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Celebrate the City

4 June 2012 Tom Butler

What better way to celebrate London in Olympic year by seeing the fantastic Celebrate the City Festival

If you had said 20 years ago that the Southbank would be London’s most popular tourist destination, people’s disbelief would have been mixed with derision and mocking. And yet here we are.
 
The same could be said for the ‘City of London’, and yet this year a four day festival is taking place that will help to transform the Square Mile and beyond into the ultimate destination for Londoners, tourists, suburbanites and residents alike.
 
Celebrate The City runs from the 21st to the 24th June and is a wonderful concoction of eclectic events from start to finish. It is an event that the festival director, Stella Ioannou, is rightly proud of and excited by in equal measures.
 
“Culturally and Heritage wise, the city is an incredibly rich place, and this is our contribution to the cultural landscape of London before the Olympics. People should come and discover for themselves because there is just so much going on.”
 
Kicking the festival off is a concert being performed in the Guildhall yard, a fitting location according to Stella. “It’s not a space Londoners know about really, and so this is to welcome people to the festival and to such a wonderful space.”
 
The evening's celebration will start with a choral performance in collaboration with Music in Offices and renowned conductor Richard Frostick of Jonathan Dove's River Songs which will then be followed by students of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama play Tchaikovsky's dramatic 1812 Overture in the shadow of the 600 year-old Guildhall.
 
What has been noticeable in speaking to everyone involved in putting the festival on is how committed and united they are in showing off a city they are privy to on every day. Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican couldn’t be more wholesome or enthused in his praise.
 
“In 2012 the eyes of the world are on London. The City of London, with its astonishingly rich offer of heritage, architecture, the arts and culture, wants to celebrate this moment in a new and special way. We are opening the City – to visitors, Londoners, new audiences and families, for four days of unparalleled activity bringing the City’s unique attractions to life. In partnership with the City’s great institutions we will be offering something for everyone.”
 
There is always the danger that a festival can fall a little flat after it’s grand opening, and yet if anything, it seems to go from strength to strength from there on.
 
In particular, the Cheapside Fair on the Saturday promises to be a fantastic occasion for the whole family. Livery demonstrations, beer tasting, on stage music, a sports day, pop up poetry and free tuk tuk rides and ice cream are just some of the events taking place throughout the day.
 
Compare that with the Champagne Sundowner at Tower Bridge on the Sunday, and you get an idea of the festival’s eclectic nature. With the walkways on the bridge being opened up especially. Maybe not for families this one but certainly an event to impress, who knows, maybe a few first dates could well be taking place that evening!
 
Whatever happens, it seems a perfect way for the festival to end. And who’s to say that this won’t mark the start of the Square Mile being the ultimate weekend destination from here on out.

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