The region will play host to two Olympic events – the Mountain Biking at Hadleigh in Essex and the White Water Canoeing at Broxbourne. It also has 23 Pre-Games Training Camps confirmed so far, ranging from the Canadian gymnastics team and Belarusian football team to athletics squads from Rwanda, Maldives, Venezuela, Mozambique and Azerbaijan.
UK medal hopefuls from the region include Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton Olympic bronze medal gymnast Louis Smith, the current World and European Junior Champion over 100 metres Jodie Williams, and reigning Paralympic champion in 10 metre Air Rifle Matt Skelhon.
More than £1 billion worth of Olympic Park contracts were won by businesses based in the East of England, with further benefits cascading down the supply chain.
Sixty local businesses have played a role in the construction of the Olympic Park, including providing:
cladding for the Velodrome;
seats for the Olympic Stadium; and
Concrete for the Aquatics Centre.
In addition, many more East of England firms have picked up other Olympic-related contracts, from manufacturing official Games merchandise to creating the signs that will guide spectators around the Olympic Park.
There have already been more than 40 locally funded and managed cultural projects officially inspired by London 2012 in the East of England, including Striking Together for Bronze projects which bring together percussionists from across Cambridgeshire for workshops, rehearsals and performances.
Major cultural events planned for 2012 include:
Waterlitz by world-renowned street theatre company Générik Vapeur, a mobile performance in St George’s Park in Great Yarmouth featuring explosive pyrotechnics and street theatre;
Music Nation: MazeMusic, a gala concert celebrating the rich history of Saffron Walden and using its historic turf maze as a linking theme – with Britten Sinfonia orchestra and choirs from Saffron Walden; and
Aldeburgh World Orchestra Project, which brings together leading conductor Sir Mark Elder and talented young musicians from across the globe to create a ‘world orchestra’ based in Suffolk, with high profile concerts at Snape Maltings and London.
The Olympic Torch will be in the region for seven days, taking in key attractions like Colchester Castle and Southwold Beach, and even testing out an Olympic venue as it rides the white water rapids at Broxbourne.
In all, the Torch Relay will visit more than 60 towns, villages and cities across the East of England, with major evening celebrations planned in Peterborough (3 July), Norwich (4 July), Ipswich (5 July), Chelmsford (6 July), Cambridge (7 July) and Luton (8 July).
The Torch Relay is recognised as a significant opportunity to showcase different parts of the UK, with the Government working with VisitEngland and the regional tourism organisations to attract more visitors from home and abroad.
Attractions in the East include:
- History and heritage – the East is home to magnificent stately homes like Sandringham, Hatfield House and Holkham Hall. It also has Norwich Castle, with its fine art and archaeology, and Norwich Cathedral, one of the finest Romanesque cathedrals in Europe. Norfolk has the greatest density of medieval churches in the world, celebrated in the Open Churches Week in August, while in Essex, there is Roman artefacts at Colchester Castle, Norman architecture at Waltham Abbey, and maritime history on show in places like Harwich, Maldon and Leigh-on-Sea.
- Culture – the region is home to the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich with its Norman Foster design and permanent Picasso and Degas collections; the university town of Cambridge with its old colleges and quads, and Colchester’s new ‘first site’ gallery, which showcases contemporary art. In Watford, the new Harry Potter studios was opened by Warner Brothers in March.
- Music – the East is also building a reputation as a focal point for summer festivals, including Suffolk’s Latitude festival, the world renowned Cambridge Folk Festival or the Norfolk and Norwich festival – one of the country’s biggest international arts and music festivals.
- Countryside – the North Norfolk Coast, stretching from the Wash to Winterton in the East is a mecca for bird-watcher; while the Norfolk Broads, known as ‘Britain’s magical waterland’ has 200 km of lock-free rivers and lakes to enjoy. To the South lies Constable country, with meadows and woodlands, and to the East there is some of the UK’s best seaside towns: from the quiet charm of Southwold or Lowestoft to the excitement of Great Yarmouth, with its famous Hippodrome Circus, or Southend, with its pleasure pier – the longest in the world.
Find more information on the East of England as a place to visit.