City to host arts festival for Olympic celebrations

Speed of Light running event
Speed of Light running event
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THE Capital will enjoy a flavour of London 2012 as part of a £10 million arts programme coming to Scotland to mark the Olympic Games.

Organisers of the Cultural Olympiad, dubbed the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic movement, have unveiled an entertainment schedule taking place across Scotland and the UK as London 2012 hands over to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Among the arts celebrations taking place in the Capital will be the Speed of Light spectacular which will see up to 5000 people running a choreographed route around the paths of Arthur’s Seat at night in specially constructed light-suits.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival will host the world premiere of a suite of four short films commissioned for the London 2012 Festival.

They include The Swimmer – a film by Lynne Ramsay, following a lone swimmer making their way through the lakes, rivers and coves of Britain.

The London 2012 Olympic Torch will be welcomed to Scotland by pipers from the National Youth Pipe Band and by local members of the National Youth Choir of Scotland singing the Inspire-marked Going for Gold cantata.

Comics will perform impromptu gigs on a canal boat en route to the Edinburgh Fringe and a new piece by iconic folk singer Dougie MacLean is to be performed in a singing relay through his native Perthshire and a concert at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade.

Meanwhile, a major concert is to be held at Edinburgh Castle on June 13 to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic torch in the Capital. The event will take place as the Olympic torch is carried across the country by hundreds of Scots on its way to London with about 7500 tickets to be given away.

Anthony Alderson, artistic director of The Pleasance, which will be organising the waterway tour of Fringe comedians from London, said: “Mucking about in boats is a quintessentially UK past-time, and what better way than to take comedy London to the Fringe than on a canal boat?”

Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said: “2012 brings opportunities galore. The dates are a perfect coincidence of timing between the greatest sporting and greatest cultural event which may never again happen in our lifetime.”

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This diverse programme will inspire, delight and engage communities and visitors across Scotland in a unique celebration.”

Museum helps boost tourist stats

THE CAPITAL’s recently refurbished National Museum led the way as Scotland’s tourist attractions saw their visitor numbers rocket last year.

Almost 1.5 million visitors flocked to the newly reopened musuem - a rise of 141 per cent on 2010.

Historic Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle was once again the most popular paid-for attraction, attracting 1.3 million visitors - a rise of 7.6% on the previous year.

It has topped the list since 1991 when the figures were first collected.

Stephen Duncan, Historic Scotland’s director of commercial and visitor attractions said: “We are delighted that Edinburgh and Stirling castles have had another good year.”

Several other city attractions also made the nationwide top ten such as the Scottish National Gallery with 925,575, St Giles Cathedral with 851,375, the Royal Botanic Garden with 790,545, Gallery of Modern Art 606,989 and Edinburgh Bus Tours 554,117.

The findings, taken from 649 tourist sites across Scotland, were compiled by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University’s Moffat Centre.