Talk of a double-dip recession may raise sniggers at the back of the class but the harsh reality is this week's economic news means that a few more of us will be spending summer 2012 holidaying in the UK or, in a lot of cases, not going anywhere at all.
And, actually, it couldn't be better timing. There may be no Glastonbury this year but we are being spoilt in almost every other regard. It seems that the Cultural Olympiad, despite sounding like a political distraction from the teeth of economic woe, is actually a movement of some substance. Not only are many annual events being swept under its umbrella, it has also given legs to some excellent ideas. There's the World Shakespeare Festival and the BT London Live gigs in Hyde Park, as well is readymade companion events in the Somerset House Summer Series and the E4 Udderbelly festival. Plus there's the jubilee and a summer of football, if you like that kind of thing.
And there's the Olympics themselves of course. All very well if you can afford it (ah, yes, the double-dip). Well now BT have teamed up with promoters Serious to put on a series of free gigs at six sites on the banks of the Thames in London; from the Africa stage at London Pleasure Gardens in the east, upstream to the Asia stage in Battersea Park in the west. In-between, four more of the capital's most impressive spaces host themed stages: Trafalgar Square and Somerset House (Europe stages), Tower of London (Americas stage) and the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich (Oceania stage).
These six sites will host a wide range of artists on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July, including Scissor Sisters (Americas), The Noisettes (Africa), Gong Linna (Asia), Ben L'Oncle Soul (Europe) and The Barons of Tang (Oceania); plus many more including Hugh Masekela, the Kronos Quartet and Transglobal Underground.
We will have tickets available when they are released weekly, by stage, from 15th May. Note that while tickets are themselves free there is a £3 booking fee payable on each one.