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London Olympics for Free

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Race Walk

The Mall

 

Missed out on London 2012 tickets? Don't worry - you can still watch quite a few Olympic events in and around London for free this summer.

 
 

The London Olympics on a shoestring

You don't have to spend big bucks to get a slice of the action this summer

 

With the London Olympics fast approaching it's not too late to get involved and experience the greatest sporting show in the world from up close without breaking the bank.

Granted, for those with deep pockets there are still some extortionate corporate packages available but for mere mortals, there are many ways to maximise your involvement without remortgaging the house.

From Olympic Park passes to free days watching the Olympic action on giant screens in London's most famous park you can still play a part in the biggest celebration London has seen in years.

Several Olympic events do not require tickets with the marathon, race walks, the cycling road race and the triathlon all with parts of the course available to view for free, no tickets required.

Hyde Park is the main site for the BT London Live events where spectators can watch all the Olympic action for free on giant screens. A second location is found at Victoria Park in East London and a third, at Trafalgar Square, will take the reins during the Paralympics. The sites which include sporting activities and workshops, as well as live musical performances in the evenings are free to enter but will have a capacity limit. Sign up at www.btlondonlive.com and pay 3.50 admin fee for guaranteed entry.

Radio One's Hackney Weekend is now over but there are other free musical and entertainment spectacles taking place during the Games. Part of the London 2012 Festival, the BT River of Music (July 21-22) features free gigs at six Thames-side locations from Battersea Park in the south to the Tower of London in the east. Another festival Scipmylo at Hackney Marshes takes place from July 27 to August 12 is free to enter (with performances from 7) and includes comedy, music, food and big screens showing the sport.

Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Blur and New Order are but a handful of bands and musical artists performing in Hyde Park during July and August and while tickets are now sold out, it's free to walk the perimetre of the live zone and listen in while taking a stroll in the park. There's also the popular Proms in the Park on 8 September (tickets 35), a day before the Paralympic Closing Ceremony.

A raft of Olympic Park passes were made available in May but are now sold out until a possible second wave of tickets. For just 10 spectators can spend a few hours in the park wandering around the venues and while the ticket does not grant you access to any events, it's a great way of soaking up the atmosphere. Combined with a ticket up the Orbit sculpture (15) it's a perfect Olympic day out without paying through the roof.

If you're too late for Olympic Park passes then a trip to the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre could be the answer: from John Lewis you can get surprisingly brilliant panoramic views of the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre. Westfield is also the base of the Australian Olympic Committee, as well as one of Team GB's hospitality hubs throughout the Games.

In fact, key Olympic nations are opening National Hospitality Houses at stunning locations all over London during the Olympics, with many offering free entry and a whole host of interactive events from parties to athlete meet-and-greets including big screen coverage of events and medal ceremonies.

Kensington Gardens welcomes a whole Africa Village as well as two Russian zones; Casa Italia at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster promises a free 'Made in Italy' expo with tasty nibbles and wins; the House of Switzerland in Glaziers Hall has a jam-packed events schedule and is fully open to the public; the Dutch will turn Alexandra Palace into a beer hall and Casa Brasil will turn Somerset House into one big samba party for two months.

Another attraction that is set to open ahead of the Games is the Thames Cable Car, which will start carrying passengers across the river between The O2 Arena and the ExCeL Exhibition Centre at midday on Thursday 28th June. Passengers will be able to use their Oyster card to ride in the gondolas 60 metres up in the air. A single fare costs 3.20 and a cash fare 4.30. Passengers can make the most of the stunning views over the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf with a non-stop round trip costing 6.40 with Oyster.

For those who have forked out a lot for Olympic tickets and have yet to book their accommodation then the cheapest option is Camp in London, a specially-devised campsite on a council sports ground in Walthamstow, a 10-minute shuttle-bus ride from the Olympic site. For more details see www.campinlondon.com (from 15pp for pitch-your-own to 40pp for pre-erected tents).

If you don't fancy the mud and rain then you can still book accommodation all over London at competitive prices by using LondonTown.com's Hotel Map.

