Mike Rowbottom_17-11-11The sights and sounds of London 2012 are getting closer and closer. Soon – very soon – the BBC Big Screens already set up in 22 cities around the British Isles will fill with live Olympic and Paralympic action, and the squares and streets and parks around those screens will teem with activity and music.

In the last few weeks, some vivid details have begun to emerge as to how the Games will connect with the wider, non ticket-bearing public.

For BT London Live, ironically, it is Blur who have given one of their iconic projects a hard edge.

The news that the winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the 2012 Brit Awards will be headlining the Olympic Closing Ceremony concert from Hyde Park on August 12 has focused interest and attention to the forthcoming spectacle, as you might expect.

"As soon as we announced the names of Blur and their support bands New Order and The Specials, there was a big jump in interest on our site," says a BT London Live spokeswoman.

Blur Hyde_Park_Concert_2009
"It was quite a soft launch in November and it is very hard to engage people's interest until you have some of the important details.

"We announced Blur to tie in with their appearance at The Brits and we are seeing the effects of that publicity."

Ticketholders watching the bands exclusively live on stage will also be able to witness the London 2012 celebrations via Hyde Park's giant screens, which will be showing highlights of the Closing Ceremony from the Olympic Park courtesy of the BBC.

The spokeswoman adds that the whole BT London Live project – which will use Hyde Park and Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets during the Olympics, and Trafalgar Square during the Paralympics – will seek to "reach out" to as many of the general public as possible in as many different ways as possible during London 2012.

"We will have two stages in the Parks, as well as big screens. And there will be other, smaller screens around and about showing different sports," she says.

"It is a method that was pioneered at the Vancouver Winter Games.

Vancouver 2010_Live_site
"We will be pitching the activities to families and there will be all sorts of activities for them in the Parks. It's not just a case of holding gigs there."

Another model in the minds of those who have put together this summer's activities on behalf of the partnership of The Mayor of London, The Royal Parks, The London Borough of Tower Hamlets and individual event promoters Live Nation is Henman Hill.

Wimbledon's sociable gathering of like-minded followers regularly amassed in the hope of a fabled victory during the best years of Britain's formernumber one tennis player. This time around there should be more certain celebrations in store.

As some of the artistic impressions of the activities already make clear, Victoria Park can expect a Millennium Eye-type observation wheel which will afford views over to the Olympic Park and beyond.

Victoria Park_Live_Site
The line-up for the Opening Ceremony concert from Hyde Park is due to be announced in early March, and while this, like the Closing Ceremony concert, will involve paid-for ticketing, activities at Hyde Park will be free of charge in between, and those at Victoria Park for the entire duration of the Games from July 27 until August 12.

Hyde Park has six giant screens, including the UK's largest at 144 square metres, and six sports participation areas which will enable visitors to have a go at athletics, handball, hockey, equestrian events (via simulator), sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

BT London Live at Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets will provide a more intimate viewing experience with a "sports café" style approach. Two giant screens will share the park with a series of smaller screens showing BBC live coverage.

There will be an emphasis on sports participation with a range of 'have a go' sessions at the Victoria Park sports courts, with coaching available, and a series of evening concerts and cultural entertainment will enliven the site.

There will also be regular live music events during the evenings in both Parks.

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies will also be broadcast live at BT London Live Victoria Park from the nearby Olympic Stadium.

Once the focus shifts to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, BT London Live will relocate to Trafalgar Square, where a giant screen will show live coverage courtesy of Channel 4 Television. There will also be sporting activity, cultural entertainment and evening concerts.

There is an option to pay a standard admin fee of £3.50 ($5.50/€4.15) to get guaranteed entry tickets, in the manner of early boarding on a plane, with the fee remaining fixed whether one, two, three or four tickets are involved.

"We want to want to involve as many people as possible," adds the spokeswoman. "Whether they are families maybe coming into the parks during the day, or perhaps people who have just left the office in the evening and want to get involved straight away in the action."

Full details are available at www.btlondonlive.com.

A similar pattern of visiting is envisaged in other British cities during 2012.

Coventry Live_Site_with_BBC_screen
One of the main centres of Games activity in Coventry will be the Millennium Square, where a giant screen is built into the side of the city's Transport Museum – thanks to the partnership of the BBC, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and Coventry City Council.

While Coventry, as with other cities, is reliant on what the BBC chooses to output on the screen at any given time – "We can't do a red button on it," says Lee House, Senior Event Officer at Coventry City Council, points out  – there are plans to "reclaim" it at intervals in order to screen live events and local bands.

"The Square holds about 5,000 people quite easily," says House. "We want to make it an attractive place for people to come to catch up on what is happening at the Games."

And discussions are already well underway with national governing bodies and local organisations to co-ordinate demonstration events and have-a-go sessions with relevant BBC Olympic output.

"We thought some of the Olympics sports such as swimming and canoeing might have a problem as we are probably the most landlocked city in Britain," says House. "But they were both very keen to be involved and we are more than happy to include them!"

The canoeists are going to operate some static equipment. Swimming's solution remains, so far, a mystery...

There will also be themed Olympic and Paralympic activities at Broadgate Square in Coventry, which, while it does not have a big screen, will feature activities such as an Olympic Market and live musical concerts by local bands and schoolchildren.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames. Rowbottom's Twitter feed can be accessed here.