A festival celebrating Jamaica’s 50th year of independence will bring reggae and food to Maryland Primary School near the Olympic Park during the Games.

Festival Jamaica 2012 will take place from 27 July – 12 August at the school complex in Stratford, two miles from the Olympic Park.

The school’s rooms will be transformed into cultural spaces, performance stages and a lush tropical jungle.

It will be a second base for Jamaican culture during the Olympics, adding to the official Jamaica House at The O2 which will hold music and comedy events for Respect Jamaica 50. Festival Jamaica 2012 has no connection with Jamaica House but hopes to complement its events programme.

The festival evolved from The Reggae Exhibition, an arts show conceived by a local group. It will be spread between three rooms and will document the Caribbean island’s musical heritage from Mento to Dancehall.

The event then grew to encompass music, food and theatre thanks to the invovement of photographic agent Ziggi Golding, who is now heading the festival.

There will be performances of the musical The Harder They Come, cooking demonstrations in the Reggae Kitchen with celebrity chef Colin

Desmond Decker. Photo courtesy en.wikipedia.org

Brown and an exclusive performance of The Israelites from Desmond Decker’s band, The Aces.

A series of “an evening with” events in a 700-capacity hall will feature performances from acts who inspired ska music in the 1960s and 70s, such as The Originals.

UK Athletics will host a 50-metre running track at the festival with running workshops and visits from athletes, and a large outdoor screen will allow visitors to keep up with sporting events in the Games.

Organisers told Event the site can accommodate between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

Article by Louise Ridley of eventmagazine.co.uk