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Commonwealth Day – Connecting Cultures

7 March 2012
HM Queen Elizabeth II to lead Commonwealth Day celebrations

Schools, youth groups, governments and civil society organisations from around the world will celebrate Commonwealth Day on Monday, 12 March, under the theme ‘Connecting Cultures’.

Join us as we celebrate the week’s activities marking Commonwealth Day on the Connecting Cultures website, Facebook and Twitter.

Kicking off Commonwealth Day in London, UK, the annual Commonwealth Day Observance – the UK’s largest multi-faith service – will take place at Westminster Abbey in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

She will be joined by around 1,000 young people, Commonwealth diplomats and faith leaders.

Celebrations will continue throughout the week from 10 to 18 March:

· 'Celebrating the Commonwealth' concert: one of jazz’s greatest horn players, Hugh Masekela, will perform at London’s Barbican on 10 March with 28-year-old London vocalist Zara McFarlane.

· Our Commonwealth, Our Future: the Royal Commonwealth Society will host a Commonwealth roundtable on 14 March for young adults aged 17 to 25 to discuss key issues facing the Commonwealth.

· Commonwealth Lecture: winner of the 2007 Orange Prize For Fiction, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, will speak on ‘Connecting Cultures’ at the annual Commonwealth Lecture on 15 March at Guildhall in London.

The Queen will deliver a message on ‘Connecting Cultures’, which celebrates the diversity of the Commonwealth and its role in bringing together many different peoples on the basis of shared visions and values.

During the Observance, the theme will be explored through personal testimonies, readings and performances.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma will speak, as well as multiple prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Australian philanthropist Andrew Forest.

Music will be provided by Canadian-American singer Rufus Wainwright, South African musician Hugh Masekela and the Afro-Caribbean Descarga Dance Company.

Speaking on the theme, Mr Sharma said: “'Connecting Cultures' encourages us to explore how we can use culture to build bridges of exchange and understanding. We want these links to be strengthened in new and special ways in 2012.”

Commonwealth Day will also mark the start of the Commonwealth's celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee – celebrating her 60 years as UK monarch and Head of the Commonwealth.

Later that day, Mr Sharma will host a reception at Marlborough House - the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London - attended by the Queen.

Guests will include: Australian Senator Jan McLucas, representing Prime Minister of Australia and Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, Julia Gillard; Sir John Major, former British Prime Minister and Chair of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which will fund pan-Commonwealth initiatives; Hugh Masekela; and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Events are also being planned across the Commonwealth. Let us know how you plan to celebrate Commonwealth Day. Send in your photos, video, audio or stories to the Connecting Cultures team.