A few tidbits of good advice on some cool things to check out if you’re lucky enough to be in London during the Olympics:
You’ve got your Olympic event tickets, you’ve booked your flight/coach/train tickets, and you’ve booked your hotel or other accommodation. Might I suggest that you do a little extra planning and look at some things to do when you’re not watching an actual Olympic event?
First and foremost, you’ll have to spend at least a day taking in all the attractions in the Olympic Park itself. There’s a lot to do and see there, plus loads of places to eat and drink, mingle and chat with the many people there from many parts of the world.
As a Londoner and a lover of the fermented hop, I have to recommend that you take yourself along to one of the days of the Great British Beer Festival, 7-12 August.
It is in its seventh year, and it just gets bigger and better. There are over 800 different real ales, ciders, and overseas beers to choose from. There are also non-alcoholic drinks, plenty of food, and live music. It is just like being inside the biggest, friendliest, liveliest pub in the world!
50,000 people are expected to attend, but previous years have been well-run and you can buy your tickets online in advance and not have to queue when you arrive. It’s held in the huge Olympia, Kensington, so easy to get to on the underground or bus.
If you want a mix of culture, education and fun, then come along to the Exhibition Road Show which runs from 28 July to 5 August. Exhibition Road is the home to some of London’s best known and loved museums; the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Natural History Museum.
While those museums are most definitely worth a visit each in their own right, Exhibition Road has been overhauled recently, and the local Council- the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are parading the refurbishment by throwing a free festival. There you will be able to see a large dose of culture and science with scientific experiments, lectures and debates, music and dance, aerial displays, daily parades, and acrobatic performances.
And of course there are some great restaurants and pubs around the area. One or two of them in the museums themselves. My favourite is the Natural History Museum, not only are the exhibits astounding, but the building itself is beautiful I go every year! This is a must-see if you have the opportunity during the London Olympic Games.
Finally, and assuming the weather is good (fingers crossed) there’s the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park – from now to 8 September. It’s one of the largest theatres in London, but has a strangely intimate atmosphere to it. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the theatre’s annual signature piece, and was the one I saw there a few years ago. And it didn’t rain!
This year’s other main production is Ragtime: The Musical. They also do comedy there- this year 8 out of 10 cats presenter and tax avoider. There’s also an outdoor screening of films including the dark yet visually wonderful Guillermo del Toro’s adult fairytale Pan’s Labyrinth. Bring some sandwiches and a bottle of wine and enjoy theatre as the sun sets over London.