Traveling to London during the 2012 Olympics? Here are our top tips for getting a taste of the action this summer.
The London 2012 Olympics commence on July 27 with the opening ceremony and conclude on August 12.
The Paralympics follow, from August 29 until September 9. Here are our top tips for getting a taste of the action.
How to See a Live Event
The sale of individual tickets to American citizens has now closed. However, you may still be able to purchase packages that include hospitality from CoSport or accommodation from Thomas Cook. But even without a ticket you can still be part of the action. At three live sites you will be able to enjoy all the Olympic events for free on a big screen, as well as a range of music and entertainment. The most central of these sites is Hyde Park, but there will also be one at Potters Fields near Tower Bridge and another at Victoria Park in Hackney, East London. You can also cheer on athletes from the sidelines as they make their way through the city during the triathlon, cycling and marathon events. For full details of the Olympic schedule, visit the London 2012 website.
Where to Soak Up the Atmosphere
Alongside the sporting events is the London 2012 Festival, an extravaganza of music, theater, dance and film, which will run from June 21 to September 9. More than 1,000 events are scheduled, featuring leading artists from across the globe, and many events will be free. Highlights include:
- The World Shakespeare Festival, with performances of the Bard by leading theater companies, including America’s own Wooster Group.
- World Cities 2012 by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch—a series of 10 back-to-back works by the great German choreographer Pina Bausch, who died in 2009.
- The Big Dance performance in Trafalgar Square on July 14, with 2,000 dancers directed by choreographer Wayne McGregor.
- The BT River of Music, with free concerts representing the six continents at sites along the Thames, July 21 and 22.
- The Tate Modern Olympic program—a series of performances, debates, films and installations, including a retrospective of the work of British artist Damien Hirst and screenings of Alfred Hitchcock’s early British masterpieces with live music accompaniment and new commissioned orchestral scores.
- The Olympic Museum at the Royal Opera House—a free exhibition of medals, torches and inspiring stories behind the Olympic Games.
For details of all the events and how to get tickets, visit the festival website.
What Will Be Different?
Although there will be an enhanced security presence in the form of more policemen on the streets, the Home Office assures that it will be business as usual throughout the city. Some roads will be closed to the general public and become delegated Olympic routes for the athletes and Olympic staff, however, so do allow plenty of time to get to your meetings. Also expect crowding at airports and on the Underground; if the weather is fine, pick up a map of the city and walk to where you need to be.
Antonia Windsor is a London-based freelance journalist specializing in travel. Her work appears in the Guardian, the Observer, the Financial Times, the South China Morning Post and various travel-related magazines.