Explore London’s new playground

Date Posted: 12/09/2012

Artist's impression - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2015 - group travel

Pictured: Artist's impression of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2015.

As London celebrates the resounding success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, how will the capital ensure a lasting legacy? Rebekah Tailor visited the Stratford site to soak up the lively atmosphere during the final days of the Paralympics and to find out what the future has in store.

Put under a global spotlight this summer, east London achieved international recognition as a centre stage for sporting excellence, and welcomed a worldwide audience to witness the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

So now with medals dished out and victory parades completed, what’s next for the Olympic sites of the 2012 host city?

Ensuring London’s Legacy

The promise to secure London’s legacy played a key part in winning the Olympic bid, and with legacy planning reportedly more advanced than any previous host city, the UK can look forward to the delivery of an exciting new visitor destination within the next two years.

With the conclusion of the Paralympics, the Stratford site will become a construction project once more, as £300 million goes towards transforming the space into a new urban park - the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to give it its full title.

No ordinary park, it is to become the new sporting and cultural hub of London’s east. Hosting a year-round programme of festivals, concerts, special events and sporting activities, there’s also the pull of the site’s new and existing attractions, including the remaining Olympic venues, a new British Olympic Museum and the ArcelorMittal Orbit - all bordered by the  extensive Westfield Stratford City shopping centre.

A north/south divide

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be divided by the contrasting areas of the tranquil North Park and lively South Plaza.

North Park: Currently open space with walkways for Olympic visitors to navigate between venues, North Park will become a centre with huge playgrounds set within parklands and wetlands bordering new neighbourhoods. The first phase of the transformation, this will open on the 27th July - precisely one year after the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Visitors can enjoy the open space and landscaped gardens throughout the park.

Pictured: Visitors can enjoy the open space and landscaped gardens throughout the park.

South Plaza: The main spectator concourse framed by the Stadium, Aquatics Centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit will be re-landscaped and transformed into an urban park with a thousand trees, gardens and event spaces. Serviced by a range of cafes and food kiosks, the South Plaza is scheduled to open in March.

“Something for everyone”

Sport, art, architecture, gardens, museums or nature - whatever your group’s interest, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park promises “something for everyone”.

British Olympic Museum: With designs to locate it at the foot of the Orbit, the new British Olympic Museum will be an interactive experience where you can measure your skills against those of Olympians.

ArcelorMittal Orbit: The now-familiar spiral on London’s skyline, Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit will be a key attraction for visitors to the park. Climb inside this work of art and take in the spectacular view of the London skyline from the two platforms at the summit.

Lee Valley Velopark: The Velodrome will form the heart of the Lee Valley Velopark made up of the Olympic BMX track, a road circuit and mountain bike trails. A cafe, bike hire amd cycle workshop will aim to create one of the world’s best centres for cycling.

Aquatics Centre: Re-opening in 2014 with the side wings removed to reveal Zaha Hadid’s design, the Aquatics Centre will offer a multi-discipline facility catering for everyone. Entrance prices will be comparable with other public swimming venues in London.

The Stadium: The focus of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Stadium will remain a sporting venue, hosting the World Athletics Championships in 2017.

6.5-kilometres of waterways/35-kilometres of cycle paths: Active groups can enjoy the great outdoors and explore 35-kilometres of cycle track. Pleasure cruises have also been touted for the scenic waterways running throughout the park for those who prefer a more leisurely pace.

View across to the South Plaza.

Pictured: Artist's impression of the view across to the South Plaza.

Culture and the arts: In addition to a programme of open-air theatre, cinema and festivals, groups can experience the wealth of architecture of the Olympic venues, together with over 30 artworks located throughout the park.

What’s in it for groups?
Describing the present time as: “a defining moment for tourism in the UK”, the LLDC’s Malcolm Ross, executive director of park operations, highlighted the importance of tourism to a meaningful legacy. It is hoped that the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will shift the focus of London eastwards, presenting a ‘third day’ option for visitors to the capital.

While there is nothing specific for group bookers as yet, group travel organisers can rest assured that an offering for coach parties and group visitors is being carefully considered, with the LLDC currently in the throes of looking at various packages and ticketing options. 

Useful contact:

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park:

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