Visit London Blog » 2012 Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:26:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2012 Team Highlights Fri, 28 Dec 2012 09:00:38 +0000 The London 2012 Olympic rings on Tower Bridge

The London 2012 Olympic rings on Tower Bridge

What a year it’s been for London. As well as hosting the biggest sporting event in the world the city has celebrated the Queen’s 60th year on the throne, marked Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday, re-opened the world’s last remaining tea clipper and played a big part in the World Shakespeare Festival. There are almost too many good bits to cram into one blog post, but here are some of the Visit London blog team’s 2012 highlights:


“It’s possibly been London’s best year since the Romans decided to build a crossing over the Thames. Highlights have included the 100m-high photo of the Royal Family on Sea Container’s House to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the completion of the Overground line making it easier to zip around London from south of the river and perhaps most memorable of all, seeing the Olympic Rings hanging from Tower Bridge. I’m sure the Romans would have approved.”
Tom Butler


“In 2012 I enjoyed flying through the sky on the Emirates Air Line, visiting the beautifully refurbished Cutty Sark and fell madly in love with the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I had a great day out at Mudchute City Farm in the summer and met some splendid sheep and a grumpy rabbit. My favourite theatre show of the year was The Ladykillers with Peter Capaldi and I’m still excited about visiting The Who Shop.
I’ve watched people celebrating public events in The Mall on television so many times but the athletes’ parade was the first time I’ve ever joined the crowds in the street to cheer. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon, the perfect end to a wonderful London 2012 games and a London moment I’ll never forget.”


“My 2012 highlights include seeing the Royal Ballet’s La Fille Mal Gardee with my mum (visiting from Australia) at the always impressive Royal Opera House. Finally seeing Wicked, and having second-row seats that meant I could bask in the full glory of the amazing costumes. And rocking out to Cold Chisel, Iggy Pop & The Stooges and Soundgarden in Hyde Park.
Closer to home, it was a real buzz to see Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow Tapestry in Walthamstow, at the newly renovated William Morris Gallery. I enjoyed my local street party for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I also discovered the delights of Victoria Park, which I visited several times, including during the Olympics when the BT Live Site provided a great family day out.”
Claire Doble


For me, 2012 was all about one-off festivals like BT River of Music and BT London Live where I saw Blur close the Olympic celebrations. There were also smaller experiences like sampling “pick your own” strawberries on the roof of the new Harmony boat on the Thames. Seeing Mark Rylance as Richard III at Shakespeare’s Globe was an honour, as was being in a room with London’s acting elite at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. But the stand-out event, and it was so immense and unmatched that I’m not sure “event” really covers it, was Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony. I watched on TV (while playing an elaborate Olympic-themed drinking game) and am not ashamed to say that parts of it moved me to tears.”
Louise Ridley


“The undoubted highlight of my year was being part of the Thames Jubilee Pageant. Seeing 1,000 boats, carrying all manner of people, come together in celebration of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, was something I’ll never forget. It was especially brilliant to see everyone ignoring the wet weather and carrying on regardless! Cultural highlights of my year were seeing Henry V at the Globe Theatre and finally visiting the Steam Museum at Kew. In 2012, London for me has also been augmented by the addition of Duck and Waffle to the capital’s vertical gastronomy scene, as well as a new Hawksmoor outpost in Air Street and the continued expansion of London’s craft beer scene.”
Caroline Roddis


“There have been so many amazing things to enjoy this year.  My highlights have to include the bright and beautiful paintings of David Hockney at the Royal Academy and the fabulous glamour of the musical Top Hat. I was thrilled to explore the Cutty Sark when it reopened looking more stunning than ever before. I loved the giant Olympic Rings at Tower Bridge and watching the city welcome the Olympic Games. I went to see the beach volleyball and loved the feeling of being on a beach in the middle of Horse Guard’s Parade. It has been an incredible 2012 for me!”


“Who wouldn’t put this year’s summer of sport as the number one highlight of 2012? However, it wasn’t just the sporting competitions that stood out for me. The showcase of celebrations and cultural events pulled together by the Mayor’s office was fantastic. In particular, the breath-taking open-air performance of Bells in Finchley, North London, on the day that the Olympic torch passed through the area. This aerial dance performance, a collaboration between Theater Tol (Belgium) and Akademi (London), was utterly original and awe-inspiring.

