The North West will play host to Olympic football, taking place at Old Trafford. It is also the home to international cricket at Old Trafford, open golf at Royal Lytham St Anne’s and top horseracing at Chester Racecourse, Britain’s oldest sporting venue in continual use.
The region has seven Pre-Games Training Camps confirmed so far covering teams from 22 different nations, including the Australian Olympic swimming team and American basketball teams who will both train in Manchester-based facilities.
UK medal hopefuls from the region include three-times gymnastics world champion Beth Tweddle, reigning Olympic team cycling sprint champion Jason Kenny, Paralympic medallist in swimming and cycling Sarah Storey, and Paralympic medallist in athletics Shelly Woods.
Around £165 million worth of Olympic Park contracts were won by businesses based in the North West, with further benefits cascading down the supply chain. In total 270 North West businesses have won over 450 Games related contracts, including supplying:
- containment for the Copper Box
- welding equipment for the Olympic Stadium; and
- paint and coatings for the Olympic Stadium.
There have already been more than 34 locally funded and managed cultural projects officially inspired by London 2012 in the North West, including the ongoing Lakes Alive programme, which has brought world class street art events across the Lake District and Cumbria in recent years, and will host a stunning pyrotechnic display to mark the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Windermere.
Among the major cultural highlights planned for 2012 are:
Art from West Africa Today - a major exhibition of contemporary art from internationally acclaimed artists from West Africa in three Manchester locations;
Les Commandos Percu – On The Nightshift - at Windermere and world premiere, blend musical rhythms and amazing effects as fireworks dance to a thumping soundtrack; and
Anthony McCall – Column - a giant column of vertical, spinning cloud rising from the surface of Wirral Waters, visible across the North West by day and night. It is expected to become an internationally acknowledged landmark from the region.
The Olympic Torch will be in the North West for nine days taking in attractions such as Antony Gormley’s Another Place on Sefton Beach and the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, as well as visiting the Isle of Man and travelling by steam boat across Windermere.
In total, 90 communities from across the North West are on the Torch Relay route and will include major evening celebrations planned in Chester (May 29), Bolton (May 31), Liverpool (June 1), Carlisle (June 20), Bowness-on-Windermere (June 21), Blackpool (June 22) and Manchester (June 23).
In addition, the region will be hosting four official Paralympic Flame celebration events as part the Paralympic Torch Relay. These will take place on the August Bank Holiday (Aug 27) weekend in Ellesmere Port, Kirkby, Manchester and Preston.
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 North West include:
- Culture – the North West is a cultural hotspot with renowned venues such as the Museum of Liverpool, The Lowry, Tate Liverpool and Grand Theatre Blackpool. Liverpool has the largest collection of museums and galleries anywhere outside of London, and is officially the world capital of pop with 54 number ones from the city, including its most famous musical export – the Beatles – who celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012.
- History and heritage – the region has the medieval Tatton Park and Chester Cathedral, as well as the colourful Preston Guild 2012 festival, a celebration which dates back to the 12th century and only happens every twenty years. A darker past is revealed at Pendle Hill and the Witches Trail, which will be buzzing with events and exhibitions marking the 400th anniversary of the Lancashire Witch Trials.
- Nature – this is also a region of significant natural beauty with the Lake District to the north and Peak District to the south; from the Forest of Bowland arcing out across Lancashire, to the stunning coastlines of Sefton and Southport. The North West has inspired great literary works by Wordsworth, Bronte, Elliot and Austen.
- Sport – the North West is synonymous with heavy weight sport. It is home to England’s two most successful football clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United, with 37 titles, 18 FA Cups and eight European Cups between them. Super League and Rugby League clubs including giants like Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves, Salford Reds and St Helens. It also hosts international cricket at Old Trafford, Open Golf at Royal Lytham St Anne’s and top horse-racing at Chester Racecourse, Britain’s oldest sporting venue in continual use.
Find more information on the North West as a place to visit.