With less than two weeks to go until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, the international media, sports fans and a larger than usual cohort of tourists are starting to make their descent on our fair capital.
Putting aside my own personal fears of tourist-dodging, ridiculously inflated prices and deathly-overcrowded tubes, London is set to be the place to be this summer. Whether you are a fan of the Olympics or not, there is a huge amount to do around the city this summer, and research (sigh), advanced planning (double sigh) and organisation seem to be the key when trying to make the most of the city during the Olympic period.
This is a tough one for me. I am trying to convince myself not to lock myself in my house for the duration of the games. After attending a focus group a couple of years ago and being told that the tube is going to be at 80% over capacity, I have been dreading this summer ever since. I suffer from major tube-rage most of the time, and I don't think it's particularly reasonable to ask everyone in London to change their travel habits, when for most people it isn't really possible, and realistically we can imagine tube hell coming our way very (very) soon.
Apparently the tube system will be fully functioning by the time the games start. Two weeks to go and there are still closures and delays. But if we do take TFL at their word...
Things to bear in mind:
•Check out the Get Ahead of the Games travel map and find out where is likely to be (read: will be) busier than usual and either avoid or try and plan a different route
• Some stations will operate different rules on game days: some may close if they get too busy, some will only allow entry or exit or one way movement
• Some busses will be diverted due to road closures where events are taking place
• Make sure you carry water - getting trapped in an underground carriage where you can barely breathe in the middle of summer (even if it is a British summer) is one of the most unpleasant London experiences. Stay hydrated.
Don't have a ticket? Enjoy the city!
The main side focus of the Olympics is the official London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, which is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements, which since 2008 has had over 18 million people participate or attend performances. This has culminated in the London 2012 festival, which first opened on 21st June. Offering over 10 million opportunities to see 12,000 unique performances and events, there is no excuse not to get out and enjoy the city this summer. Whether you love food, art, dance or film you will find something new and exciting to do.
Watching the Royal Wedding and the Jubilee celebrations on the giant screens around London was an amazing experience. The atmosphere was incredible, and it's hard not to get caught up in the joy of thousands of people all enjoying the same thing. If you're in London, why not watch some of the games on one of the giant screens around the capital?
Giant screens are being erected in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square, and they are set to be the hub of Olympic parties, with thousands of people from all over the world flocking to watch the games.
Dates: 27 July - 9 September
Location: Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Trafalgar Square
Price: Free to show up - but opening and closing ceremonies cost
More information here
Rio Occupation London
Running from July 12th to August 3rd, 30 artists from Rio de Janeiro will occupy the streets and squares of London. Ranging from film to live performances, the occupation will come to its conclusion at the Finale Festival in a 30 hour event featuring all the artists. It promises to be full of energy and unexpected happenings. Definitely worth a visit.
Date: 2-3 August
Location: V22 Summer Club, Bermondsey
Price: Tickets are free and will be available from the box office on the day
More information here
Food Festival at Old Spitalfields Market
Watch world-renowned chefs cooking their most famous dishes, get free food samples and experience new foods from around the world at the free food festival in the Flavours food court at the Old Spitalfields Market. Restuarants and bars in the area will be offering special offers on their menus during the festival - so if you haven't stuffed yourself with free food be sure to take advantage!
Dates: 19-23 July
Location: Old Spitalfields Market
So what do you have to lose? Grab your sunglasses, grab your umbrella and enjoy the best of London this summer!
For more information on all the events available this summer, check out Festival London.