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Where to watch the Rio Olympics and Paralympics 2016 on the big screen in London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Watching the Olympics on the big screens

The Rio De Janeiro Olympics kick off on 5 August 2016, with the Paralympics following on 7 September. Although many of us had the opportunity to watch the games in person in our beloved capital four years ago, this year it’s unlikely many of us will be jetting over to South America. So why not watch our Team GB athletes on the big screen so you can soak up some of the ‘lympic atmosphere. Check out the venues hosting pop-up screens around town, with plenty of food and drink on offer too to keep you fuelled as your watch our sportsmen and women go for gold.

  • 5 – 21 August : Boxpark

Watch the Olympics on the big screen while sitting on deckchairs. Plenty of food and drink establishments will be selling refreshments and snacks. Free. Boxpark, Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6GY. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the Boxpark website.

  • 5 – 21 August : The Big Screen @ Bluebird

Bluebird on the King’s Road will be hosting screenings of the Rio Olympic Games on a giant outdoor screen in their sunny courtyard. You can watch the action while sipping champagne or Pimms from the bar or eating from the café menu. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.

  • 5 – 21 August : Big Screen @ Merchant Square

Watch the Olympics on the big screen in Paddington. Food and drink will be available, including Pimm’s. Open until 10pm nightly. Free. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, Paddington, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • 5 – 21 August : Summer Screen @ Canary Wharf

Watch the Rio Olympics outdoors at Canary Wharf. Bars and restaurants nearby will be serving food and drink. Times vary. Free. Canada Square Park, Docklands, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website. Read the rest of this entry

Celebrate all things Brazilian at the Olympic-themed pop-up @ Cocobananas

© Johnny S Photography

Latin fever hits London at the Olympics-themed pop-up at Cocobananas in Battersea this August

You may not be able to go to Brazil this summer for the Olympics, but why not enjoy a taste of Rio in London? This August, Battersea beach shack bar Cocobananas will be transformed into an exclusive Olympic-themed pop-up with food, drinks, entertainment and sports screenings. Situated upstairs from pizzeria, bar and karaoke venue Bunga Bunga, the pop-up will feature a Caipirinha bar, a dedicated Olympic-themed cocktail menu, POPS frozen Bellinis, a Brazilian-inspired food menu and Samba dancers.

With Brazil a few hours behind BST, Cocobananas will get the party started early with an official Olympics opening ceremony party on Friday 5 August. The bar will be decked out in Brazilian flags, palm trees, banana leaves, beach balls, exotic flowers and colourful lounge chairs. There will be a medal table on the wall keeping count of how many Gold, Silver and Bronze titles Team Brazil are picking up. Meanwhile, whenever Brazil win, the national flag will be flown while guests will have blue, green and yellow confetti cannons to fire off. There’ll also be the opportunity to showcase your vocals to karaoke in the L’Osservatorio, while DJs will be at the decks on Friday and Saturday nights.

Meanwhile, the Closing Ceremony party on Sunday 21 August will feature a Brazilian-inspired Supper Club by ‘The Latina Cook’ Natalie Salmon and Bunga Bunga’s head chef, Alexis de Naray. The menu will feature colourful and exuberant dishes, starting off with Brazilian pastels,  filled with ground meat, mozzarella, heart of palm and chicken; Coxinha (crispy chicken balls) and grilled Chicken Heart skewers, marinated in fresh herbs. The mains will include a choice of Brazil’s national dish, Feijoada, a stew made with beans, beef and pork; Vegetarian Brazilian pizza with the chance to choose your own toppings and Seabass Ceviche. And finally, for dessert, will be Brigaderios (truffle delight); Acai Bowls with tropical fresh fruit and homemade Avocado Ice Cream Gondolas.

  • Cocobananas, 101 Howie Street, Battersea, SW11 3BA. Nearest stations: Clapham Junction, Queenstown Road Battersea or Battersea Park. For more information visit the Cocobananas website.
© Johnny S Photography

Saude! Sip on Brazil’s national cocktails, Caipirinhas

For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

To find out where to watch the Olympics on the open-air big screens this summer, click here.

