In Pictures: Open East Festival wows crowds at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Artists Bompas & Parr turn the River Lea green at the
Open East Festival is commissioned by the Ba

Artists Bompas & Parr turn the River Lea green at the Open East Festival is commissioned by the Barbican,Create London. Picture: Ellis O'Brien - Credit: Ellis O'Brien

Tens of thousands of people gasped in awe at the weekend as the River Lea shimmered emerald green, snaking its way through London’s newest park.

Crowds pick up a pint at the Ten Mile Beer Festival

Crowds pick up a pint at the Ten Mile Beer Festival - Credit: Ellis O'Brien

The stunt was the grand finale of the Open East Festival, an event for all the family to mark the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the opening of the north of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the public.

Artists Bompas & Parr managed to keep the surprise to delight the crowds around the river banks on Saturday and Sunday night (July 27 and 28) with a piece called “Chromatopsia: A Water Symphony”.

The pair worked with Professor John Girkin, director of Biophysical Sciences Institute at Durham University to use boats to pump out a combination of safe flourescein light reactive dye which sparkled when blue lighting was shined over it, set off to the tune of water music from a glass harp mixed with sounds recorded by the public throughout each day.

At the same time, visitors also made themselves heard by screaming themselves hoarse nearby as Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, and Usain Bolt returned to the Olympic Stadium for the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.


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Tony Hales, chair of the Canal & River Trust, said: “It is so exciting to see the waterways of the Lower Lea Valley slowly coming back to life as vibrant cultural spaces.

“A decade ago, this sort of celebration would have been unimaginable.

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“Now I hope it will become the norm as more people learn to love and care for the river.”

But the light show was just the tip of the iceberg of a weekend packed with live music from all around the world on the Caught by the River stages including The Waterboys, Seun Kuti, and Soul Caribbean.

Young festival goers got to stroke Joey, the National Theatre’s “War Horse” brought to life by puppeteering experts while Stratford’s own Theatre Royal and Discover Story Centre set imaginations on fire.

The queue for Sacrilege - a life-sized inflatable Stonehenge from Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller - was up to 40 minutes long but Mayor of London Boris Johnson could be spotted enjoying the spectable nearby.

Older visitors unearthed future masterpieces at the Art Car Boot Fair, refreshed themselves with a pint or two at the Ten Mile Beer Festival - featuring beer from the surrounding radius -, experienced the Pandemonium drummers from the Olympic Opening Ceremony, and watched BMX riders’ death-defying stunts against the backdrop of the Velodrome.

Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Coporation (LLDC), said: “It’s fantastic that on the anniversary of the Olympic Games the Open East Festival will showcase world-class artists while the Stadium sees the world’s top athletes back on the track.

“We are set to deliver a brilliant new cultural and sporting destination and a great legacy for east London.”

The Open East Festival was a joint effort between the Mayor of London, Create London, the LLDC, the Barbican, the Environment Agency, and the Canal & River Trust.

*To view a picture gallery of the Open East Festival, click on the multimedia link on the right hand side.

*For coverage of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, see this Wednesday’s Recorder Sport pages.

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