Olympic Stadium - London, England — Photo courtesy of Magnus D
London, England, the official Summer Olympic event site, known as London 2012, will host over 10,000 athletes competing in 26 different sports. This city is ready and excited to host the world. Mayor Boris Johnson promises a "summer like no other." If you are one of the lucky families who were able to acquire tickets to this world's largest sporting event, then you and soccer star David Beckham have one thing in common - pure joy in attending this piece of history with your kids. Only one thing different - his kids might just see their dad compete! How incredible for kids to learn special values firsthand and up close - teamwork, sportsmanship, patriotism, geography and of course, thrills of victory and agonies of defeat.
Logically, it makes better sense to take an older child who can grasp such things and truly appreciate an event of this magnitude. Practically speaking, seated events such as in Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome or Aquatic Center, make for less tired legs for younger people. But if you and your child are up for up close live action, there are no tickets required to attend many Olympic events such as Road Cycling, the Triathlon and Marathon on the city streets as the athletes whiz by famous landmarks, like Buckingham Palace, Hercules Monument inside Knightsbridge Park and the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park. For ticketed events, arrive 2 hours early to ensure enough time to get through the heavy security. Know that no liquids are allowed in to the events, nor skates, skateboards, pets or bikes. If there are some events you would like to see, but don't have tickets to, skip the telly, and join in the excitement of locals and visitors alike, watching the events on huge screens set up in different outdoor locations. You can get guaranteed tickets to watch these events through Ticketmaster UK or just walk in.
The Serpentine River at Hyde Park — Photo courtesy of Hyde Park
These screens can be found at Potters Field beside Tower Bridge, Victoria Park, Woolwich and the largest in the UK at Hyde Park. Also at these locations are live music all day featuring headline acts such as Tom Jones and other popular British bands. Victoria Park has activities the kids will enjoy such as street theatre, marching bands and acrobatics shows. Nightly entertainment highlights international show choirs and dance performances.
Fun things you and your kids will like seeing around the city are the many decorative Olympic banners, the redecorated phone boxes, the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge and all the bridges in London lighting up in colorful displays every night. Projections on other famous buildings will take place, along with the very creative BIG DANCE event in Trafalgar Square, featuring 2,000 dancers, directed by Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor. 11- to 25-year-old musicians will be competing in citywide busking competitions, set up in various transportation venues and the deaf and disabled are hosting a free arts festival. If you are fortunate enough to be able to attend the Opening Ceremony at Olympic Stadium, you and your child will have chance to witness a cast of 15,000 participants, including many local London children.
At Olympic Park there will be souvenirs galore and you may even have a photo opportunity with the official Olympic mascot. For any information while attending the Olympics, look for "Games Makers," one of the many volunteers there to assist you. If you are in London July 27, be sure to witness the significant Olympic torch being run into the stadium for this two week unforgettable experience and may you and your chid record a lifetime of memories. Let the Games begin!