As the first city to have held the Olympic Games three times – previously in 1908 and 1948 – London has been centre stage once more as host of the Games of the XXX Olympiad. While the city continues to celebrate its summer to remember, we give you an insight of life after the Games and the legacy the Olympics will leave for the capital.

olympic park

One of the main focuses of the London 2012 Games, with up to 180,000 spectators a day taking in the multitude of events, the Olympic Park will be transformed from an Olympic site into a new piece of the city, in the heart of London’s East End.

By spring 2014, the 560-acre Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford will be like no other in the UK. As well as its iconic venues, the park will have two distinct areas – the landscaped river valley in the north and a 50-acre urban landscape in the south.

The North Park will open first, in 2013, and will include a nature themed community hub and playground and a 7,500-capacity indoor entertainment venue with a yearly programme of high-profile sporting and music events.

The South Plaza will sit between the Stadium, Aquatics Centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The tree-lined promenade will connect spaces to be used for events and attractions including cultural programmes, pop-up street food stalls and community events.

The Olympic Stadium  © London 2012

As well as the green, open spaces and tranquil waterways, the park will be a place to live and work, with five new neighbourhoods and its own commercial district.

With Europe’s largest urban shopping centre right on its doorstep and thousands of hotel rooms just a short walk away, among them the newly-opened Holiday Inn and StaybridgeSuites, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is set to become a leading leisure and business destination.

park venues

The Stadium: The centrepiece of the London 2012 Games, the Stadium will retain athletics at its core after the Games and will host a range of sporting, entertainment and cultural events. It will also be the host venue for the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

VeloPark: The VeloPark will be owned and managed by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority after the Games and will be known as the Lee Valley VeloPark. The 6,000-seat velodrome will be used by high-performance athletes who will train alongside the local and regional community.

Aquatics Centre: Situated on the main gateway into the Park, the Aquatics Centre, with two 50-metre pools, will provide an important legacy for London, which only has two of this size currently. Following its transformation after the Games, the centre will cater for all levels of swimming ability and aquatic disciplines, offering a range of programmes. The centre will be open to the local community and schools.

the arcelormittal orbit

The ArcelorMittal Orbit © London 2012The ArcelorMittal Orbit, Britain’s largest piece of public art at just over 377 feet high, commissioned to provide a lasting legacy of the 2012 Games, was designed by Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor and one of the world’s leading structural designers, Cecil Balmond. While the Games are on, visitors with tickets for the Orbit can take the glass lift to the top in just 30 seconds for stunning views over the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park and the whole of London.

When it reopens in 2014, the ArcelorMittal Orbit will operate as a visitor attraction with ticketed viewing from the observation decks. It will be able to accommodate around 5,000 visitors a day, with an estimated one million people visiting the attraction in the first year. Visitors will be able to take the lift to the top, and then descend via the 455 steps of the spiral staircase to view the 2,000 tonnes of steel used to make this incredible structure.

With its featured lighting made up of 250 coloured spotlights, the Orbit is set to become a beacon of East London both day and night in the years to come.

no tickets? no problem!

you missed out on Olympics tickets, there are several events in the latter stages and in the Paralympics that you can enjoy for free:

  •  August 4, 11: Race Walk – taking place on the streets of central London, finishing at The Mall, this is a series of speed-walk events including a men’s and women’s 20-kilometre race and a men’s 50k race.
  •  August 4, 7: Triathlon – watch athletes compete in a demanding triathlon schedule, which includes swimming, cycling and running, in London’s Hyde Park. The competition is made up of a 1,500m swim, 40k cycle ride and a 10k run.
  •  August 5, 12: Marathon – the Olympic Marathon will pass landmarks such as the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. Unlike the London Marathon, with 35,000 runners, the Olympic Marathon only has around 80 competitors.
  •  August 9-10: Swimming marathon – the world’s best marathon swimmers will take to the Serpentine in Hyde Park to compete in the Olympic 10k Marathon Swim, completing six laps of the lake. The south side of the lake will be open to spectators without tickets.
  •  September 9: Paralympic marathons – watch the men’s and women’s marathons. Large parts of the course are free to watch, with access to The Mall by ticket only.

All details were correct when published in tlm - the travel & leisure magazine, please check before you visit the Olympic Park and events.