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Where to watch Euro 2016, Wimbledon and Rio Olympics outdoors on the big screen

Potters Field Park © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Watch Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics on the big screen during the London Bridge City Summer Festival

This summer we have three big sporting tournaments to captivate the nation. The UEFA European football championships (10 June – 10 July), Wimbledon (27 June – 10 July) and the Rio De Janeiro Olympics (5 to 21 August). For those unable to get a ticket to one of the events, why not soak up the sporting atmosphere with an alfresco screening? Plenty of venues are hosting big screens around town, with plenty of food and drink on offer too to keep you fuelled.

  • 10 June – 10 July : Euros @ Bar & Co

Watch the Euros on the deck of a floating bar while enjoying views over the Thames. With a late license until 3am if you fancy a party afterwards. The football will be screened on TVs both inside and out on deck. Tickets: £12. Temple Pier, Victoria Embankment, WC2R 2PN. Nearest station: Temple. For booking, visit the Bar & Co website.

  • 10 June – 21 August : The Big Screen @ Bluebird

Bluebird on the King’s Road will be hosting screenings of Euro 2016, Wimbledon and the Rio Olympic Games on a giant outdoor screen in their sunny courtyard. You can watch the action while sipping champagne or Pimms from the bar or eating from the café menu. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.

  • 10 June – 18 September : Screenings @ Pop Fields

Watch a host of sport, including Euro 2016, Wimbledon, Tour de France, Rio Olympics and Paralympics and US Open Tennis on the big screen in Pop Fields, the outdoor space next to Pop Brixton, where you can buy food and drink from local vendors. Free entry. Pop Fields, 49 Brixton Station Road, Brixton, SW9 8PQ. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Pop Brixton website.

  • 27 June – 1 July : Wimbledon @ The Northbank Summer Festival

Watch the earlier Wimbledon matches on the big screen near the Thames during the month-long Northbank Summer Festival. There will also be live music and food markets. 11am-7.30pm. Free. Victoria Embankment Gardens (off Villiers Street), Westminster, WC2N 6NS. Nearest station: Embankment or Charing Cross. For more information, visit The Northbank London website.

  • 27 June – 10 July : Wimbledon @ Hammersmith Summer Festival

Watch the action from Wimbledon as part of the Hammersmith London Summer Festival. The action will be beamed live on to a big screen in Lyric Square while deckchairs will be provided. 12-8pm daily. Free. Lyric Square, Hammersmith, W6 0ED. Nearest station: Hammersmith. For more information, visit the Hammersmith London website.

  • 27 June – 10 July : Great British Summer

Sit in deck chairs to watch screenings of Wimbledon tennis at three venues across the capital. All open daily during the tournament from 12-10pm. Free. For more information, visit the Great British Summer website.

– One New Change, 6th floor roof terrace (Cheapside, EC4M 9AF. Nearest station: St Pauls)

– Cardinal Place, 1st floor roof terrace (Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1E 5JD. Nearest station: Victoria)

– New Street Square (located off Fleet Street, Holborn, EC4A. Nearest station: Chancery Lane or City Thameslink). Read the rest of this entry

From an ad in the paper to biggest TV show in the world | How one woman became a dancer in the Olympics Closing Ceremony

© Lynn Harmer 2012

A lush of Patsys: Wasn’t it just Ab Fab to be a part of such a special event?
© Flynn Harmer 2012

On Sunday 12 August, London – like it had been for the past two weeks – was the centre of the world. After over two weeks of sport, it was time to say farewell to the London Olympics. An estimated 750 million people around the world tuned in to watch the three and a half hour spectacular… and boy, what a show it was!

Called a Symphony of British Music, the show was a celebration of the country’s biggest artists and our unique culture. Like most people I know, I was not lucky enough to be one of the 80,000 people seated in the Olympic Stadium that night, however I knew someone who was… And they weren’t just seated in the audience watching the best show of their life… they were actually in the show!

Step forward my step-godmother Flynn Harmer, who in January 2012 answered an advertisement in the Thames News. It read; ‘Wanted: Male volunteers to perform in the Olympic Ceremonies’. Despite being female, Flynn had loved dancing for years and regularly partook in dance classes so applied anyway. Two weeks later, it turned out they were looking for women too and Flynn was auditioning alongside hundreds of others for the chance to perform at either the Opening or Closing Ceremonies. The gruelling auditions consisted of two non-stop three-hour sessions, before an agonising six-week wait to find out if you were through or not.

