The full lineup for this summer's Cultural Olympiad includes over 12,000 events, during which time Britain’s cultural map will boast everything from a bouncy Stonehenge to a musical Thames.

But with so many races to be run it can be hard to know how to join in - and where the start line is.

To help, we’ve put together our top 20 tips on what to see this summer, wherever you are.

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  • 1. Sacrilege

    Fresh from his retrospective exhibition at London's Hayward Gallery, Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller has created a new work in time for this summer's Olympic Games. Sacrilege is a fully functional, life-size bouncy castle in the shape of Stonehenge. This enormous rock circle (it's got a 35 meter diameter) will be popping up all over London and at a number of surprise locations across the UK. <a href="" target="_hplink">21 June - 9 September, National Free </a> IMAGE: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 2. Poetry Parnassus

    An Olympic event for the literary minded, the Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus will host over 100 free events including readings and workshops. The project is created by Artistic Director Jude Kelly and Artist in Residence Simon Armitage and aims to get a poet from each of the nations competing in the Games to take part in a mammoth global poetry gathering. <a href="" target="_hplink">26 June - 1 July, Southbank Centre, London Free</a> IMAGE: Rain of Poems Berlin

  • 3. Tracey Emin: She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea

    A trip to the traditional town of Margate used to mean donkey rides and a stick of rock, but last year the dynamic new arts organisation and gallery, Turner Contemporary, opened and the seafront was put on Britain's cultural map. This year local girl Tracey Emin, who championed the project throughout, returns to her home town for an exploration of love, sex and romanticism with an exhibition designed especially for Margate. <a href="" target="_hplink">25 May - 26 September, Turner Contemporary, Margate Free </a> iMAGE: Tom Pugh/PA Wire/Press Association Images

  • 4. Cape Farewell Scottish Islands Project: Sea Change 2012

    In an enterprise led by poets and climate change activists, Cape Farewell will be presenting new stories from Scottish Islands about people, place and resources. Scottish and international poets, storytellers, musicians, artists and filmmakers will draw on island experiences in creating stories which will travel from the islands, to mainland Scotland and across the UK, echoing the Olympic Flame's journey from North to South. These digital narratives will be on display at island art and heritage centres, at venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in London at Kings Cross Station's Sublime Pavilion. 1 May - 30 September, various venues, Scotland and London Visit the website for more information on individual events

  • 5. Design Stories - the Architecture behind 2012

    This audiovisual installation explores the design stories behind the venues and spaces of London 2012, through a collection of films, images, models and a 14 meter mural will. The show sheds light on the thinking that has shaped London's new landmarks, and in an innovative twist it will be transformed at the start of the Games into a live screening lounge showing the sporting events. <a href=" " target="_hplink">Design Stories: 25 June - 21 September, Royal Institute of British Architects, London </a>Free IMAGE: (c) Populous LOCOG_ London 2012 Olympic Stadium

  • 6. The Olympic Walk

    If after all that you fancy getting up close yourself (before the hoards descend) London Walks have created a special Olympic Walk, a chance to get behind the scenes with a walk-and-talk stocked full of trivia, a history of the area and of course all the sights of the Olympic Park. <a href="" target="_hplink">The Olympics Walks: 1 May - 20 July every day, meeting at West Ham Tube at 2.15pm, London Tickets £9, concession £7</a> IMAGE: Ian Nicholson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 7. Rachel Gadsden - Unlimited Global Alchemy

    This exploration of the psychology and politics of HIV/AIDS is the product of artist Rachel Gadsden's collaboration with the Bambanani artist-activist Group from South Africa. The project started out in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town, in a six-week long residency that produced drawings, sketchbooks and paintings, together with a series of portraits of the participants in the project made by Gadsden and filmmakers Cliff Bestall and Deborah May. <a href="" target="_hplink">The results of this unique collaboration will be on show at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.</a> TIP: Free film Screening and Talk 23 June 2.30pm, ticket required. 22 June - 9 September, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge Free, ticket required Image: Bong, Rachel Gadsen,

