Olympic Festival to transform London

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The capital is set to stage one of the world's largest festivals as it looks to embrace art ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, according to mayor Boris Johnson.

A variety of events will be held across the city, ideal for those in central London hotels, including a nationwide ringing of bells at the start of the Olympic Games designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed.

According to the Evening Standard, famed director Danny Boyle hailed the idea as "a wonderful way to wake up the nation."

Billed as a "mass bell-ringing", it will begin at 08:00 local time when the aim is to get all the bells in the country ringing at once.

Smartphones can even download apps that will allow them to join in with their ringtones.

"I'm delighted that we will start the day with a real feeling of celebration right across the UK," added Boyle.

Thousands of other activities are set to take place, including a music festival helmed by Leona Lewis and "the most ambitious Shakespeare show ever staged".

Boris Johnson commented: "We want to create a summer like no other, so that Londoners and visitors, wherever they are in the capital, come away feeling they have been part of something exhilarating, a unique moment in time."

Hoping to entertain thousands of visitors to cheap London hotels and ensure their repeat business, the city's programme includes music, theatre, art, dance and poetry events.

"London will just explode with cultural activity. God knows, in the current economic climate, we need something to celebrate, and let's celebrate what we're really good at," commented Tony Hall, the head of the Royal Opera House and chairman of the Cultural Olympiad board.

Visitors can also go celebrity spotting, as major stars are confirmed to be taking part in the festivities, including Damon Albarn, Daniel Barenboim, Cate Blanchett, Carol Ann Duffy, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Jude Law and Mike Leigh.