After finally getting the yes, the hard work began. A cast of 200 dancers – who were giving their time for free – were given parts. Flynn told me: ‘Our parts were designed to use our ‘dance personality’ to the best advantage… so began my three-month indulgence as Patsy… how Ab Fab was that! (and more worryingly… how easy!).’

© Lynn Harmer 2012

The Orange gang: Flynn and her ‘truckmates’.
© Flynn Harmer 2012

Flynn, like all the dancers, was sworn to secrecy about the show – the music, the acts, the costumes, everything. All her family and friends knew was the commitment and energy she was giving it, travelling from South London to East London and Essex for the long and tiring rehearsals. For six weeks over the summer, Flynn and her fellow dancers were put through their paces as they learned the routine at the Three Mills Studios. The brief was to create a street party – something we Brits do very well – with Flynn playing the part of the iconic drunken sidekick of Eddie in Absolutely Fabulous.

Then six weeks before the big night, the action moved further out of London to the old Ford plant in Dagenham for the large-scale rehearsals outside. Reflecting on this, Flynn wrote: ‘In true Brit Grit style, optimistically donning condom-like ponchos, we rehearsed through hurricanes, stair-rod rain and burning sunshine and emerged shrivelled, soggy and burnt  for the two-hour journey home… but it really was all worth it.’

Three days before the Closing Ceremony, Flynn and her castmembers received their costumes. For Flynn and the fellow Patsys – one of every colour on the different trucks – she was given a dog-tooth skirt suit, pussy bow blouse, 4 inch heels and a blonde, backcombed wig. Every prop and person from each group was in the colour of their truck.

On the actual day, I hand over to Flynn’s words, as only she can convey the real excitement of the experience: ‘On the day of the closing ceremony we had to be at the Stadium 12 hours before the show and unlike the Opening Ceremony, the Closing had to be mobile – wheeled in during the few hours between the last race and the show starting, so there were hours of hanging around whilst the technical teams practised the intricate timings of music and machines.  Gradually we transformed ourselves into our characters and were happily entertained by countless celebrities walking past (Russell Brand was very user-friendly!). Then we got the 15 minute call before “curtain up” and were hidden from the crowd on the trucks wrapped in newspaper.

© BBC 2012

Flynn and her co-stars strutting their stuff during West End Girls.
© BBC 2012

‘We rolled into the stadium to the sounds of Emile Sande singing Read All About It. As Del Boy and Rodney emerged from the exploding Robin Reliant, the sides of our truck fell away and literally the crowd roared!! For the next 12 minutes and to the live performances by Madness, the Grenadier Guards, Pet Shop Boys and One Direction… we did our thing… and it was AWESOME!!!’

I must admit trying to spot my normally brunette godmother on TV amongst a sea of dancers while wearing a blonde wig was quite tricky – but I finally spotted her during Pet Shop Boys’ 80s classic West End Girls (and thank goodness it wasn’t during One Direction as I will probably always associate that song with Flynn’s dancing now!).

So after the euphoria of performing to an estimated million worldwide, what will Flynn remember about the whole experience? I hand back to her: ‘Exceptional , talented, motivational, ever patient casting staff, show directors, dance captains who said (and we believed them ) that we were “fierce”… Rehearsing routines in my head on long tube journeys to Essex borders and nonchalantly wearing my Olympic ID that said ‘cast’… Knowing I was part of a “once in a lifetime” and for some, life-changing experience and absorbing the electric energy of performing for 80,000 people.

‘What have I  taken away? Apart from the great memories and new friends, a renewed optimism in people and myself and what we can achieve… and the fact I can put ‘cast of Closing Ceremony’ on my CV… it may come in useful!’

