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As the second half of the London 2012 Olympic Games kicks in, you’ve got one more week to take full advantage of the party atmosphere in the National Olympic Houses that have sprung up in London for the games.
Here’s a taster of what you’ll experience at some of the National Houses. Let us know if you’ve been to these or other NOC Houses in the comments below.
The Danish festival taking place at St Katharine Docks during the Games features Danish food, design, a mini replica of the Olympic park in Lego and the world’s tallest Lego windmill!
On Thursday evening, it seemed that all Danes in London had gathered at the site to watch the Danish Men’s Handball team play Serbia for a spot in the quarter finals. The atmosphere was great, the sun was out and plenty of Carlsberg beer and Danish hotdogs were being handed over the counter to an audience dressed mostly in red and white.
Many of the Danish athletes will be visiting the site after their games and there are lots of activities for the kids with both Lego exhibitions and a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale tent with face painting, movies etc.
This week, a real Viking ship is being sailed in from Denmark and there will also be performances from Danish dance groups. Maria, 29, Danish
Casa Brazil is not only a must visit of anybody who claims to understand anything about Olympics, but a delightful experiences for the senses.
Somerset House provides an exquisite surrounding for a diverse, rich and vibrant exhibition that covers an eclectic mix of visual arts. From embroidery to feather seats, photography and patchwork to a room which alternates green and yellow scales, from a flying rug to falling chairs. The collection will keep you intrigued, surprised and entertained from start to finish. And at the end you have a choice, you can either watch a video about how Rio de Janeiro has already delivered infrastructure for the next Olympics or go to the central court of Somerset House and enjoy a well prepared caipiriha and stay around for some life music in the evening.
If the ambition of Casa Brazil was to entice our appetite for what Rio 2016 will be, they have certainly succeeded! Start practicing your samba steps. Carolina, Chilean
Switzerland have set up an area to promote their hilly country, including an outdoor stage where you can catch the games (from a Swiss perspective) as well as catch a free gig from some interesting Swiss bands.
There is also a rock climbing wall, and a beer stall, and while I may not reccommend combining beer and rock climbing on the same visit, the Swiss beer did go down well with some Raclette from the same Rosticceria. I believe Raclette is Swiss for â€œplate of delicious melted cheese with some picklesâ€ and it’s made for beer in the sunshine. Plus there’s plenty of delicious Swiss chocolate.
While it may be hard to believe, there are some people in London, like me, who aren’t wildly excited about the Olympics. Luckily, there are a number of fun (and often free) fringe events, like visiting the Swiss House, which do not require any interest in sports. This was the ideal Olympic activity for me. Bengt, 38, Swedish (Not Swiss!)
I visited Kiwi House, based in The Granary at Kings Cross, with a work colleague. Despite not having a business element, it’s a welcoming place where you can relax in an informal setting and mingle with some friendly Kiwis whilst watching the Games. It essentially comprises the indoor section with a bar, serving various beverages and food, and an outside seating area. I also noticed a small stage in the corner wired up for live bands presumably every evening.
There is a £5 entrance fee and I would certainly recommend going. It’s also a good opportunity to see how the Kings Cross regeneration scheme is progressing. Dhaval, 39, British
With great Belgian chips, beers and atmosphere, it’s no wonder Belgium House is packed every day.
Located in the historical Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, it features a Cycling Paradise, where you can test your bike skills, the great hall which is always packed to the rafters with Belgians cheering on their compatriots on a big screen and a secluded garden where you can enjoy your beer in the sunshine.
There is even a traditional “frituur”, which is like an ice cream van, but selling Belgian fries, the ultimate Belgian experience. With daily visits of Belgian athletes and their medals, it’s a great way to experience the dynamism, passion and commitment of this European country. Koen Vandecaveye, 33, Belgian
Once you’ve managed a little bit of queuing, the Club France is THE place to be to celebrate French medallists! The French community and tourists gather here when there is good gold medal hopes and watch together, shiver for their best performers! Be thrilled by the action live on giant screens from two national broadcasters featuring former French Olympians who are approachable and happy to share the success of their peers.
Between the highlights and medal ceremonies, there’s lots to enjoy: bar, sponsor boutique, photo montage with the Olympic torch, sport animation for kids and grown ups. And when you need a break from the sport ,enjoy the sun on the lovely terrace overlooking the Thames. When dusk comes Billingsgate becomes a party house with live music to dance and celebrate the champions of the day.
Bleu – Blanc – rouge atmosphere for colourful and patriotic supporters (see first photo) Magalie, French
Czech House at Business Design Centre
Read about my visit to Czech House and see the photo gallery.
Nigeria House at the Theatre Royal Stratford East is very colourful in its setting with a Nigerian market stall at its entrance for a chance to haggle the best price, and an outside terrace for alfresco dining. Inside the atmosphere is very lively from the Caribbean food to the displays of Nigerian artists, paintings and artefacts representing each tribe.
Over the four weeks pre- and during the London 2012 Games, the New World Nigeria Sport and Cultural Exchange programme is being staged at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Week 4 ( 6-12 August) sees a mixture of Films in the Auditorium such as Rattlesnake and Blood and Henna and you might even get lucky and catch a colourful Fashion Show of traditional dress.
Behind the scenes the Nigerian Olympic Committee have set up scholarships at some if London’s creative and design universities and they staged a three-day summit at the Dorchester Hotel focusing on Nigerian companies wanting to set up business in London. This was oversubscribed and was well received.
While there, I spoke to the President of the Nigerian Olympic Committee who was hoping for a gold from their basketball team! Fiona, British
We went to Africa Village in Hyde Park on Sunday morning approx. 11.30am. It’s a joint area for a number of African nations who have a mini pavilion each and then there is a stage and two large screens showing the Olympics coverage. After a bit of confusion trying to find it (we headed towards Kensington Palace as the description was Kensington Gardens but it’s next to the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park), we got in quickly as there was no queue and entry is free.
Each country has set up an area with information about the country with things to look at and do. There was a wide variety between the stalls, for example Morocco has a lot of things you could buy and someone doing skin painting/tattooing as well as some music and wood carving, and others just had a few leaflets on a table.
There was nothing happening on stage when we were there but it really livens up later in the day/evening, with concerts most afternoons. There was a nice bar with coffee and alcoholic drinks and some food was being prepared for lunch that smelled delicious.
We saw Morocco, Cameroon, Botswana, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Togo and others. I would recommend dropping in if you are in the area. Anna, 43, British