Where to Watch the Olympics in London: A Cheapo’s Guide


It's possible to enjoy the Olympics in London without buying tickets to events. Photo: Diamond Geezer
It's possible to enjoy the Olympics in London without buying tickets to events. Photo: Diamond Geezer

So London has officially gone Olympics crazy. There is barely a television program that doesn’t talk about past sporting legends and future possible gold medalists, barely a corner you can turn without being reminded there are only five, four, three, two.. more days to go. As the excitement builds Londoners are starting to wonder what on earth is going to happen to their city come Friday night.

And the truth is, nobody really knows. Will it be so busy that buying a pint in a pub becomes an impossible task or will the vast majority of locals retreat into their living rooms giving up the streets to foreign visitors? I have a sneaking suspicion it will be the former. Either way, it is going to be a memorable time to be in London so here are some tips to enjoying the Games on a Cheapo-sized budget.

Live sights

Big screens and bucket-loads of activities will be going on in central London’s three designated live sites: Hyde Park, Potters Fields and Victoria Park.

Visitors will be able to soak up the atmosphere with live music, plenty of family-friendly activities and lots of enormous screens in each of the parks, which will be showing all the action live and direct from the Olympic venues. It’s free to access the parks every day between July 28 – August 11 and there are a few “guaranteed entry” tickets still available online.

Tickets are also still on sale for the opening ceremony concert (July 27) which will be held in Hyde Park and cost £60 per person.

Alternative Opening Ceremony parties

If a £60 entry fee sounds a bit hefty, more Cheapo-friendly options will be taking place at The Water Poet pub in Shoreditch and Rich Mix, a social enterprise in Bethnal Green.

The former is undoubtedly one of the most fun-filled pubs in London. Not only will the Opening Ceremony be aired on nine screens inside the pub, but the whole place will be Olympics-themed for the night with sporting tournaments such as ping pong and pool. Best of all – it’s free to get in! Beyond the opening night the pub will also be showing all the other events throughout the Olympics.

Alternatively, Rich Mix will be hosting an evening of comedy, music and highlights from the Opening Ceremony on the big screen. The entry fee will set you back £10. More about Rich Mix in a previous post.

Where to Watch the Olympic Marathon

The Olympic Marathon is on August 5 (Women’s Marathon) and August 12 (Men’s Marathon). This is an entirely free event (except at the start/finish line) so the only thing Cheapo’s will need to worry about it is bagging a good spot along the route!

Both Marathons will start at The Mall at 11 a.m. and will complete a three lap circuit of the North Bank of the River Thames and through the city of London, before heading back to the Mall. Get there early and plan your route by checking out the estimated arrival times on the interactive Marathon maps at London 2012.

The Olympic Journey: Story of the Games

If you fancy reliving the very best of past Olympic Games, pop into this comprehensive exhibition, which is set to open in the foyer of The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on July 28. The exhibition runs until August 12 and details personal stories from 16 different heroic Olympians through the ages.

Still need a place to sleep?

If you still haven’t booked a hotel for your Olympic trip, you might be surprised to hear that there are still many affordable hotels available for Olympic dates. In fact, rates seem to have dropped as the event has grown closer. Check out our list of recommended budget hotels in London, plus our previous post on alternative accommodations, including Camp In London.

About the author

Nina Derham

About the author: Nina is a freelance travel writer who will leave no stone unturned in her quest to discover the very best on offer in a destination. She recently relocated to London after spending over four years in Madrid and is currently enjoying rediscovering her home town.

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