  • Photos are copyright of Flynn Harmer unless stated otherwise. Many thanks to Flynn for sharing her Olympic story with MOAMG. We’re so proud of you!
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

What a stage! The Olympic Stadium

For other ‘Lympics posts and photos of last summer, read It’s been a wild ride! Reflecting on my London Olympics experience or Follow the Wenlocks: Olympic discovery trails around London or Olympic Torch Relay comes to Crystal Palace or They put the Great into Great Britain: Team GB’s victory parade

They put the Great into Great Britain | Olympians and Paralympians join Team GB’s victory parade

It’s been a wild ride! Reflecting on my London Olympics experience

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

The rings in the Olympic Park

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Police officer and sprint coach John Powell carrying the torch at Crystal Palace

Today, Londoners woke up with an Olympic hangover. And yes, while plenty may have been nursing an alcohol-related hangover, for most of us it’s a different kind – a sudden end of an emotional rollercoaster of pride, admiration, joy and bittersweet moments that have dominated the past two weeks.

After years of planning, months of warnings about the transport chaos and lots of rumours about the opening and closing ceremonies, it’s hard to believe the Olympics are actually over. It’s only been a day and yet, I already miss them. Unlike a memorable holiday which you could repeat (although its never the same second time round….), this time there will be no second chances. The London Olympics was the once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us.

Today I, like so many other Londoners, are in mourning, but are also relieved. I don’t think I could take much more, I was emotionally and physically tired. As the Olympics coincided with the visits from two close friends from Australia and Jamaica, I felt compelled to take advantage of both the games being in my city and spending as much time as possible with my friends because who knows how long it would be before I saw them again.

Men's Cycle Race © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Men’s Cycle Race at Constitution Hill

Reflecting on the past 18 days, I laugh at how I’ve transformed into a non-sport watcher to an Olympic obsessive (at least that’s what some of my friends have called me… and I concede, they’re right!). Exactly a year to the day I went to the Olympic Park, I found out I had won tickets to the games through my bank Lloyds TSB. I was excited for sure, but at that point it was more the fact I had actually won something. I said to friends, ‘Oh, I’m not really into sports, but it’ll be good to soak up the atmosphere.’ Now having experienced the games, I am humoured by my former attitude.

It was only a few months before the games, I found out I had won tickets to the men’s hockey. I was pleased, but as I had no knowledge of hockey, I wasn’t quite full of excitement. In the months running up to the Olympics, myself and my friends and colleagues frequently discussed our fears of getting to work after hearing warnings of the special Olympic lanes and congested tubes. Two weeks before the games, I had an email from TFL warning me it could take up to 30 minutes to get on a tube at Victoria – a station I use everyday.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Men’s Hockey at the Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Patriotic: Some Team GB fans

However, when it came to it, the warnings appeared to have scared everyone off. My first morning commuting to work, I actually found it quieter than normal. I knew a lot of people had escaped London over their fears over the Olympic chaos. Of course, stations like Stratford and Wembley were incredibly busy, but thanks to the TFL and games volunteers, the transport system ran smoothly. In fact, TFL, if you’re listening, the whole running the tube until 2am… I’d quite like that to continue!

A few days before the opening ceremony, my first flicker of Olympic fever happened when I went to Crystal Palace Park in south London to watch the torch relay. I watched four different men, including Olympian Marlon Devonish and London Youth Games chairman Anthony Kendall, carrying the torch. Being in the summer holidays, there were a lot of families around, but the giddy excitement of the kids rubbed off on you.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Winning: GB fans go mad after we win the hockey

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Watching the action on the big screen in the Olympic Park

The show kicked off with a stunning spectacle of an opening ceremony by Danny Boyle. As I was not there and only watched it on TV, I won’t linger on it too long, but it made me swell with pride of being British, but most importantly a Londoner. During the day I had been out and about in the capital – by the River Thames and in Covent Garden and buzz and excitement was everywhere. After the show ended, I was suddenly hooked, drawn into the compelling lure of those five rings and knew I had to see as much as possible. Although I worked full-time, doing at least 45 hours a week, I used every moment possible of my spare time to soak up the Olympics (and my visiting friends’ company). I was in my flat only to sleep, getting by on 4 or 5 hours sleep a night and getting through the day with Red Bull.

