London 2012 Festival was biggest-ever cultural event

The London 2012 Festival was the largest UK-wide cultural event ever staged, with 19.8 million visitors, according to research released yesterday (30 October).

13,000 performances took place for the festival
13,000 performances took place for the festival

The festival ran from 21 June to 9 September and was the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, a series of nationwide cultural events to celebrate the London Olympics.

More than 13,000 performances and events took place at 1,270 venues across the UK, including 160 world and UK premieres. The festival also left a legacy of 176 permanent artworks.

Most visitors – 16.5 million people – were attending free events such as the Bandstand Marathon and BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend.

More than ten million people will be inspired to take part in future cultural events thanks to the festival, the interim research revealed.

The event was on a scale that topped the landmark Festival of Britain exhibition in 1951, according to academic Dr Beatriz Garcia.

Garcia, head of research at the Institute of Cultural Capital, University of Liverpool, said: "The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and Festival have taken unprecedented steps to promote and deliver cultural activity as a key pillar of the Games. This has resulted in a programme that has reached out to every UK nation and region, involving a scale of collaboration, commissions and audiences that matches and often exceeds that achieved for the Festival of Britain."

Audience response to the festival was warm, with 60% of attendees saying it was the most exciting festival the UK has ever seen. Some 85% of visitors said the festival was a positive addition to the Games and 70% said events exceeded their expectations.

Awareness of the festival was highest among black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (48%) and younger age groups, reaching 38% of those aged 16-24.

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