A large-scale stage production will mark the beginning of the Birmingham 2022 Festival – a six month series of activity designed by the  Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games organisers to shine a spotlight on creativity and culture in the West Midlands.

Running from March to September 2022, organisers said the festival will feature hundreds of creative commissions across the region including art, photography, dance, theatre, digital art and more.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival will open with Wondrous Stories, a large-scale production by Leamington Spa based dance-circus company, Motionhouse. Wondrous Stories will be created and directed by Kevin Finnan MBE, artistic director of Motionhouse, who was choreographer and movement director of the London 2012 Paralympic Games ceremonies. Artistic collaborators including Birmingham-based choreographers Sonia Sabri and Jamaal Burkmar, composer Sophy Smith and digital artists Logela Multimedia.

Wondrous Stories will take place in Birmingham’s Centenary Square, and organisers have promised a production featuring a giant aerial spectacle with a flying book and a colossal globe alongside digital projections. Motionhouse’s professional dancers will be accompanied by local choirs and a community cast of over 300 from the Birmingham 2022 Festival Critical Mass participation project.

There will be seven performances of Wondrous Stories from Thursday 17 – Sunday 20 March 2022 with expected combined audiences of over 80,000 people both in person and watching via a live stream.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games chief creative officer Martin Green said,  “This spectacular festival will feature over 300 brand-new creative works, providing essential funding direct to artists and thousands of participatory moments for audiences with art, dance, theatre on their doorstep. I couldn’t think of a better way to begin than with Motionhouse’s awe-inspiring spectacle which will be free for everyone to enjoy.”

Kevin Finnan MBE, founder & artistic director at Motionhouse and director of Wondrous Stories added, “We travel the world with our touring productions, and in recent years have made several large-scale events for major international celebrations. It’s wonderful to now be creating this spectacular show right here in our home region, working with an extraordinary team of talented artists and performers to thrill audiences in Birmingham.”

Other highlights of the Birmingham 2022 Festival include Generations by Julian Germain; a large-scale photographic portraiture exhibition that will appear in public settings across the region.

Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival will present Wonderland, a heritage project telling the film-going story of Birmingham – from fairground film shows to the birth of the Odeon, from South Asian picturehouses to the multiplex era.

The £12 million festival is supported by a range of funders including Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund plus Spirit of 2012, Birmingham City Council, British Council and national Trusts & Foundations such as the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.