When In London For The Games…


As the infamous fog makes way for the summer Olympic Games from July 27 to August 12, 2012, London gets set to welcome the world, with the biggest sporting event. Athletic amusement aside, get ready for an extravaganza you won’t forget, replete with Olympic walks, culture carnivals and contests.

Ways you could get the most out of London during the Games:

Cultural Olympiad:

Night of Festivals 2012: Carnival Day, June 22

Enjoy a vibrant free Latin American carnival with live music, Big Screen art and colourful installations. The unique festival features a free access arts festival in the special surroundings of Nottingham’s Old Market Square – the UK’s largest open public square. Artistes appearing include international composer Michael Nyman, DJ Gilles Peterson, six world music bands, carnival and Rio samba artists, and Haitian sculptors Atis Rezistans. For lovers of art, the ArtReach Nanoplex will bring together the work of artists from six different continents in the world’s smallest moving image gallery.

On June 22, the carnival will unfurl, with extravagant costumes and performances by Mandinga Arts and Paraiso Samba. The companies will be joined by local performers and a Haitian Rara band. This will be followed by a slot in which locals can dance to the sounds of traditional Haitian music.

At this festival, you can also enjoy a wide array of performances and shows, centered around themes such as art, outdoor carnival, dance, song, comedy, film, music, books, fashion and food. A host of artistes from across the globe will feature in this cultural Olympiad.

Big Dance Bus

This big red bus will get you dancing as it winds its way through London, stopping at shopping centres, squares, parks and a few iconic London locations. The quirky double-decker route-master is the ultimate entertainment factory; complete with it its own dance-floor, pumping sound system, compere and DJ. The Big Dance Bus hosts its own resident dance company, and the crew’s performances will be inspired by London and its popular dance styles. Big Dance, UK’s biggest celebration of dance, will take place in all sorts of locations and in all dance styles, open to everyone. Events will include classes, workshops, courses, performances, flashmobs, have-a-go days, film screenings, photography courses, competitions, world record attempts and dancing in unusual spaces. Big Dance 2012 will takes place across the UK from July 7–15 following a seven-week countdown period.

Daily Olympic Walks

These walks have already begun and will continue throughout the Games, keeping you up-to-date with all the latest Olympic stories and developments. Guided walks take place every day from Bromley-by-Bow Underground station.

The Evening Olympic Walk is especially designed as an after-work guided walk. The participants meet at Bromley-by-Bow at 6pm and set off on an Olympic update walk, finishing at Stratford Westfield Centre, so that you still have enough time to head out to the nearest pub for a celebratory drink. The Blue Badge Tourist Guide, knowledgeable in all things 2012, will update you on the preparations for the greatest sporting event in the world. Being part of the walk will set you back by £9, and you can book your spot online.

The Walking Tour of Greenwich Park will feature a horse-owning Blue Badge Tourist Guide taking you round the Park, dishing out information on the Olympic & Paralympic Games and history of Greenwich. Greenwich Park will play host to some of the world’s leading athletes and their horses when it serves as a venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is the oldest Royal Park, and home to a small herd of fallow and red deer. On the walk, you can see where the Equestrian, Paralympic Dressage and Modern Pentathlon events will take place, see the spectacular setting for the temporary arena in front of the historic Queen’s House and tour the Old Royal Naval College. You can then head to a nearby hostelry for a cup of tea or pint.

Maidenhead Riverside Walks (July 28 to August 11) will take place during the period of the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing events at nearby Dorney Lake. Maidenhead, with its two famous bridges, lies on the London to Bath road and was an important coaching stop. Boating on the Thames was the height of fashion during the Edwardian era and the town acquired a reputation as a resort for debutantes and playboys. During this walk through the Thames Path at Maidenhead Riverside you will discover why Dorney Lake was chosen as the venue for the London 2012 Olympic Rowing and Canoeing events. You will also hear about the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Rowing events and about famous local residents (including Lord Desborough who lived at nearby Taplow Court and who organised the 1908 Olympic Games).

You must make a reservation for all the walks that operate between July 26 and August 13.

Win British Airways tickets to London:

To celebrate a special year for Britain, British Airways has launched a Facebook campaign and inviting fans to be creative by submitting their favourite things about the country for a chance to win attractive rewards, including tickets to London. The campaign will run till August 14 and features different themes with a new topic every two weeks. Anglophiles can enter via the British Airways Facebook page by sharing an explanation of up to 100 words of their favourite British things. There is an option to upload a picture to illustrate their entry. To increase the chances of winning, contestants are encouraged to invite their friends to vote for their entry. The winning entries will be determined based on the highest number of votes (50%) and the judgment of a British Airways panel (50%).

Mobile Throwing Competition:

Started in 2004, this competition is aimed at having a bit of fun chucking old phones as far as you can. The event is organised by sport and adventure club 8th Day UK and features men’s, women’s and Under 12 categories. There’s also a good cause behind it, as the old phones are give to a phone recycling charity. The Championships will be held at Battersea Park Athletics Track on July 25, and the rules are simple: Each thrower will have three throws. The thrower must use one of the phones provided for them. The thrower can use any method of throwing. The length of throw is judged from where the phone first hits the ground, not from where it ends up.

Hard Rock Calling:

Taking place between July 13-15, this fest will bring together artistes such as Soundgarden, Iggy And The Stooges, Kids In Glass Houses, Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, Paul Simon, Alison Kraus and Big Country. The leafy surrounds of Hyde Park will ring out to the sounds of kick drums and amped-up guitars, as rock campers get their gear out and music lovers get ready for some open air magic. Among the attractions this year are Paul Simon’s rendition of his ‘Gracelands’ solo LP, alongside Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff.

Exhibition Road Show

Taking place from July 28-August 5, during the first nine days of the Olympic Games, the Exhibition Road Festival sees the street’s arts, cultural, scientific and academic organisations join together to present games, dance, science, debates, music, writers’ commissions and visual art installations. The festival marks the ‘kerb-free’ refurbishment of Exhibition Road and showcases its institutions while reflecting the legacy of the 1851 Great Exhibition. The themes are ‘innovation’, ‘rist-taking’, ‘creativity’ and ‘human endeavour’. Daily parades feature marching bands, cyclists and horses. In the early mornings, there’s spinning, yoga and other forms of exercise on offer. ‘Road Stories’ includes storytelling sessions by Deborah Levy, Ali Smith and other writers.

Hotels

The average hotel room rate in central London for the Olympic period: £213 ($341). That said, in order to save money, try an opaque hotel booking. An opaque hotel booking is where you decide on the area, star rating and amenities provided by the hotel. You don’t find out the name of it until after the booking. According to a Which? Travel report, you could end up paying £274.50 more a night at popular chain hotels. It found a room at the Holiday Inn Express at Swiss Cottage, 10 miles from the main Olympic site (available to book in January when it conducted the research), would cost £359.50 on 27 July, compared with £85 on August 18 after the Games.

Travelodge’s new Stratford hotel will cost £206.98 on July 26, a pretty steep hike from the July 21 price of £52.95.

Get the best out of London’s front door to the city

World’s busiest airport Heathrow will be the entry point for at least 80 percent of Olympics-bound passengers, and an estimated 59,000 athletes, family members and spectators. And it’s been dressed up to include Olympic-themed art exhibits and each passenger terminal will feature theatre and attractions like a walkway that is going to look like a swimming pool and you’ll feel as if you’re walking on water. There will places where passengers can take photos standing on podiums, next to images of athletes.

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