09 December 2016 | 10 °C

Highlights & Pictures: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

By Londonist Last edited 32 months ago
Highlights & Pictures: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park fully reopened last weekend. The ArcelorMittal Orbit can be climbed, new landscaping can be explored, rivers can be walked along, art installations can be hunted down and the kids can run wild in one of the various outdoor play areas. The Aquatics Centre can be swam in too (advance booking definitely recommended).

In short, there's masses to see and do. Have a look at the full range on offer via the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website so you don't miss out on something special just round the corner from your picnic.

We were able to take a sneak peak of the park ahead of the crowds and we then joined the throng to visit the new open space during its opening weekend. Here are our highlights from our two visits:

These crayon-shaped posts are known as stellas. They will be used for boat moorings.
These crayon-shaped posts are known as stellas. They will be used for boat moorings.
The Podium is the main site for food and drink in the south park. It also contains the Pixel Wall art - a wall of blocks that can be rotated to form patterns...or words.
The Podium is the main site for food and drink in the south park. It also contains the Pixel Wall art - a wall of blocks that can be rotated to form patterns...or words.
One of the avenues near the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
One of the avenues near the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
The children's playground is well aligned with the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
The children's playground is well aligned with the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Inter alia is a permanent installation from Turner Prize-winning artist, Grenville Davey. The art work spreads along a concrete bridge, taking the form of abstract finger prints.
Inter alia is a permanent installation from Turner Prize-winning artist, Grenville Davey. The art work spreads along a concrete bridge, taking the form of abstract finger prints.
One of our favourite features of the Olympic Park were the many bench plaques containing thought-provoking facts. We're pleased to see these have been retained.
One of our favourite features of the Olympic Park were the many bench plaques containing thought-provoking facts. We're pleased to see these have been retained.
History Trees: look out for these circular sculptures, 10 of which can be found engirdling trees at entrances to the Park. Each contains an inscribed history of the area. Over time, the branches and ring will slowly fuse together.
History Trees: look out for these circular sculptures, 10 of which can be found engirdling trees at entrances to the Park. Each contains an inscribed history of the area. Over time, the branches and ring will slowly fuse together.
Re-landscaped pathways follow the park's rivers.
Re-landscaped pathways follow the park's rivers.
The Aquatics Centre has been open for a few weeks. Anyone can now turn up and take a swimming session at a reasonable price. You might even catch Tom Daley, who uses the diving boards for training.
The Aquatics Centre has been open for a few weeks. Anyone can now turn up and take a swimming session at a reasonable price. You might even catch Tom Daley, who uses the diving boards for training.
Climbing Wall by City Mill River.
Climbing Wall by City Mill River.
The jumping fountains. It’s tempting to run through them during a lull, but you never quite know when they’re going to shoot up.
The jumping fountains. It’s tempting to run through them during a lull, but you never quite know when they’re going to shoot up.
The ArcelorMittal viewing platform.
The ArcelorMittal viewing platform.

Plus ...

  • The ArcelorMittal Orbit tower offers fantastic views from Crystal Palace to Ally Pally. From the viewing platform - which contains a house-of-mirrors type installation - you can also see straight down into the Olympic Stadium (although it's currently under construction to be reopened in 2016).
  • Most visitors will be grateful for the lift up to the viewing platform, but there's the chance to walk down via a spiral staircase that projects a London soundscape as you descend, including cheering crowds at Wembley, Whitechapel Bell Foundry and Columbia Road Flower Market. Our top tip: pick your lift spot carefully as a couple of small windows allow you a view of your 34 second ascent.
  • At the foot of The Orbit is The Podium visitor centre. As well as the usual guides and pointers, the centre also has a cafe, events space and a rooftop terrace. This is where you'll find the Pixel Wall art installation (pictured above).
  • Inject a bit of sportsmanship into your stroll down by the water, with the park's riverside bouldering wall (that's a low wall where climbers can scramble up on foot/handholds without being harnessed in). Available to anyone aged 11+, no booking is required so you can just turn up and get scrambling - plus there are handy ladders affixed to the wall so once you're up, you don't have to panic about how to get down.
  • Both the Competition Pool and the Training Pool are available for members of the public to make use of at the Aquatics Centre, plus a programme of activities such as family sessions, diving lessons, community swims. It's also Tom Daley's training ground so you may catch a glimpse of him.
  • A huge draw for little and big kids alike (we're looking at you, Dad) are the dancing water fountains. They are choreographed into different sequences and heights so the challenge of racing through without getting caught is a pretty tempting - and often soggy - one. Spare changes of clothes recommended!
  • An outdoor auditorium has been created by building staggered seating into the underside of two bridges that cross near Carpenters Lock (just round the corner from the climbing wall). The undersides of the bridges are mirrored making it an interesting place to visit, plus we've heard that outdoor screenings may be held there in the summer.
  • The park’s new promenade has been lined with 100 new trees as well as a number of food and drink kiosks. The round lanterns overhead have all been coloured slightly differently to create a blue-green spectrum (pictured above).

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is now open 24 hours a day and is free to visit with no additional charges to enjoy any of the open outdoor areas. Follow the links to find out more about visiting the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Aquatics Centre or Lee Valley VeloPark.

For more information about the park and what it has to offer, visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website. If you liked this, you might be interested in our recent podcast episode, recorded from the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Londonist is proud to be Media Partner for the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Last Updated 09 April 2014

Dougherty2681

Did you miss the great british garden? Its very poorly signposted and on the other side of the stadium from the fountains but is an amazing quiet space and garden - check out diamond geezers excellent photos https://www.flickr.com/photos/...