Visit London Blog » ArcelorMittal orbit Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 12:19:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Are You Brave Enough To Abseil Down Britain’s Tallest Sculpture? Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:12:57 +0000 ArcelorMittal Orbit

ArcelorMittal Orbit


Scared of heights? Then look away now!

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is Britain’s tallest sculpture at 114.5 metres and is the latest London landmark to offer an exhilarating experience to its thrill-seeking punters – which is how I came to abseil down it.

After an on-the-ground safety briefing, our group takes a high speed lift to the upper viewing platform of this helter skelter-like sculpture, which is a palm-sweating 80m high. Starting my dizzying descent is fairly terrifying, but my fear soon melts away as I soak up the epic view of London beneath my dangling feet.

Abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit


City skyscrapers at Canary Wharf, The Gherkin, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Olympic Stadium, The Shard and even Wembley Stadium can be spotted on this clear, sunny day.

And I really start to appreciate the stature and architecture of Turner Prize-winner Anish Kapoor’s fire engine red sculpture from this unique perspective.

Abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit


Are you brave enough to tackle the UK’s highest freefall abseil? The next abseiling experiences will be on 17 April, 24 May, 14 June, 18 July and 30 August and will cost from £85 per person. Book here.

Visitors who don’t fancy abseiling can reach the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit by two high speed lifts and then walk down the 455 steps which spiral around the central column to experience the constantly changing perspectives from every angle.

Janine Kelso was a guest of ArcelorMittal Orbit.

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10 Things For Families To Do In The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Tue, 01 Jul 2014 09:00:12 +0000 Guest blog by Laura Porter

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has undergone further transformation since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is now an amazing location for families to enjoy. Here are a few of our favourite family attractions:

1. Cycling
The whole park is fantastic for cycling so bring your bikes or hire from View Tube. You can also book to ride inside the Lee Valley VeloPark or outside on the BMX Track.

2. Wandering
There are lots of free park trails to follow, including a Children’s Trail. You can pick up the leaflets at the Information Point (opposite the Aquatics Centre) or print one out at home.

 Aquatics Centre

3. Water Fun
The Aquatics Centre is home to the best swimming pool in the world – really! – and is now open to everyone. Try and book an ‘Aqua Splash’ session and you’ll get to play on an assault course of inflatables. Or go early and you may just see British Olympic bronze medal winning diver Tom Daley in the diving pool as he trains here regularly. I loved my first time in the Olympic pool and now the extra seating has been removed, there are glass sides so you can see Britain’s tallest structure The ArcelorMittal Orbit from the middle of the pool.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

4. Climb Britain’s Tallest Structure
The 114.5m-tall ArcelorMittal Orbit is worth visiting if you like high views. I’d recommend taking a map of London up with you as it’s not the same view as from the EDF Energy London Eye so you may need some guidance finding the landmarks. Adult tickets are £15.

 Helter Skelter

5. Not So High
My eight-year-old daughter loves the helter skelter that you can see near the Orbit. There is a charge but she was talking about it all day so I’d say it’s good fun.


6. More Water Fun
Before you reach The Orbit there is the snaking line of fountains which causes squeals of delight from both children and adults of all ages. Many come just to play here and it is worth bringing extra dry clothes as it’s easy to get caught out. I’d recommend playing in the fountains and then visiting the Aquatics Centre so you can swim and have fun before changing into dry clothes.

Tumbling Bay Playground

7. Playground Adventures
The Tumbling Bay Playground is a child’s dream with its mix of rock pools, sand pits, tall treehouses and wobbly bridges. Alongside the playground is the attractive Timber Lodge Cafe which serves up fresh, home-cooked food.

8. Grass Space
If you do walk beyond the Orbit there’s a large grass space that’s great for running and playing in. There are also some toilets here too.

9. Cafe Tip
If you’d like a decent cup of tea and a homemade cake, exit the Park at this point and pop over to The View Tube which is the lime-green container building you can see just off the park site.

Climbing Wall

10. Climb
Walk back past the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the fountains and take the canal path and you’ll find the climbing wall. This is an activity for the bigger kids (and adults) where they can challenge themselves to climb the two stages of the wall. My eight-year-old daughter can do it so it’s not too tough but there are ladders if you get left behind.

