PHOTOS: Inside London’s Houses of Nations: The next best thing to Olympic venues
London has an extreme case of Olympic fever and the medicine for it is beer.
For the thousands of fans who did not score tickets to events, London has set up multiple public viewings, where big screen TVs show the events live. Nothing makes a better match than drinking and sports and that’s where the Houses of Nations come in.
These unique pop-up venues dot the city map, each offering a familiar place for fans of many countries, with traditional fare, screenings of events with local athletes — and don’t forget the beer.
“If you haven’t got tickets, you get the atmosphere here, which is better than watching at home on your couch,” Andy Pronger, a Team Great Britain fan told Metro from inside a giant tented bar next to London Tower. White leather couches and strings of lights across the ceiling would give off the impression of an nightclub, if it weren’t for the sports coverage being aired on giant projector screens.
Ping pong tables and arcade games bring fans from all countries together in their own friendly competitions. Some Houses of Nations are hangouts for all international fans, others are geared toward specific nationalities. Fans can find Casa Brazil, Czech House, French Olympic Village, Russia Park and many more across London. There isn’t a specific place for Team USA fans, but many Americans find their way to one of the two “come one, come all” Houses of Nations.
“I really like it here,” American student Rachel Eldridge told Metro as she drank Pimms with other American and British friends. “It’s a cool venue to watch the games, enjoy it and be a part of it, and not have to pay for the £200 tickets.”
At the Africa House, set up in Hyde Park, little boys playing soccer weave between visitors watching the Olympic events on a screen. Other fans stop at the booths where individual countries showcase their culture’s food, music and traditions.
Inside the Deutsches Haus at the Museum of London Docklands, beer flows and fans gobble bratwurst or roasted pork with pickled cabbage. Cheering erupted when the German equestrian team took gold in eventing.
“It’s very exciting because our fans are all together and they enjoy the success of our teams,” Rita Winter said, a German fan who traveled to London for the games. “We won two gold medals and a bronze today.”
Kelton Scott and his wife Heidi came to the House of Nations not for a drink, but to get a photo with an official Olympic torch — one of the many incentives the pop-up bars offer to bring fans in from off the street — but that’s not to say they, and many other fans, haven’t spent plenty of time in London’s rich pub scene.
“Drinking is a big part of the culture of England, as you know,” Scott reminded Metro. “You can’t pay to get into every venue of every sport, so this is good for the local businesses.”
Check out these super fans enjoying everything London’s Houses of Nations had to offer today:
(All photos by Cassandra Garrison/Metro)
German fans celebrate their team’s win in eventing.
Inside the Deutsches Haus for German fans.
Fans enjoy the food of their countries at Houses of Nations, like this bratwurst.
Olympic enthusiasts of all countries are welcome at the House of Nations near London Tower.
Americans Rachel Eldridge and Nicole Mendez with friends at House of Nations
French fans pose with their Olympic torch.
Fans from the Netherlands take in the atmosphere.
Kelton and Heidi Scott, from England, pose with an official Olympic torch.
The Africa House features booths from many different countries.
Traditional African fare.