London is changing and is changing fast.
But one part of London that is changing really really really fast is East London.
More than ten years ago (on 6 July 2005), London won the bid to host the 30th Olympiad. One of the key areas of the strong bid was the legacy (=what would happen to the facilities and the area) after the Games. We have been following the Olympic story very closely (long before we even knew we wanted to create a blog) and we have to say that London has delivered on the legacy promises. That’s why we recommend anyone who comes to visit or anyone who already lives in London to go to that interesting and now vibrant part of London.
Today, though, we will focus specifically on the Olympic Park located in Stratford, which is less than 10 minutes away from Central London. You can walk around the Park by yourself, using the very handy and well-designed app (sign up to our free newsletter via the pop up box to receive info about the app) and admire the facilities & the different arts spread across the Park. Or you can explore the Park with the help of an expert through the guided Park Tours. Once you’re at the Olympic Park, if you are a bit confused, know that there is an Information Center (open between 10 AM and 3 PM every day) located at the main entrance of the park (close to the Olympic Swimming Pool and Olympic Stadium).
There are several reasons why you should visit the Olympic Park, but here are 5 of them:
- The Venues
You get to see some of the places where the athletes competed in 2012:
- The Olympic Stadium: the stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies took place and that hosted the athletics is being transformed into a world class football venue (it will also be the new home of the legendary West Ham Football Cub) and athletics venue. It will reopen soon in 2016 (no date confirmed yet). So keep your eyes and ears open…
- The Aquatic Centre: this beautiful and iconic swimming pool (with its roof in the shape of a wave) is worth seeing. But best…it’s worth dipping a toe or two in its warm water. It is beautiful on the outside, as well as the inside.
- Lea Valley Velo Park: the only place in the world where you can take part in 4 types of cycling (track cycling, BMX, mountain biking and road racing). The VeloPark boasts an award-winning 6,000 seat velodrome. The VeloPark is kids friendly and there you can hire all the equipment you need (bike, helmet etc.)
- Copper Box Arena: this arena hosted handball, modern pentathlon, fencing and goalball during the 2012 Games. Now, this flexible indoor venue hosts different sports: basketball, wheelchair basketball, handball, volleyball, netball, fencing, badminton, gymnastics and more.
- Lea Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre: these state-of-the-art facilities (which include two hockey pitches, four indoor tennis courts and six outdoor courts, available to the public all year round) hosted the Wheelchair Tennis at the 2012 Games. They have been used and will be used to host major events such as: the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the 2015 EuroHockey Championships, the Women’s Champions Event in 2016, the Men’s World League Round 3 in 2017 and the Hockey Women’s World Cup in 2018.
- The Wetland
For anyone who loves nature there is a wetland that provides a little haven of biodiversity. There you will be able to spot different birds swimming in a little river. All this while admiring the beautiful flora. A very peaceful place that will make you forget you’re in London.
- Kids can go crazy
Little ones have not been forgotten. There are several places where they can play but an excellent one is the Tumbling Bay Playground where they can unleash their playful instinct in a fun and safe environment. There, they will be able to go down a slide, climb some tree houses, play in the sand and more.
- Some of the Attractions:
- ArcelorMittal Orbit: this slightly odd and red structure is the UK’s tallest sculpture. From here you will be able to spot several of London’s landmarks such as: Big Ben, the O2, the Shard and more. And….soon a giant slide will be added to it (in spring 2016). That’s promising to be awesome! Did we mention that kids can enter the Orbit for free some weeks during the winter?
- The Timber Lodge Café: is a beautiful and ecological café (it produces its own green energy using solar panels) located in the North part of the Park where you can relax and enjoy some fresh and home-cooked food & drink
- Mandeville Place: this area of the Olympic Park has been created to celebrate the fact that the 2012 Paralympic Games were the most successful Paralympic Games ever! It takes its name from Stoke Mandeville (a city located in England) where the Paralympics started in 1952. It features a beautiful orchard (inspired from the use of apples in the 2012 Opening Ceremony).
- To come in the near future: Hereeast (which should open in April 2016) will be a hub where creative businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurial businesses will collaborate in order to share expertise and create the products of tomorrow; Olympicopolis (opening date to be announced): will be a world class education and cultural district made up of two sites which will be both located at the Olympic Park; The International Quarter is a new cutting-edge business district that will open in Spring 2018
You got it…there is a new great place in town if you want to have some fun or relive the magical 2012 Games. The place is well designed, offers a wide range of activities and has been built with children and people with disabilities in mind. So what are you waiting for?…
On your marks!…
Go!!!…and visit it!