Birmingham 2022: sneak peek at the Commonwealth Games Festival finale

A magical forest of real plants and manufactured ‘supertrees’ will take over the centre of Birmingham for a fortnight in 2022

Here’s a sneak peek of what Victoria Square will look like when 40-feet high engineered trees tower over it, collecting rainwater and generating electricity. Below them will be an oasis of thousands of plants, grasses and flowers grown by local schools and communities.

From September 2-18 there will be daily free events in the forest, with live music, tours, talks and performances, and a spectacular light show every evening. The Glam Dome will house designers including Joey A Frenette, aka Bourgeoisie from RuPaul’s Drag Race, helping people make their own costumes.

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On Saturday September 17 as part of the colourful finale, the supertrees will burst into a cloud of confetti and colour for the Ballistic Seed Party. It’s described as “Pride, Carnival and Holi combined in one brilliant, messy, playful all-day-all-night party”.

The PoliNations event will mark the end of the Commonwealth Games and its cultural Birmingham 2022 Festival.

An artist render of PoliNations, courtesy of Trigger Collective

Is there a message behind the wonderful display in Victoria Square and what happens to all the plants when the Commonwealth Games Festival is over?

Part of the message behind PoliNations is to show the importance of migration for plant life as well as people, as 77 per cent of plants found in the UK’s cities originated overseas. For example, weeping willows were introduced from China, apple trees from Kazakhstan and tulips from Central Asia.

PoliNations is part of Unboxed: Creativity in the UK, a programme featuring 10 large-scale events throughout the UK in 2022, bringing together top minds in technology, engineering and arts.

An artist render of PoliNations event at the Commonwealth Games Festival (Credit THISS, Carl Robertshaw)

The Birmingham event will include a Spoken Word Weekend from September 10-11, featuring performances from local and international poets. Also planned is a massive Rangoli artwork that will sprawl out into the forest, with henna artists creating intricate designs.

Once PoliNations ends, the plants and saplings will be shared with local communities, public institutions and private homes to help make the city greener. And the supertrees’ ability to use wind to generate electricity will reduce the project’s carbon footprint.

An artist’s render of PoliNations (Credit Trigger, THISS, Carl Robertshaw, Bronia HousmaTrigger, THISS, Carl Robertshaw, Bronia Housman)

What have the organisers said about the gorgeous display?

Angie Bual, creative director of PoliNations, said: “PoliNations takes its inspiration from the fact that the very landscape and plant life that surrounds us each day is multicultural.

“It celebrates the colour and vibrancy that plants and flowers have brought to the UK and invites us to reimagine our cities as greener and wilder places to be.

“Combining engineering, horticulture, theatre and music from around the world, PoliNations is a spectacular forest garden that will ignite the senses and bring people together with an utterly unforgettable finale.”

Martin Green, chief creative officer of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Unboxed, said: “PoliNations promises to be a dazzling mix of music, performance and sensational design, with something for people of all ages and backgrounds.”

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