Sometimes it’s just good to visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and not worry about making plans. It really is incredible to remember the amazing events that happened here in the summer of 2012.

Laura Porter writes the London Travel site and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as AboutLondonLaura.


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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: A Sneak Preview of the Aquatics Centre Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:01 +0000 Swim at the Aquatics Centre Learn to dive from the platforms See views of the Olympic Stadium The Aquatics Centre Tom Daley training at the Aquatics Centre ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Olympic Stadium

Eighteen months after the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre has grown up and lost its water wings (the temporary seating added for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games), and it’s all set to open on Saturday. We were given a sneak preview inside; and here’s what to expect.

World-class Pools

The revamped Aquatics Centre offers three pools: the Competition pool for competent swimmers, the Training pool for fun and family, and the Diving pool for all you budding Tom Daleys.

The Competition pool is the standout feature. It’s 50m long with 10 lanes, and has a moveable floor (it’s set at 3m in depth during competitions for maximum speed) and booms, enabling it to be split up and used for the likes of water polo matches.

Set at a toasty 28.5 degrees Celsius, the Training pool is a great place for kids to have fun while learning the ropes. At weekends and during school holidays it’s equipped with a floating inflatable assault course of jumps and climbs. The 50m pool also features moveable flooring so it’s a safe and comfortable place to learn.

The Diving pool is unsurprisingly the facility of choice for Tom Daley, who you may be lucky enough to see training here. Boasting platforms 1m to 10m high and pairs of springboards measuring from 1m to 3m, this is the perfect place for mastering the acrobatic sport – this pool will be used solely for diving lessons and courses.

This pool will have the world’s eyes on it once more during the third leg of the FINA Diving World Series, which sees the best divers battle it out for the prestigious title of World Series champion in April.

Stunning Visuals

The glass sides allow privileged views of the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Olympic Stadium from the pools and stands – there are 2,500 seats here, with an extra 1,000 available during major competitions.

The venue itself, with its wave-like roof, is already iconic; and having lost its temporary seating its beautiful flowing curves are now uninhibited. Visitors just wishing to see inside can explore the various facilities on tours available from this weekend onwards.

Have Fun, Learn and Keep Fit

As well as instructed diving lessons, you can take part in courses for water polo, synchronised swimming, triathlon and sub aqua diving as well as book personal swimming tuition. Fitness fanatics who prefer to stay dry can make use of the fully equipped gym.

Although booking is recommended – and essential for most lessons and courses – you can just turn up on the day for a swim. Pre-booking is, however, required for a swim during the opening weekend.

Why Should I Visit?

It’s not often you get the chance to swim in the wake of the world’s best at the most iconic of aquatics centres. Relive moments from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, all at a price competitive to other London leisure centres – an adult ticket costs from £4.50, children’s tickets are a snip at £2 upwards, while members can make use of discounted rates.

The Aquatics Centre is also just a few steps from other Olympic Venues: The Olympic Stadium, the Lee Valley VeloPark, the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre and the Copper Box Arena – the latter is already open to the public, while the others are opening soon. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a whole is being revitalised with open spaces, waterways and gardens to discover.

Another of East London’s major attractions, Westfield Stratford City, is also nearby. Here you can spend a few pounds in the shops after working off a few pounds in the pool.

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: What’s Opening When? Tue, 25 Feb 2014 09:00:33 +0000 Aerial shoot over Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

For the first time since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, people will be able to explore more of what is now known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as most of the venues are poised to officially re-open on 5 April. Find out what is opening when and what is already open:

Aquatics Centre

Swim in the wake of champions

Where? Aquatics Centre
When is it opening? 1 March 2014.
Famous for its wave-like roof, the spectacular Aquatics Centre will soon be open to the public, offering a huge range of activities for all ages and abilities, from water polo to synchronised swimming, diving to triathlon. Designed by architect Zaha Hadid, the venue will have a 50m x 10-lane Olympic competition pool and a 50m x 8-lane training pool.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

Go up the UK’s Tallest Sculpture

Where? Arcelormittal Orbit
When is it opening? 5 April 2014.
Enjoy eye-popping views of London’s skyline, the Stadium and the Olympic Park from the UK’s tallest sculpture. Created by artist Sir Anish Kapoor, engineer Cecil Balmond and steel company ArcelorMittal, visitors will be able to climb up the 114.5m-tall tower to two viewing platforms, at 76m and 80m.


