The South East will host four Olympic events (Cycle Time Trial and Road Cycling in Surrey, and the Canoe Spring and Rowing events at Eton Dorney) and two Paralympic events (rowing at Eton Dorney and cycling at Brands Hatch).
The region has 30 Pre-Games Training Camps confirmed so far, including the Nigerian Olympic team training in Surrey, the Barbados Paralympics Squad based at Medway Park in Kent, and the New Zealand triathlon team who will train at the University of Oxford.
UK medal hopefuls from the region include Olympic gold medallist in sailing Iain Percy OBE, Paralympic gold medallist in wheelchair athletics David Weir and cyclist Dani King.
Well over £1 billion worth of Olympic Park contracts was won by businesses based in the South East, with further benefits cascading down the supply chain.
More than 600 local businesses have played a role in the construction of the Olympic Park, including:
- supplying flooring and paint for the Velodrome;
- working on cladding for the Olympic Stadium; and
- dredging and cleansing waterways to help create wetland habitats on the Olympic Park.
Many more South East firms have picked up other Olympic-related contracts – from publishing official Games programmes to delivering semi-mature trees for the surrounding parklands.
There have already been more than 60 locally funded and managed cultural projects officially inspired by London 2012 in the South East, including Driving Inspiration which has seen disabled arts and journalists working with Buckinghamshire schools to create a living archive for Stoke Mandeville, capturing the inspiration of Paralympians past and present.
Among the major cultural highlights planned for 2012 are:
- She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea - Tracy Emin’s exhibition at the Margate Turner Contemporary;
- The English Flower Garden -the ceramic artist Paul Cummins’ celebration of flowers at the Garden of England, with special installations at ‘The Secret Gardens of Sandwich’ in Kent and Blenheim Palace; and
- World Stories– Young Voices - where young people design a new permanent gallery for Brighton’s world art collection at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
The Olympic Torch will be in the South East for 10 days taking in key attractions such as Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, Margate Turner Contemporary in Kent and Battle Abbey in East Sussex. The Torch will travel by rowing boat along the Thames at Henley, by chair lift on the Needles on the Isle of Wight and by Paralympic cycle at Brands Hatch.
In all, the Torch Relay will visit more than 120 towns, villages and cities across the South East, with major evening celebrations planned in Oxford (July 9), Reading (July 10), Southampton (July 14), Portsmouth (July 15), Brighton & Hove (July 16), Hastings (July 17), Dover (July 18), Maidstone (July 19) and Guildford (July 20).
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 South East:
- Culture – the South East has left an impression on British culture, being the inspiration behind works as varied as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, TS Eliot’s Waste Land, which was partially written overlooking Margate sands, and Jane Austen’s Emma whose character picnics on Box Hill in Surrey. The region is also playing a significant role in 21st century culture, with the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the soon-to-open Jerwood Gallery in Hastings.
- History – Of the 100 or so castles in England, over 30 are in the South East, including Windsor Castle, Leeds Castle, Hever Castle and Highclere Castle, which appears in the television series Downton Abbey. The South East also features prominent landmarks such as Brighton Pavilion, Canterbury Cathedral, Oxford Colleges and Blenheim Palace. The port towns of Southampton and Portsmouth also have significant maritime history, including the Mary Rose in Portsmouth, which is reopening with a new museum.
- Nature – The South East is home to the Oxfordshire Cotswolds and the smallest national park in Britain – the New Forest. Also located here are some of the finest gardens in the country, such as Wisley, Sissinghurst and Exbury gardens.
Find more information on the South East as a place to visit.