Wednesday 8 August 2012
Last Update 8 August 2012 1:47 pm
2012 is an important year for the United Kingdom. Britain beckons visitors with a host of treats lined up for them, such as the biggest sporting event in history, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in addition to many more exciting events, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee that features a series of colorful activities progressing through the year .
“We have been working on the preparations immediately after we won the Olympic bid back in 2005 and it was an enormous operation. The opening ceremony is the combination of that and we are expecting a worldwide audience of around two million people to come to London and witness that,” said British Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins. “So far, it’s working pretty well and I’m confident it’s going to be great for people who will be traveling to London, especially to watch it and to see what London has to offer besides the Olympics,” he added.
London is home to eight million people and it is a melting pot of different cultures and about 300 languages are spoken, according to Jenkins. “We are hosting the Games amid a vast population, which poses certain questions about transport facilities, security and similar issues, but the organizing committee so far has done a brilliant job,” he said. “In London, there is always something for everyone; there are events about culture, art, food, music and more,” he added.
“Because the Olympics is taking place during the holy month of Ramadan, we made sure that iftar and suhoor meals are offered to Muslims who are attending,” said Jenkins.
Sports enthusiasts can watch the Games at several free venues in addition to the Olympic Stadium in London.
The 2012 Games are the third time that the Olympic Games are being hosted by Great Britain and the third time events are taking place in Windsor. In 1908, the marathon started at Windsor Castle; in 1948 the cycling took place in Windsor Great Park and in 2012, the rowing and kayak events are taking place at Eton Dorney. One can visit Windsor to hear the amazing story of the 1908 Olympic marathon and why the official marathon route is 26 miles and 385 yards. Legend has it that the start of the marathon was moved to the Castle’s East Terrace because the then Princess of Wales wanted her children to see the race. “It’s the only city in the world that had the pleasure to host the Olympics and with experience I’m sure this will be great and mistake free,” said Jenkins. “It is a different generation and a different sort of games, there are 20 different sports and every game has a different character; I don’t know what is different and I guess we’re going to have to see to figure it out,” he added.
Coventry, as an Olympic co-host city, is in the spotlight from July 25 to Aug. 9 when 12 football matches are being played at the Ricoh Arena — renamed the City of Coventry Stadium for the Games. If you don’t have a ticket you can still enjoy the buzz of the Olympics action at the new London 2012 Live Site in Millennium Place, where news, events and live screenings of the Olympic and Paralympic Games are taking place.
Kent is also on the ‘places to visit’ list as it features the bicentenary celebrations of the birth of Charles Dickens. Kent was home to many of his literary inspirations. In addition, 2012 marks the centenary of the Titanic in Belfast, where the iconic ship was built with the world’s largest and greatest Titanic visitor experience.
The London 2012 Festival (June 21 — Sept. 9) spans across the entire country and offers free events (it showcases Britain’s collections of the world’s finest art in iconic galleries — most of them free to visit), and breath-taking views (pop in to the Lookout Café for sweeping views of Portland, Dorset, while munching sandwiches made with locally-caught crab).
For lovers of prose and literature, the World Shakespeare Festival in Warwickshire celebrates the famous poet and playwright’s influence. The World Shakespeare Festival is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and runs from April 23 until November and forms a part of the London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.
For history buffs, there is no dearth of historical sites: from grand castles to palatial gardens, where one can forget the summer heat of Saudi Arabia and stroll through Bath’s Royal Victoria Park on the way for tea in the Pump Room.
The Longleat Safari Park is in the heart of the English countryside, Wiltshire and is a major attraction for families. 2012 marks 150 years since the story of Alice’s adventures was told to the young Alice Liddell and her sisters as Charles Dodgson rowed them along the River Isis (Thames) to Godstow (1862). Oxfordshire provides lots of glimpses of the past for visitors interested in Alice’s tale. You can also visit Harry Potter locations, such as, the Bodleian Library’s Divinity School (Hogwarts’ dance practice room and infirmary) and Duke Humfrey’s Library - Hogwarts Library.