Cycle in a world-class venue

Where? Lee Valley Velopark
When is it opening? 1 March 2014.
The award-winning Velodrome has been transformed into the Lee Valley Velopark, a hub for cyclists of all disciplines with a one-mile, floodlit road cycle circuit, a remodelled and floodlit Olympic BMX track and 8km of mountain bike trails.

Monica Bonvicini's free-standing mirror sculpture, RUN, one of the park's 25 public artworks

Relax in beautiful parklands

Where? In the south of the park
When is it opening? 5 April.
The new parklands in the south of the park are home to woods, hedgerows and wildlife habitats.

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre

Watch or play hockey and tennis

Where? Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre
When is it opening? May.
As well as boasting two hockey pitches, four indoor tennis court and six outdoor courts – which can be hired by the public all year round – the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre also has a £30 million clubhouse which will offer changing rooms and a bar. Since it hosted the Wheelchair Tennis at London 2012, the venue will continue to serve the sport by providing coaching and facilities for local and national players. It will also host the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters from 2014-2016 and the 2015 EuroHockey Championships.

The Timber Lodge Cafe

What is already open?

  • The Copper Box Arena, where you can use the gym or see live sport
  • The northern parklands with their riverside wetlands and lawns
  • The Timber Lodge Café, which has been cleverly designed to blend into the natural landscape and produce its own green energy from solar panels
  • The Tumbling Bay playground, which has a sandpit and walkways among the treetops. It can be found next to the Timber Lodge Café.

 The Copper Box Arena

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Five Things to Spot on Olympic Park Tours Fri, 23 Nov 2012 11:37:01 +0000

The Games might be over but there’s still plenty going on in the Olympic Park.

Free bus tours began this week, offering a great chance to witness the park’s £292 million transformation into a new cultural hub and green space for London, before it reopens in phases from summer 2013. Here are some top things to spot on the trip:

1. Dismantling the Venues

The park is currently a huge construction site – or, more correctly, a deconstruction site. The world’s largest McDonald’s has been dismantled, as has the Riverbank Arena where Olympic hockey was played. On the bus tours you’ll be able to spot temporary venues being removed as well as athletes’ training centres, security areas and temporary seating stands or “wings” being taken to pieces. 

2. South Park Plaza

The area around the distinctive red ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture is being transformed into an urban park the size of 16 football pitches. When it’s finished, the new South Park Plaza will boast fountains, a climbing wall, a 12-metre wide tree-lined boulevard and “garden rooms” created by planting designer Piet Oudolf. During the Games, this space was the first part of the park most visitors saw after entering through the Stratford entrance.

3. Planting the Park

It was already a park to begin with, but over the next year or so the amount of open space in the Park will be doubled to a whopping 252 acres. The planting project includes 4,300 semi-mature trees, over 100,000 new shrubs and almost one million bulbs, which will all be watered by a park-wide water system. Even today the park has plenty of wildlife – you could see swans, ducks, cormorants and coots.

4. The First Neighbourhood

The Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary Olympic venues ever built, and will be deconstructed between now and next autumn. The entire building can be recycled – from the seating to the floor – and some parts will head over to Brazil to be used at the Rio 2016 Games. Once the area is cleared it will be the site for the first new housing neighbourhood in the park, Chobham Manor.

5. The Stadium

Of course, no trip to the park would be complete without a glimpse of the iconic Olympic Stadium where athletes like Usain Bolt sped to victory this summer.

Tours run on Wednesdays, Thursdays and some weekends, until the Park begins to open in phases from July 2013. To book, email or call 0800 023 2030.