  • 8. On The Olympics Trail

    As part of its Olympics-inspired events programme, The British Museum is hosting workshops, talks, study days and exhibitions. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games medals will be on show, and a touring exhibition, The Ancient Olympic Games, will present a historical overview, drawing on the museum's rich collection. From the classical origins of the festival that's sweeping through London, right up to the present day, <a href="" target="_hplink">the British Museum is a one-stop shop for Olympics buffs.</a> 8 February - 9 September, British Museum, London Free IMAGE: Kostas Tsironis/AP/Press Association Images

  • 9. Helen Petts - Throw Them Up and Let Them Sing

    This film by artist and filmmaker Helen Petts makes use of landscape, collage, sound poetry and improvisation. It tells the story of Kurt Schwitters' journey via a remote island in Norway to the Lake District, when fleeing from Nazi persecution because of his 'degenerate' art and his epilepsy. It will be shown as an installation at the Hatton Gallery Newcastle, where Schwitters' Merzbarn Wall is housed, before travelling to London's Southbank Centre. The piece features experimental and improvised music and as part of a programme of talks and workshops celebrating Schwitters' life and legacy, there will be a concert of this work by leading experimental musicians at The Sage Gateshead. <a href="" target="_hplink">28 June - 18 August, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle 31 August - 9 September, Southbank Centre, London Concert: 30 June, Sage Gateshead Free</a>

  • 10. River of Music

    <a href="" target="_hplink">A weekend of free music at London landmarks along the Thames is set to get the capital in the mood.</a> The weekend before the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games will be marked by a programme of international and home-grown talent at six major stages: Battersea Park (Asia stage); Trafalgar Square (Europe stage); Somerset House (Europe stage); Tower of London (Americas stage); Greenwich Old Royal Naval College (Oceana stage) and London Pleasure Gardens (Africa stage). 21 July - 22 July, London Free, ticket required IMAGE: <a href="" target="_hplink">Wikimedia</a>

  • 11. We Face Forward: Art from West Africa Today

    countries in West Africa, We Face Forward: Art from West Africa Today. This rare collaboration between Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and The Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall will be shaped around three themes: the politics of economic and cultural circulation, the question of energy and environmental sustainability and the place of tradition in contemporary culture. Other events in this unmissable season include We Face Forward: A West African Party, as part of Manchester's Torch Relay celebrations. The concert will feature Seckou Keita, a contemporary master of the Kora, the traditional 21-stringed African harp. 2 June - 16 October, various venues, Manchester <a href="" target="_hplink">We Face forward: A West African Party: 23 June, The Printworks, Manchester </a> Free, ticket required IMAGE: 1 design for Ensemble 2012, Meschac Gaba

  • 12. Poetry from the Greek Olympics

    <a href="" target="_hplink">An unusual poetry event</a> at the British Library will explore the role of poetry in the ancient Greek Games, while celebrating the poetic legacy of the modern games in the context of the 2012 Olympics. Speakers include Edith Hall, Dr Armand D'Angour and Patrick McGuinness. 28 May, 6.30pm, British Library, London Tickets £9.50, concessions £7 IMAGE:

  • 13. IMAGINE PEACE and To The Light

    Yoko Ono's epic IMAGINE PEACE is an ongoing multimedia project that aims to promote a message of worldwide anti-violence. Ono's IMAGINE PEACE message will be translated into 24 languages and will appear on London 2012 Live Site screens in London and across the UK. In 2009 Yoko Ono won the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, and her unique blend of art, film and music will tie in with a major new exhibition of the artist's work - To The Light - at London's Serpentine Gallery. <a href="" target="_hplink">To The Light: 19 June - 9 September, Serpentine Gallery, London IMAGINE PEACE: 21 June - 9 September, National</a> Free IMAGE: Hannibal Hanschke/DPA/Press Association Images

  • 14: Lynette Wallworth's Coral:ReKindling Venus at the Royal Observatory Greenwich

    In a rare melding of creative and scientific disciplines, Australian artist Lynette Wallworth presents an ambitious, underwater film especially created for planetariums, to celebrate the rare astronomical event, the transit of Venus, which will occur on 5 June. The piece is a thought-provoking look at our relationship with technology and the natural world from an accomplished video artist. And it's guaranteed to put the Olympics frenzy in perspective - the next transit will not happen until 2117. <a href="" target="_hplink">7 June - 6 July, Royal Observatory, London Thursday - Sunday 5pm, adults £6.50, children £4.50, family £17.50, members free </a> IMAGE: Coral: Re:Kindling Venus Produced by Felix Media and co-produced by Bridget Ikin and Forma, 2012