First thing on the Saturday morning – despite an impending 9 hour night shift later that day, my mother and I headed down to Constitution Hill to watch the Men’s Cycle Race. Just 1km from the finish line at The Mall, we stood with hundreds of people from countries all around the world. Unlike some other sporting events I have seen on TV, there was no rivalry here. Everyone was cheering everyone, regardless of their country and whatever our political history with it. I loved seeing the normally traffic-filled, polluted roads of Hyde Park Corner awash with pedestrians, not cars and trucks, with the drab grey tarmac replaced by the colours of the world’s flags. Ahead of the bikes passing, people hammered on the sidelines with excitement and we did a few Mexican waves. When the cyclists finally arrived, they whizzed past in seconds. The leader was out of our sight in moments, but the crowd showed just as much appreciation for the athletes at the back. The true spirit of the games is to cheer everyone on – the sentiment being most of the spectators and myself could never dream of attempting what they have, so good on them for trying anyway. First isn’t everything.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Olympic Stadium all lit up

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The orbit – which has received a mixed reponse from the public

However, by the Monday, I was ill and had to take two days off work. It was only then, I truly got sucked in! With daytime TV generally being known as bad, I fortunately had the BBC’s excellent coverage to keep me entertained. I particularly enjoyed the men’s synchronised diving and men’s team gymnastics – 10 minutes of edge of your seat tension when 4th place Japan argued over some points and we were were dramatically knocked down from silver to bronze. Every time Team GB won a gold, I was incredibly moved, and am not ashamed to admit I cried a little when Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy won gold.

On Friday 3rd August, I finally got into the Olympic Park. Many friends and colleagues were jealous and I acknowledged how lucky I was to get inside it. Other friends who had bought tickets at non-Olympic venues expressed their disappointment they couldn’t get inside the park. My day started with a lovely reception by Lloyds TSB, where my sister and I were presented with our tickets and some souvenirs. We even got to hold a torch – one of the many things which made my day. Heeding warnings from TFL, we opted to go to West Ham. Despite a blissfully sunny morning, the heavens opened with heavy rain when we got there and we got a bit wet. However, by the time we walked the 25 minutes to the entrance of the Olympic Park, it was back to glorious sunshine, which remained for the rest of the day.

Inside the park, I wasn’t quite prepared for the sheer scale. The roar from just outside the Olympic Stadium as we ate our lunch was immense… and infectious. After realising it was a 20 minute walk to the Riverside Arena, we had to do a bit of power walking to get there in time for the hockey match. Once inside, we settled down with bottles of cider to watch Germany play India. We decided to support Germany as we had some relatives there, but both teams were getting equal support. For the second match, we were lucky enough to see our own boys – Team GB play Pakistan. Although we were cheering on GB – of course – I felt sorry for Pakistan supporters being so outnumbered. Whether it was the team’s skills or our rousing support, GB won 4-1, prompting a enthusiastic response from all of us.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The cycling part of the Women’s Triathlon in Hyde Park

After our game ended, we were then free to stay in the Olympic Park. Our attempts to get tickets for an evening session weren’t fruitful, so we settled with watching the swimming and cycling on the big screen by the Velodrome. With the warm sunshine, amazing atmosphere and bottles of cider on sale nearby, it was the perfect day. It sounds a cliché, but I will remember that day so fondly for the rest of my life.

Despite my long day at the Olympic Park – which involved a lot of walking and cheering – which lets face it, takes a lot out of you, I was up bright and early the next morning for the Women’s Triathlon at Hyde Park. Although we just missed the swimming due to the logistics of meeting a big group of friends, we got good viewpoints to cheer on the athletes on the cycling laps, before settling down to watch the running on the big screen in the park. A lot of my friends with me didn’t have tickets to the games, but said they were loving the atmosphere and were so glad they were robbed of their Saturday morning sleep-in.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Team GB fans cheer on Bradley Wiggins as he appears at BT London Live Hyde Park

Potters Field Park © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The big screen at Potters Field Park by Tower Bridge

Afterwards, we moved into BT London Live in Hyde Park – a free festival-like event with big screens, live music, food and drinks and appearances by Olympians. We watched some gymnastics and cycling in the hot sun, again while sipping cider, before going on to wave our flags when gold medallist Bradley Wiggins appeared on stage. Later that day, I went to a BBQ which ended with eating strawberries and cream while watching Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah win golds in the stadium – amazing TV viewing.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Inspirational: Gold medallist Jessica Ennis at the adidasunderground party

