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On 3 May 1951, King George VI officially opened the Festival of Britain on London's South Bank, a fair and exhibition celebrating the achievements of the UK throughout history, which played host to 8.5 million visitors throughout the summer.

With a budget of £12 million, the festival centred on the South Bank, which featured the newly-built Royal Festival Hall, the long-time venue for ROSL's Annual Music Competition finals. Designed by Sir Robert Matthew, Leslie Martin and Sir Hubert Bennett, the hall is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment, so this year's final is being held at nearby Cadogan Hall, but will return to the South Bank in 2018. To book your tickets for this year's final, please click here.

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The festival lasted throughout the summer of 1951 and was seen as a major success, with millions of visitors flocking to see Great Britain's contributions to global arts, science and technology throughout history. It's opening in 1951 also celebrated the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which centred on Crystal Palace in Hyde Park.


Above you can see the festival site from Victoria Embankment, showing the Skylon and Dome of Discovery. The decision to centre celebrations on the South Bank was an attempt to provide a model for urban regeneration in London, many parts of which were still in ruins following the German aerial bombing campaign of the Second World War. 

Large scale regeneration projects such as this and the Barbican centre helped kick start regeneration across the city and other urban areas across the UK.

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