My kids also loved tracking down the many disguised Wenlocks and Mandevilles that were dotted around London throughout the summer. The trails were reminiscent of the Faberge egg hunt at Easter, which they also enjoyed.”
Lianne Korilin


“Aside from the all the buzz and excitement that goes with living and working in an Olympic city over the summer, there have been plenty of pre- and post-Games highlights. The bunting, the cake, and the precious hours before the torrential rain made for a brilliant Diamond Jubilee celebration in Battersea Park – I even saw the Queen as she floated past on the Royal Barge! The David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy lived up to all the hype and I also ticked a couple of London’s smaller museums off my list – Keat’s House and the Freud Museum. My favourite theatre of the year was undoubtedly Constellations (but in a parallel universe it might not be…)”


“From Damien Hirst at Tate Modern to Fifty Years of Bond Style at the Barbican, 2012 has been a top year for exhibitions in London. I also loved seeing the totally bonkers Lucho Libre Mexican wrestling at Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery where I enjoyed a night of spandex, cabaret, comedy and body-slamming fun.

Culinary highlights included dinner at Ceviche, London’s hottest new Peruvian restaurant, and a delightful, great-value afternoon tea at Soho’s secret tea rooms, sited in a vintage-style room above a pub.

A visit to the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park was a stand-out moment for me, as well as soaking up some of the cultural events that ran alongside London 2012 – seeing hats on some of the capital’s most famous statues as part of Hatwalk and being wowed by the Lords of Lightning, who flung four million volts of raw electricity at one another at the hip Frank’s bar, perched atop Peckham multi-storey car park in South London, which has epic views of the city’s skyline.”
Janine Kelso


“An incredible year in London for me: from watching the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Battersea Park to white water rafting at an Olympic venue, going up the Orbit during the 2012 games and bouncing on Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege (an inflatable Stonehenge) . My theatre highlights have included Chariots of Fire, Last of the Haussmann’s, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, and Constellations. From a foodie perspective I have loved all the street food at the South Bank and the most amazing breakfast with breath-taking panoramic views of London from the Duck and Waffle. There were so many surprises too, including the amazing pop-up circus spectacular in Piccadilly Circus and watching London’s Bridges dazzle. Roll on 2013 I can’t wait!
Madelene Yeshin


“My best experience of 2012 was at the Paralympic Games. After a few hours spent looking around the Olympic Park, enjoying the architecture, parklands and friendly atmosphere, I headed into the stadium for the athletics. I saw Oscar Pistorius unexpectedly lose the T44 200m final and David Weir roar into the lead at the last minute to win the 5,000m wheelchair race. So exciting! I thought the tickets were amazing value at just £20.

My second pick of the year is David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts. I loved walking through room after room of Hockney’s big, colourful paintings. I was impressed by the fact that he has remained so productive and creative into his 70s, experimenting with new technologies such as iPad drawings, and spending days working outside in the Yorkshire countryside with spectacular results.”

What was your highlight of the year in London?

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Olympic Torch Lands in London Mon, 23 Jul 2012 13:48:09 +0000

The Olympic Torch has arrived in London and is making its way around the city’s boroughs this week.

The torch landed at The Tower of London on Friday evening, delivered via helicopter by a Royal Marine Commando, Marine Martyn Williams. The soldier made a jaw-dropping 180ft abseil with the torch from the Royal Navy Sea King chopper at 20:12 hours, reflecting the year of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

London & Partners staffer Georgina Warren saw it from Potters Fields on the south side of the Thames: “Watching the Chinooks sweep across the London landscape and see the torch reach the Tower was a real goose bump moment.  I hadn’t expected to feel part of the ‘moment’, being across the river, but seeing the soldiers waving from inside the helicopters and the wave of emotion that hit as the crowds cheered them on suddenly made it all feel real, and made those watching feel part of what is about to happen… one of those ‘I was there’ moments I can tell people about in the future.”

Today’s torchbearers included Ceinwen Giles, who was first to carry the flame this morning, and British actor Sir Patrick Stewart.

The torch continues through London’s boroughs all week before ending up at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for this Friday’s opening Ceremony. You can watch the torch relay online at

Let us know if you’ve seen the torch live in London in the comments below.


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Five Tips for Travel in London During the Olympic and Paralympic Games Wed, 20 Jun 2012 16:00:29 +0000

London is going to be busy during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. An extra three million journeys are forecast for the busiest days of the Olympics, which take place from 27 July to 12 August, and the Paralympics from 29 August to 9 September.

Follow these tips to keep delays and frustration to a minimum – and we suggest a healthy dose of patience as well.

1) Plan Ahead
Don’t dash out of the door and work out your route on the way. Prepare your travel plans in advance using the resources on offer, and remember that every day of the Games is different due to the multiple events taking place.

2) Use the Tools Available
Transport for London (TfL) have created wealth of travel resources for the Olympics, including interactive hotspot maps for public transport and roads which show day-by-day breakdowns of busy areas. There are charts of predicted wait times for each 30 minute period at every tube station and you can search for any temporary road changes in your area. For those with Olympic tickets, there is an online spectator journey planner. You can also sign up to Transport for London’s social media channels for the latest travel alerts.