 
 
 

Free Olympic Events - Marathon

Where to go to catch a glimpse of the athletes without paying

London Olympics: The Mall, Westminster, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AH

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station

 

Dates: 03rd - 12th August 2012

 

Spectators need not fork out a small fortune to watch the Olympics, with events such as the Marathon, Triathlon and Road Cycling all possible to view for free. Both the men's (Sunday 12th August) and women's (Sunday 5th August) Marathons take in iconic locations such as St James's Park, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament and fans will be able to line the streets and cheer on the athletes with the exception of the ticketed area along The Mall in the shadow of Buckingham Palace where the 26.2 mile (42km) marathon route begins and ends. The marathon events pass some of London's most famous landmarks - although spectators will have to save a place early on if they want to stand near popular spots like the Houses of Parliament or St Paul's Cathedral. Some locations in the City - such as Leadenhall Market - could be a safer bet, and will allow double viewings if you play your cards right. Spectators familiar with the famous London Marathon may be surprised to see how few competitors there are in the Olympic Marathon - instead of the 37,500 people we are used to seeing there will be around 80 competitors on the course. All the more reason to cheer them on as they compete to see if anyone can keep the Kenyan off the podium. See the Marathon Route Map.

 
 
 

Free Olympic Events - Triathlon

The free to view cycling route runs from Hyde Park to St James's Park

London Olympics: Hyde Park & the Serpentine, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH

Tube: Knightsbridge Station

 

Dates: 04th - 07th August 2012

 

One of the best showcases for London should be the Olympic Triathlon events, which take place in and around Hyde Park in central London on Saturday 4th (women) and Tuesday 7th August (men). Triathletes are often seen as the fittest all-round athletes in the world - and it's not surprising given the gruelling combination of swimming, cycling and running required. For London 2012, both the men's and the women's Triathlons consist of a 1,500m swim in the Serpentine Lake; a seven-lap, 40km bike ride around Hyde Park taking in both Buckingham Palace and the Wellington Arch; and a final four-lap, 10km run around the Serpentine to the finish. Spectators interested in seeing the triathlon for free should make note of the cycling route and avoid the swimming and running legs which are ticketed. See the Triathlon Route Map.

 
 
 

Free Olympic Events - Race Walk

Find out which areas of the Race Walk course are free to view

London Olympics: The Mall, Westminster, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AH

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station

 

Dates: 03rd - 12th August 2012

 

The Olympic Race Walks take place on Saturday 4th August 2012 (men's 20km) and Saturday 11th August (men's 50km and women's 20km). Beginning on The Mall (only accessible to ticket holders) the route follows a looped course around Constitution Hill passing the stunning backdrop of Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial, before finishing back at The Mall. While tickets are required for The Mall you can watch for free from certain areas of the Race Walk route, notably from the Queen Victoria Memorial up Constitution Hill where the route loops around three quarters of the way up the hill, not far from Hyde Park Corner. Get there early, as space is likely to fill up quickly and use the Race Walk Route Map to plan your best vantage point.

 
 
 

Free Olympic Events - Cycling - Road Race

The Road Cycling event travels from London to Box Hill, Surrey

London Olympics: The Mall, Westminster, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AH

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station

 

Dates: 28th July - 01st August 2012

 

The 250km cycling Road Race (July 28 and 29) makes its way from central London to the Surrey Hills and back, passing some of London's top attractions: the Natural History Museum, Buckingham Palace and Richmond Park. The race passes through Fulham and across Putney Bridge, which could be a good spot for viewing if you're in west London. Further out of town, Bushy Park and the area on the north side of Hampton Court gardens will be a scenic spot and the crowds perhaps thinner. Britain's equivalent of the Tour de France then arrives in Box Hill in Surrey where the riders will face a challenging loop around the steep hill (nine for the men and two for the women) before heading back to London for dramatic finish a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace on The Mall in central London. The men's race on 28th July is around 250km while the women's (29th July) is 140km, allowing plenty of free viewing space for fans of this hugely popular sport. See the Cycling Road Race Route Map.

 
 
 

Free Olympic Events - Cycling - Time Trial

Historic Hampton Court Palace is home to the Cycling Time Trial event

London Olympics: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Kingston, London, KT8 9AU

Tube: Richmond Station

 

Dates: 28th July - 01st August 2012

 

On Wednesday 1st August, on the fifth day of the Games, spectators can watch the Cycling Time Trial event at the historic Hampton Court in south-west London without having a ticket. The riders start at 90-second intervals and will be timed individually over a single-lap course (44km for the men, 29km for the women). The one with the quickest time wins the gold medal. Members of the public can watch the races which start on the driveway of the Palace and finish outside the grounds for free. The course passes through the boroughs of Richmond, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey and Elmbridge. Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara and Germany's Tony Martin will be amongst the favourites in the men's race - although home crowds will be cheering on our best hope Bradley Wiggins. See the Olympic Cycling - Time Trial Route Map.

 
 
Sophie Wallace

EDITOR

Sophie Wallace

6th May 2015

 

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