This year's London 2012 Open Weekend is just a month away (24 - 26 July) and today we preview a number of the events already registered. Every nation and region of the UK is already represented, so it looks like Northern Ireland might be my first port of call for the 'Singing Bus' or 'Fighters and Writers'.
Cumbria is also on the itinerary for one of Julie Tait’s amazing events as part of the Legacy Trust-funded 'Lakes Alive' Festival events.
The Barbican will be leading the way in London with its remarkable youth orchestra under Sir Colin Davis.
You might also find me playing a pirate at the Skull & Crossbones Opening Weekend at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Royal Gosport, taking in the Big Cheese bonanza in Caerphilly, at Knight School in Ipswich, taking a hip-hop class in Charlton or enjoying the Afro Bhangra Ceilidh at the Piazza in Plymouth...
The spirit of 'Open Weekend' is simple. We're inviting cultural and creative organisations to open up what they do to new audiences - and especially to young people. Many organisations are opening parts of their buildings to see behind the scenes. Others are taking what they do outdoors with special free performances whilst still more are making their star performers, artists, directors and musicians available for free workshops with school groups.
This year we're particularly welcoming sports, community and environmental organisations to take up the opportunity alongside their peers from the cultural sector. Every non-commercial organisation who is inspired by London 2012 is welcome to join the weekend and we've kept the online registration as simple as possible. It costs nothing to register and you'll receive a free PR pack to help raise the profile of what you're doing. All the questions you might have as a potential participant are answered on this site, on the FAQs page.
Last year's Weekend was in September, just after the Beijing 2008 Games. And its return this year, almost exactly three years to go before London's Opening Ceremony (27 July 2012), is genuinely by popular demand. Almost three quarters of a million people attended last year's events, and a survey of those organising the events was overwhelming in demanding a repeat. Most encouraging was that over half reported that their 'Open Weekend' events brought in new audiences and new participants.
We're hoping for a similar response in a month's time and this year we have the significant support of one of 2012's commercial partners, BP. Over the next three years BP will be helping to spread the word about London 2012 Open Weekend and make it available to more organisations and more people.
BP achieved another welcome landmark today. We announced that, in addition to sponsoring the London 2012 Open Weekend, BP are becoming the first Premiere Partner of the Cultural Olympiad. This fantastic news means that BP will bring their outstanding track record of support for UK arts to bear in support of the London 2012 cultural programme.
BP have long and successful relationships with leading cultural bodies such as the British Museum, The Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum and the Royal Opera House and we're already deep in conversations with these bodies to develop special London 2012 projects, supported by BP.
Last week I attended the BP National Portrait Awards and not only was it a high quality and very stimulating event, but BP’s consistent support of that project over two decades now transcends commercial sponsorship. BP have taken a role as a commercial cornerstone in the UK's cultural life and they are especially welcome as partners on the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Now...back to the timetables...keep an eye open for me, bacon sandwich in hand, on the 6.18 from Watford Junction...