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Park will be packed for party to welcome torch
Asked where they were on the night that the Olympic torch arrived in Oxford, thousands of people will say: “At South Park – for the best party ever!”
On Monday, just hours after the Olympic torch has arrived in the north of the county at Bicester and passed through Kidlington and into the city, welcomed by thousands of well-wishers and a barrage of camera flashes, people will converge on the city’s most famous green space to mark the once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
Twenty thousand free tickets for the South Park event were snapped up within days, and people are set to gather to enjoy music, sport, food and revelry, and in doing so become part of the city’s Olympic history.
The gates will open at 3.30pm and music on the main stage will start at 5pm with headlining band being indie rock group Young Guns, who have shared stages with the likes of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Bon Jovi and Queens of the Stone Age.
The fun will also continue on other stages and zones and include West African kora player Jali Flily, the Ugar Purple Spider Dance Team from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, near Australia, silent comedian Fraser Hooper and folk music.
Britain’s Got Talent dance act Twist & Pulse will also perform.
And there will be performances from the Oxford Playhouse, local act Under Construction, the Anjali Dance Company and the musicians of the Oxfordshire County Youth Band.
In the true spirit of the Olympic Games, a host of sports will also be demonstrated in the park, including judo, lacrosse, trampolining, tennis acrobatics and gymnastics.
And there will be local, national and international food stalls, as well as the torch on display.
At 6.45pm the final Olympic torchbearer of the day will make their way along Morrell Avenue and through South Park to the main stage and then light a cauldron.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “This is a unique event, which will only happen once in our lifetime.
“With all the focus on the Olympics, it’s important we give the event real clout and so we’re working hard to make sure that happens. The variety of stuff being organised is phenomenal.”
The grand finale of the party in the park will be a sight – and sound – to behold.
More than 750 singers and dancers will entertain the crowds with an hour-long performance of the Tree of Light, a music and drama project involving young people from Oxfordshire, performing around a 16-metre light tree, which gradually illuminates during the dusk performance as the sun sets.
Orlando Gough, who has composed the music which will accompany the performance, said: “It’s an epic tale, focused on the long life of a mythical tree and of a forest which is born and inhabited, attacked, plundered and reborn – the full cycle of life in all its drama.”
The Tree of Light show’s artistic director, Charlie Morrissey, added: “This monumental and theatrical event will take place at dusk and will be full of drama and excitement, light, colour and movements, creating an incredible human spectacle.”