3) Adapt to the Olympics
If you know your route will be busy, consider leaving earlier or later or taking a different way to avoid peak periods. For short journeys, cycling or walking could be faster – there are 47 tube journeys that can be walked in under 10 minutes. Consider using river transport like Thames Clippers too, as there’ll be extra boat services laid on.

4) Be Aware that Transport will Change
Bus services could be diverted because of temporary road changesand bus stops may be moved or temporarily suspended. If stations are crowded, TfL may introduce a one-way system or close altogether if they get too full. There will be extra services too – Tube and DLR trains will run about an hour later than usual and there will be extra evening services on the Jubilee, Central and District lines.

TfL has outlined planned changes and signs in stations will display the latest information, but it’s wise to check the TfL journey planner before you travel. You can also follow @GAOTG on Twitter or sign up for Olympic travel email updates to keep up to date.

5) Avoid Driving if at all Possible
TfL’s advice is to avoid driving in Central London and around Games venues from mid-July if you can. It also suggests motorists avoid the Olympic Route Network, 109 miles of road linking Games venues together. Watch out for areas where Olympic road events will take place, such as the Cycling Road Races on 28 and 29 July.

You can put any Olympic travel questions to TfL in a Twitter chat on 21 June at 1-2pm. Follow the hashtag #GAOTG to take part.

For more advice on travelling during the Games visit the Transport for London or Get Ahead of the Games websites.

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Interview: Ceinwen Giles, London Olympic Torchbearer Fri, 15 Jun 2012 09:30:45 +0000 Yesterday we told you where to see the Olympic torch in London. Today, we’re finding out about one of the London Torchbearers.

Ceinwen Giles, 37, will be carrying the Olympic torch in her home borough of Lewisham on 23 July, as part of the Olympic torch relay around the UK. She was chosen to be a torchbearer following her recovery from blood cancer.

How did you become a torchbearer?
I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma just after I had my daughter. It was really advanced so I had to stay in the hospital for five months after she was born, but it’s now been two years since I went into remission. I used to be a long-distance runner before I got sick and my husband nominated me as a torchbearer because he thought it would be a nice present for me to carry the torch.

How does it feel to be chosen to carry the torch?
A lot of the people who have been chosen have amazing stories, so to be in their company is a big honour. Being a runner, I’ve always been a big fan of the Olympics. I’m probably never going to make it to the Games, so this is the closest I’ll ever get!

What will happen on the day?
The torch is coming to Lewisham early in the morning, so I’ll get picked up in a bus with the other torchbearers. I’m running in Lewisham where I live – the route is really close to our flat so I have friends in the area which is great. The relay organisers haven’t said the exact distance I’ll be running but the average is something like 300m. They drop people on and off in a van and have a party in the evening. I’m looking forward to that and to meeting new people.

Have you done much preparation?
I’ve been watching the relay online and everyone else has been running their section so I want to run the whole thing. So I’ve been going for some runs and making sure I’m fit – carrying the torch is good motivation to get back into shape.

You’re a trustee of a cancer charity – will the relay help raise awareness?
You’re not allowed to wear a sign or a banner during the relay, but we might do some fundraising like asking people to donate if they get their picture taken with the torch. The charity is Shine Cancer Support – it supports adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have had cancer. There are a lot of cancer charities out there but most of them care for people who are much older or much younger, so it fills a big gap.

What will you do with your torch after the relay?
I won’t be selling it on eBay! I think I’m going to keep for my daughter. She’s two and a half now and I’d like her to have it as a souvenir of everything we’ve been through.

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Where to See The Olympic Torch in London Thu, 14 Jun 2012 09:00:00 +0000

The Olympic Torch is making its way around the UK on its 70-day relay and is set to arrive in London on 21 July, the weekend before the Games begin. You can line the streets to cheer it on or visit an evening celebration when it stops for the night. Here are some of the top spots to catch a glimpse of the symbolic flame.

21 July: Greenwich to Waltham Forest
The torch will set off from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (7:21) and pass through Newham and Tower Hamlets. In the afternoon it will visit The One Hackney Festival (16:48) in Clissold Park, before passing Hackney Town Hall (17:56). The ballot for tickets to the evening celebration at Chestnuts Showground in Waltham Forest closes on 21 June – anyone can apply although priority is given to local residents.

22 July: Redbridge to Bexley
The second London leg of the tour begins at Redbridge Cycling Centre (7:19) before crossing the lake in Fairlop Waters Country Park (7:50). It can be spotted on the light railway at Barking Park (9:50) and will lead the Carnival Parade at the Dagenham Town Show (11:42).

23 July: Deptford to Tooting
The morning route begins near Deptford Creek (7:20) and heads to Bromley and on to Crystal Palace Park (10:35). It will journey to Croydon and Sutton before it can be seen at Wimbledon’s All England Club (5:32) which is hosting the Olympic tennis.

