London's Olympic Games on a Budget

Free Things to Do and See in London


Clive Mason

There are just 6 months to go to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. The excitement is building and the athletes are training hard. For travelers making their own preparations to visit Britain this summer, here are some top tips about how to enjoy the spectacular events and soak up the atmosphere without spending a fortune.

London 2012 Festival
June 21-Sept. 9, 2012
Get into the spirit of London 2012 through dance, music, theater, the visual arts, film and digital innovation. This festival features more than 1,000 events, with 10 million free opportunities. Some of the events are ticketed, but the majority are free to attend, including BBC Radio 1's free, live music event during Hackney Weekend 2012. Visitors can also experience a weekend of West End LIVE, the very best of London theater for free in Trafalgar Square. Check out BT River of Music, too; it’s a weekend of music from around the world on stages along the River Thames -- all for free.

Olympic and Paralympic Cycling Road Races
July 28-Aug. 1, 2012
There are lots of ways to enjoy the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games without a ticket. Some of the most iconic events will be viewed from great vantage points -- at no cost. The men’s and women’s road races will begin on The Mall, a popular backdrop for formal ceremonies and major sporting events throughout the year. From The Mall, the riders will head southwest through London; cross the famous River Thames at Putney Bridge; and continue out through Richmond Park past Hampton Court Palace. Before the riders make it back to The Mall for a dramatic finish, they will head to Surrey, Leatherhead, Esher and Kingston.

Olympic Sailing
July 29-Aug. 11, 2012
The deep, sapphire-blue waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour will play host to 10 sailing events over the course of 14 days during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These free events will offer fans excitement and drama as they watch teams race in the beautiful but testy waters on England’s southern coast.

Olympic Race Walks
Aug. 4 and Aug. 11, 2012
Known for its regal beauty and nature, visitors can watch the race walks, which begin and finish at The Mall in St. James’s Park. Along the 1.2-mile race, visitors can take in the sites of Buckingham Palace (the official residence of the Queen) and the Commonwealth Memorial Gates.

Olympic Live Sites
With large screens carrying live broadcasts of the Olympic events, visitors -- in at least 20 locations around the UK-- will have the best seat in the house to watch their favorite event in Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park or Victoria Park.

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