  • 15. Rochester's Story Loom

    In June this rather extraordinary Story Loom will be dusted down and oiled, cranking into action in time for the summer Games. The mysterious story-making machine was invented by one Barnabas Rochester nearly 150 years ago but has only recently been reassembled and brought back to life. Today's public can have a go at weaving their own story with the help of a mechanical storytelling device that mimics an author's mind. <a href=" " target="_hplink">26 June - 9 September, The Story Museum, Oxford Visit the website for more ticket information </a> IMAGE:

  • 16. Mascots of the Olympic Games

    Exactly what it says on the tin. The exhibition, at the V&A's Museum of Childhood, gathers together 38 national symbols used by host nations since the Waldi the Dachshund appeared at Munich in 1972, heralding in the age of the official mascot. And if you find yourself developing a taste for Olympics paraphernalia, head down to the Tate Britain which is hosting the Official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic poster display - a chance to see posters past and present and witness the changing face of design. <a href="" target="_hplink">Mascots of the Olympic Games: 19 May - 28 October, Museum of Childhood, London</a> Free IMAGE: Ian Nicholson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

  • 17. Edinburgh Writers Conference

    To mark the half-century since the original Edinburgh Writers Conference was held, a second international debate is set to return to the themes of 1962, when international authors such as Norman Mailer, Rosamond Lehmann and William S Burroughs entered into interesting debate with celebrated Scottish writers. This time round, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the British Council is inviting fifty authors from across the globe to appear before a public audience to discuss the same questions that led to such heated debate in 1962, using new technology to create a global debate with live online broadcasts and conference meetings across the world. <a href="" target="_hplink">29 June, Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh Edinburgh World Writers' Conference dates to be announced on 21 June 2012. Tickets (£8 - £10) will go on sale on 29 June 2012 at 8.30am. </a> IMAGE: Edinburgh International Book Fest

  • 18. On The Night Shift

    The world premiere of a new show - and spectacle of epic proportions - by Les Commandos Percu will be one of the opening events of the London 2012 Festival. After the Olympic Torch has passed through the town, Bowness-on-Windermere will go up in flames, in a sleek production featuring pyrotechnics, music and special effects as part of the Lakes Alive series. <a href="" target="_hplink">21 June, 6pm, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria Free</a>

  • 19. Alex Katz Exhibition

    Alex Katz is one of America's most respected living artist and this summer Tate St Ives is celebrating his remarkable, six-decade long career. The exhibition brings together canvases, collages and cut-outs fetched from the full span of his oeuvre, and focuses on Katz' seascapes and beach scenes with a seaside theme suited to the gallery's location on the beach. Alex Kats is a collaboration with Turner Contemporary, Margate, where it will tour in October 2012. <a href="" target="_hplink">19 May - 23 September, Tate St Ives, Cornwall Tickets £6.25, concessions £3.75, free for under 18s and members </a> IMAGE: Wikimedia

  • 20. World Shakespeare Festival

    All sorts of things are in store as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, including one-off events, exhibitions and over 70 productions. Curated by the Royal Shakespeare Company, it's one of the main projects of the Cultural Olympiad, and an umbrella project for all kinds of Shakespeare-inspired activities - large and small-scale - at venues across the UK. From April 23, National <a href="" target="_hplink">Visit the website for more information on individual events </a>

  • 21. Oded Hirsch - Liverpool Biennial 2012

    Israeli artist Oded Hirsch is a video and photography artist whose latest work of art is set to burst - literally through the ground - onto the scene of Liverpool ONE. Linking the London 2012 Festival with the UK's biennial festival of international contemporary art, this sculptural installation suggests a mysterious, subterranean world emerging from the heart of the city's commercial centre. It will be impossible to miss. <a href="" target="_hplink">8 September - 25 November, Liverpool Free </a> IMAGE: Oded Hirsch, The Mad Lift (Illustration) 2012 Image courtesy of the artist