24 July: Chessington to Ealing
The flame starts moving again at Hook Community Centre in Chessington (8:22). It will be carried through the heart of Brunel University campus (14:46) and past Hillingdon Town Hall (15:41).

25 July: Wealdstone to Haringey
Headstone Manor and Museum in Wealdstone (9:17) kicks off the day’s relay, which heads through Harrow, onto Brent and past White Hart Lane.

26 July: Camden to Hyde Park
The torch will begin the penultimate day outside the Roundhouse in Camden and will travel by barge along Regent’s Canal. It will visit landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London and Shakespeare’s Globe, finally passing Buckingham Palace before the final evening celebration – a huge finale concert in Hyde Park featuring artists including Dizzee Rascal and Katy B. Tickets are now on sale priced at £15.

27 July: Up the Thames to the Olympic Stadium
The torch will take to the Thames for its final journey on a boat from Hampton Court (11:30) to Tower Bridge (12:30). It will arrive to appear in front of 80,000 people – and a worldwide TV audience of millions – at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

To make your torch relay plans you can see a list of every borough the torch will pass through or the detailed street-by-street map here.

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Sponsored Post: Great London Offers and Discounts from VisitEngland Tue, 10 Apr 2012 09:46:14 +0000 Are you planning a trip to London this year? Don’t miss out on these great offers from VisitEngland.

In the Olympic year, you can save at least 20.12% on hotels and attractions across London.

Offers include:

Go to to find out more.

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Video: Olympic Park Run Mon, 02 Apr 2012 10:51:39 +0000 Five thousand members of the public became the first people ever to cross the finishing line at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday. The Olympic Park Run was the first public event to take place at the Olympic Stadium. Participants, selected by ballot, ran a five-mile course around the Olympic Park. They were joined Princess Beatrice, a host of celebrities and some former Olympic athletes.

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Team London Ambassador Uniforms Unveiled Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:30:20 +0000 Boris Johnson with Team London Ambassadors. Photo Vickie Flores Boris Johnson meat Team London Ambassadors Three Team London Ambassadors

Expect to see a lot of purple during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as that’s what 8,000 Team London Ambassadors will be wearing!

The uniform was unveiled by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, this morning at Wimbledon Station. It consists of a purple polo shirt and trilby hat.

Team London Ambassadors are volunteers who will be welcoming and assisting visitors to London during the Games.

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Video: London Theatre Highlights for 2012 Tue, 07 Feb 2012 14:00:11 +0000

We love this video from the Society of London Theatre: it gives a great taste of all the incredible shows you can catch on stage in London this year.

Go to the Theatre section on our main site to find out more.

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Five New (and Revamped) London Attractions to Look Forward to in 2012 Sun, 01 Jan 2012 12:30:11 +0000

Yes, we’re all excited about the Olympics. And the Queen’s Diamond Jubliee. And the London 2012 Festival.

But that’s not all we have to look forward to in London next year! Just when you thought London was already chock-full of thousands of exciting attrations, we bring you news of a few more… (And a couple which, while not new, are being revamped and restored in time for next year.)

1.    Cutty Sark Reopening, Spring 2012
The world’s last tea clipper will reopen in Spring next year. If, like me, you’ve been following the amazing diaries of the conservation of this incredible vessel, you’ll be pleased to know there’s not long to wait! You can get a sneak peek of things to come on their website.

2.    Kensington Palace Reopening, 26 March 2012
Another reopening I’m really looking forward to in 2012 is Kensington Palace. Again, I’ve been following developments at the site on their fantastic blog, and I can’t wait to see the revamped palace in all its glory come March. The gardens will be improved, as will accessibility, and they’ve got an exciting calendar of exhibitions and events  for 2012 to celebrate all the changes.  

3.    Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, from 31 March
Another piece of excitement for London next year is the new Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Book now, and you can go on a behind-the-scenes walking tour of the film studios where the Harry Potter series was made.

4.    Emirates Air Line, from Spring 2012
Whether it’s used as a genuine transport link, or more of a tourist attraction, the cable car across the Thames, (called the Emirates Air Line), will also be ready next year. Linking The O2 and ExCeL, with the promise of stunning views across London, this will be one of the coolest new ways to travel in London next year…

5.    Tate Modern’s Oil Tanks, from Summer 2012
If Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall isn’t enough for you, then this summer you can get even more art at the iconic riverside gallery as Tate opens its newest space. Part of the London 2012 Festival, the Oil Tanks are two 30-metre wide and seven-metre high concrete chambers. Inside, there’ll be space for installations, performance art, films, lectures and more.

What attractions are you looking forward to seeing in 2012? Let us know in the comments below.

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