Only the black and white hues and dapper outfits give away that this picture is 60 years old, with its still-fresh architecture and Space Age installation. The original Festival of Britain was held in 1951 and in many ways became a benchmark for all things modern – you could say it was the start of the British design world we know today.

The 2011 version of the festival was launched to the press today at Skylon, the restaurant located inside the Royal Festival Hall and named after the structure on the top pic. The celebrations start late April and go on throughout summer, with a lot of interesting names participating; Tracey Emin hosts her first major exhibition in the Hayward, Tony Benn and Meera Syal discuss national treasures, Heston Blumenthal creates a decadent afternoon tea and Ray Davies from The Kinks curates the fabulous Meltdown festival. And if you fancy tying the knot on the same day as Kate + Wills, the festival area holds a wedding licence – you’ll even be serenaded by Billy Bragg on the day…

Sara, managing editor. Images by Austin Brackenbury