Back at work the following week, we had the Olympics on all day, proving a distraction from our job at hand. After working early mornings and long days, every night I was out again – watching Olympics in a pub or on a big screen. I managed to watch events at both Potters Field Park and Blackheath, which made the viewing all the more special, sharing the euphoria with others when Team GB secured another gold. On Monday 6th August, I was lucky enough to be invited to adidasunderground’s party in Shoreditch. There were tons of celebrities inside, but the main attraction were the gold medallists in the building, including a newly-minted Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Tim Baillie and Etienne Scott. The glow of ‘I finally did it’ could be read on their faces and it was very special to be in the same room of them so soon after they had won gold. I briefly spoke to Jessica and congratulated her on her win and she was very friendly and gracious in reply. I ended up only having about 3 hours sleep before work, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave. The room just oozed brilliance and I hoped it would rub off on me.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Shooting some hoops: Women’s basketball semi-final Australia V USA

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The rings at the O2 Arena, aka North Greenwich Arena

After playing the ticket ‘game’ (going through the motions on the official tickets website to find they are unavailable or way too expensive) every day, that so many of us did, I finally got lucky and bought some tickets to the Women’s Semi-Final Basketball. I had made plans with a friend, but I told her we would have to change them and go and watch some basketball instead… unsurprisingly, she jumped at the chance. Although it wasn’t Team GB playing, it was USA V Australia – two places I have lived and worked in in the past. However, I decided to opt for Australia, having lived there for longer, and chose some yellow and green clothes to show my support. Although I was wondering if the Olympic Park spirit spread to the North Greenwich Arena (or O2 Arena to us Londoners), my fears were unfounded. Aussie and Americans are known for being pretty vocal and enthusiastic sports fans so it was great atmosphere as we cheered them on. Although Australia started well, Team USA took control halfway through and ended up winning 86-73.

Afterwards, we took advantage of the early finish to take the Emirates Airline cable car across to ExCel – where the boxing was on. Although a little bumpier than I anticipated and over very quickly, the views were amazing. As you travel over the river, you look over the roof of the O2 Arena and beyond to Canary Wharf and Westminster. I would particularly recommend going near sunset and take your Oyster card – then you don’t need to queue for tickets. Walking to the DLR near the ExCel, we ran into excited Irish fans, having just watched Katie Taylor secure the country’s first gold. After getting the DLR, we then crossed over Tower Bridge – which was adorned with the five Olympic rings. The sunset last Thursday was particularly stunning. As I stood surrounded by tourists from all over the world, I thought, I am so damn lucky to live here. As the sun went down, the Thames came to life like never before with all the bridges lit up to mark the games. Old Billingsgate Market was a beacon of red, white and blue light as the French’s Hospitality House during the games.

Tower Bridge Olympic rings © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Our favourite bridge – Tower Bridge all lit up

So that brings me to my final Olympic experience on the day of the closing ceremony. Despite a hangover and not much sleep (bit of a pattern here with the no sleeping), I dragged myself out of bed to watch the Men’s Marathon. Some friends and I ended up finding a good spot by Monument tube station on Cannon Street. Unlike our London Marathon in April, this one involved three laps, with us being just 3 kilometres from the finish line at The Mall by the final lap. Every single runner was cheered on, but again, our most rapturous applause was saved for our Team GB runners Lee Merrion and Scott Overall. Unfortunately, one runner felt incredibly ill on the final lap and dropped out just beside us. It was quite distressing to see the mix of pain he was in and the disappointment on his face. When he stood up assisted by paramedics to head off for more medical treatment, all of us applauded him for being so brave and inspirational to enter in the first place.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Lee Merrien on the final lap of the Men’s Marathon on Closing Ceremony Day

So, last night, I watched the closing ceremony alone on TV as was due to get up for work at 5.30am. I’m very proud to say my godmother was dancing in it and I briefly saw her during the brilliant Pet Shops Boys’ performance. With music being so subjective, I found people divided on Twitter and Facebook. I personally didn’t enjoy the Spice Girls (but never was a fan) and found Liam Gallagher a bit too nasally, but loved George Michael, Ray Davies and The Who.

