With the conclusion of the Olympics and Paralympics, a truly phenomenal chapter in London’s history comes to an end. London 2012 was a singular high point in the capital’s long history. Our city has never danced under a brighter spotlight. That the Games passed so successfully must have surprised even the biggest optimists. The pessimists must be reeling.
It remains to be seen how well the Olympic Park and other Games infrastructure can be adapted for everyday life (or legacy, as we almost slipped into calling it), or how big the final bill might be. But the reflux of joy, pride and inspiration continues to bubble. Will London ever be quite the same again?
The Greatest Show on Earth has moved on, but the city still has much to look forward to. We’ve put together a short chronology of reasons to be cheerful in the months and years ahead.
- 14-23 September: London Design Festival
- 22-23 September Open House London
- 10-21 October: BFI London Film Festival
- 11-14 October: Frieze Art Fair
- 10 November: Lord Mayor’s Show and Fireworks
- December: The London Overground network is due for completion, with a new branch running between New Cross and Clapham Junction, via Peckham, Denmark Hill and Wandsworth Road.
- December: Reopening of the Greenway and View Tube next to the Olympic Park.
- 10 January: The London Underground celebrates its 150th anniversary. Expect plenty of exhibitions, rides on vintage trains and Boris Johnson pretending to be a Victorian gent.
- February: The Shard’s viewing gallery opens.
- February: New parkland opens along the eastern side of the Lea Navigation.
- 25 May: Wembley hosts the Champions League Final.
- June: The 400th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Globe Theatre. Expect an exhibition or two, and perhaps a few special performances.
- June (approx): Battersea Power Station redevelopment to begin in earnest. Believe it when you see it.
- 27 July: The northern parts of the Olympic Park reopen as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. As well as parkland, the area includes the Multi-Use Arena (though we hope it retains its current epithet of The Copper Box).
- August: The London Cycling Festival is the first major sporting event to take place in (and beyond) the former Olympic Park.
- August (approx): East Village, the first new housing in the former Olympic Park, welcomes its first residents.
- October: The National Theatre Company celebrates its 50th birthday. Expect a play or two.
- December (approx): King’s Cross Square opens in front of the mainline station, offering a vast improvement on the current shitty green canopy that’s about to be knocked down.
- December: The Lee Valley VeloPark opens. As well as the former Olympic velodrome, the cycling hub includes facilities for BMX and mountain biking.
- This year is also the 400th anniversary of the opening of the New River (month unknown), which still flows through parts of north London. There’s bound to be some kind of festival.
- January (approx): State of the art hockey and tennis facilities open in the northern section of the former Olympic Park.
- January (approx): The many waterways that run through and around the former Olympic Park are reopened.
- March (approx): The British Museum’s new extension opens.
- April: Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. It’s unlikely to pass without some kind of festival.
- April (approx): The southern sections of the former Olympic Park — known, with no little scope for humour, as South Park — reopens. The area includes the Aquatics Centre (minus its ugly seating wings), the Orbit Tower and plenty of event spaces to create “a buzzing hive of cultural activity”.
- April (approx): Estimated completion of 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as the Walkie Talkie building, which will contain a large sky garden open to the public.
- June (approx): Estimated completion of the Leadenhall Building, otherwise known as the Cheesegrater, the second tallest structure in the City.
- October: Londonist celebrates its 10th anniversary. Joy and jubilation grip the capital.
- November (approx): Design Museum reopens at its new home, the former Commonwealth Institute.
- May: Possible date for the next General Election.
- August: The European Hockey Championships becomes the first major international sporting competition held in the former Olympic Park.
- September: The Rugby World Cup is held at Twickenham.
- September (approx): The landmark Canary Wharf Crossrail station is complete and should open for retail. It will be at least three more years before the trains run, however.
- April: 400 years since Shakespeare died. Yet another reason for a Bardish festival.
- May: The next London Mayoral and Assembly elections. Place your bets now.
- Unknown month: Expected completion of Tate Modern’s peculiar extension.
- Unknown month: New extension to the V&A expected to open.
- July: The IPC (Paralympic) Athletics World Championship comes to London, making use of the Olympic Stadium.
- August: The IAAF World Athletics Championships comes to London, also making use of the Olympic Stadium.
- Expected completion of Crossrail, Europe’s biggest engineering project.
- Expected completion of £700 million upgrade project at Victoria.
- London’s 2,000th anniversary, or at least the 2,000th anniversary since the Romans established a permanent presence in south-east England… Londinium may have been founded slightly later. Could this be the next really big festival we’ll see in the capital?