THE countdown is now well under way for the Olympic torch celebrations taking place in Chester next week.
The arrival in Saltney of the flame crossing the Welsh border takes place at 5.45pm on Tuesday, May 29.
Roadside celebrations will mark the route of the torch as it makes its way through the city escorted by Roman soldiers who will join the convoy at the Old Dee Bridge.
The City of Chester Brass Band will be playing in the Bandstand at The Groves and in Grosvenor Park there will be music from the Farndon and District Brass Band and dance performances from 26 students from the University of Chester in collaboration with Cheshire Dance.
There will be gladiators at the amphitheatre and as the torch enters the Roman city there will be more celebrations and Canon Jane Brooke from Chester Cathedral will meet an Olympic torchbearer at the Cathedral’s West Door.
Northwich-based band The Weavils as well as Bollin Brass Band will be playing at Chester Town Hall as the relay passes by.
The celebration at Chester Racecourse will be well under way when the final Olympic torchbearer jockey Jason Maguire rides the 2011 Chester Cup winner and 2012 runner-up Overturn in the final leg of the relay, arriving at 6.50pm, igniting the Olympic flame cauldron on stage.
Just before this historic moment the Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Pam Booher, will give a special welcome to mark the occasion.
There will be 14 torchbearers in total coming into the city and they will each cover approximately three hundred metres. The show at Chester Racecourse begins at 5pm – gates will be open from 3.30pm.
There are two entrances at Watergate Square, New Crane Street (the main racecourse entrance) and from the Little Roodee car park.
Entry is free but strictly by ticket only. Wheelchair access is via Watergate Square.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s first section of the Racecourse celebration will welcome on the stage Rebecca Romero, a former rowing world champion and Olympic Games medallist and a former world champion and reigning Olympic champion in track cycling who is currently studying at the University of Chester.
There will also be live music acts, including Kids in Glass Houses, stunning acrobatic performances and dance performances.
Theatre in the Quarter will perform elements of their Across the World show which tells the tale of a Chester Giant, featuring more than 350 local singers and dancers.
Composed by Matt Baker with lyrics by Helen Newall, the piece was created as the city’s contribution to Music Nation organised by the BBC and LOCOG.
The concert ends with a spectacular finale titled the Moment When … which features 500 community dancers performing alongside professional dance artists and aerialists in a co-production between Cheshire Dance and Walk the Plank.
There will be fireworks, special effects and specially composed
music against a backdrop of the city walls.
On Wednesday, May 30 at 7am the first torchbearer starts the exit from the city from the middle of the suspension bridge in The Groves and the final torchbearer returns the flame to the convoy on Wrexham Road at 7.20am.
There will be four torchbearers for the departure relay.
Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and recreation said: “The torch celebration is for everyone within west Cheshire.
“There will be celebrations on route as torchbearers make their way from Saltney to the Racecourse and we hope that together with the Racecourse show, will truly mark the significance of the Olympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad.”
For safety reasons, glass bottles, umbrellas, camping chairs, gazebos and barbecues are banned. Pets will not be permitted other than assistance dogs.