So waking up today, there’s no rush to flick on the Beeb and catch-up on who is where in the medals table. It’s all over. As we handed over to Rio De Janeiro yesterday, I thought ‘you’ve got a hell of a job on your hands to top this’. And while I am contemplating going back to Rio for the 2016 Games (I visited in 2003 and it is one of my favourite cities in the world), it’ll never be the London Olympics. While I’m a new convert to the excitement and joy of the Olympics, part of my passion for the games was down to being a Londoner. Many doubted us, but the past two weeks was a giant ‘up yours’ to those doubters! Good luck Rio!

Follow the Wenlocks | Olympic discovery trails around London

No ticket, no problem! Guide to enjoying the 2012 Olympics in London for free

Olympic rings © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Like a majority of Londoners I have spoken to, I’ve been surprised by the sudden onset of Olympic fever. After months, if not years, of negative press about the spiralling costs, the difficulty in getting (affordable!) tickets, engineering and road works and… sorry have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but those horrific Boris ‘it’s the big one’ announcements at stations, it’s finally here.

Since going to watch the Olympic torch relay last Monday, I have been growing more and more excited about the games. Many people like me, who don’t usually have an interest in sports and haven’t watched previous Olympics, are stunned to find a newfound enthusiasm for the 2012 Games, which have come out of nowhere. During Friday night’s Opening Ceremony, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were awash with pride (from the Brits) and admiration (from my foreign pals) and it appears the country has finally embraced the games.

So although I have been lucky enough to win tickets to the hockey (of which I know nothing about…), most of my friends haven’t got tickets so we’ve been trying to find ways of soaking up the atmosphere and even catch a game without spending a penny. On Saturday, I went to watch the Men’s Cycle Road Race on Constitution Hill and it was great fun. So here’s a guide to enjoying the Games and the other events on in London over the summer.

Free Olympic and Paralympic Events (click links for detailed maps and schedules)

  • Wednesday 1st AugustCycling Road – Women’s and Men’s Individual Time Trials.

The Women’s Individual Time Trial starts at 12:30 and ends (estimated) 13:45 at Hampton Court Palace, goes through Esher, Hersham, Cobham and Thames Ditton.

The Men’s Individual Time Trial starts at 14:15 and ends (estimated) 16:10 at Hampton Court Palace, going through similar route to Women’s, but also including Teddington and Hampton Wick.

serpentine olympics © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Women’s Triathlon includes ticketed seating on the north bank of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, but the remainder of the course is free for spectators. The swimming part (1.5km) will start in the Serpentine at 9am, then the cycling (43km in 7 laps of 6.1km), which will go along South Carriage Drive in the park, down Constitution Hill and back to the park, then there’s a 10km run (4 laps of 2.5km), ending at approx 10:30am. The winner will be presented with their medal at the end.

The Men’s 20km Race Walk starts at 17:00 at The Mall. The rules stipulate one foot may remain on the ground at all times as the competitors speed-walk along the route of 10 laps around the 2km between The Mall and the Constitution Hill and back again. The Mall area is ticketed, but Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial are free.

The Women’s Marathon starts at 11am at The Mall (ticket holders only), before taking a route along Victoria Embankment, St Paul’s, Cannon Street and Blackfriars before ending at The Mall.

The Men’s Triathlon is pretty much the same route and set-up as the women’s above. So apart from ticketed area on Serpentine’s north bank, spectators can find free spots along the route in and outside of the park. The event starts at 11am and is scheduled to finish at 13:15 with the medal presentation at the climax.

Men's Cycle Race © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

The Women’s 10K Swimming Marathon starts at 12:00 and will include 10 laps of the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Apart from ticketed area on Serpentine’s north bank, the south bank is free for spectators.

The Men’s 10K Swimming Marathon starts at 12:00 and will include 10 laps of the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Apart from ticketed area on Serpentine’s north bank, the south bank is free for spectators.

