Month-long arts festival to celebrate opening of new Royal London hospital

A new multi-million pound east London hospital has announced it will be holding a month-long arts festival to celebrate its opening.

Bollywood dancing, classical music and poetry are among the events to be held at the new Royal London, behind the old building on Whitechapel Road.

Patients and staff are being asked to get involved in the celebrations, which kick off on Thursday.

Deputy chief executive of Barts and The London NHS trust, Toby Lewis said: “We want to showcase the hospital for the very people it’s been built for and that’s why we have invited the local community to visit and take part in an exciting public programme of free events throughout March.

“Since the new hospital’s construction began in 2006, many locals have wondered what’s inside the big blue Whitechapel skyscraper, and now is the perfect time to find out.”

The move has taken 12 weeks and seen more than 3,000 staff and patients head to state-of-the-art wards in the 17-storey building.

Starting the festival on Thursday morning will be a choral performance by 120 children, many of whom were born at the old Royal London.

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Other highlights include a sound installation by recordist Chris Watson, who provided the soundtrack for the BBC’s acclaimed Frozen Planet nature series.

He will fill a corridor in the children’s hospital with recordings of lions, cheetahs and hyenas as part of his Africa theme.

Later on in the month, London Symphony Orchestra will perform in waiting rooms.

The festival has been run by Vital Arts, the NHS trust’s charitable arts partner.

The charity’s music and participation manager Rachel Louis said: “Research consistently shows that art, music and poetry can positively distract patients and actually speed up their recovery process.”