Visit London Blog » olympic stadium Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:29:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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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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Olympic Closing Ceremony Highlights Mon, 13 Aug 2012 11:19:00 +0000
Last night saw the London 2012 Olympic Games end in style with a celebration of music, sporting achievement and the fellowship of the Olympic community. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling mixed emotions at the end of such an amazing time in London’s life.

The show opened with a set featuring iconic London landmarks. I spotted:

This section was accompanied by artists from top West End show, Stomp.

We were then treated to a journey through British music with a focus on artists from the last 50 years including The Kinks, George Michael, Queen, Tinie Tempah, Jessie J, Kaiser Chiefs, Liam Gallagher, Take That and The Who. You can explore the rich tradition of British pop music at the British Music Experience or revel in Queen’s music at We Will Rock You!

The Spice Girls’ performance proved particularly popular and fans can look forward to a brand new musical – Viva Forever – premiering in London in November.

The ceremony also celebrated fashion with appearance of top British models including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. You can find many top British designers in London along with some of the world best shopping districts. Fashionistas should also head to the V&A and Fashion and Textile Museum.

There was an injection of comedy with Eric Idle’s rendition of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’. You can enjoy this and other Monty Python classics in popular musical, Spamalot.

The Olympic flag was passed to Rio ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games and London’s Olympic Cauldron extinguished in a dance sequence starring Darcey Bussell. You can discover more about the cauldron at the current Thomas Heatherwick exhibition.

The athletes thoroughly enjoyed the show and Team GB were celebrating their success. I can’t wait to join them for the Our Greatest Team victory parade in London on 10 September.

Now eyes turn to the London 2012 Paralympic Games from 29 August until 9 September, which promise to be another impressive display of sporting prowess and courage. Beyond that I look forward to the legacy of London 2012.

What was your favourite moment of the London 2012 Olympic Games?

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Video: London’s Olympic Park in LEGO Sat, 04 Aug 2012 15:30:47 +0000

We love this replica of the Olympic Park made from LEGO!

You’ll find this faithful reproduction (even down to the wild flowers!) at Visit Denmark’s “Imagination” exhibition, open until the 12 August at St Katharine Docks.

Other highlights of the Imagine Denmark exhibition include a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale world, more LEGO activities and a special visit to the docks by the Vikings complete with five Viking boats. Imagine Denmark is one of the many National Olympic houses open in London for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Read about more about the National Houses here

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Behind The Scenes Of An Olympic Tour Wed, 25 Jul 2012 15:00:35 +0000

How close can you get to the Olympic Park without a ticket? A guaranteed way to see the Orbit, Olympic Stadium and Athletes Village is to take the daily Olympic walking tour around the edge of the park. In spite of tightened security and crowds, the tours are continuing twice a day throughout the Games.

The altered tour route for the Olympics visits the film studio where Danny Boyle is preparing the Opening Ceremony. It takes in the Stadium and the distinctive Aquatics Centre from a pedestrian gate and finishes up at Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, overlooking the Athletes Village.

The real highlights of taking a tour in Games-time are the unplanned encounters with Olympic stars, explains guide Victoria Herriott, who has bumped into the likes of Steve Redgrave, American sprinter Michael Johnson and legendary British Athlete Mary Peters on her tours.

“The atmosphere is great because there are athletes wandering around everywhere,” she says. “The athletes have all been moving in recently and they’ve hung their flags on their balconies so you know where different teams are staying. Last week, we met the American equestrian team with their trainer Mark Phillips, who is Zara Phillip’s father. My group were mainly American so they got the meet their own equestrian team and the father of the Queen’s granddaughter.”

The tours are led by professional Blue Badge tourist guides who tell the story of east London’s industrial past and regeneration, winning the bid and the build up to the Games.

Many guides have led tours of the park for years, from site visits for architects to trips for local schools. They launched the tours in 2010 when they realised the limited bus tours of the Olympic Park weren’t satisfying curiosity about the Olympic site. “We could see there wasn’t going to be much chance for people to be let into the park,” says Herriott. “There used to be bus tours but they were always sold out. It didn’t even begin to scrape the surface of the demand to learn about the Olympics.”

Guided walks take place every day at 11am and 2pm, starting at Bromley-by-Bow Underground station. Booking in advance is necessary in Games time. Have you been on a walking tour of the Olympic Park? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

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Where To Watch The Olympic Opening Ceremony in London Tue, 24 Jul 2012 15:00:56 +0000

Sheep, a huge bell, a miniature Stonehenge, David Beckham and some NHS nurses. This much we know will be in the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony on Friday evening. A global audience of four billion people are expected to tune into the show which is called Isles of Wonder, inspired by a line in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Artistic director Danny Boyle has kept most details under wraps, but we can say with certainty that it starts at 9pm, and that you’d be mad not to watch it.

