Kensington Gardens to host Africa House during London 2012

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Kensington Gardens, one of London’s most beautiful parks, is to be the venue for the Association of National Olympic Committess of Africa (ANOCA) during next year’s Games, it has been announced today.

It will give the 53 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) that are members of the ANOCA the opportunity to showcase their individual cultures during London 2012.

Africa House, which will be open between July 27 and August 12 and will be free to the public, will promote each countries culture, art and sport.

The site, which has capacity for 2,000 visitors at one time, will be located next to the Albert Memorial, and will feature exhibition stands, performances and restaurants.

African athletes will be the guests of honour at Africa House and each evening African medal winners will head to Kensington Gardens to celebrate and to meet fans.

This will be the first time that African athletes will have a House in which to fully celebrate being part of the Olympics and to share their love of sport with visitors from around the world.

“We created Africa House to offer the National Olympic Committees and African athletes a unique opportunity to fully participate in the great Olympic festivities, whatever their means,” said General Intendant Lassana Palenfo, President of ANOCA.

“This area will act as an exceptional showcase for our continent, in the eyes of the public at large, the eight million visitors expected during the Games and also decision makers from around the world.

“A big thank-you goes out to The Royal Parks for assisting us in this.

“We are extremely proud that for this world first, Africa House will benefit from being located in such a prestigious environment.”

Kensington Gardens, once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, which was the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales until her death in 1997, is one of the Royal Parks of London and was carved out of the western section of Hyde Park and designed in the mid-18th century by Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman.

The Park is the setting of J.M. Barrie’s book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a prelude to the character’s famous adventures in Neverland.

“The Royal Parks is excited that Kensington Gardens has been chosen as the ideal location to showcase the African continent for the first time during the Olympics,” said Mark Camley, chief executive of the Royal Parks.

“Up to 53 countries will be represented and visitors from around the world will have a unique opportunity to experience African culture in Kensington Gardens.

“The Royal Parks is playing a central role in helping to deliver a successful Games and working with Africa House is an important part of this.”

The deal for Africa House has been brokered by the Concerto Group, who have been involved in arranging for a number of NOCs to set-up Houses in London during the Olympics.

The Africans join Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Romania and Switzerland in signing deals with London properties for the Olympics.

In addition, Sochi 2014 are planning to set-up an ice rink at Marble Arch.

“We have been delighted to work with the ANOCA to support their Games time plans for the Africa House,” said Zanine Adams, head of events solutions for London & Partners, the official promotional agency for the capital.

“The village will be a wonderful addition to the array of cultural experiences and NOC Houses which will be opening up across the city next year.

“I’m sure Africa House will be a ‘must see’ destination for both Londoners and visitors, with an exciting mix of entertainment, culture and food – all making it a very popular experience.”

A planning application for Africa House will be submitted to Westminster City Council later this year

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