Giant Olympic rings on the river
A giant set of Olympic rings has been launched on to the River Thames to mark 150 days until the start of the London Games.
The rings, standing at 36ft high and 82ft wide, are travelling on a barge through the centre of the city and will pass landmarks including Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who arrived to watch Tower Bridge open for the rings to pass underneath, also announced a programme of free cultural events today that will take place in London during this summer's Games.
There will be free cultural events in every borough, which will include a floating opera inspired by The Owl And The Pussycat to be staged on the city's canals.
The rings, which are coloured on one side and have white LED lights on the other, were originally intended to start their journey at Battersea Bridge but instead were unveiled at London Bridge, meaning that they missed going past the Houses of Parliament as planned. A spokesman for the mayor's office said this was because of "various issues relating to tidal flows and the height of the river".
Crowds gathered by the River Thames waving Union flags as the rings arrived at Tower Bridge.
Steel drummers from two bands, Akademi and Reading-based Raspo, performed while pupils from White House Preparatory School in Clapham displayed flags showing support for the London Games.
Speaking before the rings passed through Tower Bridge, Mr Johnson said: "Everybody always said London was going to be gloomy about the Olympics, but I've never believed that. People have remained consistently enthusiastic. This is a very innovative way of showing off the rings and, with 150 days to go, we are on time and on budget."
The floating opera is to be devised by Monty Python star Terry Jones and composer Anne Dudley and will form part of Secrets: Hidden London, which will see organisations including the Royal Opera House and English National Ballet transform canals, lidos and other city sites.
Other cultural plans announced included a large-scale interactive public artwork by Jeremy Deller, to appear at locations across the capital, and the creation of the London Pleasure Gardens at Pontoon Dock, east London.