Visit London Blog » the orbit Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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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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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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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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