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Arts to sprout in London this Olympic summer

A festival of fire at Stonehenge. Acrobatic displays in cathedral naves. String quartets in helicopters.

London Olympic organizers outlined an extravaganza of arts events Thursday to coincide with the 2012 Summer Games, offering a blockbuster program to cheer the nation and celebrate all things arty.

"There will be arts events taking place in unusual places all over the U.K. that will showcase the best in international culture when the eyes of the world are on us this summer," said festival director Ruth Mackenzie.

Artists including Cate Blanchett, Damien Hirst, Wynton Marsalis, Yoko Ono and Ai Wei Wei are set to take part.

The festival kicks off with Shakespeare and moves on to culture in just about every form imaginable, including an attempt to create the world's largest Bollywood dance. Artist Richard Wilson will recreate the final scene of the classic British crime film "The Italian Job" by dangling a bus off the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill, south of London.

Performances pop up at all the nicest places — along the River Thames, Hadrian's Wall, the shores of Lake Windemere. Some 900 venues will be used for the festival, which runs from June 21-to Sept.9.

Some 12,000 events will feature 25,000 artists — including representatives of every nation competing in the Summer Olympics, which start July 27 and end Aug. 12. London is also hosting the Paralympics, which run Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.

Plans include a major concert June 23-24 featuring Jay-Z, Rihanna and Florence + The Machine. Some 100,000 fans are expected for that event, which will take place at the Hackney Marshes in east London.

There are also surprises. Among the unscripted events planned will be a full size "bouncy castle" in the shape of Stonehenge that will go on a nationwide tour.

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Online:

www.london2012.com/festival.