Olympic Mania, Art Car, Chariots of Fire: London Weekend

Oscar-Winning film Director Danny Boyle
“Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle, center, planning his Olympic opening. The event has been shortened because event organizers want to prevent the 80,000 crowd being stranded. Photographer: Dave Poultney/LOCOG via Getty Images

Londoners crowded out of today’s Olympics opening ceremony -- which was 10 times oversubscribed -- can head to Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square instead.

They’ll watch the action for free on giant video screens. Another screening in Hyde Park features live performances from Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, Stereophonics and Paolo Nutini.

Director Danny Boyle’s celebration of British culture at the East London stadium opens onto a bucolic tableau of rivers and fields, cottages and grazing animals. Some 10,000 volunteers are set to ring in the games, with an estimated billion people watching around the world. Organizers promise an array of British musical talent, with Paul McCartney topping the bill.

Information: http://www.btlondonlive.com.


Those lacking gold-dust tickets to the Olympic Park can discover what it’s like by eyeing a miniature version.

The Royal Institute of British Architects has maquettes of the new buildings on show, starting with Zaha Hadid’s funky Aquatics Centre (set on a pink plinth). It’s the first thing you see walking in, and prettier than the real thing, which currently has two chunky temporary legs tacked on to fit the extra 15,000 seats needed for the games.

Nearby are models of the Olympic Stadium, with its spiked top ring made of surplus gas pipes, and the pringle-shaped Velodrome, with its taut timber skin.

Upstairs is a model of what the site becomes after the games, and an intriguing overview of architectural landmarks born of one-time events: the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Atomium in Brussels, and the Vittorio Emanuele II monument in Rome.

“Design Stories: The Architecture Behind 2012” ends Sept. 25: http://www.architecture.com or +44-20-7580-5533.

Roux at the Landau is an elegant restaurant near the RIBA. In the high-ceilinged room designed by David Collins, the food is what you’d expect from father-and-son duo Albert and Michel Roux Jr. If you’re on a budget, breakfast is served until midday on Saturdays. Information: http://www.thelandau.com/ or +44-20-7965-0165.

For a break from Olympic-themed entertainment, you can hear the Chinese-born guitar virtuoso Xuefei Yang perform with tenor Ian Bostridge at Wigmore Hall. The concert features works by Britten, Schubert, Cage and Roth. Information: http://www.wigmore-hall.org.uk or +44-20-7935-2141.

Saturday Night

For those eager to relive past athletic glories, “Chariots of Fire,” the Oscar-winning tale of two British runners in the 1924 Olympics, has transferred to the stage.

The Gielgud Theatre has been equipped with a running track for the fit actors to race on. Harold Abrahams (James McArdle) plays a Jewish student who competes with Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian (Jack Lowden).

There is romantic diversion as Abrahams falls in love with a soprano. Fans of the Vangelis theme music will get their money’s worth.

At the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. Information: http://www.delfontmackintosh.co or +44-844-482-5136.

The Zedel is a new brasserie near the Gielgud, owned by the same restaurateurs as the Wolseley. The set menu costs 11.25 pounds ($17.44) for three courses and wine starts at 3 pounds a glass. Food and service are both good. Information: http://www.brasseriezedel.com/ or +44-20-7734-4888.


In 1979, Andy Warhol dipped large brushes into cans of paint and redecorated a BMW M1. As Frank Stella put it, he basically “messed up a racing car.”

To Stella, though, it was “one of the best things he ever did.” You can see for yourself by touring a parking garage.

Alongside Warhol’s work are BMWs revisited by 15 other artists -- including Stella, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and David Hockney, whose 1995 car-body painting revealed the vehicle’s interior. He pictured the BMW’s engine and a dog in the back seat.

The show is free and open daily through Aug. 4 at the NCP Car Park on Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3ER. Information: http://artdrive.ica.org.uk or +44-20-7930-3647.

Claymation duo Wallace & Gromit come to the Proms.

The Oscar-winning characters offer a break from the highbrow menu at the Royal Albert Hall by giving younger fans a taste for classical music.

The show combines popular favorites by Debussy and Shostakovich with a film of Wallace preparing for the first performance of his Proms commission: “My Concerto in Ee, Lad.”

Information: http://www.bbc.co.uk or +44-845-401-5040.

(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include James Russell on architecture, Jason Harper on cars and Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

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