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Much Wenlock Celebrates its Olympian Legacy

20th March 2012

The small Shropshire town with a big claim on the history of the modern Olympics is preparing to mark the build-up to the Games with a feast of fun, sport and cultural experiences; in what could be coined, the 2012 fringe. 

Much Wenlock is the historical home of one of the founding fathers of the Olympic movement, Dr William Penny Brookes.  A new museum has opened to chart his philanthropic and influential ideas and an Olympian Trail leads visitors around the town’s historical sites, including the Gaskell Field, the spot where the first Olympian Games have been held since the mid 19th Century.

Here is a countdown to Wenlock’s Olympian-inspired events that capture the spirit and energy of the 2012 Games:

126 Days to go… CORE at Enginuity – 23rd March to 30th September

As part of the London 2012 Festival, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum will host CORE, a fantastic generative art exhibition designed by renowned international artist Kurt Hentschläger. CORE forms the next generation of the Chicago-based artist’s generative 3D and audio work. This world-class piece of art will be premiered at The Engine Shop, Enginuity, one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums on 23rd March 2012.

Visitors to CORE will experience an artificial world made up of a series of virtual aquariums containing dynamic bodies in extreme motion whose movements are neither predictable nor repeated. These identical humanoid figures interact both instinctually like schools of fish or flocks of birds and at other times they appear choreographed like ballet dancers or synchronised swimmers. Admission to the exhibition is free.

124 Days to go… running the Sports Relief Much Wenlock Mile on Sunday 25th March

Much Wenlock is to host its first ever Much Wenlock Mile for Sports Relief and a ‘Be Active’ Family Fun Day on Sunday 25th March.

105 days to go… poetry in motion at the Wenlock Poetry Festival from Friday 13th April to Sunday 15th April

A three-day event with guests including Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead, Gillian Clarke and many more.

Mark Niel will curate a day of performance for those who prefer poetry on the stage rather than the page, there’s a Wenlock Poetry Slam, cart-wheeling poets, poets in ambulances, poets in cafés, the Wirral Poets in High Street and around the town, poetry writing workshops, organised walks and a prize for Poetry in Art.

Celebrate 100 days to go… with a pint of Athletes Ale

The Wood Brewery of Shropshire launches a limited edition draft ale to raise funds for the Wenlock Olympian Society and celebrate Much Wenlock’s legacy.  The stamina-building stuff is on sale in Wetherspoon’s across the country and of course, in some of Much Wenlock’s local hostelries.

84 days to go… be challenged at the M21 Free Live Street Arts on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May

M21 stands for The Medieval to the 21st Century and it is a live arts event in which disabled artists explore what it means to be alive in the 21st century.

This free event will explore the paradox of the ‘pretty pretty’ face of Much Wenlock, the living history and the reality of rural living through a disability aesthetic.

M21 has been commissioned by the Unlimited programme, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

59 days to go…line the streets for the Olympic Torch bearers on Wednesday 30th May

Much Wenlock’s inclusion in the Torch Relay is the latest nod to its historic part in the Olympics from the London 2012 organisers. It further cements Much Wenlock’s place in the heritage of the Olympic Games and the significant role Dr. William Penny Brookes played in the founding of the modern international Olympics.

It’s not just the legacy of Dr. William Penny Brookes that makes Shropshire synonymous with the Olympic Games, but the fact that the designer of the London 2012 Olympic Torch, Edward Barber, was born and studied in Shrewsbury.

31 days to go…culture shock, at the Much Wenlock Festival from Saturday 2nd June to Sunday 24th June

This biennial arts festival is having a special Olympian-themed year, with theatre, art, an open air concert and even its own fringe, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Much Wenlock.

Wenlock’s very own Olympian Games 2012 start on Sunday 8th July, just 19 days before the official Olympic Games open in London

The 126th Wenlock Olympian Games will take place from Sunday 8th to Saturday 21st July. New events include a Marathon, Gliding and a 100 Mile Walk, to bring the total number to 29.

On Wednesday 11 July the Olympic Welcome Song Performance will be

led by folk musician  Eliza Carthy and will be performed in Much Wenlock, Chipping Campden, Weymouth, Stoke Mandeville and Olympic Park.

On Saturday 14th July a Wenlock Olympian Games Celebration will be held in the town with street markets, entertainment and exhibitions.

8 days to go… a dance and digital media extravaganza Thursday 19th July to Sunday 22nd July

Encompass360 will connect young people all around the world using dance, digital media and film.   The project will create links across continents and wrap dancing images around audiences.  Young people from Shropshire and around the globe will form the core creative team, leading the vision for the project supported by experienced professional artists, to create a ground breaking 360-degree dance and film extravaganza.

7 days to go… once upon a time at the Festival at the Edge from Friday 20th July to Sunday 22nd July

Head down to Wenlock Edge for this international two-day storytelling festival, complete with new commissions and premieres.  Billed as a family friendly event, complete with its own children’s performers and story telling that runs in tandem with the main event. Camping, food, real ale, bonfires and crafts complete the festival vibe.

Festival at the Edge takes place at Stokes Barn, Much Wenlock

Day Zero – let the Games begin!

For a full programme of events

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