Battle For The Winds

Battle for the Winds Fire Torches

“An unbelievable scene. So beautiful – what an ending to a great show”

Nigel Hinds, London 2012 Festival

As dusk falls, two thousand and twelve people wait on Weymouth sands. One by one, the torches in their hands flicker to life and they process into the sea, carrying fire into the dark waters …

A unique theatrical event marking the opening celebrations of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events, Battle for the Winds told the story of a quest to gather the winds from across the South West to power the sailing events in July. Co-produced with Cirque Bijou, it’s the largest outdoor arts show we’ve ever worked on and was four years in the making.

The tale began in April 2012, with 52 events in total across the South West culminating in three magnificent days of performance in Weymouth and Portland from July 26-28, involving 5000 artists and a total audience of 530,000 people.The grand finale on July 28 was seen by 8000 people gathered at the Live Site on Weymouth Beach.

The events in Weymouth featured:

  • Seven companies of street theatre artists from all the counties of the South West with their specially designed Wind Gathering Vessels;
  • Brand new aerial performance directed by Cirque Bijou’s Billy Alwen and devised by 7 of the UK’s most exciting aerialists;
  • DiverseCity’s company of 64 disabled and able-bodied performers from UK and Brazil, presenting Breathe;
  • Lorna Rees’s beautiful, eerie multimedia installation and dance piece at Doldrum’s Lair in Portland High Angle Battery, featuring over 2000 hand-made blue butterflies;
  • A spectacular display by the Royal Marines 4 Assault Squadron, who delivered the stone-hearted Doldrum to the beach amidst flares, ships and pyrotechnics;
  • 212 Bridgwater Carnivalites who set the beach ablaze with the first ever Squibbing display outside of Bridgwater;
  • The awesome, primal spectacle of 2012 community participants wading into dark waters with flaming torches.

A truly awe-inspiring spectacle and an unforgettable experience for everyone who worked on the project, Battle for the Winds will leave a legacy of new outdoor arts and creative networks across the South West. So far the events have been featured in The Guardian, on Sky News, BBC1 and ITV, in Event magazine and throughout the regional and local press, as well as news outlets across the world thanks to Reuters.

The show was selected as part of the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, and was also part of Maritime Mix – London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea.

Partners included Arts University College Bournemouth, Activate, Outdoor Celebratory Arts Network, Quest (South West) Co Ltd, Barnardo’s, DepARTure, Weymouth College, Diverse City and Remix. Battle for the Winds is supported by Arts Council England and South West local authorities. You can find out more about the project at

Here’s some of the press coverage of the event:


“How can Weymouth and Portland ever thank you for what you did last night? It was MAGNIFICENT! And it will inspire all that took part or saw it for years to come”

Alan Rogers, Cultural Co-Ordinator, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council 2012 Operations Team

“Thank you for entertaining, enthralling and exciting us. Overhead lots of great comments from inside the crowd: ‘historic’, ‘once in a lifetime’, ‘tears in my eyes’, ‘wow!'”

Weymouth, Dorset Tourist Agency

“I particularly enjoyed the parade during the day and thought the finale with the squibbers and the torches out to sea was both exhilarating and haunting in equal measure”

Laura Dyer, Arts Council England Area Chief Executive (SW and Midland)

“I had very positive feedback from a Deaf audience member, thanking us for the caption and saying that they enabled her to understand the story….it’s brilliant that we broke through that barrier on this show”

Christine Hathaway, Access & Production co-ordinator, Breathe

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