Ahead of today’s grand re-opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, we were let loose in the south part for a good poke around and a bit of a swing. Here are our top tips if you’re planning a visit:
1. Don’t get lost
The park is still semi-baffling when it comes to finding your way around; pick up a guide to one of the four park trails (arts and culture, London 2012 Games, biodiversity in the park and family fun) to get a head start.
2. Get stuck in
The new playground in the south of the park is ungated and very much open to visitors of all ages. There’s a sand pit with a water pump (note: wet sand makes better castles) as well as squashy orange hills, swings and a climbing wall to conquer.
3. Stay as long as you like
The park is open 24/7 so don’t panic about getting locked in if you lie down on one of the huge wooden loungers and drift off. At night the south side of the park will be lit up, with the ArcelorMittal Orbit glowing red and globe lanterns strung between the trees. But it’ll be lights out in the north part of the park (that’s how the bats that use it as a route out of town like it, apparently).
4. Enjoy the view
The curly whirly ArcelorMittal Orbit will re-open to the public on Saturday. Everything is quite far off but you can see most of London’s landmarks and get a bird’s-eye view of the park. Anish Kapoor’s distorted mirror installations inside the viewing platform make the capital topsy-turvy, and the other visitors’ heads comically large. Take the lift up, then walk down (it takes a surprisingly long 10-12 minutes). We received a cheer at the bottom for our wobbly-legged effort.
5. Bring a towel
The park’s new light-up fountain has been programmed with lots of fancy sequences to create elaborate walls of water. Although the urge to get soaking wet is strongest in five-year-olds, it’s hard to resist whatever your age, so come prepared to dry off after. If you want a proper dip the London Aquatics Centre will be open to swimmers, but it may be busy so book ahead.
There’s lots of free fun planned for Saturday (acrobats, bands, choirs, storytelling and workshops). Find out what’s on at timeout/thingstodo.