Right now, we think it’s fair to say that London is the best city in the whole world. With only three days until the main event, an unprecedented number of out-of-towners will be flocking to our city for the Games, perhaps not realising just how much of a gem London is. To prove just how magnificent our own little concrete jungle is, this week’s Time Out Magazine goes head to head with New York, sets the record straight about our ‘rainy’ capital and brings you the best cultural events. In fact, this week we are so over excited about showing London off that we got our very own Mayor, Boris Johnson, to write a little intro to the magazine…
‘I hope I won’t be accused of chauvinism if I say that London is the greatest city on earth – the commercial, cultural and artistic capital of the world. We have twice as many bookshops as New York, more theatres, a larger financial services sector – and a quarter of that city’s murder rate. We have more museums and more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris. We have more parks and green space than any other European city. And guess what: it rains more in Rome. In fact, it is officially NOT RAINING in London a stunning 94 per cent of the time.
It is a fitting recognition of our historic role in either inventing or codifying just about every human sporting activity that London, this week, becomes the first city to host the Olympic Games three times. If you are here for the Olympics and Paralympics, welcome, and I hope you have a great trip. Across the city, you will find magenta-clad Team London Ambassadors. They are there to help you maximise your enjoyment. Informative without being irritating, attentive without being servile, they will tell you where the cash machines are, where the toilets can be found – and they will help you plan your day. You can watch the Games in the free live sites in our parks, where you will find all manner of family entertainment: globally famous rock and pop acts, hog roasts, zipwires, men painted silver making jerky movements – and every now and then, hot-foot from the Olympic Park, a member of Team GB will take the stage to brandish a gold medal and receive the acclaim of the crowd.
If you are on your way to the Park itself, you can go by tube or bus or boat or bike – and it is one of the great features of the Barclays hire bikes that they hardly ever get stolen, unlike the hire bikes in some other EU cities that I will not embarrass by mentioning by name. On the way you will pass ancient monuments clad in bunting and illuminated with hi-tech lights; you will see the Shard, now the tallest building in Europe; you will behold the astounding transformation that is taking place in east London and the docks area, where we have just opened the Emirates Airline, a breathtaking cable car from Greenwich to the ExCel.
When you get to the Olympic Park you will see the great sporting venues completed on time and under budget – a terrific advertisement for British engineering – and towering over the site the writhing red steel of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world’s largest rendition of a shisha pipe, offering its sinuous welcome to the world.
What is it saying? What does it mean? There is only one way to decide. You will have to go there yourself. I think you will love it.’
This week’s Time Out Magazine is out now – to get Time Out delivered to your door, subscribe here.