How quickly time flies: exactly this time a year ago London was buzzing with excitement as the Olympics descended into town – but now Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has opened its gates for people to re-live history once again at the Open East festival.
The two day event was packed full with lots of family-friendly treats from live music from around the world to live performances scattered around the venue, all neatly placed between colourful fun fair style attractions. The huge venue packed as much entertainment into one place as humanly possible.
The National Theatre’s War Horse appearance was jaw-dropping, while Boy Blue entertainment drew crowds with their hip-hop/martial arts choreography. Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege, a bouncy Stonehenge, was one of the coolest bouncy castles we’ve ever seen and DJ Charlie Dark put a hip-hop spin on the age old classic ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. His rendition was packed full of energy and had even the youngest child in the room jamming to hip-hop oldies.
With so many interesting things happening around the park it was impossible to be short of anything to do. However, the highlights of the event were definitely the Barbican Drum Works collaboration with drum group Pandemonium, who opened up the Olympic ceremony last year. Their Brazilian inspired presentation had crowds following them on either side of the park like it was carnival until they met by the Music Stage to end their performance leaving the crowd wanting more. Another highlight was Mali Foli on the Music Stage, a journey through Malian music by Amadou & Mariam, Viuex Farka Toure, Fataoumata Diawara and Chiek Tidiane Seck. They had people moving, shaking and dancing in the rain.
By the end of the day we were knackered but not too tired to check out the “spectacular finale” that we’d all been hearing about throughout the day. On the way to the exit, crowds of people headed to the bridge to see how it will all end. Bompas & Parr rode two small boats on either side of the river while pouring translucent green liquid into the water. Once they were done, we all awaited some sort of firework display that never came. Despite the disappointment, the festival was a great way to open up the North Park to the public – and with Saturday’s sunshine, the timing couldn’t have been any better. (Words: Mariam Ajioba)