2012: All eyes on London

The English National Ballet, National Dance Company Wales and Scottish Ballet join forces for the first time in a groundbreaking national celebration of dance inspired by London 2012. More cultural events can be found at www.london2012.com.

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games don’t kick off until July 27, but London has undergone a giant transformation since it was picked in 2005 as the event’s host site. Metro talked with Chloe Couchman, Head of Communications for Business & Major Events for the London & Partners, the city’s official promotional organization, about what London has done to prep for the millions of new visitors. Now is the perfect time to book a trip to the city — during the world’s foremost sports competition or not.

Top 3 reasons London’s calling
   
London has gotten a huge, expensive face-lift.
“We’ve seen [more than] 11 billion pounds’ worth of investment — that’s everything from new stations to new rail lines to new hotels,” says Couchman about the huge improvements the city has undergone since it was picked as host by the International Olympic Committee. “Getting the Olympics means a huge halo effect for the entire city. The amount of regeneration and change because of it is huge.” Couchman points to the new Stratford International station, which will connect visitors from the Olympic Park to central London, as one of those major, once-in-a-lifetime improvements.

Londoners are ready to party.
“We’ve been hosting the Cultural Olympiad since they handed the baton over to London in 2008; it’s the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements,” Couchman notes. “That means amazing art shows and famous artists who come to take part in special, one-off exhibits and events here.” With the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee taking place, as well as The World Shakespeare Festival and the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens (to name just a few), she notes: “Londoners are in quite the party mode and ready to welcome the world.” She suggests checking out the Limited Edition London segment on their website, www.visit
london.com, to learn more about other cultural events taking place in 2012.

Even if you don’t have an Olympic ticket, there are still plenty of ways to take advantage of the London Olympics
.
Couchman names three such events: The Triathlon held in Hyde Park, the marathon and the road cycling event. “You can still see amazing athletes with London as an iconic backdrop,” she notes. There will also be communal spaces all over the city for visitors and locals alike to watch the broadcast competitions.

Where to stay

Couchman says if you want to plan a visit in 2012 to visit London, it’s best to do your research first. “Try to use official websites, like Visitlondon.com and London2012.com to find out essential information,” she advises. She says there are accommodations for every price point, from campsites to 5-star hotels. One such 5-star hotel? The Jumeirah Carlton Tower, which is located right in the heart of fashionable Knightsbridge, one of the world’s most exclusive shopping havens. If you can tear yourself away from one of their luxurious rooms, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, as well as luxury designer boutiques on Sloane Street, are just a stroll away for those who consider shopping a real Olympic sport. 


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