As the London Olympics get going, Edinburgh joins the festivities

BELLS will ring, crowds will cheer and jet engines will scream overhead as celebrations marking the start of the Olympic Games get under way tomorrow with a host of events across Edinburgh.

The Red Arrows will soar through the skies over the Capital at precisely 12.33pm tomorrow as fans take their places in Festival Square for live events and big-screen coverage of the opening night.

Nine aircraft will perform the “Big Battle” formation over Holyrood Park, flying up the Royal Mile, over Edinburgh Castle then over the crowds.

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The flyover follows the ear-ringing All the Bells event at 8.12am – exactly 12 hours before the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in 

The jets’ appearance is the second in the region this weekend, with the Arrows scheduled to appear at the East Fortune Air Show the following day for the first time in five years.

Bells in buildings across the United Kingdom, including Big Ben and the Scottish Parliament, will chime for three minutes to herald the first day of the games.

Members of the public are being encouraged to assemble from noon to get the best view of the flypast, which will be followed by a series of Olympic sports demonstrations including weightlifting.

The BBC Big Screen on Festival Square will be broadcasting coverage of the build-up to the games throughout the day.

Athletes, including those hoping to compete in the Commonwealth Games in 2014, will also be on hand to run “come-and-try” events, including judo and table tennis throughout the day.

The city’s festivals and events champion, deputy 
council leader Steve Cardownie, said: “We have a great programme lined up for Festival Square, with events for all the family to enjoy and to get involved in, and we’d encourage the people of Edinburgh to get behind the event and to celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games.”

The crowd will also be treated to a lively performance by 120 children from the Playhouse Stage Experience singing and dancing their way through their production of “Footloose”.

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From 6pm, the city’s own opening ceremony event will get under way in the square. Hosted by BBC Scotland presenter Catriona Shearer, the free event will include entertainment from the Pipefest Pipers, Ceilidhdonia rock band, Pulse of the Place samba band, a highland dance troupe and an exclusive live performance of Flower of Scotland by The Big Project Choir.

“I’m delighted to be hosting this event,” said the Reporting Scotland news anchor. “It’s great to be a part of the Olympics in this way and it’s a brilliant opportunity for us to connect with the opening ceremony of the Games.

“We have a great evening of entertainment lined up, so come along, join the party and get involved in the carnival atmosphere. Then you can say you took part in the Olympics
. . .kind of.”

From 8.30pm a parade will be held featuring those who carried the torch around Scotland recently while live coverage of the opening ceremony from London will be screened to those at the event.

Edinburgh Lord Provost Donald Wilson, who will launch the series of events tomorrow, added: “I took the opportunity to wish the 
British team the very best of luck when the torch relay reached the Castle Esplanade last month but, now that the start is upon us, I am pleased to do so again.

“We all have a part to play in the Games and we as a council have been working closely with the organisers to ensure that the people of Edinburgh have every opportunity to get behind the event and those taking part.

“Of course, we in Edinburgh feel a very special sense of pride thanks to Sir Chris Hoy being chosen to fly the flag for Team GB tomorrow night.”

Mills & Boom!

IT has not been rung in more than six decades, but the dusty, unused bell at The Hub on the Lawnmarket will ring in a nationwide chorus as the city embraces Olympic fever.

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‘All the Bells’ will see buildings across the UK join with Holyrood and Big Ben, among others, to ring as loudly as possible tomorrow morning.

Festival director Jonathan Mills will be at The Hub to ring what is believed to be the highest bell in Scotland.

Martin Creed, the artist behind the refurbished Scotsman Steps, came up with the idea and suggested all the bells in the country should be rung as loudly as possible for the opening of the Olympics.

These will also include the old bell of the Edinburgh library service – more used to calling time on reading and whispering at the city’s Central Library – which will launch the event when Lord Provost Donald Wilson rings it at 8.12am tomorrow morning.

He said: “It’s a great way to begin the final countdown to the Olympics opening ceremony.”

In London it will be the first time Big Ben has been rung outside its regular schedule since 1952, when it tolled for King George VI’s funeral.

Celebratory line-up

Scotsman Steps and Lawnmarket, 8.12-8.15am: Lord Provost Donald Wilson to lead the All the Bells event to ring in the start of the Games.

Over Edinburgh, 12.33pm: Red Arrows perform over Holyrood Park, Royal Mile and Festival Square.

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Festival Square, 6pm: Opening ceremony gets under way with big screen coverage and music from Pipefest Pipers, Ceilidhdonia ceilidh rock band.

Festival Square, 8.30pm: Torchbearer parade and live music.

Festival Square, 9pm: Live coverage of the opening ceremony.

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