London Live
Friday is the opening night for the Olympic London Live sites at Hyde Park and Victoria Park. In Hyde Park, the ceremony will be shown on screens alongside a celebration concert with acts representing each part of the UK – Snow Patrol from Northern Ireland, Stereophonics for Wales, Duran Duran representing England and Paolo Nutini waving the flag for Scotland. Tickets are £60 and are still available. If you just want to watch the ceremony in a crowd, you can head to the Victoria Park site which is free entry.

Tower of London
If you’re feeling flush, you could pay for an exciting Opening Ceremony dinner at the Tower of London House of Nations for just £139. Hosted by four-time record breaking swimmer and Strictly Come Dancing star, Mark Foster, you’ll enjoy a champagne and Pimm’s reception in the Tower of London’s moat, an exclusive private tour of the Crown Jewels, a delicious three-course meal with all inclusive drinks, footage of the Opening Ceremony and live entertainment.

You can also catch all the Opening Ceremony action at Greenwich Summer Festival’s Gala Weekend. As well as the big screens, there’ll be live entertainment, starting with music on the bandstand at 6pm. Greenwich’s very own Hangar Arts Trust will then perform a cabaret of aerial circus in a high-impact, thrilling show full of beautiful and apparently impossible human feats, before the Opening Ceremony kicks off at 9pm.

General Gordon Square, Woolwich
General Gordon Square in Woolwich is hosting one of two big screens set up by the BBC in London for outdoor summer screenings. It will show the ceremony outside for free in the newly landscaped square, which offers bench seating and food stalls and street performers to get you in the party mood.

Walthamstow Town Square
Another BBC big screen will be beaming the ceremony to Walthamstow Town Square in North London. Seating will be set up so crowds can watch in comfort.

The Broadgate development in the Square Mile is home to some of the world’s biggest companies, and this summer it is also the base for three big screens which will all show the Opening Ceremony. Take your pick from Exchange Square, Broadgate Circle and Finsbury Avenue.

Novikov’s Beach Party at Waterside House
Top Mayfair restaurant Novikov is heading east this Friday to set up an all-day Opening Ceremony beach party – complete with sand and beach loungers – at Waterside House in Royal Victoria Dock. You can watch the show while sipping cocktails and listening to DJ sets. Tickets are £25.

In The Pub
Hundreds of top London pubs will be showing the all action on big screens, so have a look at the watering holes near you. We suggest The Hanbury Arms in Islington, The Lauriston in Hackney, the Water Poet in Spitalfields and the Clapham Grand in Clapham Junction, all of which will be putting on amazing parties.

Where will you be watching? Let us know below.

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Olympic Opening Ceremony Details Revealed Tue, 12 Jun 2012 15:20:06 +0000

Masterminded by British director Danny Boyle, who is famous for films such as Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire and 28 Days Later, the Olympic Opening Ceremony looks set to be a colourful celebration of English life.

Entitled Isles of Wonder after a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the ceremony will see the stadium transformed into a rural idyll that features grass, giant maypoles and flowers that represent each British nation. There will even be clouds that will produce rain if the English weather is not obliging!

The striking vista will be populated by morris dancers, families having picnics, villagers playing cricket and a menagerie of farm animals that includes 12 horses and 70 sheep. Music will be integral to the ceremony and there will be a pre-recorded score from Underworld as well as live music from famous faces.

Two mosh pits will also be created at either end of the arena, one themed around the Last Night of the Proms and one around Glastonbury Festival. These will be filled with ticket holders, although details of how to obtain tickets have not yet been announced.

A 23-tonne bell, which is the largest harmonically-tuned bell in the world and was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, will be rung to open the ceremony.

It has been reported that the show will evolve to display more of Britain’s urban scenery but in any case, with a cast of 10,000 that has already done 157 rehearsals, it should be nothing short of spectacular.

What do you think of the plans so far?

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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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Video: Olympic Artist In Residence Neville Gabie Fri, 27 Jan 2012 11:23:05 +0000

Today marks six months to go to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To celebrate, here’s a great video from Tate about  Olympic artist in residence Neville Gabie.

Based at the park for 15 months in the run-up to the Games, Gabie’s work  includes sitting in all 80,000 seats in the Olympic Stadium, and recreating a famous painting with the help of Olympic Park construction workers.


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