Arab News lists the ‘Top 12’ attractions and experiences within regions and cities of Great Britain, which guarantee to make your visit there this year even more exciting.
LONDON’S TOP 12
Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace: One of Britain’s greatest traditions and attractions is the heritage of the British Monarchy. The Changing of the Guard takes place daily at 11 a.m. (10 a.m. on Sundays) and lasts for approximately one hour. The process involves the changing of the old guard from Buckingham Palace with a new guard from St. James’s Palace. The guards are from one of the five regiments: the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, the Welsh Guards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards.
Art Galleries, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, National Gallery: London has some great art galleries and what’s even better is they are free! Tate Britain, situated in Millbank, and Tate Modern, situated in Bankside, are home to artwork from 1500 to the present day. Along with these two museums, the famous National Gallery, situated to the north of Trafalgar Square, boasts an impressive collection of Western European artwork from the early 20th century to present day.
Primrose Hill: Primrose Hill, situated on the north side of Regent’s Park, offers remarkable views over London’s skyline, especially at sunset. The park, which is 166ha, was designed in 1811 by John Nash, a renowned architect. The park has its own soccer, softball, rugby and cricket pitches in addition to a boating lake, bandstand, and a beautiful rose garden. The region is full of cafes, restaurants and celebrities. Primrose Hill is the ideal location for picnics and celebrity spotting.
The British Museum: Not only are art galleries free, but most museums are also free in London. The British Museum, founded in 1753 by an Act of Parliament, is home to nearly 2 million objects making it a fascinating experience. Visitors can take a guided tour to discover ancient Egypt or how the Romans lived. The British Museum offers a wealth of artifacts from around the world in one place.
Covent Garden: Covent Garden is always full of hustle and bustle. Visitors can watch the street entertainers, dine in a fine restaurant or shop in the boutique stores. Covent Garden is a place that will charm travelers of all tastes.
The Royal Parks, Kensington Gardens: The Royal Parks are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With green open spaces and plenty of events, the whole family can enjoy here. Parents and children alike will enjoy the Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens that is inspired by Peter Pan. A pirate ship surrounded by sand and the nearby Notting Hill makes it a delightful option for a Sunday afternoon stroll.
London at Night: Walk by the houses of Parliament after dark and walk south across Westminster Bridge. Here you will find a remarkable view of the London Eye. Once you reach St. Thomas’ Hospital, turn around to take in the view. The lights of the Houses of Parliament and the glistening Big Ben is an incredible view that no visitor should miss.
Chinatown on a Sunday: Chinatown on a Sunday is alive with entertainment, busy supermarkets and restaurants. Visitors can enjoy the array of entertainment and around 78 restaurants that make up this vibrant neighborhood.
Sunday UpMarket and Backyard Market: The Sunday UpMarket and Backyard Market are for fashion lovers who fancy getting off the beaten track and want to experience local markets. With both markets tucked away in hidden spots, they are mostly frequented by local shoppers. They are both very unique. Backyard Market has an array of garments designed by up and coming fashion designers as well as several art and craft choices. Sunday UpMarket offers a range of food delights, such as, cupcakes, and Moroccan and Spanish paella — with free tastings.
City Farms: London has many city farms that are free to visit. Vauxhall City Farm offers pony care classes and donkey rides, while MudChute Park and Farm is the largest urban farm in London sitting on 13.5ha. Many of the farms also host children’s playgrounds and fresh farm shops. Visitors won’t want to miss the unique experience of visiting a city farm while in London.
National Theatre: Visitors who head down to the Southbank near Waterloo Bridge can catch one of the free jazz and folk concerts. These take place from Monday to Saturday at 5:45 p.m., and at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday afternoons.
Nottinghill Arts Club: Nottinghill Arts Club has been open for 11 years and showcases London’s up and coming acts. The small stage makes the atmosphere intimate while the large sofas make the whole experience of enjoying the music more comfortable.
Arab News is not responsible for the view points, opinions and actions expressed by online commenters. Individual posts do not reflect Arab News' points of view or opinion, and abusive content will be removed