels across the country to London, and EastEnders' character Billy Mitchell will be filmed carrying the torch. Actor Perry Flynn says: "When we first discussed the storyline, my initial thought was that I’ll now have to get fit."
Actor Paterson Joseph (top left) will be starring in a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, which is part of London 2012. His personal highlight , however, is a retelling of Desdemona by writer Toni Morrison "and the amazing Rakia Traore, Malian songstress". The play is "an imagined conversation between Shakespeare's tragic heroine and her African nurse, Barbary, mentioned in Othello," says Joseph. "I'm fascinated by the mash-up of styles: Text, kora, ngoni and the mellisonant tones of Traore."
Liverpool Philharmonic's contemporary music ensemble Ensemble 10/10 will perform Zatopek, a 12-minute opera telling the story of legendary Czech runner Emil Zatopek, in June. "We are delighted to be playing our part in such a prestigious national event as the country prepares to host the Olympic Games," says chief executive Michael Eakin. The opera, by Liverpudlian composer Emily Howard, is one of PRS For Music Foundation's New Music 20 x 12 commissions.
Simon Curtis, director of My Week With Marilyn (pictured with lead actress Michelle Williams, top left) says: "I am really excited about seeing You Me Bum Bum Train, as I have heard such wonderful things about it. I love promenade theatre and am a fan of events that are uniquely theatrical experiences." The production is billed as a participatory event, but audience members are sworn to secrecy about its contents. It will have 31 performances at the Barbican over the summer.
Radio One's Hackney Weekend is a free two-day festival, with artists including Rihanna, Jay-Z, Plan B and Florence and the Machine. "I love a festival because it’s a good chance for me to see other people play," says Florence Welch. "And it's nice to perform at home, because I live in London."
The first ever UK retrospective of Damien Hirst's artwork is being held at Tate Modern. "Looking back is something I've avoided for quite a while," he says. "But once I decided to do it I've quite enjoyed it, really." The artist hopes visitors will see "things they won't forget, that will wake up parts of their brain".
The British Film Institute is screening all 58 of Alfred Hitchcock's films, including (clockwise from left) Blackmail, The 39 Steps and Psycho. Dating back to 1929, Blackmail has been fully restored and will receive a new soundtrack from composer Neil Brand. "The beauty is being able to get an orchestral soundtrack behind Hitchcock," he told the BBC. "Once you put sweeping strings in there, it's wonderful."
Sue Tilley poses in front of a painting of herself entitled 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' by the late British artist Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery. The painting forms part of a major exhibition of Freud's portrait work across 70 years.