The West Midlands is gearing up for the Olympic torch extravaganza with an estimated 750,000 people set to line the route this weekend.
It is set to be one of the biggest public occasions to sweep the region in many years, and everywhere it has gone in the country the torch has seen outpourings of enthusiasm.
A touch of star quality will be added by singing legend Sir Cliff Richard who will carry it through the streets of Birmingham on Saturday.
The ten-mile route through Birmingham is one of the longest in one area in the country.
Former Olympian David Moorcroft, chair at West Midlands for 2012, said: “The torchbearers are all heroes in their own community and have been given a terrific reception wherever they are running. Around 370,000 saw the flame when it first visited the region a month ago.
"Around 70,000 people turned out in Worcester alone, an amazing figure for a city with a population of 93,000.
“This weekend three major cities – Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton – are working tirelessly to ensure the public are given every opportunity to give the Torch Relay a rousing welcome. I’m in no doubt that the total crowd attendance figure will be heading towards three-quarters-of-a-million people, which is absolutely fantastic,’’ Mr Moorcroft said.
The torch reaches Lichfield after starting at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas at 8.30am on Saturday, where it will be carried by Victoria Cross winner Johnson Beharry, before arriving in the city at the A5127 at Streethay and up Trent Valley Road.
After passing the Cathedral it will them move on to the village of Hopwas towards Tamworth.
It will arrive in the West Midlands around 12.30pm, passing through Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell before arriving in Birmingham where an evening party will be held at Cannon Hill Park. Birmingham City Council has worked with Local Arts Fora, the Arts Champions and Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham City University) to co-ordinate a range of arts and sports celebrations.
The Mailbox is hosting entertainment featuring performances by The Young Rep, Birmingham Music Services Ensembles, Bodybeat Dance and Squirm Dance, with walkabout presented by Birmingham Hippodrome’s Six Summer Saturdays.
Along the route there will be a variety of activities in the run-up to the torch’s arrival and at around 6.50pm on Saturday, the Irish pipes and drums will provide a welcome as it passes across the boundary on Dudley Road. There will be a Festival of Colour event in Summerfield Park.
3D film projections will illuminate The Mailbox in Birmingham city centre, with images and film produced by local people. There will also be a performance from the Rep Youth Theatre. In Calthorpe Park on the Pershore Road there will be the Brazilian salsa and samba dancing.
On Sunday at 6am the torch will be sent on its way by the Lord Mayor and choir from Victoria Square.
In Digbeth the Irish community will be serving a full Irish breakfast and céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes), at the Irish Centre and venues from 6-8am. As the torch leaves the city via the Stratford Road, music and arts from different cultures and faiths will be presented at the Sunrise in Sparkhill event from 5.30am-8am.
Sharon Lea, Director of Environment and Culture for Birmingham City Council said: “It will be a moment to remember for generations to come and will be our moment to shine”