Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 11:18 UK

Olympic festival weekend launched

Olympic festival weekend launched

Hundreds of sporting, art and family events aimed at getting Britons excited about the London Olympic Games have been announced.

London 2012 chair Lord Coe said he hoped the annual Open Weekend would help make it a "Games for the nation".

Dance workshops, singing on buses in Northern Ireland and public theatres in Wales are some of this year's events taking place between 24 to 26 July.

Lord Coe said the open weekends were a cornerstone of the Cultural Olympiad.

He launched the event at London's National Galley where there will be special guided tours and life drawing classes on athletes and posture and movement.

He said: "We've always been clear that London 2012 is about more than just sport.

"We want to create a Games for the nation and Games that are accessible to everyone.

An artist's impression of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford
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"We created Open Weekend as part of the Cultural Olympiad, to enable people to share in the countdown celebrations towards London 2012 but also be inspired by the Games to discover new interests and develop their talents."

More than 700,000 people took part in last year's event, which is backed by BP.

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell described Open Weekend as "a great way for people inspired by the Olympics".

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "In the summer of 2012 the whole country will come together to celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The London 2012 Open Weekend is about gearing us up for this incredible moment and encouraging everyone to get involved in sports and culture."

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