Olympic rings launched on Thames and London 2012 cultural events announced

The 150-day countdown to the start of the London 2012 Games is being marked by a giant set of Olympic rings being floated down the Thames.

The rings, standing at 11 metres (36ft) high and 25 metres (82ft) wide, are travelling on a barge through the city, passing landmarks including Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.

After today, the Rings on the River will go into storage until the start of the Olympics, when they will again appear on the Thames.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who will watch Tower Bridge open to allow the rings to pass underneath, has also used today to announce details of free cultural events which will take place during the summer.

They include a floating opera inspired by The Owl And The Pussycat to be staged on the city’s canals.

It has been devised by Monty Python star Terry Jones and composer Anne Dudley and will form part of Secrets: Hidden London, which will see organisations including the Royal Opera House and English National Ballet transform canals, lidos and other city sites.

Other cultural plans announced today include a large-scale interactive public artwork by Jeremy Deller that will appear at locations across the capital, and the creation of the London Pleasure Gardens at Pontoon Dock, east London.

Most Read

Announcing the programme of events, Mr Johnson said: “2012 is one of the most thrilling years in our city’s history and as we welcome the world, we have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase and strengthen London’s outstanding culture and creativity, which are a hugely important part of our economy.

“From museums to theatre, and music to design, we have a reputation that is second to none and London’s finest artists and organisations are producing an exceptional range of brand new cultural events that will add to the excitement of hosting the Games.

“We’re creating the biggest festival of outdoor arts ever to be seen in the capital, as well as fantastic new work that will throw new light on some of our city’s lesser-known landmarks and hidden gems.

“Wherever you are, you will feel a part of the 2012 celebrations and experience a summer like no other in one of the most exciting cities on earth.”