The Men’s 50km Race Walk starts at 9am at The Mall. The rules stipulate one foot may remain on the ground at all times as the competitors speed-walk along the route of 25 laps around the 2km course between The Mall and the Constitution Hill and back again. The Mall area is ticketed, but Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial are free.

The Women’s 20km Race Walk starts at 17:00 at The Mall. The rules stipulate one foot may remain on the ground at all times as the competitors speed-walk along the route of 10 laps around the 2km course between The Mall and the Constitution Hill and back again. The Mall area is ticketed, but Constitution Hill and around the Queen Victoria Memorial are free.

Again, very similar route to the Women’s, starting at The Mall at 11am (ticket holders only) but then going along Victoria Embankment into the City of London and back again. Estimated to finish at 13:30 with the medal presentation.

The Men’s and Women’s Marathon both take place today. Some athletes will compete with wheelchairs or throwing frames, some with prostheses or with guidance from a sighted companion.

  • Monday 10 SeptemberTeam GB Parade

Giving the public a chance to cheer for and celebrate with the athletes of the Games as they parade from Mansion House in the City of London, past St Paul’s Cathedral, The Strand, Trafalgar Square and ending in The Mall.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012BT London Live

BT have commandeered three famous London spaces – Hyde Park, Victoria Park in East London and Trafalgar Square – to give Londoners and visitors the chance to enjoy the games if they haven’t got a ticket. As well as big TV screens being set up to watch the action live from the Olympic Park and other sites, there is also a variety of entertainment, including concerts. While many of the bigger concerts in Hyde Park will be paid ticket only, to watch the actual games is free entry. A certain amount of tickets for guaranteed entry are available in advance online, but there will also be tickets available each day on a first come, first served basis, depending on capacity. While Hyde Park and Victoria Park are currently running from now until 12 August, the Trafalgar Square area will be open over the whole summer, including the Paralympics. Hyde Park will have a sports area so you can try your hand at your favourite sports, while Victoria Park will have an Observation Wheel, zipline, bungee trampolines and water-zorbing pool. Visit BT London Live’s website for more information.Tower Bridge Olympic rings © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Olympic Photo Opportunities

Even when you’re not at a sports venue, you can be sure wherever you are in London, they’ll be an Olympic symbol or event going on. The iconic Olympic rings have been placed on Tower Bridge, while the Paralympic symbol will be illuminated on the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square from 19 August.

Every night during the Olympics and Paralympics, images from the Games will be projected along the Houses of Parliament.

London’s famous bridges will be lit up in dazzling light displays every night of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. My tip is go for dinner or drinks at one of the many restaurants or bars spanning the Southbank between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge then walk off your dinner while checking out the bridges.Embankment Wenlock © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Games Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville Discovery Tours

Wenlock – the official mascot of the Olympics – and Mandeville – the official mascot of the Paralympics – have been somewhat controversial, but following their recent appearance on the streets of London, are growing on some Londoners. The Mayor Of London’s office have put together six walking routes in London with different designs of Wenlock and Mandeville highlighting history and culture of the surrounding area. Go to the MOLpresents website to find maps, or see how many you can spot by yourself. Fun activity for adults and children alike.

Big Screen at Potters Fields Park and The Scoop

Watch the games on a big screen at Potters Fields Park on the south bank of the Thames, in between Tower Bridge and City Hall. Nearby is The Scoop amphitheatre, with free music, theatre and films available to all. Visit The Scoop’s website for more info.

Special Events around London

  • Sacrilege – inflatable Stonehenge tour of London

Artist Jeremy Deller has created a large inflatable, bouncy castle replica of Stonehenge for both adults and children to jump on. It will be popping up in parks and spaces in London. Check the website for locations and dates.

  • Bandstand Marathon – free live music

On Sunday 9 September, over 500 bandstands across the country will host free musical performances. Visit the Bandstand Marathon website for more details.

  • Carnaval del Pueblo – Latin American festival
On Saturday 18 August, one of London’s newest attractions, the Pleasure Gardens in Royal Victoria Docks, will host this festival of music, food, dance. For more information, visit Carnaval del Pueblo’s website.

Olympic Torch Relay comes to Crystal Palace