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In Pictures: A Walk Around the Olympic Park Mon, 03 Sep 2012 11:55:44 +0000 Olympic Stadium and the Orbit Royal barge Gloriana Run sculpture in the Olympic Park Velodrome Big screen in the Olympic Park Velodrome View of the Olympic Stadium and the Orbit View of the Velodrome Olympic Stadium

As well as the thrilling Paralympic action, there was plenty going on around the Olympic Park when I visited for the first time yesterday. I was impressed by the architecture and landscaping, pop-up performances and art installations.

Do you have any great pictures of the Park? If so, make sure you add them to the Visit London Flickr pool.

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London Video of the Week: Building The ArcelorMittal Tower Fri, 11 May 2012 11:00:39 +0000

The ArcelorMittal Tower is finally complete! To celebrate, here’s a gorgeous timelapse video of the Tower being built in the Olympic Park over the last couple of years.

At 114m, it’s officially the tallest sculpture in the UK. There’s a central lift which will take you up to see the spectacular views from the top; a spiral staircase winds down the central core to bring you back down to earth again.

The Tower officially opens to the public on 28 July.

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London Video of the Week: Britain Prepares – The Orbit Fri, 13 Jan 2012 16:00:55 +0000

This is a great video from the UK Foreign Office’s YouTube channel, all about The Orbit – one of the new attractions being built in London this year.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, to give it its full name, will be a contemporary symbol for the 21st century. At 115m tall, it’ll be Britain’s largest public art work. It has been created by artist and sculptor Anish Kapoor, and architectural engineer and designer Cecil Balmond.

When finished, it’ll be 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and offer unparalleled views of the entire 250 acres of the Olympic Park and London’s skyline from  special viewing platforms. The basic structure is a square rotated in space at 45 degrees.

What do you think of the Orbit? Let us know in the comments below.

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London Photo of the Week: The ArcelorMittal Orbit from the View Tube Sat, 03 Sep 2011 08:00:39 +0000

This week’s photo shows the growing ArcelorMittal Orbit, a sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor, being assembled in the Olympic Park. The building work is being watched by a family from The View Tube, a community centre built from shipping containers which overlooks the site.

The photo was taken by Andy Wilkes who works on the Olympic site and is also one of the 100 official BT London 2012 Storytellers, a group of bloggers, photographers, artists, musicians and film-makers who are documenting the games.

Tell us your London stories by adding your photos to the Visit London Flickr group.

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Anish Kapoor Tower Announced for London 2012 Olympic Park Wed, 31 Mar 2010 16:05:28 +0000 The ArcelorMittal Orbit with Zaha Hadid's Aquatic Centre on the right The ArcelorMittal Orbit with the Olympic Stadium on the right A detail of a section of the tower Boris Johnson, Tessa Jowell and Lakshmi Mittal examine the tower model Boris Johnson, Tessa Jowell, Lakshmi Mittal, Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond at today's launch A slightly dark picture of a model of Orbit from today's press conference

I’ve just got back from an announcement at City Hall about an exciting new tower, called ArcelorMittal Orbit, commissioned for London’s Olympic Park.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson described the tower, which at a height of 118m will be Britain’s biggest piece of public art, as a “beauty”.

Although it’s currently called the Orbit, Boris also suggested London’s new red steel tower might be called a “giant treble clef, a mutant trombone, or a hubble bubble” – the latter in reference to its likeness to a shisha pipe, which wasn’t something I’d thought of…

Whatever Londoners decide to christen it (and I’m sure we will!), it’s certainly an exciting new structure. Anish Kapoor talked at length about his inspiration for the tower, acknowledging Gustave Eiffel’s 324m Paris landmark, as well as explaining how he hopes Londoners and visitors will make the journey around, and up and down the tower, with real a real sense of participation.

The £19.1m design incorporates the five Olympic rings, and has panoramic views of London from the top. As well as a walkway up the tower, there’ll be high-speed lifts taking 700 people per hour to the top. There’ll be a viewing platform up there, as well as a restaurant.

And when’s it going to ready? Well, the construction starts to “build itself” in clever sections in the next couple of months (with no scaffolding, Anish explained), and the tower will be ready for visitors in November 2011. The restaurant will come a bit later.

The Orbit will be on site for years to come, providing London with an exciting new visitor attraction in Stratford.

What do you think it should be called? The Stratford Scribble? Or The Scoubiedou? Let us know in the comments below!

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