Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Here Comes the Sun, London 2012
Regardless of whether you have secured Olympic tickets, London is set to be the place to be this July–August. The atmosphere derived from the games is sure to be electric, and the sense of community nothing short of extraordinary. To top it off, anyone who has lived in London will tell the same tale… summer in the city and its surrounds is reason enough in itself for celebration!
Discover the Olympic city this summer, with our London 2012 activity guide.
In the Spirit of the Games
There are a number of ways to enjoy the London 2012 Olympic Games without attending the various meets.
In celebration of the Olympics and Paralympics, artists from all over the world are set to converge on London from 21 June to 9 September for The London 2012 Festival – the culmination the Cultural Olympiad. Touted to be the biggest festival the UK has ever seen, the event will showcase over 12,000 presentations of food, music, theatre, dance, fashion, art and film – many of which are free and family-friendly.
Broadcasting all the best action of London 2012, live sites have been established in famous locations like Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square. Each site is set to host a big screen and concert-quality sound systems, where you can watch the games for free amid an exciting atmosphere. Ticketed Opening and Closing Celebration Concerts will also be held in Hyde Park, with huge British acts like Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, Blur and New Order on stage.
A number of historical exhibitions also highlight the importance of the games. Held at the British Museum, Mine to Medals tells the story of the production of the London 2012 medals. The Museum of London’s London and the Olympics takes guests back to the London games of 1908 and 1948 with a display of local and global perspectives. While the Kingston Museum exhibits a dramatic showcase of Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering motion sequence photography entitled Olympic Celebration: Athletes in Motion.
The Show Must Go On
Just because the Olympics have taken centre stage, doesn’t mean London’s legendary theatre shows, plays and events grind to a halt.
Outside New York’s Broadway, London’s West End is the most famous theatre precinct in the world. Home to 40 venues, West End hosts a range of shows, covering everything from musicals to classic plays to comedies. This summer’s programme doesn’t disappoint, with much-loved and critically-acclaimed favourites like Billy Elliot, Chicago, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables, Lion King, Mamma Mia and Wicked, and the very British Beatles’ homage Let It Be all on show.
Nothing shouts English theatre quite like the works of England’s national poet, William Shakespeare. As the author of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narratives, and several other poems, Shakespeare is renowned as the most respected playwright that ever lived. In ode to the Bard, Shakespeare’s Globe – a reconstructed version of the original Globe Theatre – presents Shakespearean plays with respect of old conventions. This summer’s timetable includes performances of Richard III, Henry V and The Taming of the Shrew.
Wembley Stadium might be booked out for the Olympics Games’ soccer matches, however London’s other major gig halls continue to bring the party with a number of outstanding touring acts. Southern Californian trio, Blink 182 deliver their high-energy skate-punk stage show to Brixton’s O2 Academy on 25 July. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder showcases his swoon-worthy voice and Grammy-nominated album Ukulele Songs at Hammersmith’s Apollo on 30 July. While Australian surf-roots artist, Xavier Rudd highlights his talent as a one-man band at Camden’s Koko on 8 August.
Off to the Markets
Summer not only fosters a great atmosphere in which to enjoy the games, it also sets London’s street markets abuzz with activity and energy.
A trip to London isn’t complete without visiting Notting Hills’ Portobello Road Market. As one of the most famous street markets in the world, Portobello Road attracts thousands of visitors every Monday through to Saturday. The market’s southern end concentrates on antiques and bric-a-brac, the middle is dedicated to fine foods and street eats – try a Hummingbird Bakery red velvet cupcake! – while the northern end specialises in second hand, vintage and retro fashions.
Famous amongst foodies, the Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market. Just a short distance from London Bridge, innovative providores operate stalls every Thursday to Saturday, with the mission of providing viable, sustainable, independent and quality food that enriches the local community. A repository of culinary knowledge and understanding, the Borough Market encourages visitors to explore, ask questions, discover new flavours and savour a unique atmosphere.
Located between the bookish Bloomsbury, the posh Primrose Hill and the visually-appealing Hampstead, Camden Town strikes a contrast as the London’s centre of alternative culture. Proudly declaring the area’s identity, six open-air markets – Camden Lock Market, Historic Stables Market, Camden Lock Village, Buck Street Market, Electric Ballroom, and Inverness Street Market – hawk everything from vintage to futuristic fashion and quirky antiques.
Summer 2012 is touted to be the best that London has ever seen. Revel in all the activities, events and atmosphere that the Olympic city has on offer… Together with partner airline Etihad Airways, Virgin Australia operates flights to London, from Sydney and Melbourne.